A Trav­eler’s Guide to the Af­ter­life

Fortean Times - - Reviews / Books -

Tra­di­tions and Be­liefs on Death, Dy­ing, and What Lies Be­yond Mark Mirabello In­ner Tra­di­tions 2016 Pb, 214pp, bib, ind, $16.95, ISBN 9781620555972 The big dif­fer­ence, com­par­ing this book with many oth­ers with the word ‘af­ter­life’ in their ti­tles, is that Dr Mirabello has sur­veyed 965 sources drawn from many cul­tures that have de­clared, dis­cussed or pro­moted their par­tic­u­lar teach­ings or tra­di­tions about death and an Af­ter­life.

This widerang­ing an­thol­ogy com­prises con­cise ci­ta­tions from a huge range of re­li­gions and philoso­phies (of­ten sup­ported by sec­u­lar data (in­clud­ing athe­is­tic and sci­en­tific opin­ions).

Mirabello man­ages to avoid bor­ing the reader by ju­di­ciously se­lect­ing the only ‘im­por­tant’ bits and thread­ing them on a witty and eru­dite run­ning com­men­tary.

He sets out what each canon tells us about what it is to die and what we (in­clud­ing athe­ists) might ex­pect post mortem. Of course, this leads to many dif­fer­ent the­o­ries about the fi­nal­ity (or not) of death, in­fin­ity and eter­nity (upon which are pred­i­cated things like hells, heav­ens, deities, ghosts and souls).

In this va­ri­ety there are sur­pris­ing dis­cov­er­ies: Greek and Chi­nese agree­ment that we may al­ready be dead or dream­ing; the sheer di­ver­sity of Af­ter­life jour­ney nar­ra­tives; that some After­lives do not de­pend upon be­lief, eth­i­cal con­duct or even a god; a Bud­dhist sect that holds death is re­ally fi­nal; the com­plex con­se­quences of rein­car­na­tion and the para­doxes of karma; one Uni­verse or many; the best way to pre­pare for death. He even in­cludes guid­ance on out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ences and how to con­duct your own séance.

Party-poop­ers like ni­hilists and ma­te­ri­al­ists will find lit­tle to en­joy here, es­pe­cially as they bring so lit­tle of value to this oth­er­wise rich feast of mankind’s be­lief sys­tems.

Mirabello is a plea­sure to read; his ed­i­fy­ing prose is tight and clear, mak­ing his ma­te­rial seem fresh. On top of which the book’s episodic style makes it em­i­nently suit­able for ca­sual sam­pling.

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