The survival hypothesis is often cited as a possible explanation for observed paranormal phenomena. The hypothesis is seldom defined further than to say that people are a physical body with an etheric personality which survives beyond physical death and is able to communicate information from the etheric to the physical. The Association TransCommunication has been evolving this hypothesis as various forms of trans-etheric communication become better understood. This essay is part of a series written to develop this hypothesis based on that refined understanding.
A set of commonly reported phenomena are considered with the question, “If personality is separate from the physical body, then where is it and what is its relationship with the body?” Possible relationships are modeled and tested against these phenomena using point of view as a reference. The tentative conclusion is that a personality with a point of view firmly situated in the etheric, and entangled with the physical body in an avatar-like relationship seems to best satisfy observed phenomena. Input from other researchers is called for to better understand this model.
Are we more than our body? Does a part of us exist independent of our body? When our body “dies,” does a part of us continue elsewhere? If so, what part of us continues, where does it survive and how? It is not enough to say that we survive death. Saying that alone signals a faith-based belief, while in fact, there is growing empirical evidence that establishes the fact of survival and helps describe what that means.
In parapsychology, explanations for how a person might be able to access information beyond normal sensing usually include fraud, clever guessing, super-psi and the “survival hypothesis.” In most essays, the author focuses more on philosophical arguments about evidence and seldom addresses how such explanations might be practically implemented; if it is fraud, how is it done; if it is survived personality, why does that answer the evidence and how?
The Trans-survival Hypothesis was written to facilitate the discussion of transcommunication. It is based on a perceptual view of these phenomena, rather than a philosophical one. The first test of the hypothesis is whether it can address how survival might be possible. To answer that, the nature of survival must be addressed, and of course, the answer to that depends on the functional relationship between the physical body and what survives. This essay is intended to begin a dialogue that might lead to a more sensible model of survival.
Biofield: Life-based energy sometimes referred to as “human energy fields.” Since all life appears to involve such energy, “biofield” is more inclusive. This is sometimes treated as a form of energy that is not physical; however, while there is an electromagnetic component emanating from physical processes, there is also an etheric component that is not physical, but should be referred to as psi for now. The psi component of the biofield would be directly influenced by intentionality and is often characterized with such terms as auric, kundalini, human magnetism, spiritual energy, chi, vitality, od and orgon energy–all cultural and generational terms for essentially the same characteristic of psi. Biofield might be considered a mechanism for the sense of connectedness many people report in meditation. It is considered here as a transition energy between etheric and physical.
Energetic: In metaphysical cosmologies, an object of reality is said to be “energetic” in agreement with an aspect of reality (etheric space, so to speak). Information about the nature of etheric energy is speculative, but observations suggest that objects composed of energy of similar nature are more able to associate. As an example, an entity might say that it is able to communicate with a particular person because that person has a similar “vibration.”
Entanglement: This is a reference to a principle of quantum physics, which is sometimes used in psychical research to describe the relationship between a practitioner, information or a sitter which is either present or distant. “Connectedness” or “biofield” is used in this essay for that meaning. Here, we us “entanglement” to indicate the relationship of a personality with its body. This is a form of energetic entanglement which enables the etheric intention to manifest as a physical influence. In this case, “entanglement” represents the characteristic of transforming etheric intention to physical action.
Trans-survival Hypothesis versus the Survival Hypothesis
It is important to note the distinction between the survival hypothesis referred to in parapsychology and the Trans-survival Hypothesis.
Survival Hypothesis: Referred to in parapsychology as a contending theory to explain psi phenomena. The alternative theory most often referred to is the Super-psi Hypothesis. This version of the survival hypothesis is virtually always used in a general sense to say that mind and body are not the same, mind survives the body and is able to communicate across the veil.
Trans-survival Hypothesis: Transcommunication has shown that the survival hypothesis referred to in parapsychology is essentially correct, but the Directors have expanded the theory to such an extent that it would be a misrepresentation to suggest it is the same as referred to in parapsychology.
Etheric: Mainstream thought assumes that there is only physical reality. However, to discuss alternative models, it is necessary to hypothesize the existence of a nonphysical aspect of reality. This is referred to here as the “etheric,” and is thought to be conceptual in nature with a fundamentally different form of energy that is a precursor to the energy found in the physical. It is sometimes referred to as “the etheric” or “etheric space.”
Non local: One need not be where the information is to access it; everywhere equally accessible.
Personality: Point of view; essence of who we really are. This is what we encounter as communicating entities and as we think of our “etheric friends.” It does not presuppose that this entity has a “body” of some kind, as it may be more like a nexus of points of view in a biofield. In virtually all of the ongoing trans-etheric communication, the communicator eventually indicates that it is part of a group–either a group of cooperating personalities or a personality representing a group consciousness.
Psi functioning: Sensing and influencing the biofield. This includes such human abilities as telepathy, ESP, telekinesis and clairvoyance. Commonly referred to as “psychic,” but also includes energy healing and probably mediumship.
Super-Psi Hypothesis: Ability to access information with other than the five senses. It does not allow for survival of personality but does require that the energy organized by information remains indefinitely and is nonlocal—everywhere accessible via psi functioning.
Survival Hypothesis: A theory proposing the nature of postmortem survival of personality in etheric “space.”
Where are we when we look into this world through our body’s eyes? Commonly held views are proposed here and evaluated for how well each agrees with what how selected phenomena are experienced. Please note that one seems to best answer the current evidence, but not all of the evidence is in.
The box in the icons used to symbolize these relationships represents the physical world while outside of the box is the greater reality (etheric space). The man represents the physical body and the sunburst represents personality. The eye stands for point of view.
The mainstream view of who we are
Given: there is only body
It is reasonably safe to speculate that our physical body has evolved on this planet, and like other animals, it has evolved instincts intended to assure survival as a species. It has a hindbrain supporting body consciousness which assures the proper functioning of the body and manages its survival instincts. In this way, the body is a conscious life form and probably experiences a form of transition at death. This survival is believed to be of a different order than the survival of personality.
Therefore, personality and body are one
The mainstream view is that the mind is the product of the brain. The mind exists entirely within the brain and all functions of mind can be attributed to processes within the brain.
The Super-Psi Hypothesis
Personality and body are one and subtle energy exists
This is the same as “Mind and body are one” with the exception that it allows for the existence of a subtle energy (biofield) which permeates all of the physical universe. Each person is thought to be connected to the whole by this energy, and through psi functioning, is aware of different parts of this energy.
The Trans-survival Hypothesis
Personality is independent of the physical body
This view requires that there is an aspect of reality that is not physical, which is referred to here as the etheric aspect or the greater reality. This view suggests that the physical body evolved in the physical and hosts the etheric personality which evolved in the greater reality.
If this relationship is correct, then it must be asked how the two aspects are related. That is, is the personality stuck “inside” the physical body until the body dies, is it outside like some kind of a puppet master able to go elsewhere at any time or is it something between these extremes.
Possible Personality-Body Models
Etheric Point of view: This is a beginning point for considering the relationship between body and personality. As the counterpoint to “There is only body,” this would be more like what we would expect to find with a transitioned or discarnate personality. This view is included for completeness and comparison.
Body as protective “suit” for personality: This is the most commonly used model for the survival hypothesis. The view is that personality becomes energetically entangled with the body at the time the body is released from the mother’s aura. Entanglement is necessary because it permits the personality to express an etheric influence in the physical, and as such, physical people are the conduit for all trans-etheric influences.
Since the personality is so closely associated with the body, communication between the personality and other personalities in the etheric was thought to depend on the ability of the entangled personality to dissociate from the body well enough to become temporarily energetically in agreement with the communicating entities. In this context, that is the definition of mental mediumship.
Body as drone directed by personality: In this view, the “drone” is self-directed by its hindbrain, but motivated by personality which remains in the etheric with limited entanglement. An important question about the biofield is how influence is propagated: physical-to-physical or physical-to-etheric-to-physical. The evidence seems to indicate the latter as the “rule,” which poses a problem for the idea of entanglement as viewed in the body as a protective suit for personality.
Body as avatar for personality: In Hinduism, “Avatar” is based on Sanskrit for “descent” and is used to describe a deliberate descent of a deity into the physical world. In the West, this is interpreted as “incarnation.” The term is used here to indicate a relationship between an etheric personality and a physical body in which the personality is “as if” it is in the body, but remains in the etheric. While the personality retains awareness of its etheric presence as a point of view, it also maintains an awareness of its physical presence and point of view.
The important distinction in this view is that personality fully identifies with both environments. In this mode, it is able to cause a trans-etheric influence via entanglement with the body, but also maintain a point of view that is local and nonlocal, thus accounting for the layered consciousness that so befuddles us all.
The Implicit Cosmology is a perception-based model focus on the personality-physical body relationship and the nature of reality in which this relationship exists. The proposed models described above will be rated in the accompanying table as to how well they account for the different ways we sense this energy. From the table:
The perception that mind is in our head: Each of us experiences our world as if we are the center of reality.
Biological instincts: As a life form that has evolved in the physical, the physical body has instincts that serve to facilitate survival of the species.
Personality Imperative: Just as there are “urges” governing the instinctive behavior of the physical body, so are there urges guiding the behavior of the personality. For instance, the urge to learn naturally resulting in the urge to teach. Also, the attraction to experiences and desire to understand their implications.
Layered awareness: In psychology, it is understood that there are a number of states of awareness. When sleeping, we experience an alpha state which is apparently necessary for the ordering of mental processes such as memory, and other states that give us access to dreamscapes, some of which are very vivid.
Apparent existence of a biofield permeating all of reality: Psychical research is showing that there is a field of as yet undefined energy which is detectible by its influence on random processes as an increase in order. This field appears to be associated with the expression of intent.
Psi functioning: Psychical research is also showing that people are able to influence this biofield with the expression of focused intention.
Mediumship: There is good evidence that people are able to communicate with discarnate personalities.
Nonlocality: Psi functioning seems to indicate that information is everywhere available; all of reality is “here” in “information space.”
Connectedness: The sense that we are part of a community so that what one does has an effect on everyone else. Relating this to nonlocality, being able to psychically access information seems to imply that, either that information is nonlocal or that we are somehow connected to that person.
Telekinesis: The apparent movement of objects via psi functioning. Famous is poltergeist activity, but also such examples as table levitation.
Audio ITC: The production of messages from discarnate personalities in audio-electronic devices.
Visual ITC: The production of faces of discarnate people in displays such as photographs and video recordings.
Past life memory: Induced or spontaneous remembrance of a lifetime before this.
Survived personality: The evidence that some part of a person has survived bodily death and continues to interact with the physical.
Vivid (non-REM) dreams: It is clear that the body has a dream state required for the physiological and mental health of the body, but there are also vivid, interactive dreams that go beyond daily experience and that are clearly unrelated to the physical present.
Entanglement: This is reference to the relationship between the personality and the body. Evidence is mounting that this relationship is necessary for the psi functioning influence of the physical.
There are sure to be more phenomena to be considered and some of these may need to be discarded. The objective here is to begin the process of evaluating personality-body models.
Please take some time to examine the table. Each parameter is explained above. The real issue is how the experienced phenomena (vertical axis) should be related to the proposed personality models (horizontal axis). Read the table left-to-right so that, if we are our body, which of the characteristics can be possible? If the existence of a biofield but no etheric aspect of realty is allowed, then which are possible? If the etheric is also allowed, then which point of view best answers the evidence?
The right half of the table is based on the question, if etheric space exists, then where is the point of view for the real us? You will notice that all of the characteristics are marked for the “Avatar” point of view
When evaluating the different relationships between personality and body based on the experienced phenomena, consider what you might be aware of in each situation. For instance, if you are operating the body as you might a radio controlled aircraft, then you would probably have situational awareness, including the five senses, but you might not sense the influence of instinctive reactions, such as the sudden urge to kill for food. How to rate these are all judgment calls because there are few empirical studies to guide us.
A fundamental concept is that intentionality is a function of personality. If personality primarily exists in the etheric, then the expression of intention to influence subtle energy such as the biofield is necessarily a trans-etheric influence. “X” placement has been determined, based on what personality would be aware of and have influence on.
The survival hypothesis is traditionally described in terms of the personality existing in the physical because of the protection of the physical body. That is, the body is said to act as a physical host for the etheric personality, and without the body the personality would not be able to live in, experience or influence the physical aspect of reality. When the host “died,” the etheric personality could no longer remain in the physical and thus was free to return to its more natural environment; the body was like a space suit, as described in this essay.
It is also traditional to describe the relationship between a person (personality) and personalities in the etheric as “We are here and they are there.” Current research is showing that biofield energy is influenced by intentionality and this can be detected as an increased order in random processes. In Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), the increased order is better described as an emergent intended order. With a layered consciousness, where we place our attention is important as to how we are able to express intention. “Willing” a result is generally futile but intending a result from a state of deep meditation is more often effective.
An important concept is that, while time and distance are a factor on this side of the veil, all physical time is “now” and all physical distance is “here” for an etheric entity. If this is true, then a physical person with an etheric personality would experience the nonlocality of information and connectedness of humanity when the point of view is in the etheric.
When operating from a deep, meditative state, we are likely working from the perspective of our etheric personality; that is our point of view. This further suggests that influence of subtle energy in the physical is a trans-etheric influence and not a physical-to-physical influence. The model that seems to best describe this is the avatar relationship. In that, our personality is solidly in the etheric, but is in a communion-like relationship with the physical body. We probably lack the vocabulary to describe this relationship, but the important point to look at is that changing our worldview to think of ourselves as etheric beings might very well change the way we experience the physical.
In the Avatar view, our loved ones are not “always with us,” but instead, “we are always with them.” A commonly reported characteristic of our etheric communicators is that they are either part of a group personality or representing a group of personalities. The indication is that all of us are actually one in the sense that we are part of a common field of awareness and that our point of view is what establishes us as a personality that is uniquely “who we are.” If this is true, then communication with a loved one or accessing particular information may depend more on our ability to widen our point of view or perhaps even deliberately merge our personality with our greater Self for the purpose of communication. This would also be true of instrumental forms of communication.
If this hypothesis is correct, then the real task is learning how to incorporate that deep meditative state, clear visualization and focused intention into our daily lives. It is unrealistic to try to live life while always in a deep trance. One training aid can be found in the Hemi-Sync offered by the Monroe Institute. Any organization offering binaural-beat entrainment for meditation can help to train the mind to more often live in a focused attention state of mind that can be beneficial in developing more mindful living.