Article: Double Exit: Evidence of Soul-Division in Past-Life Regression Reports – Peter Novak (Is.18)

by Peter Novak

 The word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword
and cuts so deeply it divides the soul from the spirit.
Hebrews 4:12

 Thanks to modern research into Near-Death Experiences, Past-Life Regression, and other afterlife phenomena, one of humankind’s most ancient afterlife traditions—the Binary Soul Doctrine—seems to be making a triumphant comeback. Although few realize it today, cultures all around the globe once believed virtually the same thing about death and the afterlife—that human beings possess not one, but two souls, which tend to divide apart from one another after death. Surprisingly, the data patterns emerging from modern paranormal research seem to be pointing in this same direction, causing many to take a fresh look at some of mankind’s oldest teachings.

Many cultures thought that one of their souls reincarnated after death (mirroring our Eastern religious traditions), while the other soul would become locked into a heavenly or hellish afterlife experience (matching our Western traditions). Some traditions held that this division could be prevented or reversed, but others thought it was inevitable and permanent. Once found in China, India, Greece, Egypt, Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, and even the Dakotas, this belief in an after death soul-division seems to be as close as humanity has ever come to having a single world religion.

Modern science seems to have resurrected at least part of this ancient doctrine, in the form of the two halves to the human psyche—the left brain conscious mind and the right brain unconscious. Culture after culture around the world, it seems, used to describe their two souls virtually the same way modern science now describes the conscious and unconscious. They described one soul as objective, rational, intelligent, active, stronger, and possessing independent free will, while the other was thought to be subjective, emotional, responsive, intuitive, weaker, and in possession of the memory records. This uncanny parallel raises the intriguing suggestion that the conscious and unconscious may divide apart at death, which, as it turns out, is a very potent hypothesis. My research into the Binary Soul Doctrine over the last 15 years suggests that such a division would neatly account for a wide variety of modern reports about the afterlife. (Novak, 1997)

Hieroglyph for Ba
Hieroglyph for Ka

For thousands of years, the people of Egypt possessed something our modern culture still lacks—widespread agreement on the nature of death and the afterlife. Egypt believed that each individual had two souls, a ba and a ka, which they thought would usually divide apart at death unless steps were taken to prevent this disaster (El Mahdy). In many ways, Egypt’s descriptions of the ba and ka are remarkably similar to science’s descriptions of the conscious and unconscious. Just as modern neuropsychology has recently determined that two independent minds, two “selves”, co-exist in the human brain, one in the right hemisphere and one in the left (Schiffer), so too both the ba and ka carried, independently of one another, the meaning of “the self.”

Like the conscious mind, the ba was considered to possess autonomous free will, intelligence, and the ability to move and communicate. But unlike science’s current picture of the conscious mind, ancient Egypt also credited the ba with permanent possession of the spark of life (Ries); it could never die, never cease to exist, never cease to be conscious and aware (Budge, 1967). But its sense of continuity—the coherence of its sense of self and identity—was not guaranteed, and all of Egypt’s fabulous funerary efforts had but a single purpose—to maintain the continuity of one’s self-awareness while passing through the transition of death (Wheeler).

Unlike the ba, however, Egypt thought the ka could cease to exist (El Mahdy). In many respects, the ka closely parallels modern science’s concept of the unconscious (Crehan). The ka was also associated with dream activity (Effland). It was also thought to work behind the scenes, without its owner’s knowledge, and was even thought able to deceive or betray its owner (Wheeler). Thought to store all of one’s subjective memories and impressions, including all one’s feelings, emotions, needs, desires, fears, expectations, and appetites, the ka was, in effect, the record of the person’s personality, sense of identity, and life history (El Mahdy). And like the unconscious, the ka was subjective and emotional, and so was instrumental in relating to others.

The union of the ba and ka was intimate; they could not be separated while one was alive, and functioned together as if a single unit (Davies). But when one died, the ba and ka then found themselves cruelly ripped apart from one another (Watterson). If they remained separated from one another for long, Egypt thought, the ba would just flit away footloose and fancy free, enjoying unlimited freedom doing whatever it wished (Ries), but lacking all memory of the life just lived (Budge, 1967). Meanwhile, however, the ghostlike ka would remain behind in a cold, hungry, needy, vulnerable (Budge, 1971), and feebleminded state (El Mahdy). The ka had many pressing needs after death, but without the ba these went unmet. If the ka was not quickly rejoined to its ba, it would perish in a “second death” which, to the Egyptian, was the worst disaster imaginable (El Mahdy); the ka would eventually disintegrate entirely (Watterson).

The entire Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is more properly translated How to Emerge Awake (Wheeler), scholars now believe, had but a single purpose—to cause the ba and ka to reunite back together again after they split apart from one another at death (El Mahdy). Such a reunion, it was thought, would permanently unite them to one another, thus guaranteeing the eternal continuation of the person’s self-awareness and sense of identity (Wheeler). It was thought, however, that this unification could only be achieved in a physical body; the body was, in effect, a necessary catalyst for their transformation. Ideally, this spiritual accomplishment was supposed to take place well before the person’s physical death, as is the case with most other religions. But Egypt, for whatever reason, was convinced that if the individual did not achieve this union prior to his death, it might still be possible to achieve it even after death, but only if the physical body still existed.

Reading the Book of the Dead over the deceased, it was hoped, would entice the ba and ka to return to the corpse, allowing them to finally consummate their union and achieve immortality. But Egypt apparently worried about what might happen if their return was delayed. Since there was no way for the living to determine if or when the ba and ka had successfully returned to the body and consummated their union, the corpse had to be preserved as long as possible so the opportunity for their reunion would always exist. And thus, it seems, dawned the practice of mummification, and later, pyramid building, in Egypt, not as the best and surest route to immortality they were aware of, but merely as a last-ditch effort for the spiritually negligent.

Chinese Seal script for po 魄 “soul”
Chinese Seal script for hun 魂 “soul”

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, China’s Chou dynasty held remarkably similar beliefs. They also held that people have two souls: a Yin soul and a Yang soul (Wei-Ming) The p’o was the Yin soul, earthy, emotional, only semi-conscious, feminine, and passive. The hun was the Yang soul, conscious, active, intelligent, masculine, and dominant. After death these two souls parted company—the hun soul left the body unharmed, returning to heaven from whence it came, while the p’o soul would find itself trapped in a dark netherworld in a dim-witted state (Seidel).

Vedic India called her two dividing souls the asu and the manas (Rgveda). Containing one’s inner feelings, emotions, and subjective perception, the manas allowed a person to perceive and understand his relationships with others. The asu was conscious, sentient, and active, (Mahony) and it simply reincarnated again after death. But the manas was far more vulnerable, and would become inert and lifeless if it separated from the asu at death (Ries). Modern Hindu philosophy still holds a similar belief in two dividing souls—the sukshma sharira (often called in English the “subtle”, “astral”, or “emotional” body) and the karana sharira (the “causal” or “mental” body). Again, these two souls are closely integrated together in life, but at death they divide apart, causing the astral body to deteriorate (Bhattacharyya).

Greece’ s Iliad and Odyssey also distinguished two types of souls—the psyche and the thymos. The psyche lacked any feelings or emotions, but was the source of abstract intellectual thought, and was thought to reincarnate after death. The thymos possessed one’s feelings, emotions, needs, and urges, and split off from the psyche at death to be lost (Bremmer).

Ancient Persia called their two souls the urvan and the daena. The urvan was conscious, active, verbal, and immortal, while the daena contained the conscience and a perfect mirror image of the person’s self and experiences, providing a perfect memory record. At death, the two often had a great falling out, but immortality after death required their reconciliation (Ries).

Ancient Israel also distinguished two spiritual parts—a ruwach (translated “spirit”) and a nephesh (translated “soul”). The ruwach was active, strong, conscious, intelligent, (Strong), verbal, (2 Samuel 23:2), and immortal (Ecclesiastes 12:7). But the nephesh, which contained the emotions, memories, and sense of self-identity, was thought to be extremely vulnerable and could become imprisoned after death in a weakened and feebleminded state (Ries). Early Christianity also distinguished between the soul and the spirit, and it was openly taught in the early days of the Church that these two could divide apart from one another (Hebrews 4:12). The Mandaean religion, a still-living offshoot of early Christianity, believes even today that the living possess both soul and spirit, and that these two elements split apart after death (Buckley).

The belief in a dividing binary-soul is also found in many primitive cultures across the globe. Inner Asia’s Tunguz tribe held that one soul reincarnates after death, while the second soul becomes eternally imprisoned in a dark netherworld. Australia’s aboriginal tribes believed in one soul that reincarnates after death, and another which enters a dream-like realm known as the “Dreaming” (Ries). Alaska’s Inuit has one soul that holds the life force and reincarnates into a new body after death, and another soul, the tarnneg, or double of the person, that permanently enters a realm of the dead (Ries). North America’s Dakota tribe call their two dividing souls the nagi and the niya (Riviere). Africa’s Samo tribe call theirs the ri and the mere (Ries) and Hawaii’s Huna called theirs the uhane and the unihipili (Long). The list can go on and on.

It is amazing that cultures all over the globe once held virtually the same belief about what happened after death. It is even more amazing that modern science seems to have rediscovered these two souls, in the guise of the conscious and unconscious halves of the human psyche. But perhaps most amazing of all is the discovery that the data patterns emerging from both NDE (Near-Death Experience) and PLR (Past-Life Regression) research seem to offer strong evidential support for the Binary Soul Doctrine, both circumstantial evidence and eyewitness testimony of what seems like an after death division of the conscious from the unconscious.

The circumstantial evidence revolves around the two stages of the afterlife experience. NDEs and PLRs both describe two distinct stages of experience occurring after death, a Dark Stage (an emotionless empty Black Void or Tunnel) and a Light Stage (an emotion-rich Realm of Light). The nature of these two stages suggests that they are being experienced by two entirely different pieces of the soul, each separate piece of the individual’s consciousness independently having its own afterlife experience. The characteristics of the Dark Phase closely reflect the characteristics of the conscious mind, and the characteristics of the Light Phase match up with the unconscious mind. The Dark Stage tends to bring decreased feeling and emotion, decreased memory awareness, decreased sense of personal connection, decreased form, pattern, and meaning recognition, and, often, an increased sense of logic and reason, characteristics which perfectly reflect the nature of the left brain conscious mind. The Light Stage, on the other hand, brings increased feeling and emotion, increased memory awareness, increased sense of personal connection, increased form, pattern, and meaning recognition, and decreased tendency to employ critical analysis, abstract logic, linear reasoning, and verbal communication. And these characteristics reflect the nature of the right brain unconscious mind.

In addition to this circumstantial evidence, both NDE reports (Rommer) and PLR reports (Newton, 1994 & 2000) have also included eyewitness testimony of just such a division: cases in which subjects personally describe their conscious awareness being split apart into two separate and distinct soul-pieces after death, each part having an entirely different afterlife experience.

There are some differences between these two sets of reports. In PLR reports, the Dark Void is more frequently described as the primary afterlife experience than it is in NDE reports, and the Dark Void experience also seems to last for a longer duration in PLR reports than in NDE reports.

NDE reports tend to focus far more on the Light Stage, while PLR reports seem to focus far more on the Dark Stage. The Dark Void or Tunnel experience is usually only briefly experienced, often overlooked altogether, in NDE reports, while the Realm of Light is granted far more attention and significance. Most NDE reports tend to describe the afterlife in exclusively Light-Stage terms, as a light-filled place filled with many others like oneself, in which one retains full awareness of one’s own identity and memories, and experiences intense and deeply moving feelings and emotions.

But PLR reports often tell a different story altogether. They often describe a very different afterlife scenario in between lives. PLR subjects often just find themselves floating quietly alone, experiencing “nothing” in a peaceful, emotionless, empty Black Void. This seems to be the same Void that NDErs briefly experience during the first moments of their experiences, in the now-famous “Tunnel” experience. Subjects hypnotically regressed to memories of being in-between-lives often describe themselves floating in velvety blackness, not knowing where they are, not seeing anything, feeling anything, remembering anything, doing anything, or experiencing anything. They usually feel totally unemotional, detached, calm, peaceful, and alone. They often seem to perceive no forms, patterns, meanings, or relevance of any kind, and they tend to exhibit little or no memory awareness.

While the Dark Stage seems to be very brief in the typical NDE, PLR reports indicate that people sometimes wait contentedly alone in that empty Void for years, even decades, before returning to life again in a new body. Many PLR subjects never report catching so much as a glimpse of the Light Stage at any point during their between‑lives experience. They never seem to see a heavenly Realm or a hellish Realm. For them, the whole between-life experience often seems to just be a bland, neutral, quiet, peaceful, emotionless void.

These Dark Stage reports don’t seem to merely reflect the absence of experience; it isn’t a matter of not having any memories of any experience. On the contrary, these reports seem to reflect the presence of a particular memory, a memory of having personally undergone a very specific and peculiar experience: finding oneself perfectly alone, floating weightlessly in an impenetrable empty blackness, feeling no feelings whatsoever except a marvelous peace and unconcerned calm. Some part of the mind, it seems, some part of the self, was having this experience after death.

Some researchers maintain that the afterlife experiences described in PLR reports are identical to those of NDE reports. But none offer any explanation for why so many PLR subjects seem to only experience the Dark Void in-between lives, or why the Dark Void experience, which seems to come and go so quickly in NDE reports, seems to sometimes last so long in PLR reports. But the Binary Soul Doctrine, as it turns out, does provide a reasonable explanation for these inconsistencies.

Not all regression researchers report the same findings. Some find that most of their subjects usually only describe floating alone in the Void in-between lives, while others find that the majority of their subjects describe afterlife experiences inside the Realm of Light. Dr. Janet Cunningham, President of the International Association for Regression Research and Therapy, estimates that:

“The majority of past-life therapists find the client going to a place of ‘Light’ after they leave the body at death.” (Cunningham, personal communication)

But many PLR therapists would disagree, insisting that the majority of their clients never experience the Light, but only the empty Dark Void. For instance, Thomas Brown, another IARRT member and PLR therapist from Detroit, finds that most of his clients only experience the Dark Void in between lives (Brown, personal communication). And a number of other published reports also seem to point towards the Void as the afterlife scenario most frequently described by PLR subjects.

In the Dark Void, subjects usually find themselves in a profoundly peaceful state, and the Binary Soul Doctrine seems to explain why. In life, we are always burdened by the weight of our psychological baggage. Many of us are not very adept at dealing with the failures, disappointments, and frustrations we encounter in life, and instead of dealing with them directly and experiencing them fully, many try to just ignore them, “controlling our emotions,” denying that those feelings and impressions are there at all. Like infants playing peek-a-boo, we think that if we don’t look right at these feelings and impressions, then they aren’t there, or at least they won’t bother us. But modern psychology has taught us that this tactic doesn’t work; our inner grief doesn’t disappear just because we ignore it. It sits tight inside our unconscious minds, and continues to silently accumulate over the course of our lives, like plaque in the arteries of our minds.

As the years go by, this grief builds up steadily, weighing us down and inhibiting us in many ways too imperceptible for us to realize. The weight of this inner grief leaves footprints in our lives. The more grief we “hold back” inside, the more we become cut off from our own authentic feelings and emotions, cut off from the immediate feeling of being really alive and authentically human. And the more unexpressed and unreleased grief we store up inside ourselves, the more difficult it becomes for us to feel and act free and spontaneous in life, and the more artificial, and robotic, and control-freaks, we become. All these are but symptoms of that inner grief.

The mystery is, in the Dark Void Stage of the death experience, this inner grief suddenly vanishes. It’s just gone. In both NDEs and PLRs, this psychological burden utterly vanishes during the Dark Void experience, leaving the subject feeling a marvelous lightness, an indescribably deep and unfamiliar inner peace. This sudden peace is mystifying to most people who experience it. They can’t understand why they suddenly feel so carefree and peaceful. And indeed this reaction is hard to understand, especially in light of the fact that subjects feel this extraordinary calm at the very moment they should logically be suffering heart-wrenching loss, when all their loved ones and cherished possessions and precious plans for the future have just been ripped cruelly out of their hands.

Why does this strange calm occur? Modern psychology informs us that most of what weighs us down in life is invisible to us, hidden deep inside our unconscious minds. While we are alive, we scarcely realize it is there. But the hypothesis that the unconscious sometimes lifts away from the conscious mind after death would certainly explain this Dark Stage calmness. We may not notice the weight of our unconscious psychological baggage much in life, but we sure seem to notice it when that weight is suddenly lifted in death—the contrast is striking.

The Dark Void experience is quite the opposite of the thrilling and intensely stimulating experiences most NDErs and PLR subjects describe having in the Realm of Light. In “Life Before Life,” Joel Whitton describes the afterlife not as a thoroughly engaging “Realm of Light,” but rather as a “timeless, spaceless glide” through pure nothingness in which one’s identity, memory, emotion, and sense of connectedness are all noticeably diminished.

One PLR subject reported: “I felt no emotions…I seemed to be alone” and another reported “All cares and fears were left behind. Time and space were no more than a memory.” Other subjects reported: “I’m walking in endless nothingness—no floor, no ceiling; no ground, no sky.” and “I’m not aware of being anywhere” and “It’s black” (Whitton).

Dr. Whitton maintains that during the between‑life state, people often lose their memory. Whitton asked one PLR subject: “What is your name?” only to receive the answer “I have no name.” (Whitton) Many PLR subjects couldn’t recall their names or identities while in this empty void.

Dr. Brian Weiss’ research also points to this Dark Void as the primary afterlife experience. When regressed to a point in time in-between lives, his subjects find themselves floating peacefully and emotionlessly in an empty black nothingness, seeing nothing, doing nothing, experiencing nothing, just waiting patiently, resting there until the next incarnation (Weiss).

 Similarly, in her book You Have Been Here Before, Dr. Edith Fiore also repeatedly portrays the afterlife as one of no feeling, emotion, sensation, or sense of location (Fiore). And in his book You Will Live Again, Brad Steiger also portrays the afterlife realm as one of waiting in an empty, black, emotionless Void. He quotes one PLR subject as reporting “In the spirit world, one did not sleep, never ate, never became tired…the afterlife was painless, nothing to be afraid of…There was neither love nor hate…The spirit world was simply a place where the soul waited to pass on to another form of existence.” (Steiger, 1996, p. 15)

Steiger also reports that subjects don’t see or feel anything in-between lives. He asked one subject, “Now what do you see?” to which he replied “Nothing.” “What are you doing?” Floating.” When asked “Now what do you feel?” another subject answered “Nothing. I can’t see anything. I can’t feel anything.” When then asked “Do you enjoy that?” the subject responded quite logically “Well, I don’t know. I can’t feel nothing, how can I enjoy it?” When then asked “Does it bother you?” he replied “No. Why would it bother me? I don’t feel anything.” (Steiger, 1996, pp. 54-55)

Steiger’s subjects also seemed to show memory loss in this in‑between‑lives state. When asked “What’s your name?” one replied “I don’t know. I don’t have a name.” (Steiger, 1996, p. 59)

Some of Steiger’s subjects report spending a long period of time in this Dark Void. When asked “what do you see?” one subject responded “Black.” When then asked, “What are you doing?” he replied “Nothing.” When then asked “Where are you?” he replied “I don’t know, I’m just floating.” When asked “How long have you been just floating?” he answered “Oh, I don’t know. Been quite a while, I guess.” One subject suggested he had been floating alone in this Dark Void for more than ten years! (Steiger, 1996, p. 54)

One of Dr. Roger Woolger’s PLR subjects also related “I find myself in a great aloneless. Nothing there, not even a sense of time.” (Woolger, 1987, p. 302) Woolger reports that 95% of his subjects describe this same peaceful Void between-lives (Woolger, 1987, p. 294).

Even Dr. Cunningham has found herself in this Void in-between lives, and her description of this experience dovetails perfectly with what the Binary Soul Doctrine would have predicted. She seemed to possess little or no right-brain functions at all—all ability to think or communicate in metaphor and symbolism seemed to be unavailable to her thought processes. She found herself floating alone in the familiar empty Void, experiencing nothing but a vague sense of the presence of undefined “energy” that totally lacked any definition, form, or quality. During one such experience, when the regression therapist instructed her to use metaphoric language to describe what she was experiencing in this Void, she couldn’t. She reported, “my mind simply wouldn’t go there—that was a little too right-brained for me to do at that time.” (Cunningham, personal communication) This inability to speak in metaphor in the Dark Void stands in stark contrast to the tendency of subjects to use abundant metaphor to describe Light Stage experiences, but it is exactly what one would expect if the mental processes of the right-brain unconscious had been unavailable for her to use.

Some PLR reports, of course, also mention the Light Stage, and when they do, the description is usually very similar to NDE reports of the heavenly Realm of Light—an apparently three-dimensional environment overflowing with powerful emotions (“great love and joy”) and much interaction with others. In NDE reports, the Light Stage usually seems to follow the Dark Stage sequentially, the one occurring after the other. But the relationship between these two Stages seems subtly different in PLR reports. In PLR reports, the relationship does not quite seem to be a sequential relationship; these two experiences don’t always seem to be occurring one after the other. Instead, they almost seem to be both occurring simultaneously, independently of one another.

In PLR reports, these visits to the heavenly Realm of Light sometimes are described sequentially, occurring after passing through a Dark Void, just like we hear in NDE reports. But also just like NDE reports, PLR subjects repeatedly insist that in the space between lives, there is no time, no space. Dr. Whitton, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Toronto, has performed hundreds of between-lives regressions. He is adamant on one point – there is an “utter lack of temporal sequence” in the realm in-between lives. (Whitton)

It seems, in fact, that the one point that all our afterlife witnesses agree on, perhaps the only point they all agree on, is that time does not exist in the afterlife. The absence of time in the afterlife has been consistently reported by NDE subjects, PLR subjects, and psychics and mystics such as Edgar Cayce, Emanuel Swedenborg, James Van Praagh, Sylvia Brown, and many others.

Can these witnesses all be wrong? If they are right, and time does not exist in the afterlife, then neither does sequence. And if sequence does not exist, then these two experiences—the Dark Stage and the Light Stage—cannot occur one after the other. Instead, they must really be occurring simultaneously and independently. If so, then they represent, it seems, two separate pieces of the human soul that have split apart and are having two distinct afterlife experiences, each half unaware of the existence and ongoing experience of the other.

The Binary Soul Doctrine suggests that both Stages actually are experienced by most PLR subjects—the conscious mind experiencing the Dark Void, and the unconscious mind experiencing the Realm of Light. And PLR research does contain some evidence to support this theory. In fact, the only reason we ever hear of one of these Stages being reported more frequently than the other may have more to do with the particular hypnotic commands of the therapist than with the actual experiences of the subjects themselves. In those reports where the Light Stage is reported in PLR reports, the hypnotist usually uses a certain command. Dr. Cunningham tells us:

“After a PL regression, the therapist guides the client beyond the death experience into the Interlife realm…even if the therapist is very careful not to give suggestions during a regression, it is not uncommon for the therapist to give the suggestion to move into the Light —or to move to the Higher Self beyond the death —or to move into spirit for the purpose of continuing the therapy.” (Cunningham, personal communication)

Dr. Michael Newton is one of the few PLR researchers whose books focus on Light Stage experiences in-between lives. And his regression sessions depend on giving these kinds of instructions to his hypnotized subjects. At first, when they are regressed to a point in time in-between lives, his hypnotized subjects cannot recall anything like a Realm of Light experience. But then he guides the subject to, in effect, “shift gears in his mind,” to transfer his awareness to a different part of his mind. And when the subject does, then he is able to recall his Light Stage experiences. (Newton, 1994)

This whole process of “shifting gears in the mind” seems to support the Binary Soul Doctrine. At the beginning, one part of the mind was, it seems, genuinely experiencing a Dark Void. It was calmly alone in an empty blackness. The Dark Void was all it knew. It was totally unaware that anything else was occurring. It certainly didn’t seem to know that there might be a whole different part of itself that was busy having all kinds of fun in a Realm of Light.

But then, the hypnotized subject’s attention is made to shift to another part of the mind, a part that seems to have been having a very different experience at the same time—in the Light Realm. These hypnotic methods seem to allow subjects to recall the afterdeath experience of both sides of the mind. These hypnotic techniques allow people to do today what they couldn’t do at the actual time of the death—monitor the experiences of both parts of the mind at the same time.

What would PLR subjects report in the absence of such coaching? What if they were never told to shift gears in their minds? Would they then only report floating alone in the Empty Void during all the time in-between one life and the next? Maybe so. Dr. Cunningham admits:

“In experiences when the therapist can simply let the person ‘go,’ it would not surprise me to have the client just continue to “float in a void” in-between lives. (Cunningham, personal communication)

This, in fact, seems to be just what is occurring in the PLR cases that only mention experiencing the Dark Void in-between lives. In the cases reported by Brian Weiss, Roger Woolger, and Brad Steiger, the subjects are apparently never instructed to shift gears in their minds, and so all they report experiencing in-between lives is just floating alone in the Empty Void. This mental shift suggests that, just like the Binary Soul Doctrine maintained thousands of years ago, there are two separate pieces to the mind that are experiencing separate afterlife experiences at the same time.

But in addition to this circumstantial evidence, PLR research also provides us with eyewitness evidence of an afterdeath soul-division. Like NDE research, (Rommer) some PLR subjects also specifically report that an afterdeath division of the soul sometimes occurs between one life and the next. Dr. Bruce Goldberg, for example, is the author of a number of books on Past-Life Regression. In his recent book, Peaceful Transition, he writes:

“The mind is divided into two main components. One part is termed the conscious mind and consists of our analytical, critical, and basic left-brain activities. This part of our mind literally dies when the physical body crosses into spirit…The other component of our consciousness is our subconscious mind…which is our creative, emotional, and right-brain function. The subconscious is…indestructible. It is what reincarnates into a new body when the physical body dies; it is our soul.” (Goldberg, p. 7)

Obviously Dr. Goldberg is convinced that some sort of a mental division does occur at death. And just like the Binary Soul Doctrine, he identifies these two dividing parts as the conscious and the unconscious. But Goldberg seems to believe that after this division, the conscious mind then dies off entirely. Of course, if such a division did occur, then from the perspective of the unconscious soul, the rational conscious mind would indeed seem to disappear or die off.

Dr. Michael Newton is another well-known author on Past-Life Regression. In his two books, Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, he also maintains that people’s souls often split into two parts between one life and the next. Half of a person’s soul often remains behind in the netherworld, his subjects report, in a sort of dormancy or dreaming sleep, while the other half of the person’s soul travels back on down to earth to get reincarnated back into another body. Sometimes, they say, one part of the soul goes on to reincarnate, while another part stays on earth and becomes a ghost; but more often, this “left-behind” part does not become a ghost, but just remains in the netherworld realm in a non-communicative, dormant, sleeping state. (Newton, 1994 & 2000)

Dr. Cunningham has also published cases of soul-division emerging from PLR research. In the December 1994 issue of the Journal of Regression Therapy, she reported four case histories of regressions that seemed to recover fractured-off pieces of the subjects’ soul. She believes these regressions discovered actual pieces of the subject’s living consciousness that somehow split off at the end of past lifetimes, becoming “locked away” in netherworld experiences. When subjects had these lost parts returned to them, they reported feeling strangely different, as if some sort of indefinable inner shift had occurred. (Cunningham, 1994)

And in an article for the 1999 issue of the Journal of Regression Therapy, Dr. Woolger seems to describe something very similar:

When consciousness leaves the physical body at death, it takes with it another kind of body, often called the subtle or energy body, and imprinted on that energy body are all the memories from that lifetime, but particularly the impressions of trauma. In fact, all psychological and emotional states as well as physical memories are somehow imprinted in this energy sheath and this is what is carried over after death.” (Woolger, 1999)

Woolger’s report that the soul has two parts to it, one part that contains the conscious awareness, and another part that contains the emotions and memory, is in complete accord with modern science’s description of the conscious and unconscious, as well as with the ancient world’s many different cultural versions of the Binary Soul Doctrine. Woolger then goes on in the same paper to report, just as the Binary Soul Doctrine maintained thousands of years ago, that the soul can indeed divide into two alienated fragments of consciousness which then have simultaneous and independent experiences after death: one part can reincarnate anew, while another might find itself trapped in a hellish, nightmare dreamworld experience:

“The spirit may hover around the area of the death for centuries and that part of the soul, a fragment of the greater soul, will be stuck or lost in time…With the help of the therapist or guide, the confused spirit can be reminded that the life is over…By bringing the outside consciousness of the therapist into the story, we can usually help release the soul fragment…When we do this work in the afterdeath realm, we are actually performing a kind of healing ritual, integrating a part of the soul which has been stuck in an unfinished death process, bringing back a lost part of the soul…” (Woolger, 1999)

Just as the Binary Soul Doctrine reported thousands of years ago, these “fragments” that become trapped in the past seem to be the separated, cut-off (to use a Biblical term) unconscious minds of the dead—they seem to possess full memory and emotion (which the unconscious does possess), but no objective rational intellect or independent initiative (which the unconscious does not possess). Like repetitive haunting ghosts, they seem to be stuck in their own emotional replays of their memories of the past, but apparently cannot perform the simple logical deduction necessary to figure out that they are dead, nor do they ever seem to demonstrate any ability to willfully choose to escape this unfortunate stasis on their own. Meanwhile, the other half of the mind of the deceased, the half these “fragments” lack and so dearly need, the objective rational conscious mind, seems to spend its time in-between lives just floating blissfully alone in an unqualified nothingness, unperturbed by memory or emotion, oblivious to the distress of its other half.

This long-forgotten Binary Soul Doctrine model of the afterlife, I believe, makes an important contribution to modern afterlife research. It provides us with a single process model that explains a wide spectrum of phenomena being reported in many different fields of research. Until now, the apparent contradictions and inconsistencies between the data emerging from the various branches of afterlife research threw doubt on the validity and credibility of all these phenomena. But the Binary Soul Doctrine has arisen from its own cultural ashes, offering a surprisingly scientific explanation that accounts for most of these reports. This ability to explain these various phenomena, and the differences between them, is a mark in favor of the Binary Soul Doctrine as a working model‑‑the theory not only appears far and wide in ancient literature and traditions, but it is highly consistent with the reports emerging from our many branches of modern afterlife research. In this paper, I have briefly explored some of the connections between PLR research and the Binary Soul Doctrine, but equally strong connections exist with the data patterns emerging from NDE research, ghost, poltergeist, and apparition research, and After Death Communication research. I have explored some of these connections in my book The Division of Consciousness, and will be exploring more in future works as well as on a website dedicated to researching the Binary Soul Doctrine:



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