How can we come to realise that we live in a participatory universe,
that each of us, each minute part of us,
is a node within a vast network of creative dynamics,
unless we engage in practices that awaken our minds
to the realities of such participation?
Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace: The recovery of meaning in the postmodern age, 1991.
Notions and understandings of spirituality and the transpersonal in the post-modern 21st Century are diverse and changing. Individuals in the West, particularly in contemporary Australian society, are challenging existing faith allegiances and traditions so as to forge new and perhaps more meaningful connections and relationships with the sacred or the spiritually infinite on their own terms. Robust academic social science research which embraces scientific rationality is contributing to a growing understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of reality, and to how we understand ourselves as spiritual beings living in a dynamic and evolving material and spiritual universe.
This website aims to contribute toward the growing body of knowledge of the spiritual dimensions of reality. It takes its name from a PhD doctoral study which examined after-death contact occurring in adult bereavement entitled, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communiqué (Knight, 2011). The vision that is encapsulated within the presence of this website is twofold.
First, that transpersonal social science research develops benchmarks for spirituality and afterlife research. Second, that the outcome of such research be educational and potentially psychospiritually transforming for all involved in the research process.
After-death contact, which occurs cross-culturally and in situations not always related to bereavement, offers an invitation to consider “the fundamental wholeness and interconnectedness of human beings” (Swinton, 2006, Spirtuality and Mental Health). In so doing, it also extends an invitation to consider life and one’s participation in life from an alternate transpersonal perspective and understanding.
The social relevance of engagement between the embodied (the living) and the disembodied (the deceased) is one of deep profundity and meaning-making, possibly because such engagement posits the possibility that physical death propels the individual into a new environment in which they live in a different form.
The impact of after-death contact has the potential to initiate a psychospiritual paradigm shift, not just at an individual level but at a wider social and cultural level as well. It has this potential because it challenges notions and definitions of how we define reality and how we understand the spiritual foundations of our existence. In an attempt to understand ourselves, we come to consider ourselves not from the perspective of who we are, but from the perspective of what we are.
The findings reported in the study serve as a platform to extend an invitation to the visible social world. Significantly, they position that invitation within the public domain. In so doing the study acts as a medium through which the idea, after-death contact can bring about change of being of the experient, is seeded into receptive minds.
Ideas are powerful things because they can evoke change, and how that change manifests either in the individual or wider society can have a profound influence for all concerned. Thus, after-death contact is a contributing factor influencing the potential possibility of spiritual growth and development of the collective psyche of humanity; mankind. But after-death contact presupposes something else as well.
It brings hope, comfort and a sense of wonder and awe. How each individual experiences these is unique to them. Perhaps the hope is that life is not meaningless after all because we understand that while we are mortal and live a mortal life in the flesh, we are at the same immortal because when we die we live life in an alternate non-material form. Perhaps the comfort comes from knowing that though those close to us have physically died and now cease to exist in mortal form, in truth they are not really gone from us. Perhaps the sense of wonder and awe comes from realising that there is something fundamentally good at work in people’s lives of an uplifting nature, which teaches, educates and instructs.