What is it Like on the Other Side

Revised 2018


This is an essay describing a composite view of transition and the other side. In more common terms, it is about what people can expect when they die and what it is like in heaven.

“What it is like on the other side” is probably the number one question about death and dying, but unfortunately, it is also the question with the least understood answer; or probably more correctly stated, the one that has the least agreement amongst metaphysicians.


This essay began as a response to a question from a website visitor about the nature of the other side. I answered the question answered from the perspective of the actual nature of reality, as opposed to the popular wisdom commonly held by many modern seekers. The difference is a point of view that I am always striving for objective understanding of the actual nature of reality, as opposed to one accepting the ancient wisdoms and modern channeled material which is unavoidably colored by the ancient wisdoms.

The answer given the website visitor was written before I began formulating the Implicit Cosmology. (1) So naturally, it has undergone a number of revisions as I aligned it with my current understanding.

Old Beliefs Versus New Understanding

I began answering the question by explaining why the usual sources for information are not widely accepted by researchers who seek an objective view of reality. Having studied these concepts since the early 1950s, I can say that the old truths based on ancient wisdoms and channeled guidance are slowly giving way to more contemporary understanding based on well-considered research and better-informed models.

Most of what we are told about the other side is conveyed to us via a medium. That is, a physical person has made contact with an etheric personality and has in some way conveyed information from the etheric to the physical.

Having a person in the path of communication is seen as a problem because research is showing that the beliefs of the medium are more involved in the message than popular wisdom would have us believe. In mediumship, what they call coloring is the medium’s own worldview contaminating the information coming from the etheric communicator. This is a known problem, and because of it, mediumistic messages are almost always taken with considerable reservation by researchers seeking objective evidence.

For instance, mediums who are very religious might color a message originating as “I am part of your group” to be delivered as “I am God.” People who are fond of conspiracy theories might color a message that originated as “Change is a natural part of growth” to be delivered as “beware of change in your life.”

Careful reading of the Trans-Survival Hypothesis (2) will show that we think all transcommunication must pass through the worldview of a physical person. That is because, based on emerging mainstream and parapsychological research, all information first comes to our mostly unconscious mind where it is filtered according to worldview before being presented to conscious awareness.

The filtering process based on worldview is where the coloring occurs. For most of us, it is beyond conscious control. The only way we can control it is by managing what is allowed into worldview beforehand. That is accomplished by habitually having the intention to examine our thoughts while trying to understand their consequences. I refer to developing this habit as the mindful way.

Lucidity is the conscious awareness of our perceptual and expressive processes. It ranges from unquestioning acceptance of what we have been taught and its implications to spontaneous examination and understanding of our worldview.

Old Models of Reality

From the Handbook of Metaphysics: The hierarchical cosmology as described in the Hermetic Qabalah (as if a layer cake) works in conversation as a means of indicating here and relatively not here as one moves into other aspects of reality.

As you can tell from my other essays, finding ancient wisdoms that seem to agree with our more contemporary models is especially interesting for me. As it turns out, what I tell you about mindfulness has been revealed to humanity many times over the millennia. However, ancient translators tended to hide the lessons in local religious beliefs or the social engineering preferred by the priesthood.

It is understandable that there would be some cultural contamination. For people who think they are their body, the nature of reality must be explained from that body-centric perspective. We stand on the ground and look up to heaven. We understand concepts like vibration and density. It seems obvious that humans are above animals who are above plants and minerals. But then, gods must always be above humans. Some humans are more spiritually advanced than others, so they must exist above the rest of us but not all the way to the gods.

Probably as an early attempt to explain concepts such as progression and spiritual maturity, ancient teachers developed cosmologies based on something of a layer-cake model. The models are not necessarily wrong from the human perspective, but they tend to cloud the ancient messages when considered from our actual etheric nature.

If you should ever attempt to explain a metaphysical concept using the perspective of the Implicit Cosmology, you will learn that even modern people are mostly unable—certainly unwilling—to comprehend reality from the perspective of their immortal self. They might understand they are not their body but remain unable to shift their perspective. It has taken me years and remains a journey not yet finished.

My first effort to develop a model of reality was with the Handbook of Metaphysics (3) published by Christopher Publishing House in 1994. The book included a discussion about several of the more popular cosmologies.

The Handbook of Metaphysics was published. But, it was my first effort and I did not understand publisher and author roles. The publisher took my manuscript and went right to publishing without any copyediting. It was not widely distributed and is now out of date. Until I find time to produce a second edition, it remains a rarity on the market, but otherwise just a title.

I have also studied mediumship and the information we receive via mediumship, both (mostly) conscious and deep trance. This study has included attending many classes and continued efforts to develop my mediumistic ability. While I am convinced some information brought via mediumship is meaningful, I am painfully aware of the problem of coloring. This applies to all forms of information access that involves our mostly unconscious-to-conscious self as the channel.

The most common response I receive when trying to explain elements of the Implicit Cosmology are based on the other person’s strong convictions that the layer-cake model is correct. For instance: “… the astral-ethereal body is a substantive second body.” Or, “ … It is not an illusionary construct, it’s a very real body ….”

“Very real body” is a direct rejection of the suggestion that we experience reality as an ideoplastic construct based on worldview. It is true that the body is experienced as being very real, but the speaker is ignoring what is being learned about our perceptual process and how it is guided by what we have been taught.

Ideoplastic: The Ideo- prefix means idea or image. Ideoplastic is used here to mean the nature of objects formed in the creative process as a mind to object expression. Ideoplasy means the process of formation. The term was coined by Max Vorworm. While ectoplasmic forms in the séance room are ideoplastic, according to the Implicit Cosmology, all of the physical is an idioplasmic creation of minds.

The old models have some value, but they need to be reconsidered with emerging understanding about the nature of mind. It is this reconsideration that is so strongly resisted.


Death or dying is a meaningful term when we think of ourselves as our physical body. However, we are not our physical body. Our body is just our host and avatar for this lifetime. When our avatar is no longer able to support us in this lifetime, we begin a process of transition out of this lifetime that is thought to eventually take us to a new venue for learning.

Think of our conscious self as a video camera. The lens of the camera is our human’s eyes when our body is awake, and our perspective is associated with it.

It is normal for us to dissociate from our body. Daydreaming is a light form of dissociation. A light trance is a form of dissociation. Sleep is a more complete dissociation. However, while the body lives, we continue to share worldview, so that our stream of consciousness is always colored by our human’s instincts.

As we understand the process, when we die, this dissociation becomes complete and permanent. It appears the difference between a deep dissociative state and death is the release from influence of our human instincts. This release begins the transition process and also marks the first time we have been without the burden of human instincts since birth.

Beginning Transition

We think all of us experience a short period of shock when we physically die, followed by a period of getting well. That is thought to be followed by a period of adjustment and finally, a second transition into a new venue for learning. The new venue could be in the physical, but it could as well be in some other imagined world.

During the initial shock of transition, we think it is relatively easy for the entity to remain perceptually close and communicate with people in the physical. Keep in mind that this is not physically close. Think of yourself as the center of reality; in fact, the Axis Mundi spoken of in many systems of thought. Axis Mundi is a reference to the center of the world or connection between heaven and earth. We are that. Being perceptually close means that we are able to clearly visualize our physical life as it was. By doing so, in effect, we are able to be there.

The early phase in transition seems to be when we are apt to experience the tunnel some people report in near-death experiences. I am not qualified to speak of the near-death experience; however, I believe the Implicit Cosmology is rather different from what most theoreticians have considered, so I am going to speculate. The Implicit Cosmology predicts the influence of our human’s mind is separated from our worldview at the beginning of transition. That sudden freedom from controlling instincts must be expected to produce a period of confusion.

Since worldview is thought to be the primary factor forming our perception of reality, the perception of passing through a tunnel may possibly be a resulting perceptual artifact. Our human instincts cause us to always be aware of our surroundings. Let us call that awareness, peripheral attention. When we are free of that urge to see everything, we are, probably for the first time in the lifetime, able to truly focus our attention. It may be that we experience this new focus literally as tunnel vision. This would only last while the Attention Complex of our mind adjusts its perceptual processes. Refer the Basic Functional Areas of Perception Diagram.Basic_Functional_Areas_of_Perception

Even though our natural habitat is the etheric, we spend a lifetime being convinced we are our body. We create our physical environment according to what we have learned. Based on reports from recently transitioned people, we will continue to create a version of our body during the transition period, and probably a version of our familiar world. Those of us who have been conditioned to think of the next world as a brighter, more colorful and magical place, are also conditioned to find their new world to be that way. In effect, that has become as real a New Ager’s heaven as that promised by religions.

Imagine the shock of suddenly finding that we are no longer in our lifetime but are still in a body. Old rules would seem not to apply as we realized our intention was so influential that we could actually imagine ourselves somewhere and be there. In time, we would discover that our body was no longer crippled with age. We would feel young and strong again, and so, find that our body was also once again young and strong.

From the reports, we think memory of our physical life remains strong as a visualized reality. As with our body, at first, we probably continue to create physical reality more or less as we remember. During that time, we are more able to impress our influence on the physical and our thoughts on people close to us.

Our ability to influence the physical is a function of how well we can mentally associate ourselves with it. As we come to realize we are no longer part of that old reality, our perception will begin to shift toward our new situation. If, for some reason, we do not allow ourselves to turn toward the new situation, it is possible we will remain perceptually close to the physical. It may be this refusal to accept change that causes some personalities to seem earthbound, possibly even to produce haunting-like effects in the physical.

As a device in the novel, Two Worlds, One Heart, (4) I used the idea that it was possible to move between alternate timestreams by changing the person’s perspective to agree with the intended reality. As a modern Californian, time shifting to join a pre-colonial Native American society was accomplished by remembering or clearly visualizing what it is to be immersed in that perspective.


An important experience reported by near-death experiencers is the presence of loved ones and guides. Again, I am not qualified to speak with any authority about near-death experiences; however, the Implicit Cosmology does provide a little guidance.

The way we experience the perceptual presence of a loved one or interested personality is subject to what we have been taught to expect. While still more associated with the physical, we expect to experience the presence of a person as a physical person.\

As a mental medium, I am occasionally aware of the presence of other people’s discarnate loved ones. I am even sometimes able to describe them and their mannerisms. Still, there are times when I only sense their attention on me and the intended receiver of the message. I am never sure, but I think it is by following the sensed personality’s thread of attention that I discover for whom the message is intended.

On days in which my lucidity is not clear, my delivery becomes “I have a message for someone in this part of the room.” In Spiritualism, this is bad form for a medium. Part of the demonstration of mediumship in Spiritualism is supposed to be the ability to know who the message is for. I should be calling out the intended sitter. For instance, “Jeff, may I come to you?”

So, as a practical matter, I know etheric personalities are at least occasionally close to us. This is not a “Move over, you are standing on your uncle” kind of thing. The personality comes perceptually close by turning its attention to us, even as we can see a loved one in our mind’s eye by thinking of them.

We have quite a lot of friends on the other side. The ones I think are arguably true include:

Our collective. In the Implicit Cosmology, each of us is an aspect of a local creator personality, even as it is an aspect of another, and so on, as one looks to Source. We are all direct or indirect aspects of Source.

When we create an aspect of ourselves to experience an imagined situation, that aspect and memory of attendant experience remain with us. Think of all of the aspects you have created as a collective of personalities sharing you as their source. In the same sense, you are part of a collective.

Think of where those aspects exist. They are not out there somewhere in space. They are where you are, in your life field. Everywhere is here.

According to the model, aspects are created to gain understanding about some part of reality. In principle, the source personality has not gained the understanding it seeks until the collective of personalities it created have gained their portion of that understanding. In the end, they are all one mind just as your aspects are all one mind … as they are held in our worldview.

The guide we have been taught to look for on the other side is likely part of our collective. Members of our collective are vested in your success and can be expected to help you cross. See Cooperative Collective in Personality-Centric Perspective.

Loved ones. People in the physical with whom we have a close relationship are apt to become more present for us when we enter into the etheric. This is equally true of close acquaintances such as workmates and fellow military. These friends come to us when we think of them now, not in a physical sense, but perceptually near.

In Ethics as a Personal Code for Mindfulness(5) I began an example code of ethics with advice from the channeled entity known as Seth who advised: Do not violate.

Common guidance for seeking help from our friends on the other side is that we must ask them. They cannot impose their help on us. There are also practical limits to the kind of help we can be given. For instance, they are not going to help us impose our will on someone or interfere with a lesson our core intelligence seeks. The point is that they will be present to help as they can, should we be open to the help.

Teachers. This is an interesting concept. While you read this book, I am your teacher. In effect, you have asked for help and I have agreed to provide that help as I am able. Unlike your guides who have a vested interest in you, I apparently have a vested interest in all of the collectives associated with this venue. Even after so many years trying to communicate these ideas, I still have no idea what motivates me. It remains an itch I can only scratch by teaching.

We know that some personalities purposely remain perceptually close to the physical so as to be better able to provide guidance. The control personalities known to help physical mediums are one example. Channeled entities are another. Jane Roberts’ Seth, (6) for instance.

Following the Implicit Cosmology, we will have attracted a teacher personality if we have consciously expressed the intention to gain understanding. Presumably, the same intended understanding might be gained from many different kinds of experiences, such as baseball or hunting. Thus, it is reasonable to think a great warrior personality might attract a warrior-like personality as an etheric teacher.

If we have a conscious relationship with such a teacher, it is reasonable that we would be greeted by that teacher when we make our transition.

Devic personalities. My early efforts to develop a cosmology included a source at the top of two parallel hierarchies of personalities. One hierarchy represented experiencers such as you and me. The other represented formative personalities generally known as devas, but also known as angles and nature spirits. The idea was that reality needed personalities who were not so concerned with gaining understanding as they were in helping others to have experiences to gain understanding.

The lord of the physical plane was actually a formative personality in that cosmology. One source for that thinking came from the work of Paul Twitchell. (7) He taught about a personality named Kal Niranjan who is said to be the lord of the lower planes. Kal is also known as the Devil because he is thought to be the instrument of our lessons, many of which can be learned via painful experiences.

In the Trimurti concept of Hinduism, the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva the destroyer or transformer. Kal Niranjan relates to the Shiva aspect, seemingly the destroyer or Devil, but actually the transformer or teacher.

In terms of the Bible, devic personalities are angles. In other systems, they are nature spirits. Every aspect of life is said to have a devic personality assigned to help in the life functions. For instance, the elementals of Western mythology and New Age lore.

As I evolved the Implicit Cosmology, it became clear that reality is self-regulated, so that the formative function is an integral part of every life field, as what I refer to as a core intelligence. For our human avatar, this is the body mind which maintains the body image used for the ongoing formation of every cell. For our immortal self, it is associated with our etheric personality, which is the intelligence (I am this) for which we are conscious self (I think I am this).

We, as immortal self, create thoughtforms based on our beliefs. It is possible, even likely that, when we begin transition and are free on the blinding influence of our human body vision, we will become aware of the thoughtforms we have created. For instance, if we are very involved in systems of thought based on gardening with nature spirits, we can expect to encounter nature spirits in our new reality.

In the same way, strong belief in Jesus will likely produce a Jesus thoughtform during our transition.

Perception Adjustment

A getting well period is thought to be needed for the newly discarnate personality to adjust perception of what is real (at least more real). The transition process allows the personality to realize that old handicaps no longer apply. Many of the reports we have heard include the expression of happiness in no longer needing a wheelchair or no longer being in pain.

We think this is also when we undergo a self-evaluation of our past lifetime. The self-evaluation is that dreaded judgment we are always warned about, but instead of our being judged by some authority on high, it is a personal process in which we sense how our actions affected others.

During the series of 4Cell EVP Demonstrations, (8) a question posed by Terry Dulin was “What were some of your misconceptions about death and/or life on the other side?” The response recorded by Vicki Talbott was her son Braden saying “Regrets.” The message is one of the confirmations we have encountered indicating we undergo a life review. And, since it is from the perspective of those with whom we interacted, it has the potential to bring regrets for our actions during the physical lifetime. In the context of this 4Cell session, it was understood by Vicki that Braden was reluctant to answer because he felt it would pain her to know that she would have to face her life-deeds, good and not so good. This is apparently true of all of us.

Memory of our physical lifetime fade as we become accustomed to our new surroundings. As we have noted, our etheric communicators sometimes behave as if they are living in a world much as they experienced in the physical. This is true even to the extent that they might refer to a heavenly grandma’s house at which members of the family in the etheric gather for a family dinner. We are told that our natural form is as a luminous being existing in a very luminous landscape. Ultimately, we are pure thought.

Noted that ITC messages are probably colored by the expectations of the practitioner. In fact, the message about grandma’s house might begin as a thoughtform representing something like “We are aware of each other and remain close in love.” It is the assumption of a person around the holidays that there would be a family gathering, and so it manifests in the ITC.


My assumptions about why we experience a lifetime are explained in Conditional Free Will. The idea is that we exist to gain understanding about specific aspects of the nature of reality and our relationship with it. This purpose manifests as an urge to have life experiences that might provide opportunities to gain bits of that understanding. Reality is complex, and understanding is seldom absolute. Since our ability to perceive reality depends on our current understanding, clear perception requiring many opportunities to converge on understanding the actual nature of reality.

We do not gain this understanding by ourselves. Members of our collective share the same urge to gain understanding, but of slightly different aspect of reality. We are pretty sure that, in some way, we compare our current understanding with the intended. This is possibly done with the cooperation of our collective.

Next Venue for Learning

In the Implicit Cosmology, the urge to gain understanding is modeled as a basic characteristic of a life field inherited from Source. That means I think we exist as Source’s effort to understand itself. As we respond to the urge to understand our particular aspect of reality, we become perceptually more in agreement with Source. In that way, we are moving closer to Source, or are returning, as it is sometimes stated in other systems of thought.

Based on the Implicit Cosmology, the most useful cosmology is that a venue for learning, such as the physical universe, is an aspect of reality created by many personalities cooperating to hold the physical in their imagination as a collective thoughtform. In this model, each creator personality has issued many aspects of itself into the physical to experience and gain understanding. Together, we aspects populate the physical, and by interacting with each other and the physical, provide one another with unique learning opportunities.

While the interaction may seem severe such as an “I will kill you this time and you kill me next” kind of cooperation, it may also be an “I will be your mother this time and you be mine next” relationship. It depends on the kind of experience that will provide the kind of understanding we seek.


An important point is that there are no enforcement officers making sure we do what we should. We are self-governing. By that, I mean that we are only able to experience what we can imagine and that is based on worldview. That is why we tend to create what we already know. It is also what limits the aspects of reality with which we are able to interface.

Moving On

This essay provides a simplistic view of transition. Certainly, there are a lot of details that will make our personal experience different from everyone else’s. However, this essay is generally accurate within the context of the Implicit Cosmology and reasonably reflects commonly reported near-death experiences.

The major differences between what we have been taught and what is explained here is the Implicit Cosmology. That, in turn, has been developed based on a foundation of current research and experience from ITC. If you do not accept the view posed in this essay, it might be good for you to review the evidence and be sure what you think is true is not just based on habit or faith.

The final assumption is that at some point in the process of reviewing what we understand, the need for additional opportunities to gain further understanding will become apparent.

Working with other members of our collective, it is expected that we will select a new venue for learning. It may be in the physical, on earth or another planet, but it might also be in an entirely different, nonphysical aspect of reality.

The reason I have written this book, and Your Immortal Self, is that I know we have complete control over our destiny, if only we understood the principles. Mindfulness is our tool for assuring a productive and enjoyable transition.

We can believe what we wish but it is important that we understand the implications of what we believe. The more our worldview is in accord with the actual nature of reality, the more successful we will have been in this lifetime. What we do matters, here and hereafter.


  1. Butler, Tom. Implicit Cosmology. Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/implicit-cosmology/.
  2. Butler, Tom. Trans-Survival Hypothesis. Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/trans-survival-hypothesis/.
  3. Butler, Tom. Handbook of Metaphysics: A plain English Discussion of New Age Concepts. Hanover : The Christopher Publishing House, ISBN: 0815804857, 1994. p. 385.
  4. Butler, Tom. Two Worlds, One Heart. Commonwealth Publications. Edmonton, Canada. 1995. ISBN: 1-55197-053-8.
  5. Butler, Tom. “Ethics as a Personal Code for Mindfulness.” Etheric Studies. 2016. ethericstudies.org/code-of-ethics/.
  6. Roberts, Jane. The Nature of Personal Reality. Amber-Allen Publishing and New World Library. San Rafael, Novato. 1974. ISBN 1-878424-06-8.
  7. Twitchell, Paul. The Flute of God. Eckankar. 1969. ISBN-13: 978-1570430329.
  8. Butler, Tom. “4Cell EVP Demonstration.” Association TransCommunication. 2005. atransc.org/4cell-evp-demonstration/.

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