These books reflect the tremendous amount of research that has been undertaken in the last few decades to determine what the next stage of existence may be like.
It will of course be utterly different from what we can imagine with our finite minds. The Sufis say that explaining the afterlife is like trying to explain to a foetus in the womb what it is like to be a human who has been born into this beautiful and complex world.
Those who have had glimpses of the next life say that time as we know it doesn't exist. Beings in the next stage of life experience time differently from us and are able to move back and forth in time.
Pain and suffering do exist in the next stage of existence for those who have turned away from the Light in this lifetime. This pain can be even more intense than what is felt here. But it apparently not eternal. People can and do change in the next stage of existence.
It is clear from reports of near death survivors that after this phase of existence we will have to review everything that we did and said in this lifetime, in the presence of a loving and compassionate Guide (Christ spirit), if we want such a guide to be present (some do not, and for them the life review is a fearful experience). Those who have hurt others will experience that hurt, while those who have love others will feel that love. This seems to be an inescapable reality of the next life stage.
My sense of the afterlife is that it a state of existence where we can (and must) make further progress in our journey towards the Divine. Some of us will choose to return to this physical existence (hence reincarnation), while others will enter into various planes of existence that will help us move closer to the ultimate goal, which is to become one with the One. I therefore believe that Hindus, Buddhists and Christians all have a piece of the truth about what the next stage of existence will be like.
But who knows, really? A few years ago this poem came to me:
This Must Be The Place
Some say it's like coming to a city at night
after a tedious drive through winding country roads
and you glance over a ridge and see a valley filled with stars
and you can't wait to get there
and finally encounter the place you've heard so much about.
And some say it's like leaving a city
you've lived in all your life
and driving down a long, dark road
with an overcast sky, and no signposts,
and no way back.
Some say you get a one-way ticket
with no refunds,
and others say it's like a revolving door,
you don't know whether you're coming or going.
Some say they've been there,
met the inhabitants, learned the geography,
and now can act as travel agents.
Others say they've been there, but there are no guidebooks,
just as blaze of light that puts in the shade
everything you've ever wanted or thought important here.
Some say there's no use talking of a place no one has ever seen,
it's like speculating about the dark side of Pluto.
Others say this place is the only one worth speculating about,
given the state this planet's in,
so keep your house in order and your suitcase packed.
Some say we're already there and don't even know it.
Some say to take one step at a time
and to watch out for loose rocks and
sudden turns in the road.