MAIN SOURCE BOOKS
The Soul’s Journey by Hazrat Inayat Khan. This is a fascinating and lucid exploration of the topic, by one of the leading Sufi teachers of the early 20th Century. He believes that each soul has a life which extends far before and after a human incarnation, and he offers many valuable pointers on how a soul in a body can make the most of this experience. He challenges the idea of reincarnation, but believes that souls coming into human life are guided and influenced by departing souls.
Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves. Is there an afterlife beyond this human one? What is it like? If we knew more about the afterlife, could that guide our human life here and now? This book offers some of the most convincing answers to these questions that I have found.
There are two voices in this book: the writer is Helen Greaves, but she is transcribing the voice of her dead friend, Frances Banks. Both were Anglican nuns, colleagues and friends: the book is written in the mid-1960s. Soon after Frances’ death, Helen started to receive a series of messages from her, describing her experiences in the afterlife. For a two page blog on this book see: http://www.living-organically.com/book-blog-testimony-of-light-by-helen-greaves/
Desert Wisdom by Neil Douglas Klotz. This book is a treasure house of key texts from the Middle Eastern spiritual traditions, restored to their full depth by Neil’s beautiful retranslations from the original languages. The book also includes commentaries, body prayers and meditations. It includes a variety of texts relevant to this topic, for example, some of Jesus’ teachings, and parts of Genesis.
OTHER RELEVANT BOOKS:
Healing into Life and Death by Stephen Levine. Stephen has done pioneering work with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Ram Dass and others with hospices and other projects connected with death and dying. Whilst this book is not about the soul’s journey, it offers excellent insights and resources for anyone with a life-threatening illness, and those who support them. It includes some excellent guided meditations.
Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson. With lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen Jenkinson places death at the centre of the page and asks us to behold it in all its painful beauty. Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Dying well, Jenkinson writes, is a right and responsibility of everyone. It is not a lifestyle option. It is a moral, political, and spiritual obligation each person owes their ancestors and their heirs: how we die, how we care for dying people, and how we carry our dead.
The Warmth of the Heart Prevents your Body from Rusting by Marie de Hennezel. A compassionate exploration by a French doctor of the perils and pleasures of aging. Very helpful about the positive opportunities of late old age and infirmity, and how to complete one’s life narrative. For a blog on this book, see www.living-organically.com
The Art of Dying by Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick. This book was recommended to me by a hospice nurse. It is a guide to the dying process, with a focus on what happens to our consciousness during and beyond death, drawing on both structured research and personal accounts of both dying and near death experiences. They conclude “all the experiences we have been told of point to death being part of a structured and supportive process.” Peter is a leading neuro physiatrist, and his wife has written several books on health and family issues.
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Written by one of the most warm and engaging Tibetan Buddhist teachers, this is a relatively approachable way into the deep and complex Tibetan teachings about conscious dying, the life beyond, and how this can enrich life now.
All in the end is Harvest edited by Agnes Whitaker. This is a lovely anthology of writings, poems and prayers to support those in bereavement and other grieving situations.
Dying Into Love: This website offers some powerful wisdom from teachers with a lots of experience in this area, such as Rumi, Ram Dass and Joan Halifax. See www.dyingintolove.com
Dying Matters: A UK website raising awareness of dying, death and bereavement. It encourages people to talk about dying, and offers useful practical advice, contacts for support and links to other useful organisations. See www.dyingmatters.org
Conscious Ageing Trust: this offers compassionate conversations about death and dying via a growing network of Live Groups, a web-site with a members-only forum, and open access areas for resources and essential information about death and dying. Set up by Max Mackay-James. See www.consciousageing.org Stephen Levine: useful material on his website, www.orphanwisdom.com and some excellent videos of talks by Stephen and Ondrea Levine are on www.levinetalks.com.
Note: this is the resource list developed for the Souls’ Journey workshop in 2015.