Context 2

Cosmic Context

1. The Cosmic Life Review
2. Birth, Life, Death: A Cosmic Perspective
3. Fate, Birth, Life, Death, and Destiny in Context
4. Fate and Destiny: A Broader View
5. Implications for the Ultimate in Personal Fulfillment
6. The Ideals of Personal Fulfillment in Context
7. The Essence of Personal Fulfillment in Context

Birth, Life, Death: A Cosmic Perspective

Let us be clear from the outset: this perspective is not just about birth, life, and death per se. The following heuristic provides an inkling of what I mean when I say this:

_______ birth ___ life ___ death _______

The lines in this heuristic could be interpreted as mystery, but I view them as potential for mastery.

At one time in my life, I would have conceded that we do not know anything about what comes before birth or what comes after death, but today, I know better not to concede so readily.

In my cultivation of this perspective, I rely on the many accounts and studies that make up such subject matter as childhood accounts of past lives, the near-death experience, and lives between lives.

But first, let us start with a common assumption and expectation – “we are born, we live, we love, we learn, we grow old, and then we die” – which can be represented this way: birth ___ life ___ death.

Many intriguing stories have emerged from children who have recollections of a previous life, which, when verified objectively, cause us to question the assumption that “we are born”.

Many accounts have emerged from those who have left their biological bodies as a result of a serious illness or accident, which, when collectively assessed, cause us to question the assumption that “we die.”

When we add these stories and accounts to the experiences of those who have been hypnotically regressed to a life between a previous life and a current life, this heuristic begins to make sense:

_______ birth ___ life ___ death ___ ? ___ birth ___ life ___ death _______

There’s something very interesting going on between death and birth, but what? And what might this “something very interesting” have to do with the realization of the ultimate in personal fulfillment?

Understandably, we, as spiritual beings in human form, rely heavily on the five senses to know what’s what – to know what is real and what is true, to know what is good and what is right.

So when someone starts talking about something as nebulous as what happens before we’re born and what happens after we die, we cannot help but wonder about the veracity of what is being said.

Certainly, those who speak of having seen and heard strange things during a near-death experience know (not just believe) with their own spiritual eyes and ears what they’ve seen and heard, while backing up their claims with objectively veriable incidents that could not possibly have occurred had they not had the experience they claim they had, but what about those of us who have never any such experience?

Those of a clinical or scientific bent who rely on firsthand testimony typically point to the reliability and consistency of reporting that emerges from a multitude of such accounts (without any apparent personal or cultural biases), prompting the rest of us to entertain and consider the worthiness of the reports. When reading such accounts, it is best to keep this distinction in mind: what is perceived and what is believed.

Interpretation follows perception or grows out of perception or goes hand in hand with perception. This is important to keep in mind.

When experiencers of a near-death or lucid death say they believe they met the spirit of Jesus Christ during this experience, we might do well to respectfully question whether a well-meaning yet biased interpretation is at play.

On the other hand, if someone goes out of body during a health crisis in a hospital and makes a mental note of some fact at some distance from the body and then returns to relay this fact to someone who then verifies it as true, we would do well to take it seriously enough to make some attempt to explain it. True skeptical inquiry has room for entertaining perplexing accounts with hidden causes that mystify the mind.

We cannot ignore the fact that many, many souls who have had a brush with death on earth have returned from other worlds with unusual tales of spiritual adventure that carry cosmic significance.

We could dismiss most or all of them as products of fantasy or hallucination or wishful thinking, but after giving a careful reading of these accounts, I think you’d agree that we’d be foolish to do so.

With this in mind, let us address the question mark that indicates a transition between two incarnations on earth.

Here is an expanded version of the heuristic in question, with the numbers 1 and 2 indicating two presumed phases of transition in the life of a discarnate soul and spirit:

_______ birth ___ life ___ death  __  p1  _?_   p2  __  birth ___ life ___ death _______

As will become clear as I continue to develop my cosmic perspective on fate, birth, life, death, and destiny, phase 1 is the phase of destiny, where review and reflection of a life lived is encouraged, and phase 2 is the phase of fate, where emotional baggage from previous lives is carried into the next incarnation or where pre-birth decisions are made with the intention of undergoing certain challenges or difficulties.

The ? in this heuristic is the sweet spot of this perspective as and when the ? is turned into an !


In his fascinating book, Journey of Souls, Michael Newton maps out the journey that souls take, from the moment of death to the moment they return to body for yet another incarnated life. This journey has some similarities with the near-death experience, but based on over thirty years of research and over 8,000 case studies generated through his own time and effort, Newton provides a more complete picture of what happens after we pass, identifying these way stations between death and rebirth:

phase 1: destiny

death and departure
gateway to the spirit world
the homecoming
a spiritual orientation


the life review (realizing destiny)
? the meeting with a council of elders !
private reflection on a life lived (realizing fate)

phase 2: fate

placement in the spirit world
life selection and choosing a new body
preparation for embarkation
rebirth: a new life in a new world

Note: the insertions of phases with a transition is my doing; it is part of my study to place this journey in context for the sake of understanding and appreciating the ultimate realization in personal fulfillment

The conditions of a soul’s destiny, in terms of its placement in the spirit world, is determined in phase 1 of the journey after death: did the soul experience a good death? Did the soul’s departure from earth proceed smoothly and peacefully? Was the soul’s homecoming with deceased family members, relatives, and/or soul group members pleasant? Was the soul’s orientation with its spirit guide after homecoming productive? In transition, was the life review favorable? Did the meeting with the council of elders go well, after the review of the life lived? Was private reflection on the life just lived constructive?

In my view, in the transition between the phase of destiny and the phase of fate, the precise placement of the ! with respect to the ? lies with the meeting with a council of elders. For myself, this the most fascinating part of the journey (even more fascinating than the life review), not only because it is laced with mystery, but because it offers the most fruitful avenue for answering the who, the what, the why, and the how of life and death, and for understanding who I am, why I exist, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed in the ultimate scheme of things.

In phase 2 of the journey after death, after time spent in the company of like-minded, like-hearted souls, yet another opportunity to incarnate may present itself. Not only can souls choose a new body, they can also choose a new life, which involves previewing possibilities for personal realization and evolution: do I live in this place of the world or that one? Do I incarnate as human or as some other species? Do I hang out with these people or those ones? Do I become a member of this family or that one? Do I follow a career as a musician or as a visual artist? Do I seek to realize this promise or that one? Do I seek to fulfill that purpose or this one? To deepen the heart of my soul, to challenge my spirit, do I agree to experience the truth and consequences of this accident, this disease, this betrayal, this hardship, or that one?

A certain amount of predestination is evident. Our lives are planned and we plan our lives – but only up to a point. If we play it safe, and follow the script, we learn what we agreed to learn, we encounter what we agreed to encounter, we experience what we agreed to experience, all for the sake of realization of soul and evolution of spirit, but like a tree with many branches, we can still choose to go this way or that; we can go off script, get lost, and find ourselves again. We can cheat death at certain prescribed times and find ourselves in strange places with strange people doing strange things. Perhaps the rise of the existential notion of total freedom coincided with the newborn possibility in the evolution of humanity of fundamentally choosing existence over essence, of shunning conformity in favor of being your own person. The potential downside of this newfound freedom is hardship and heartache; the upside is an accelerated growth opportunity into mastery of a Self as Art.

Another peculiar feature of returning to a life incarnated is that we forget who we are, where we came from, what we agreed to do. Granted, there are many earthly ways to remember (silent meditation, psychic insight, hypnotic regression, vivid dreams, near-death experience), but for those who never gain access to them (and there are many) or for those who remain skeptical of their validity, they remain in the dark, confined to an existential box in space and time, limited to three dimensions by the five senses, oblivious to who they really are or why they’re here, until such time that they have an awakening or a near-death experience. In all likelihood, the timing of these two events are planned, and in the absence of knowing any better, should be respected as such. In other words, live and let live. The veil of forgetfulness is there for a reason; this cosmic amnesia has a valid, valued purpose.

If indeed we choose to live scripted lives in preparation for the day when we choose to assume full responsibility for sovereignty and mastery, it is our response to encounter and experience and relationship that counts. Regardless of how well we follow the script (if at all), as soul, just how receptive and reflective and responsive can we be? As spirit in harmony with soul, just how expressive and expansive can we be?

As far as I can see, my destiny as a spiritual soul in human form is measured primarily in terms of three key facets of a life lived: quality of encounter (a matter of soul), vitality of experience (a matter of spirit), and integrity of relationship (a matter of spirit in harmony with soul). The more favorable my outcomes in these three areas, most especially the third one involving relationship with other souls, the more favorable is my placement and/or advancement in the world of spirit, but as long as I have lessons to learn, as long as I have opportunities to grow, and as long as I have promise to realize as a soul and possibilities to explore as a spirit, I (as a True Self manifesting as an integrating composite of ego, soul, and spirit) will continue to wrestle with fate and find reason to incarnate as human until I am fully realized and ultimately fulfilled.

You would know the hidden realm
where all souls dwell.
The journey’s way lies
through death’s misty fell.

Within this timeless passage
a guiding light does dance,
lost from conscious memory,
but visible in trance.

~ Michael Newton

I think Mr. Newton would agree: there is far more to this world than meets the eye.

In the next part in this series, I endeavor to place fate, birth, life, death, and destiny in a context that is personally meaningful and potentially fulfilling to the soul and spirit in human form.


published 05.25.2014
updated 08.31.2014