The Judgement Of The Dead In The Presence Of Osiris

Past Beliefs about the Survival of the Soul

Even to the present day, they have maintained a connection with their ancestors. Wherever a strong lunar mythology existed, there was a belief in the immortality of the soul.
If we look back as far as Bronze Age Egypt, we find a highly developed and comprehensive cosmology and a detailed concept of the survival of the soul after death. This extraordinary civilization was as aware of the Afterlife as of this life.

For thousands of years shamanic cultures have known that there is a ladder of connection between this world and an unseen reality and that this reality sustains, permeates and interacts with our own.

Far from seeing death as extinction, the Egyptians saw death as a journey towards awakening to cosmic life and the invisible dimension of the cosmos that they called the Dwat. The Book of the Dead and many books about the Underworld are guides to entering ever more refined states of spiritual awareness in this invisible realm. When an Egyptian left his physical body, his ba (soul) might cling to the body, unable to free itself from identifying with his former life and he might therefore be bound to this earthly plane. But with the help of the gods he could find release from this state and move into a spiritual body called the sah or sahu. In its fully awakened state this spiritual body was represented by the akh, the “shining one” or “shining form”, symbolized by the crested ibis. In this shining body, the ba soul could be carried to the higher cosmic planes associated with the sun and the stars.

People lived in awareness of the presence of the unseen world and the goddesses and gods who inhabited the starry cosmos and descended each day into their temples.

The Egyptians described this experience as “Coming forth into the Day”. Likewise, in ancient Greece, the secret rituals of the Mysteries celebrated at Eleusis and believed to have lasted for over a thousand years, gave initiates the certainty of immortality: “He who has seen the Mysteries will not taste death.”

There are four other ancient cosmologies that speak of multiple hidden worlds and dimensions: the Vedic, the Sufi, the Tibetan and the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah.

As explained in Chapter Three, Kabbalah recognizes four interconnected worlds or planes of existence, set out as a Tree of Life, each one containing many more worlds or dimensions, each one transmitting the light emanating from the divine source, eventually bringing our material world into manifestation. Everything in this world is the reflection of its prototype in the higher worlds of finer vibrations. Everything is sacred because it has emanated from and is contained within the divine ground. Hence the kabbalist saying, which actually originates in Egypt: “As Above, so Below.”

Within this tradition as well as in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and in Hinduism and Buddhism, there was (and still is) a belief in the existence of angels or spiritual beings who intervene to help and guide humanity. There was and still is a belief that the soul survives the death of the physical body. Strangely, however, with the exception of Tibetan Buddhism, there is no manual or guide on offer which might prepare us for what we will encounter in the extra-terrestrial worlds.

Only by cleansing the doors of perception, as Blake advised us, can we become aware of the presence of these transcendent worlds. During the last quarter of the twentieth century, a growing number of people have become convinced through their own subjective experience and through reading the many books on the subject that consciousness continues beyond the death of the body. Those who have been unexpectedly precipitated into a near-death or out-of-the-body experience and returned to their bodies have found that it has given them a new perspective on life. They now live life in a different way, with less fear of death and a greater sense of responsibility for their actions.

The greatest spiritual teachers have testified to the existence of this transcendent reality, have experienced the higher dimensions of it, may even have come as emissaries from them.