Some relevant questions relating to the asserted ethereal existence after Earthly death arise. Do the ethereal entities existing in an insubstantial universe meet and relate to one another? What would bring them together? Do they form collectives? How do they spend their time? Is time relevant for them? How long, in Earth times, would an entity spend in this environment?
Most importantly, if there are opportunities for learning, how is that learning made possible? Are not these issues relevant for those who are not afraid to die? And who accept the probability of an existence without form or substance, as we know it on Earth.
In this context, the claim by the New Agers of the Western world about accessing what they refer to as the Akashic Record is not persuasive. This claim reflects the ethos of individualism of the modern Westerner; that one can do, and be, whatever one wants. It also seems to be an optimistic extrapolation from the core beliefs of Hinduism. Instead of accepting Karma or Destiny or Fate (each reflecting in diverse degrees the Law of Cause and Effect), this perspective encourages individuals to pull up their hiking or snow-field socks, and to march out of any marsh in which they might find themselves towards the light they seek. Admirable, but possibly unreal experientially. But, why not indeed? After all, a substantial degree of free will is not denied by those who accept the karma of Hinduism as influential in their lives.
However, the ‘forest’ faith of Hinduism and its associated or derivative forms do not have the authority of a Good Book akin to the Bible or Koran. Instead, a very wide raft of beliefs, and commentaries on epics offering moral guidance (such as the Bhagavadgita), with a core of mysticism surrounded by an armoury of rituals, permits most flexible interpretations of the reality underlying Earthly life.
Ultimately, an understanding of the unity of all existence, of all things created, is said to be beyond words, to be ‘Realised’ only through a deep meditative process. Thus, as said pithily by a recent commentator, those who come to know ultimate reality in this manner obviously cannot tell us about it. The corollary is that those who seek to tell us about it could not possibly know. Putting aside for the moment the unclear concepts of ‘reality’ and spiritual ‘Realisation,’ there does seem to be plenty of scope here for learning, achievable through an individualistic path.
The objective of learning whilst in the hereafter? Apparently to bring the learning back to Earth for the benefit of self and others during one’s next life. To what ultimate end? To be progressively purified spiritually (thereby morally as well), and thus to eventually qualify to rejoin that Ocean of Consciousness from which we are alleged to have arisen. So it has been claimed. The proof?
Ah, the mystery of a transmogrification of a material existence on solid Earth to an ethereal entity with a potential to progress spiritually whilst ‘existing’ in a domain lacking substance! Fascinating!