Thursday, August 8, 2013

Adventures in the Afterlife by William Buhlman

Adventures in the Afterlife by William Buhlman

book review by Bob Peterson

I have to apologize for the length of this article, but I need to explain a few things so you don't get the wrong idea.

First of all, let me say that I love everything about William Buhlman. I remember many years ago when I got my copy of his first book, Adventures Beyond the Body. My wife Kathy and I were staying at a lodge in the woods of northern Minnesota, one of the perks of her job at the time. I had just bought Adventures and took it on the trip. Kathy wanted to go out boating and hiking, but all I wanted to do is read. And so we sat on the balcony overlooking the pristine lake and read our respective books side by side. I always prefer nonfiction, especially books on OBEs and consciousness, whereas Kathy prefers fiction, especially Stephen King.

I distinctly remember turning to her on several occasions and breaking the silence, saying, "I love this guy! Listen to this, Kathy..." and then I'd read another passage to her. I also told her, "If this book had been written a couple years earlier, I might not have written my book. He says a lot of the same things I said in my book, and a bunch of things I should have said!" (That was before I wrote my other three books).

A couple years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Buhlman on a trip to Colorado where he was doing a joint OBE seminar with Albert Taylor and Patricia Leva. They invited me along as an unannounced special guest speaker, and I was thrilled. I was surprised to find that Buhlman (who insisted we call him Bill) and I were a lot alike. It wasn't just the OBE thing. We had a very similar attitude toward life, politics, religion, spirituality and everything else. There was an instant bond there.

Not long after, Bill asked me to read his book The Secret of the Soul before it was released, and I even wrote an endorsement for the back cover.

So I was really looking forward to reading Bill's latest book, Adventures in the Afterlife. Unfortunately, Kathy and I were in the middle of some expensive projects (for example, painting our house) so I didn't want to spend the money to buy it. I figured I'd wait patiently a couple months when money wasn't as tight. Then, out of the blue and unsolicited, Bill sent me a copy of his book in the mail. It's funny how the Universe always conspires to make certain things happen, regardless of the circumstances.

Then I quickly discovered that most of Adventures in the Afterlife is fiction. Do you remember my first paragraph where I said I always prefer nonfiction? Well, this book isn't just fiction, it's visionary fiction.

Now I have to explain my feelings about visionary fiction. I've always preferred nonfiction, but when I read my first visionary fiction book, Illusions by Richard Bach, I loved it. I absolutely loved it, and I was hungry to read more like it. I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and it was okay, but I was already starting to lose faith in the genre. I read more: 2150AD by Thea Alexander, which was just alright. Then God on a Harley by Joan Brady. Blah. Then I read The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and it felt more like a sales pitch than a work of fiction. I tried several others, but finally gave up: I became completely disillusioned with the entire genre of visionary fiction.

The problem with visionary fiction in general is that it never seems to have a captivating story line, a plot or conflict like "real" fiction. Even the characters seem flat and two-dimensional. Visionary fiction always seems to be a long boring series of statements like: "The master took me here, showed me X, and told me Y, and I learned Z, an important spiritual lesson." At the same time, you can't trust what it's saying: the fact that it's fiction means that it's not true; it's made up. So who cares what happens in the book? Even if it's based on real events, it's not true! In other words, the fiction spoils the lesson, and the lesson spoils the fiction. It's like baking brownies with garlic: I love brownies and I love garlic, but if you combine the two, the two flavors spoil each other: yuck!

Disillusioned, I told myself, There's got to be a better way! There's got to be a way to weave a set of spiritual lessons around an interesting, engaging, captivating plot! And so I took it upon myself to tackle the impossible: to defy the stereotype of visionary fiction. I wrote a novel called The Gospel According to Mike, and my goal was to tell a compelling story, and still be visionary fiction. I worked for years on that novel, weaving an intricate plot with interesting characters embroiled in conflict. But guess what? I failed too. In the end, my novel turned out to be not very "visionary" at all. I focused too much on the plot and made it too much like a "real" novel and didn't spend enough time on the spiritual messages. Sigh. Oh well. I gave it a good try though.

That should give you a pretty good idea about my feelings about visionary fiction: It frustrates the hell out of me. Needless to say, I started out extremely apprehensive about Adventures in the Afterlife, but I dove in and started reading it anyway, because hey: it's William Buhlman! I was pleasantly surprised.

In March 2011, Buhlman, was diagnosed with stage-four cancer of the tonsil and lymph nodes. It threw his life into turmoil and he faced the possibility that he might die. The main character of this book, Frank Brooks, is also diagnosed with stage-four cancer, and that's how the book begins: on a very real and sobering note.

The book reads like the diary of the main character, Frank, as he slowly deteriorates from cancer. This part of the book was very engaging; I was shaken, reading this heart-wrenching story. The cancer eventually takes his life and he begins his adventures in the afterlife.

After a long stay in what he thought was "heaven," Frank eventually gets fed-up and decides to explore outside the comfortable boundaries of his after-death society. This leads him to meet his spiritual guide, Remi. Remi takes him from place to place and teaches Frank all about how we humans keep returning to Earth, feeding our addictions and ego, and get trapped inside the illusion of the Earth plane.

The book's descriptions of nonphysical environments are very good; they perfectly match my experiences. But to be perfectly honest, it felt a little flat as fiction goes. As I said, that could just be me: I have a hard time with visionary fiction.

Then, surprisingly, two thirds into the book, the fiction ended and I got to "part 2" which is nonfiction. This is where I perked up and I started really enjoying the book. He hit the ground running, talking about our life-lessons and how we plan our lives. Once again, this perfectly matched my beliefs. For example, here's a quote I like:
As your awareness grows, lessons take on a deeper significance. You begin to witness the beauty of the universe. The synchronicity of spirit gives everything in life a new meaning and purpose. You feel a reverence for all things because you know that the characters around you are important vehicles for learning expressions of unconditional love. You take a deep breath and try to comprehend it all. The awesome intelligence behind this magnificent creation is amazing to behold--you realize that all are evolving through the use of form. (p. 175)
Very well put.

Chapter 7 of part 2 contains what Bill calls his "personal reality principles" and I really enjoyed them. I think mankind would make a lot faster spiritual progress if we all repeated these 33 important messages to ourselves, rather than our usual inner dialog of typical negativity.

The book was well written, with good grammar and spelling (with the usual number of typos). It's also well organized. Each lessons leads to the next, in a logical progression.

The visionary fiction part was off-putting to me, but despite my own biases, I liked the book.

This book is not about out-of-body experiences. If that's what you're looking for, read Buhlman's first book, Adventures Beyond the Body, instead. This book is about life after death, and our purpose for being here, and where we go from here. And really, those are some of the most important things we can learn from OBEs.

2013 Aug 8

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