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From Barnes & NobleJuly 2000
A Look at the Afterlife
Sylvia Browne has been a practicing psychic for nearly 50 years and is well known to many through her television appearances on The Montel Williams Show, Sally Jessy Raphaël, Larry King Live, Unsolved Mysteries, CNN, and Entertainment Tonight. Her two previous books, The Other Side and Back and Adventures of a Psychic, both of which deal with such paranormal phenomena as ghosts, channeling, out-of-body visits, and the afterlife, became New York Times bestsellers. Now Browne expands upon her vision of eternal life, reincarnation, and things otherworldly in Life on the Other Side: A Psychic's Tour of the Afterlife.
Browne possesses a self-deprecating honesty and a down-to-earth appeal that serves her well in this inspirational look at life after death. Certainly her message -- that death is not to be feared and is not the end of our existence -- is one that many will want to embrace. But whereas Browne's tone may be down-to-earth, her reported experiences are anything but. She goes beyond mere claims of an afterlife; she describes it in detail and says she has been there, even providing sketches of some of the sights she has seen.
There is a great deal of religious symbolism and imagery in Browne's vision of life, the afterlife, and the connection between the two. Reincarnation and past-life regressions figure prominently, and at the heart of it all is what Browne calls the Godhead, which consists of the Father God and the Mother God, Azna. According to Browne, the Father God embodies our intellectual side, whereas the Mother God represents our emotional side. Together they provide a sort of spiritual balance that is fed, both in this life and in the eternal one, by the pursuit of arts, knowledge, and contacts with other souls. Browne devotes a portion of her book to explaining this vision of life and eternal life, even correlating several quirks of everyday life with occurrences in the eternal one.
For instance, Browne believes each soul is assigned a sex, although our corporeal existence here on earth may take the form of either gender. She offers this juxtaposition of gender as a reason why some people are born confused about their sexual orientation -- some lingering memory or awareness of their spiritual gender is in opposition to their earthly one. She also ascribes a high level of autonomy to our spirits, eliminating many of those "how could a beneficent God let this happen?" questions. Another of Browne's more intriguing theories is the attribution of phobias in our current life to events that occurred in a past one.
Browne then devotes nearly half the book to describing, in detail, what the afterlife is like. Basically, she claims it is a utopian version of life here on earth, where everyone is treated fairly and there is no need to be concerned about appearance -- one can, in fact, change it at will. We maintain a flesh-and-blood body, although there is no need to eat or drink, hence eliminating those pesky unmentionable bodily functions. No one ages either, and those who are plagued by deformity, injury, scars, or other disabilities will be pleased to note that, with one odd exception, these things are not carried over into the afterlife. And while Browne may disappoint a few readers when she says there is no sex in the afterlife, she does offer an intriguing substitute.
Time and space more or less cease to exist in this other world, and the laws of physics aren't quite what we understand them to be here on earth. The geography of this other world matches this one for the most part, though there are a few exceptions. Except for the curious absence of insects, the entire animal kingdom is represented there, all coexisting in peaceful harmony. There are magnificent buildings and structures, stunning works of art, and great pieces of literature that mirror those here on earth. Lest Browne's written descriptions not suffice, she provides several drawings of the buildings, structures, and lands in the afterlife that depict them in striking detail.
Browne delves into what happens at the time of death, where our spirits go (including a special Left Door for the truly incorrigible spirits that are beyond redemption), and what they do once they get there. She attempts to answer some of the more difficult questions inherent to her theories, but she never claims to have all the answers. In fact, her willingness to admit her inability to explain certain things, particularly some minor ones for which an explanation could easily be trumped up, tends to lend her more credence.
Skeptics will find plenty to scoff at here, and Browne even anticipates many of the objections. But there is no denying that her underlying message -- one of hope, eternal life, ultimate forgiveness, and the chance to be reborn and do it all again -- will be a popular and inspirational one.