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As a world we are getting pretty jazzed on future missions to Mars. Movies are made about it, and even have that name. We as a country are in a race against other nations to get to the red planet first. Not just to visit but to set up stations and live.

I hear that for a small price you can even reserve a spot on the first mission. Just a shameless marketing scheme to separate you from your hard-earned $100,000, or the price Tesla's Elon Musk says it should cost to move to Mars. The day that humans live on other planets is in the far distant future, so distant in fact that you or I will have vacated our earthly vehicles long before it's time to board one of silica tiles, the preferred building material of the space age. 

Speaking of death, that is one certainty, a fate shared by all living things. And though so many of us are caught up with the question of whether there are other life forms in the Universe, few seem very concerned with where our spirits are headed. That is, whether there is life after life. What is the nature of the Great Beyond, as I called the hereafter in one novel that nobody has read.

If you are dozing as you read this, you are on the right track. Because an important clue to the afterlife can be found in sleep. One of my favorite songs from childhood is Heart's These Dreams. Such aching sadness! But the influence of dreams in your life is anything but sad.

Herodotus, the father of history, tells how ancient kings would determine their decisions in battle based on the previous night's reveries. Do your dreams influence your waking state? You can be damn sure they do. You may not even remember your dreams, but any psychologist worth his salt will tell you dreams form impressions that act on your subconscious mind, whose influence is felt in every conscious breath you take, or move you make - another splendid song from the same time period as that by Heart.

Dreamland is a fantastic realm that can inform our waking hours. It can do much more. As I see it, dreamland is analogous to the afterlife. And I am not alone in this view. The ancient Rishis, or mystics of India, posited three bodies: the causal, the subtle and the gross. Each body corresponds to a particular state of consciousness: waking, dreaming and deep, dreamless sleep. 

The gross body engages in behavior during the waking hours. It is your physical body that eats, breeds and moves through the environment. The subtle body is active during your dreams; it explores other (read: unearthly) dimensions and interacts with other subtle bodies. And the causal body, the seed of your existence, your essence, the Rishis associated with deep dreamless sleep. The Void. Unconsciousness. The origin of life. Where we are from and where we shall return. God.

And so each 24-hour period is in microcosm what the soul experiences throughout eternity, emerging as it does from the source of all (deep, dreamless sleep) to play its part in life (the waking hours) and then to bid this world adieu and surf the afterlife, which is analogous to dreamland. And dreamland really is similar in essence to the afterlife, as both represent an immaterial plane of existence, or thought realm, where you are unencumbered by a gross physical body, but where things don't seem as real. For how can you really "sink your teeth into" something when the subtle body has no chompers?

And it is in dreamland that most visitations with deceased loved ones occur. The encounters I've had with my mother and brother since their respective deaths, and I have had several, have all occurred in the small hours. And it is my dream (subtle) body that interacts with their subtle (disembodied) forms, while my physical body lies asleep in bed and theirs is scattered in the garden outside my bedroom.

When we leave our body we enter the world of a dream. Who knows how long this dream lasts or if time is of a different nature after death. It may very well be. Minutes may seem like little eternities, or it may be the other way around. It is believed that as disembodied souls we review our lives and if desired choose the circumstances for subsequent births on Earth, at which point we see our future selves in a flash and then forget the vision so we can live our new incarnation surprised by what lies ahead. Once reborn we suffer a memory loss, forgetting whence we came and why. In light of this amnesia, it is as if we never lived before. For what good is having a former existence if I cannot remember the fact? 

It is said that the greatest reward for a life well-lived is to "merge with God." This is what we do each night when we fall asleep. We lose consciousness, and with it cognizance of time and space. We awake refreshed, and feel we slept well, not because we can remember having slept, but we remember not having stirred. In deep sleep we lose ourselves, and we merge into something that is at once everything, and also nothing. And so it is with death, when we chose to discard our gross body and our subtle body and abide in the causal body, that is to say merge with God, the cause of all. In case you were wondering.

On another note, all I wanna do is make love to you. Just another song by Heart that I admire.


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