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A Note On The Afterlife
Of all living creatures, human beings alone know they will someday die

Of all living creatures, human beings alone know they will someday die. They do not know, however, when that dreaded moment will occur. And they do not know what, if anything, happens beyond the door of death.

The afterlife is one topic that has confounded theorists, scientists, religious leaders and agnostics.

Data does exist on matters concerning a belief in an afterlife. But the data weaves a symbiotic relationship among three independent experiences, the NDE (Near Death Experience), the OBE (Out of Body Experience), and the belief in Life After Death which invites consideration of the idea of Rebirth or Reincarnation.

A 1998 survey from the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center found that 81% of Americans believe in life after death, more than at any time in the past 25 years. On August 6,1998 the magazine show "48 Hours," hosted by Dan Rather, devoted its entire program to life after death. It reported not only that 82% of Americans believe in an afterlife but also that two-thirds of all atheists state that they, too, believe in an afterlife.

On March 31, 1997 U.S. News' cover story asked: "Is there life after death?" This article states: "As sophisticated medical technology has permitted more and more people to journey back from the brink of death, such seemingly mystical reports have become almost commonplace. Of the nearly 18% of Americans who claimed in a recent U.S. News poll to have been on the verge of dying, many researchers estimate that a third have had unusual experiences while straddling the line between life and death - perhaps as many as 15 million Americans. A small percentage recall vivid images of an afterlife - including tunnels of light, peaceful meadows, and angelic figures clad in white.

"No matter what the nature of the experience, it alters some lives.. Hardened criminals opt for a life of helping others, atheists embrace the existence of a deity...Such dramatic changes have piqued the imagination of those searching for evidence of the mystical."

In the case of What Dreams May Come, the film's depiction of the afterlife is based on spiritual, not religious, quality. Yet it targets the question many seek: Is there something beyond the world we know? Is eternal happiness centered on the eternity of love?

"We are approaching not only the end of a decade, but the end of a century and the beginning of a new Millennium," notes Producer Stephen Simon. "That carries with it a powerful amount of energy, hope and unfortunately fear. This film presents a great deal of hope about the true dignity of humanity and our power to love, which is most certainly an antidote to fear and desperation."

In the film, Chris' afterlife is the ultimate resolution of his earthly notion of Heaven with his true love.

"One of the great ideas behind this film," relates director Vincent Ward, "is that, rather than there being an objective paradise where everybody's paradise is the same, you create your own paradise and it's whatever you want it to be." The same applies to Hell.

In Chris' case, it is derived from his worst memories. The same objects from his earthly life can assume different meanings in both. In his imagined heaven, it can be a comforting sign of optimism; in Hell, a haunting unresolved remembrance.

We may not know all there is to know about what happens after we die, but there can be little doubt that we are living in a time of expanding consciousness and growing spiritual awareness.


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