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Excerpt from "The Boy Who Died and Came Back "

Practicing Death

by Robert Moss


Because of my childhood, I have always known that there is life beyond physical death and that communication with the deceased is not difficult or supernatural, since they are with us or near us or available for encounters in their own realms. I have also come to appreciate how much courage and clarity we can bring to life choices when we are aware that death is always with us and that we should be ready to meet it any day. We don’t need to go through the extremity of a near-death experience to know about these things. The dead are available to instruct us, and we can learn to travel at will to meet them where they now live.

It is essential for us to understand that we live in the presence of the dead and want to be ready to die at any moment. Since then, I have been working for more than twenty years to help people understand that there is nothing weird about contact with the dead, who are alive in a world next door to us, whose borders are highly permeable.

Dreaming is practice for immortality, perhaps the best we have available. Why? Because dreaming is traveling. We journey effortlessly beyond body and brain, into realms beyond the fields we know in ordinary life. We travel to territories in which the dead are at home. In this way, we gain firsthand knowledge of the roads and conditions of the afterlife.

In dreams, we also receive visitations from the dead. They come for all the reasons we may contact each other in ordinary life, and then some. They come for healing and forgiveness. They come for an update on family affairs. They come with warnings and information. Sometimes they need help and information from us because they are lost or confused.

Tremendous numbers of people who are living in the afterworld are seeking to communicate with the living. In one of my workshops, I led forty active dreamers on a group shamanic journey, powered by drumming and focused by clear intention, to visit communications centers on the Other Side where the dead gather to try to contact the living. We found them using technologies both ancient and hypermodern, according to earthly notions. I found some gathered in an old-fashioned séance room, trying to call the living into their space, as Spiritists or mediums seek to call up the dead. In another space, the dead were trying to text and phone and make video calls to the living. I was especially intrigued by a special courier service. The dream messengers, called Zephyrs, were slim and elegant, almost diaphanous, in uniforms that recalled winged Mercury, but capable of putting on any costume that might help them get into the minds and memories of the people to whom they were tasked with bringing dream messages.

We may become open to contact with the dead in many ways: through the sense of a presence, through physical anomalies, through goose bumps, with the help of a go-between like a reputable psychic or shamanic practitioner. But the easiest way to communicate with the dead is through our dreams.

We may be catapulted into afterlife situations by a near-death experience or brave the gates of death in a shamanic journey or a ritual of deep initiation (which always requires death and rebirth). Yet, again, the easiest way to become familiar with the Other Side and develop a personal geography of the afterlife is through dreams and by developing the practices of Active Dreaming.

An old Lakota saying has it that “the path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams.” This is exact. In quoting this, I have often added the thought “except that after death, you don’t come back.” But that is not entirely correct. Some who have died do return to the body. I did this as a child, and so have millions of experiencers of what is now called the near-death experience (NDE). And the dead who have left their physical bodies behind for good return to us in subtle bodies.

We need to know at least a little about what happens when we die, and before we are born, in order to live well. Death is an incredible teacher. These things are too important for us to leave to hand-me-down religious dogmas or avoid through denial. Maps from recent travelers to the Other Side are good. If you are contemplating a trip abroad, it’s good to hear the opinions of others who have stayed in that hotel or taken that cruise. But the afterlife is infinitely malleable, ever changing, even within the battlements of the collective belief systems, so we’ll want to find out how things are for ourselves. The most reliable ways to do that are through contact with the dead and through personal travel in the realms where the dead are at home. Both are most easily and safely accomplished through dreaming.

You may say, “Why be in a hurry? We’ll find out about the afterlife when we are dead, yes?” Well, certainly. But I stand with Montaigne: “Since we do not know where Death will meet us, let us be ready to meet it everywhere.”

# # #

Robert Moss is the author of The Boy Who Died and Came Back and numerous other books about dreaming, shamanism, and imagination. He is a novelist, poet, and independent scholar, and the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism. He leads creative and shamanic adventures all over the world. Visit him online at www.mossdreams.com.

Adapted from the book The Boy Who Died and Came Back ©2014 by Robert Moss. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com


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