Dying in War: From the Battlefield to the Afterlife

walkingtowardlightBy Wes Annac, Editor, Culture of Awareness & Openhearted Rebel

This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Enlightened Afterlife, my new ebook centered on Spiritualist philosophy on life after death. You can purchase a PDF file of the book at the bottom of this post, or you can check out the Kindle version by clicking the book cover below.

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What’s It Like to Die in War?

This section will focus on war and the effect it has on those killed in battle. Despite that the Spiritualist movement isn’t what it once was, the tragedy of war is one reason the movement and the idea of the afterlife are popular today.

This aspect of the discussion will undoubtedly be dark, but there’s a silver lining in that most soldiers discover the same peace, bliss and freedom when it’s all said and done. Trauma and suffering leave so they can begin the process of healing and learn to enjoy their vibrant new surroundings.

As we learned in Chapter 1, the Spiritualist movement regained followers during World Wars I & II due to the mass amounts of people once again losing family to the battlefield. Most of the passages we’ll read in this section are centered on the Civil War and both World Wars but can be applied to the wars of today.

Philip Gilbert describes the common condition of the solider killed in battle.

“In these times, … there are so many, so many who have been shot over here suddenly, in full earth vigour, hot-blooded, resentful in many cases, or wracked by hideous memories, all their emotions going strong and to be subdued. All these constitute a great mass of the ‘earth-bound’ at present and we work amongst them.” (1)

According to a spirit who calls himself Joe, some soldiers continue fighting after their death. Later, many assume they’re in a base hospital.

“Those who are killed quite suddenly … come over with the feelings and thoughts which they had just before. Often it is those who still think they have to go on fighting and have to be calmed; often they think they must have suddenly gone mad because the scene has changed.

“That is not surprising if you can imagine in what a tremendous state of tension, almost like madness, the actual fighting is carried out. Then they often think … they are now in a base hospital.” (2)

Sometimes, transition guides have to humor soldiers before explaining the metaphorical significance of the hospital setting. Oftentimes a solider is happy to be free from the woes of war and, in certain cases, was aware of his or her death moments before it happened.

“We have to humour them at first and only gradually explain to them what the hospital means. Sometimes they are profoundly glad, those who have come to the limit of endurance and rejoice to be free from the world of wars.

“Sometimes, with those who have very strong home ties, we have to let them realize as gently and gradually as possible; most are so weary in spirit that they worry very little and are soon ready to settle down to their rest.

“Others have foreseen that they must be killed. They have seen the shell or bomb about to explode and have known that when it explodes they must be gone.” (3)

It could be easier or harder for those who are aware of death before it comes, because they could either accept it and go peacefully or be afraid and traumatized.

Especially if they don’t believe in an afterlife, knowing they’re about to die could cause devastation to the spirit and make it harder for transition guides to reach them. In any case, helping someone cope with losing their life in war is no small job.

S.Z.’s Story: Shot Down and Out

A polish pilot named S.Z. tells us that he passed on when his plane was shot out of the sky.

Yes. I am shot down and out. I have survived many flights but not this one. I am wounded, I cannot control the aircraft, it was my leg, you feel the pain, I could not move the controls and I fall, I cannot leave the aircraft, I fall quite consciously.

I get up without any pain, I see my observer and gunner, he is hurt too but not so much. The Germans come to find us, they do not see me, I run and hide, but they do not look for me, my friend they take away. I wander about. I feel well and cannot think how I came to crash the aircraft. My leg is healed.

I wander about. I go to the French peasants and ask for help, but they do not see me and I begin to wonder. I am neither hungry nor thirsty, nor particularly tired.

I begin to see things changing. I see colours everywhere; it is sunset or sunrise and it looks as if the colours were reflected in the earth as well as in the sky. I lay and watched the colour take form. It was like a cinema when one picture fades out and another takes its place. (4)

He was then approached by one of his transition guides before briefly returning to his body.

“I was astounded. I do not know where I am. I ask, I pray, I forget that I have no faith in religion. I pray for help and it comes to me. Someone looking very strange, and yet quite like ourselves, comes to me.

“He tells me not to mind the change, that it is best for all and that I shall be happy in this land. I am very confused. I think I am taken prisoner. Then he explains that there are no prisons or prisoners and I feel free again. He took me away and he told me to sleep.

“He touched my eyes and I sleep at once. When I wake he is still there and I am on Earth again in the occupied territory with Germans all round. I have come back to my body. I find it difficult to leave it.” (5)

He was miserable when he returned to his body, but with the help of his guide, he was able to leave it for good.

“I see no colours, but my new friend is there too, and he talks to me, but I can’t see him well. They are doing something to my body.

“I am miserable so my friend tells me to think very hard of some place outside the war so I think very hard of the last time I see family life with you at H —. I see you all quite easily, and I wake you and you feel me near and you talk to me.

“I ask you to let me stay and just sit quietly in your house far from the battle until I can go on, and you say ‘Yes’, so I stay. Now I begin to feel sleepy again. I am between the worlds. Help me to throw off this one and to go on. I want to go on – I want to go on – I think I can, please help me.” (6)

Freedom from Suffering

S.Z.’s desire for freedom from his irreparably wounded body is echoed in this passage from an American GI killed in battle:

“I fell face-downwards in the swampy mud of the jungle, and I lay unconscious for some time in a sort of nightmare, my body was trying to reassert itself, and my spirit to get free.

“Never think that when people seem unconscious that they really are so, at least I wasn’t. It was a time of conscious paralysis, I have it, and, when something snapped and I was free, I was awfully relieved.” (7)

We learned before that the “snapping” sensation is the silver cord releasing the spirit from the body. The GI confirms the silver cord’s severance without directly referring to it; it’s as if he was putting words to something he’d experienced that he didn’t know had already been described.

There are plenty of disagreements among spirit communicators about different aspects of the afterlife, but there are also plenty of instances, like the one above, where they agree with each other as if by coincidence. It’s the same as if different individuals on earth tried to describe the same experiences.

Continuing the GI’s story, he noticed that Japanese soldiers who’d also died were now actively helping their own who were still alive on the battlefield. Failing to do the same for his men, he wandered into a jungle that was rich with color and permeated with a previously hidden sound.

I got back to our fellows and I soon realised what had happened when they didn’t see me; but I was so interested in finding myself unchanged that I hadn’t time to think of anything else. I wanted to tell them not to fear death and all that, but I couldn’t.

After a time I began to see the Jap dead, they were helping their own fellows, and the living Japs could sometimes see and hear them, and they used all the information given, and this made me feel that we should be able to do the same.

I tried awfully hard, but I couldn’t warn or suggest anything which could be accepted by the brains of our fellows, so I wandered off wondering what to do next.

I didn’t exactly want to leave them to it, but there didn’t seem to be any alternative, so I did. I wandered off into the forest, and for a time forgot all about the war, and all that my friends were going through because I was fascinated by the life that I saw all around me.

I know the jungle well, I have lived in it alone for months on end, and I came back to it seeking rest and peace after the turmoil of war, and I found all I sought and more, much more. I suddenly found that I was seeing things that had been hidden from me during the whole of my physical life.

I cannot describe the beauty of the life around me. The jungle is always rich in colour, sound and beauty of trees and flowers but now behind every thing that I knew so well lurked a hidden meaning, and some beautiful ray or sound seemed to permeate the very texture of the jungle life. (8)

The Shining One

He was then greeted by a guide known as the Shining One and informed there were others crossing over who need his help.

I can’t explain. I was superbly happy, and entirely myself, but that self had grown in comprehension, and in power to experience contentment and bliss.

Then a voice came to my ears, and gradually I sensed a beautiful shining figure that said to me: ‘Here you see the land of pure content but you have left behind a land of passionate unrest. Do you not wish to help others to find the key to this place of joy?’

I was so overcome at never having thought of any one else for ages that I must have blushed like a schoolboy, but the Shining One didn’t seem to notice.

So I stammered that I really hadn’t grasped my whereabouts yet, and could he help me? He said: ‘No, you found the way, and the rest you must discover for yourself, but others may not be so fortunate and need helping.’ (9)

Despite that he didn’t want to leave the jungle, he followed the Shining One back to the battlefield where other dying soldiers were in need.

“I didn’t want to turn my back on this glorious place, but the Shining One promised to come with me and not leave me. He explained that I could always return just by recalling this place vividly and wishing myself here, and now equally you and I must see ourselves in the battle zone.

“I did most regretfully, and away we seemed to pass, or rather there was no passing, one surrounding faded out and another took shape.

“The jungle moved or dissolved and its place was taken by another sort of jungle full of men shouting orders and screaming in pain. I felt unable to bear it at first, but the Shining One said: ‘Come and stand by this man. He is about to pass over to our side.’” (10)

Sure enough, the man was shot and quickly crossed over.

A second later and a bullet had ripped through his stomach and he lay groaning at our feet. The Shining One bent down and touched his head and eyes and instantly the groaning ceased and I saw his spirit leave his tortured body, and looking dazed and pale joined us both in the deep foliage of the jungle.

Before I know what had happened we were back in the wonderful jungle; it was a delicious experience. The man who had joined us was one of our own men. A dull, quiet looking fellow. I hardly knew him.

He took no interest in games and was always reading. Now he brightened up suddenly upon catching sight of me, and said: ‘Hello, Sir, I didn’t think you’d be here. I thought I’d seen you killed some days ago.’

I said: ‘Yes, and I saw you killed some minutes ago.’ The Shining One looked at me and I knew I shouldn’t have broken the news so swiftly. But Burrows didn’t seem to mind.

‘Oh, well, I’ve copped it have I? Well, I don’t care, it’s awful fighting here and not much chance of getting out,’ was all he said. But ‘What’s it like here?’ he continued. I told him it was splendid, and that he had nothing to fear, and we walked about through the jungle clearing while the Shining One explained things to us. (11)

After he and his fellow soldier helped more people over and he attempted his first communication with earth, his next task was to retreat to his jungle paradise and rest.

“Soon we had both recovered from the shock and [the Shining One] took us back to the firing line to fetch more of our people and introduce them to this life. That is where we are now, and I wanted to get further and learn how to impress my thoughts upon the men in charge.

“I’m grateful to you for my first lesson; it doesn’t seem to have gone too badly, but I’m tired now and I’ll wish myself back in my jungle home of refreshment. I see there are no separate places, all are moods within ourselves, just like what we were taught as children. ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’” (12)

He could return to the colorful jungle any time he wanted, and he felt no pressure to return to the battlefield to help others. He did, however, feel a sense of responsibility for helping since he too was given assistance. By helping his fellow soldiers, he learned from his transition guide the best way to be of service.

Knowing his paradise was just a thought away, he and his new friend could will themselves onto the battlefield to help those about to cross over and, when he felt necessary, go back to his heavenly place. There were no constraints on his freedom, and he spent his time helping others because he wanted to.

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  1. Philip Gilbert through Alice Gilbert, medium. Philip in the Spheres. Ibid., 24.
  2. Paul Beard, Living On. How Consciousness Continues and Evolves After Death. Ibid., 64.
  3. Loc. Cit.
  4. Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Many Mansions. Ibid., 31-2.
  5. Loc. Cit.
  6. Loc. Cit.
  7. Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Many Mansions. Ibid., 32.
  8. Ibid., 33-4.
  9. Loc. Cit.
  10. Loc. Cit.
  11. Loc. Cit.
  12. Loc. Cit.

Photo Credit: crystalinks.com

About the author: 

Wes AnnacI’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run The Culture of Awareness, a daily news blog dedicated to raising social and spiritual awareness and supporting the evolution of the planet.

I also have a personal blog, Openhearted Rebel, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

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