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Surviving Death Paperback – April, 1994
All Books, All the Time
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From Kirkus Reviews
A British writer and investigator of the occult (Unnatural Causes, 1991) argues that death is not extinction and that the doctrines of karma and reincarnation are true. Viney assembles a vast number of reports, drawn from all over the world, of contacts with an existence beyond bodily death, each containing enough information to hold the reader's imagination and interest. He divides his text into chapters illustrating various subjects: apparitions of the dead, poltergeists, spiritualism, out- of-body and near-death experiences, cases suggestive of reincarnation, and regression to past lives. He is especially impressed when apparitions give information known to no one that subsequently proves to be true. His material is nearly all derivative, but many readers will be surprised to hear of ghosts speaking on the telephone and leaving messages on computer screens, and to learn that German scientists are working on machines to facilitate contact with spirits by using ultrasound frequencies beyond the range of the human ear. Viney readily admits there have been hoaxes but claims that the sheer volume of tested evidence compels us to accept that there is an afterlife, perhaps even a New Age afterlife of successive rebirths as souls progress toward a final entrance into the ultimate divine reality. Although he argues with feeling and conviction, not all readers will follow him to his conclusions. And he does not inspire confidence when he completely alters a quote from St. Paul, or tells us that the word ``metempsychosis'' is derived from the Celtic language. Hard to put down, well written, and thought-provoking, but Viney can't quite handle the metaphysical questions his study raises. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
He admits, "Since the early days of the photographic process, attempts to capture phantoms on film have proved decidedly unsatisfactory and much so-called photographic evidence has been exposed as cheap fakery. However, the history of psychic photography is not quite the unmitigated catalogue of 'fraud, folly and fabrication' that one notable critic deemed it to be and some exposures really do seem worthy of the seal of authenticity." (Pg. 34) He also notes, "There can be little doubt that some mediums who claimed clairvoyant powers during those first heady days of spiritualism were in it for the money alone. In other cases, though apparently genuine, the sheer banality of messages given to sitters would make anyone wonder why the dead bothered returning at all." (Pg. 98)
He rejects the confession of fraud by Margueretta [Maggie] Fox, since "Margueretta had, by the time of her self-denunciation, lost her own powers and fallen out with her sister; it is also worth remembering that she had been paid a huge sum of money for her confession at a time when she was virtually destitute. Given the circumstances it is hard to come to any firm conclusion on the basis of her 'confession.'" (Pg. 114)
Of the Bridey Murphy case, he observes, "Speculation of a hoax intensified when it became clear that, as a young woman, she had lived in Chicago next to an aunt whose own maiden name had been Murphy. Sceptics lost no time in claiming that [Virginia] Tighe must have either colluded ... to perpetuate a fraud, or drawn unknowingly upon subconscious recollections of stories told by her elderly Irish relative... [but] whatever doubts remain over the Bridey Murphy enigma, plenty of regression cases since have proved highly resistant to similar suspicions." (Pg. 271)
This book will be of keen interest to anyone researching the issue of life after death.
Much of the material eg about hynotic regression and/or cases suggestive of reincarnation will be familiar to anyone who has read reasonably widely in these areas...but there will be tidbits that many readers have not encountered before eg in my case the evidence that statistical analysis of cases of hypnotic regression reveals evidence that is itself supportive of the case for reincarnation.
I was surprised by what the book leaves out eg no mention of Edgar Cayce, no mention of Jane Roberts and Seth, and only at the end some discussion of the broader considerations between physics and conventional ideas (eg Buddhist ideas) about reincarnation. Viney does not go into a consideration of some of Seths ideas eg multiple worlds and multiple and simultaneous lives.