Book Review: Memories of the Afterlife

BookMemories of the Afterlife by Michael Newton, Llewellyn Publications 2010

Rating: ***
Good For: those interested in Life-between-life regression
Reading Level: Easy from a narrative perspective, but some understanding of past-life regression and energy work is helpful

I wonder if there is anyone who can read both Brian Weiss and Michael Newton without comparing their work?  I realize there are other Past Life and Life-between-lives authors out there, but these two seem to be the heaviest hitters.  This third? fourth? book of Michael Newton’s is a collection of stories submitted by therapists and graduates of the Newton Institute around the globe (although chiefly in the US and UK).  The stories themselves are very interesting, sometimes fascinating, but aside from the life-changing effects of their life-between-lives regression experiences there is little commonality to cohere the book. Michael Newton’s primary contribution to the book appears to be the copious, editorial footnotes referencing his previous books that appear after each narrative.

If you are new to the subject of past life regression and life-between-lives regression, this is not a good introductory book[1].  I have not read Michael Newton’s other books and I sorely missed that background knowledge while reading this one.  Some of the things I found most intriguing were revelations made by the regression subjects during the sessions which were just glossed over or never mentioned again.  Ironically, however, that which makes the book least desirable as an introduction to PLR and LBL is actually it’s most redeeming factor.  The stories on their own are captivating enough that I could barely put the book down despite the numerous questions and doubts I had about some of the material.  For me, (and I’m sure I am not unique here) I also look for ways in which a book like this challenges and / or validates my own worldview as it gives me things to think about and meditate on about my own understanding of the universe.  In this case, it did both.

Even though I have not read any of Michael Newton’s other books, this one was sufficiently compelling to make me want to check the rest of them out (well, at least the first one).  I am hopeful that some of the material introduced in these stories is addressed in a more generalized way in his earlier work.  For example, therapists whose work is presented in this book always ask for a soul’s Immortal name.  I hope that earlier books address how a soul gets that name.  Is an immortal soul name given or chosen for oneself?  Presumably you aren’t born to soul parents (although this is another topic on which the book is totally silent – initial soul generation / creation). I’ve read a few of Brian Weiss’ books and there’s a bit of a different dynamic when reading the anecdotes he shares.  Since those stories are mostly other people’s past lives – and are usually (for the most part) pretty ordinary, the reader can empathize with the human aspect of the story without feeling a particularly burning desire to “know more” about that other person’s past lifetime.  In the case of Life between lives work however, the regressed are purportedly reporting experiences common to all of us so the reader (at least me) experiences a much stronger desire for information and the burden of proof is much higher.  If you are looking for “proof” of Life-between-lives experience, I don’t think this book really provides that.  There is very little effort put in to documenting methodology and in fact, I’m not sure the goal is really all that scientific.  As therapy, however, it seems to be benefiting the clients and it certainly is an interesting topic to think about as long as you don’t get too attached to the idea.

Rating Key:

***** – Should be at the top of your reading list
**** – Should be somewhere on your reading list
*** – Good for a very particular audience or it’s a toss-up whether this is worth reading or not
** – I have too much time on my hands
* – If you see a one-star post, consider it my idea of a public service to warn you away

Reading Level:

Easy – Anyone at a 12th grade reading level should have no problem with this
Moderate – May require a bit more determination to work through
Difficult – May require background knowledge in a particular field or need to be read in conjunction with other texts in order to optimally parse meaning
Extremely Difficult – This one I’ll reserve for something like Sankara, where it may take you twenty minutes just to get through a sentence or two.

 

[1] Rather go with Brian Weiss’s book Many Lives Many Masters as a good place to start for both regression and life-between-lives experiences.

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