Common steps and sub-activities
Celestial sanctum visualisation
Life between life – Joe Fisher and Dr Joel Whitton
The basic idea is simple.
Envision a huge and magnificent cathedral - depending on religious preference, this may be a temple, mosque or synagogue - floating far above the Earth. This soaring structure the celestial sanctum, incorporates a vast library containing the Akashic Records. As we mentioned, the Akashic Records bear the indelible imprint on the ether of all that has happened - a full and intricate accounting of the lives and interlives of every soul that has ever existed. In bringing the sanctum into conscious thought, consider that no library could ever hold the vast quantity of information stored in this celestial collection.
Practising the visualization exercise that follows demands both reverence and faith: reverence for the immortal intelligence behind the knowledge, and faith that the knowledge will be revealed. Gautama Buddha once said, 'If the mind be fixed on the acquirement of any object, that object will be attained.'
As a preliminary exercise in memory stimulation, imagine that you are looking at a photograph album of your childhood. Turn to the page that holds a picture of your tenth birthday. Look at yourself and those who surround you. You will not only recognize, naturally enough, the faces in the photograph, but you will also be aware of events and emotions outside the picture frame. You might say to yourself, for example, 'That was the year I was friends with Sally. The next year she went to another school' or 'My brother Jimmy still had his arm in a cast after falling from the tree house.' The picture triggers other memories that extend beyond the limits of the frame. So it will be when you enter the etheric library and take down the book containing whatever past life you choose to examine. Since interlife memories are unlikely to be remembered sequentially, they can be as confusing as a hologram which, at first glance, reveals no more than a meaningless jumble of rippling lines. Under the glare of laser light, the hologram will be transformed into a three-dimensional picture just as the interlife will produce meaningful imagery as soon as the percipient exercises his or her thought processes. To meddle with Descartes, 'I think, therefore I see.' The photograph and the hologram analogies are mentioned simply as an aid to entice memories from hiding.
Some people may find their memories are revealed in the form of a film. If this is the case, imagine taking a videotape cassette - rather than a book or photo album-from the library shelf, carrying it into a projection room and inserting it into a cassette player to start recall flowing at the climax of the visualization exercise.
Here it must be stressed that the exercise is aimed only at recovering knowledge of events that have taken place. This data already exists and cannot be changed.
When information comes to mind there’s only one way to tell whether a vein of genuine memory has been struck - deep, inner certainty will accompany the imagery. If, on the other hand the scenes or flashes of scenes appear to be nothing but fantasy and imagination, they most probably are. The golden rule declares: If you doubt what you see, don't believe it.
Those who have difficulty visualizing will benefit from training themselves to see, in their mind's eye, a flickering candle or a specific geometric image such as a square or a circle. It is also helpful to step into a room/ survey its contents as carefully as possible, and then close your eyes in an effort to reconstruct all that you have seen. Anyone who doubts their ability to visualize clearly should repeat these preliminary exercises several times before the first attempt is made to enter the celestial sanctum. If the most determined efforts at visualization are unsuccessful, the information should still be attainable: it will be perceived intuitively rather than seen, either at the time of the visualization or at some later point.
We are now almost ready for the measured induction which you may choose to read yourself or have read to you by a partner. You can also tape yourself reading aloud, then play it back when you are ready to begin the self-exploration. Before you start, however, still further preparation of mind may be useful.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that self-exploration of one's past cannot be taken lightly; a voyeuristic approach is to be sternly resisted. To venture into the interlife is to explore the meaning and purpose of one's being and such an important quest necessitates reverence and humility. The celestial sanctum 'must represent to each person the highest degree of purity and sanctity of which he is capable', according to Charles Dana Dean, who wrote a pamphlet about the sanctum's origins and purposes.
Now, to the final preparatory ritual ... First, find a quiet place where the exercise may proceed undisturbed. Wash your hands in clean water and dry them well. This symbolizes the cleansing of the body. Next, spend several minutes in utter relaxation - lying down, perhaps, or sitting in a favourite chair - to relieve yourself progressively of all workaday thoughts and negativity.
To assist in this process, you can purge your aura of negative influences by simply closing your eyes, concentrating on positive thoughts, and running your hands swiftly over the outline of the body, as close to the skin as possible without touching. Expect to feel a tingling sensation as this takes place. Imagine that you are sweeping away everything cloying or distracting, flicking your hands periodically to ensure this unwanted residue is well clear of your aura. If you wish, a partner may perform this act of cleansing for you.
As a prelude to the actual exercise, the words of Bernard Shannon, author of Immortalism in a Temporal World, are worth recalling . . .
The aspirant must become aware of other-being while in the physical condition, and hold back part of himself from the maelstrom of human existence. To become so aware does not need deep study or meditation. Simply think of a greater area of being, without becoming too much concerned with what that area is like. Pure thought-energy without atomic constructions will be a sufficient interpretation . . . Just see the higher area in the mind's eye; be aware that the area is there, without thinking or ruminating upon it. The mental picture must exist...
Now you are ready for the exercise itself which, though capable of facilitating exploration of any interlife or past life, will be directed at the most recent between-life period. Should you prefer to examine another incarnation or discarnate existence, amend the exercise accordingly by asking to view that existence instead of the most recent bardo experience. . .
Lie down, breathe deeply several times, and travel gently into a state of relaxation. If the exercise is being read to you, close your eyes, and relish the state of being relaxed, of listening to the pronunciation of each word If reading the exercise yourself, proceed slowly, allowing a peaceful state of mind to overwhelm you before taking the first step towards the celestial sanctum. Either way, travel deep within yourself, focusing solely on going further and further into an altered state of reality. You are aware of nothing except your own mind and these words as they slip into your consciousness...
Now visualize high in the sky, far beyond the clouds, a great cathedral, far grander and of far greater dimension than any place of worship that could possibly be constructed here on Earth. This celestial sanctum has a colossal double doorway placed squarely beneath huge arches and twin spires. A massive set of stone steps leads up to this entrance . . . Concentrate on hinging this vast cathedral into being in every minute detail of its elaborate masonry and then see yourself alone, poised at the foot of the steps, looking up expectantly at the doorway . . . Start climbing the steps; notice the rough hewn granite as your shoes touch one step after another . . . It's a long climb, but at last you reach the top and stand beneath the immensity of the wooden doors. Breathe deeply, pause, and then stretch out a hand to feel the texture of the wood, rubbing your hand lightly over the varnished surface stippled with knots and joins and cracks. Now give a slight push to one of the doors. It opens invitingly and, gradually, the dimly lit interior is revealed as the great hinges swing back and you step across the threshold onto the echoing flagstones of the vestibule.
Stand there and look around you; observe the high, vaulted ceilings, the stained glass windows, the massive columns, and row upon row of benches. Shafts of light fall diagonally across these benches, the air smells sweetly of incense, and you are overwhelmed by the solemnity, the stillness and the magnificence of the scene. But rather than proceed down the main aisle of the nave towards the altar, you tum instead to yow left and walk towards the far wall. It's a long way away. As you advance you are aware that the flagstones beneath your feet have given way to polished marble and that the wall is panelled in dark hardwoods from floor to ceiling.
Now, look along that wall for a door, a small door. It is not easy to see; you must look carefully. But at last you observe a small, brass door handle and you proceed towards it. When you arrive, open that door . . . When you walk through the doorway, you see a stone stairway. The steps are narrow and well worn, and they lead down to the cellars. Move down these steps; feel yourself descending deeper and deeper into the very foundations of the cathedral.
At the foot of the steps stands a man, an old man. His hair is white and he is wearing a long, black gown that reaches almost to his ankles. He is the guardian of the records and he is expecting you, but he wants to know why you are here. Explain yow quest for self-exploration and ask to see the record of your last interlife.
The old man, bowing his head, listens attentively to your explanation and grants your request . . . Next, the guardian beckons you to follow him into the Library. You seem to float behind the flapping tails of his gown as he sets off through the seemingly endless corridors, past shelf after shelf piled high with books. At last he comes to a halt between parallel lines of stacked volumes. He stands there for a few moments before pointing to a particular shelf of books. You follow the line of his arm, and your gaze alights upon your own name inscribed on the shelf in gold, embossed lettering.
Read this name and verify that it is, indeed, the name by which you are known. Then survey the books that are on your shelf . . . There are many, many books on this shelf of yours: one for each of your past lives and one for each of your interlives. Observe the succession of leather spines placed in chronological order from left to right. As this life is not yet over and its record has not yet been completed, the book located on the extreme right-hand side is that which contains full details of your most recent between-life experience.
Ask the guardian for this record and watch him steadily as he reaches up, retrieves the book, and hands it to you. Hold the volume firmly, feeling the texture of its soft leather cover, and know that in a few moments you will open its pages to observe the contents of your last discarnate existence........
You may choose to look at any aspect of the interlife . . . the threshold, the judgement board, planning the next life . . . anything you wish. When you open the book (remember, a photograph album or videotape cassette may be retrieved in place of the book), you will do so with no fear. What is contained therein has already happened; it presents no surprises to your subconscious. You are merely looking at the record.
Now, open the book and examine whatever section of the interlife you have chosen to explore. Absorb the record calmly, passively, without emotion. You have all the time you wish. When you have seen all there is to see, close the book and hand it back to the guardian who is waiting patiently some distance away. He replaces the book on its shelf and then motions for you to follow him once more through the labyrinthine library to the stairway leading back to the cathedral. You hasten after the old man until you are brought to the place where you first met.
There, you bid him farewell for the time being and ascend the stairs, proceeding through the small door into the silence and majesty of the nave. You close the door behind you and pause for a while under the ornate ceilings before returning to the vestibule and the enormous doorway. Now you step outside the celestial sanctum and slowly descend the stone steps. And as you move one foot before the other you find that normal consciousness is slowly returning so that by the time you reach the foot of the staircase you arc once more fully aware of your surroundings . . .
Some people find that they become aware of their interlife memories upon following the guided visualization for the first time. But most people need to repeat the exercise several times before recall is coaxed into consciousness. Those who are most persistent - or who are 'natural' visualizers - will find their efforts are rewarded with a stream of images. Often, insights will appear later in dreams or will register as intuitive flashes that intrude upon the everyday waking state.