The idea has several levels of meaning…
First, they’re saying that who we truly are lived before we occupied these bodies and continues when these bodies are done: the body doesn’t define us or determine whether we’re alive.
There’s lots of historical documentation and anecdotal evidence supporting this, and a fair amount of logic.
Logically, we know that people with different parts of their body removed—even parts of their brain—still think and know who they are. So it follows that the body is not who we are.
Anecdotally, we have thousands of stories of “Near Death Experiences” where people have been clinically dead for several minutes and have returned to life with clear—and consistent—descriptions of experiences during that time. We also have “regression therapy” sessions in which patients who were being regressed through hypnosis to their infancy have suddenly started to talk about living in other places and times, often speaking languages they haven’t spoken before. These now have been formalized as “past life regressions” and are often used to heal phobias and neuroses whose cause is not evident in this life’s experience.
Intuitively, people are often aware that someone who has “died” is still living—though in a set of dimensions very different from this. And, more and more often, specific actions or objects have demonstrated the ongoing existence of that person.
Finally, we have a body of written work from different sources at different times that describes “the other side” and how life continues beyond the body. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and the Egyptian Book of the Dead provide instructions on what to do as one encounters the different experiences on the other side. In the past several decades, these range from The Betty Book and Unobstructed Universe by Stewart Edward White to interpretations of Edgar Cayce’s materials, to Jane Roberts’ Seth materials (especially the Oversoul Seven trilogy). These materials suggest that
- the first stage after the body is left is very similar to life in the body, may even feel the same, and often repeats intense emotional experiences over and over until an awareness of repetition leads to an awakening.
- The next stage is a “debriefing” of the recent life experiences and a re-living of those which are incomplete so we can move on.
- The third stage is a series of learnings, including how to connect with loved ones on both sides of the veil, across space and time.
- After we’ve reached a new level of comfort with our capabilities we’re given the option of returning to a new body or staying “on the other side” and learning more.
At a deeper level they’re saying something else entirely. If, as most spiritual teachers have suggested, our true Self, or nature, is Spirit, then this whole “life in a body” experience is not real; it’s an illusion, a movie, a “virtual reality” that we and a bunch of other folks have put together to learn from and to amuse ourselves—and we can step out of it at any point and experience Reality, which is eternal, unchanging Light, Love, Peace, Joy, Harmony, etc. Only in the “movie” does death appear to be real. But our true Self is unaffected by the illusion. This is apparently what Jesus understood when he raised the little girl and Lazarus—and finally himself—from “sleep.”