on 26 November 2011
Generally, I avoid fiction, even though I realize that some of what I read relative to spiritual and paranormal subjects may be fiction disguised as reality, unrecognized even by the author. On the other hand, much of what we accept as real in the physical world may be nothing more than illusion imposed on us by spiritual influences. When it comes to spiritual matters, the line separating the real from the unreal becomes very cloudy. At times, the "real" becomes the "unreal" and the "unreal" becomes the "real." One doesn't know what to believe.
One of the most curious experiences encountered over and over again in the study of metaphysical literature is that of a newly-deceased soul not realizing that he or she is "dead." Such souls are usually referred to as "earthbound," and are explained as not yet having awakened to the "real" world, clinging to the material world and their earthly ways because they did not develop enough spiritual consciousness during their earth journeys to recognize their new state of existence. The closed-minded rational person may scoff at the whole idea of a surviving personality, or soul, and wonder how, even if the personality does survive, that surviving personality cannot realize he is dead. To this, one might ask the skeptic if he realizes he is "alive" when dreaming at night.
It is this very situation which Kiran Kulkarni, the protagonist of Professor Betty's intriguing novel, finds himself. Like so many other educated people, Kiran, a philosophy professor who had been reared in Hindu society and later converted to Catholicism after coming to the United States, took the "intelligent" approach, the one favored by his academic colleagues, and dismissed the whole idea of life after death as just so much religious folly and superstition. As a result, when he becomes the victim of a plane crash, he struggles to understand what has happened to him and to recognize the fact that he is "dead" though "alive." He remains in a stupor for some time, visiting a former love interest, who had committed suicide, and reliving parts of his life where he seemingly made the wrong decisions. Slowly, he awakens to his condition, but he continues to struggle in adapting to it.
As I became absorbed in the book, I forgot that it was unreal, because it so closely matched what I have come to understand as real in this regard. The author has taken dozens of "real" stories of such earthbound spirits and synthesized them into one very real portrayal of the afterlife condition that awaits many people who have not developed significant spiritual consciousness. Hopefully, the book will prompt at least a few people to ponder on the possibility that there is much truth in this story and that there is a need to develop spiritual consciousness in this life time and not wait until the next one.