The idea of the afterlife is being reconfigured through the New Age culture of personal well-being.
Extraordinary experiences claimed by proponents of near-death experiences and lucid dreaming provide material to support this redefinition, eliding questions of salvation and traditional notions of heaven and hell, writes Raymond L.M. Lee in the Journal of Contemporary Religion (Vol. 28, No. 1).
With the contemporary fragmentation of central questions, alternatives to the traditional views of the hereafter are being offered.A search for improving physical and mental health through holistic activities “must inevitably confront questions which deal with the end of life.” The quest for well-being continues beyond the life in the here and now. Key texts on New Age notions of dying have been Stephen Levine’s Who Dies? and the books by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. In this view, death is “a gateway to knowing the Self.”
The afterlife is thus redefined “as providing an enriched ground for seeking the Inner or Higher Self.” In such a detraditionalized perspective on death, concerns for salvation lose relevance. The afterlife thus becomes aligned with the spiritualities of life.
(Journal of Contemporary Religion, Taylor & Francis, 325 Chestnut Street, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106)