I recommend this book for every life extensionist

Surviving Death: a journalist investigates evidence for an afterlife
by Leslie Kean


Readers of this blog are interested in life extension. We relish the experience of being alive, and we struggle with dread of death, and there is diversity among us how much relish and how much dread we harbor.

We believe in the methodology of science, and we look to biological science for solutions that will preserve our bodies from the ravages of age. Most of us subscribe to the scientific consensus that our bodies support our experience, our brains engender our consciousness, and without our brains, we would be nothing.

How do we respond when we are presented with scientific evidence that the brain is not the source of consciousness; that experience can exist in the absence of neural activity; that death of the body will change but will not necessarily end the experience that we relish?

If we believe in Science with a capital S, if we have faith in the community of scientists and the conclusions in which a great majority of scientists concur, we say, “This is not worth my time. I know it must be wrong. I’m not going to think about it.”

If, on the other hand, we believe in science with a small s—the scientific method, the gathering of evidence and the testing of hypotheses against all the available evidence—then we read Leslie Kean’s book, and our mouths hang agape, and we wonder how we can ever reconcile what she reports with the picture of the world that has served us so well all our lives.

The material in this book is so radical that if we accept that even some portion of it is reliable, and if we are honest and courageous enough to explore the consequences, then we must rethink our relationship to life extension and then begin to overhaul our relationship to life.


Kean begins with a story that is stunning enough in its own right, but previously well-established by other researchers. Carol Bowman first interviewed the Leininger family and documented the story of their son, who called himself “James the Third” because he had previously lived the life of James Houston, Jr, a World War II fighter pilot who was shot down over Japan in the Battle of Iwo Jima (1945). As a three-year-old (in 2001), James the Third recognized and name parts of the plane that Houston piloted and the aircraft carrier from which he was deployed. From a period photo, he was able to identify by name other members of Houston’s flight crew as well as his two sisters.

The Leininger case is particularly compelling because it is well-confirmed and includes dramatic detail. But in other respects, it is representative of thousands of stories that have been collected at Univ of Virginia. Most of them involve a sudden, violent death in a previous life, leaving a lingering sense of incompleteness. Frequently, children have knowledge of details from their past lives, and occasionally, children will speak in languages that they were not exposed to in their present reincarnation. It’s called xenoglossy

It is natural to take thees stories as support for a traditional (Buddhist or Hindu) account of reincarnation. In that narrative, each of us is an immortal soul, and we evolve through a series of excursions when we assume physical form for the purpose of education via broadened experience. For the most part, we forget our past during each incarnation, but sometimes memories leak through the veil. Leinginer’s story validates part of this, but is subject to other interpretations as well. Memories may be transferred without any continuity of personality across incarnations. Children may spontaneously experience remote viewing or clairvoyance. If reincarnation is a thing, it may be rare or common, and not necessary universal. The story cracks open our dogmatic commitment to a materialistic perspective, but it does not compel a particular alternative.

Can such stories be consistent with the “conservative” view that consciousness is generated by the brain, with all knowledge and experience completely dependent on the physical brain? Only if we postulate new physics that transmits information, not attenuated by time or space, and that our nerves are evolved to take advantage of this yet-to-be-discovered effect. In my mind, this is more of a stretch than simply to adopt William James’s view that the brain is a transducer, not a generator of consciousness.

Near death Experiences

For Kean’s book, reincarnation is just an opener, and as her accounts stretch the limits of our reality to the breaking point, her voice becomes increasingly familiar and convincing. In the last chapters, she relates accounts in the first person, and, fantastic though they are, we find it hard to dismiss her because she has used 300 pages to earn our trust.

Near death experiences are another well-plowed regime for anyone who is open to reading the literature. People in extremis have memories of experience that took place while their EEG plots (electrical activity in the brain) were flatlined and they were technically dead. These often include tunnels with a white light at the end, meetings with deceased relatives, and spirit guides. On the one hand, the cases are more specific in what they can tell us about what it’s like to be dead. On the other hand, they are easier to dismiss as illusions or false memories or hallucinations of an oxygen-starved brain. Kean reminds us of the occasional cases where people with brains that are technically dead remember details of their resuscitation, the doctors or nurses in their hospital room. More occasionally, people report visiting distant relatives during this time. And there is just one case where a woman on an operating table experienced floating up from her body and seeing a sneaker on the roof which could not be seen from any point inside the hospital or from the ground. Her description of the sneaker was later verified.

Disciplining herself to remain objective, Kean acknowledges that reports from people who have had NDEs (and actual deathbed experiences) cannot prove that consciousness outlives the body. But she notes a general similarity between what NDEers report and the accounts of children when they talk about the time between incarnations.

Communicating with the dead

To appreciate mediumship, Kean opines, you have to be there. She incorporates a chapter by a credentialed researcher about rigorously controlled studies, but only after she relates in detail the experiences she had contacting her departed brother and another lost friend through three separate mediums. Some 80% to 90% of the details they report are accurate, including names and recall of specific conversations. But (says Kean), this can’t begin to convey the emotional intimacy of feeling a departed person’s personality coming through in the style and language of the communication. For each of the two deceased persons, Kean reports personal details known only to the deceased and herself, which the medium accurately references.

The medium who makes sceptics pant and tremble like nervous horses |  Europaranormal

Mrs. Piper, 1857-1950

Is this evidence that the medium is in touch with a still-existing spirit of the deceased? Kean and her academic expert both admit that this is a difficult question. If the information is known to the sitter, then the medium could have obtained it through telepathy with the living (and if it is not known to the sitter, how can it be verified?) But mediums themselves report that the way information comes to them feels very different from telepathy, and EEGs of the same person doing psychic readings and mediumship seem to corroborate this.

Finally, Kean reports details of the compelling story of a man whose great uncle died on a battlefield of the Great War contacted him through a medium forty years later and related the exact coordinates of the unmarked grave site in which he was buried.

Physical appearance of the dead in seances

For some reason, it is easier for me personally to accept non-physical transfer of information than to believe in the physical incarnation of ghosts or specters. But by this point in the book, Kean has established herself as such a credible witness that these fantastical tales of her personal experience leave me baffled and perplexed.

The science that we understand gives us the technology for transportation and communication, for comfort and convenience. But the science that we don’t understand imparts to us a sense of awe and wonder, and motivation to continue our investigations in new and creative ways.

I am less concerned than Kean and her experts with distinguishing between explanations from telepathy and from post-mortem survival for the phenomena they describe. The big message for me is one of non-local mind. Once it has been established that mind has an existence that cannot be explained by functions of the brain—that, indeed, a part of the mind’s awareness appears to be untethered to any spatial location—for me, there is no longer any reason to suppose that the mind dies with the brain.

I carry with me from early childhood the memory of repeating the phrase, “I am Josh” and savoring an intuitive conviction of its absurdity. A part of me that was deeper than experience seemed to know that “I” am an abstract observer of this physical universe, and not a piece of matter within it. Today, this is just an intellectual curiosity, as I have long ago lost the cosmic expansiveness of the child’s experience.

I plan to continue pursuing life extension as a celebration of life rather than the hopeful forestalling of a dread event. And the sense of mystery and wonder that these anomalous phenomena provide continues to enhance the time I have on earth.

Anne Jeffreys, Glamorous Ghost of '50s TV, Is Dead at 94 - The New York  Times


19 thoughts on “I recommend this book for every life extensionist

  1. Human
    I have the opportunity to receive information from the Creator, the Universe, God, aliens. Therefore, based on this information, I give a story about a person.
    Man consists of a biological body, an ethereal (electrical) body, a mental (magnetic) body and a Soul. The Soul is the structure of the information field and includes the Self of the Soul, the receiver-transmitter of information through the information field, the Consciousness, the Subconscious, the converters of information between the fields of information, magnetic, electric.
    Human Souls are produced in a certain zone of the Universe, then the Souls are sent to gain experience of life on the planets, where the Creator places the Human Soul in the body of a born child on the 66th day from conception – this is already a biological person. In a child, the Creator formed all the traits of character, gave fate, and filled in the Center of the Subconsciousness all the instincts necessary for a person. However, the Creator left in the Subconsciousness the Centers of cognition, feelings of conscience, movement, feelings, intellectual, emotional empty, and these Centers are saturated with control programs already during the biological life of a person. Therefore, society forms by training and educating a person.
    The human body changes during life and these changes correspond to one hundred copies of the informational body, which are laid down by the Creator in the Soul. After all copies of the informational body are used up, a person dies and his Soul leaves the body and goes to the afterlife on Earth. Thus, a person goes through 5 to 12 cycles of being on Earth in a biological form. Then, after the end of all cycles, the Human Soul is sent to its alien civilization in accordance with the Human Code. In an alien civilization, a person lives for a very long time until he is punished by the Creator for his tricks in violation of the laws of the Cosmos.

  2. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for the book recommendation and the great summary of its key points! I will definitely look into it!
    I also wanted to ask you if you have ever tried ayahuasca, Josh? The first time I drank it, it quite literally blew my mind. It might sound scary, but I had something similar to an NDE on it (maybe the ego death) and then I learned pretty quickly that our consciousness is so much more than our mind – suddenly I was out of my body and my consciousness was infinite. Space and time ceased to exist. It was just pure awareness, pure “is-ness” to say so. If you ever have the chance and are open to it I highly recommend you try ayahuasca at least once in your lifetime. It helps to answer so many questions (and you’ll have a ton of new ones afterwards). You can read a thousand books on consciousness, reincarnation, afterlife, Buddhism etc., but nothing comes even close to actually experiencing those things firsthand while on ayahuasca.

    Best regards from Ecuador!

    • Cynthia:

      Thank your for sharing your ayahuasca experience.

      My husband has often described a similar experience when nearly dying from an extremely high fever at six years old.

      You wrote: “[suddenly I was out of my body and my consciousness was infinite. Space and time ceased to exist. It was just pure awareness, pure “is-ness” “]

      Not using those exact words my husband described a similar feeling. He also talks about a Seeing very large monoliths and having a feeling of incredibly denseness, that is difficult to put in to words.

      The memory has stayed with him long after the experience. He also said he could feel the experience for many years afterward, but later can only summon the visual memory, not the sensory experience.

      His experience took place long before the movie 2001 was released showing similar type monoliths among the apes.

  3. As you know my aim is the physical elimination of aging and death, one that I’ve had considerable success with. As far as immortality goes, however, even the Universe isn’t immortal. If I manage to extend the human lifespan to a million years, (assuming anyone would want to) there would still be the same eternity of death, and the fear of death might be as strong as it is currently, (or perhaps people will wait in gleeful anticipation). I’ve always thought of death as The Great Adventure, but if it’s nothing at all I won’t be disappointed. All mystics agree (for whatever that means) that the individual consciousness is an illusion and that we’re mere evanescent bubbles in the froth life, only our boundaries are destroyed.

  4. Thank you Josh.
    A few reflections on this:JUAN (SASTRE, and Barja),

    I resend this to you J. Sastre especially because you are a very good scientist, Full Professor of Physiology at Valencia University, and you have passed all your life working hard at the laboratory already for around 30 years trying to save people from aging first (with Pepe Viña) and then from pancreatitis (working independently) and…..you said to me by phone years ago in the summer that you believe in reincarnation! I was really shocked by your words. I remember I was alone in my marvelous small garden over the Arousa Sea in Galicia when I heard you say that to me….

    Now Josh writes this well documented blog (same as he does always, hard worker as he is..). I must add that Josh suffered a very strong accident when riding his bicycle and was shocked by a huge truck flying over it and had to undergo many surgical interventions at the border of life and death. I do not know if that is related to his last blog here pasted below.

    In any case Juan,. what do you think of Josh´s blog and his references/links (see below)?

    I am interested, especially in the idea that the brain does not generate consciousness but instead is only an interface between consciousness and the body. Neurophysiology is the part of Physiology I always avoided. I focused on the rest of physiology because I do not like to teach something that neither I or nobody really understands.

    In my opinion we will travel to the stars (with Byden and Putin´s permission…if they don’t exterminate all eukarya on earth finally..) WELL BEFORE we really understand how our brain works…1,000 years of youth seemed to me to get much easy to discover (we already did for 300 perhaps with our ndufs of CxI?) than solving the brain (impossible, I laughed when they declared that it will be solved in a decade the 1990´s je je stupid idea…

    So Josh also believes, like Juan Sastre, in reincarnation at least. Is this fear or death or is this something coming from a recent near to death experience Josh?

    I have no idea at all on the subject to be sincere. But I ask myself (I started to read original writers of good philosophy 15 years ago, as well as history to understand the present…)

    It is said (at least in western tradition, that the wisest man that ever existed was not Newton or Einstein nor Sheakespeare or Hegel or, Pre Socratic Philosophers. It was: Plato!

    And Plato believed/said that the human soul lives forever:

    -1) Before being born
    -2) During life
    -3) After death

    Current materialistic thinking only believes in number 2, and Christiaans (I refer to True ones, ¿perhaps 5% of the officially christians?, because it is absolutely impossible being a christiaan and simultaneously a mass killer and thief of the whole world as Biden and Putin et al…) believe in 2+3 (they are supposed to have copied these two from Plato!).

    Please just comment what you think of 1-3? I s it a serious reliable thing?


  5. Great book recco Josh! This has also put me on to Stewart Alexander’s book “An Extraordinary Journey” and his “one of the greatest mediums” Leslie Flint (“Voices in the Dark”). Huge amount of great resources on the Leslie Flint Trust Youtube channel. Also voices from Stewart’s séances (love that Freda!) here: https://alexanderproject.bandcamp.com/releases

  6. Reincarnation is totally redundant and since it doesn’t need to take place, it doesn’t. We will all be judged according to our gifts, our choices, and our works. One of these choices is admitting our frailties and trying to change our bad behaviors and choices. To do so truly, one must ask God for help since we are broken and can’t do it on our own (thinking we can is the original sin). Where people get confused is that we will all judge ourselves since that is what we both know now (though we don’t admit it) and when we stand up in front of the cosmos and the judge, He doesn’t even have to say anything, since He is the truth. If we have the spirit of truth (that is, the Holy Spirit) we don’t rebel against it, which is what those who don’t want to be with it will do – indeed they will judge themselves when confronted by the “judge” on the last day.

    Acquiring the holy spirit will go on forever. All of the other things people have mentioned (ayahuasca, remembering things from “lives past”) are due to connections with the spirit world, most of which are influenced by dark spiritual forces. Prayer, meditation, acquisition of virtue, these are the long, healthy, narrow path. Experimentation in realms you have no possible way of understanding is the wide, dangerous path. These are not recommended for a multiplicity of reasons, some of which are simple, more of which are paradoxical. They will not be useful to you because the intention will be to interest you, your ego, and ultimately to deceive you.

  7. Hi Josh,

    New reader here, just discovered your blog. I am curious how this all interacts with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. I haven’t put too much thought into this, but would any memories lost in the brain survive outside of the body?

    • There’s a lot we don’t understand about memory. Plants have memory. One-celled paramecia have memory. It may be that the memories are always there in the ether, but the Alzheimer’s brain can’t tune in to it.

      • memories surviving outside of the body?
        and in the “ether” ? (a concept dismissed around one century ago in physics).

        These sound to me unscientific assertions

        • They are unscientific in that they violate established scientific principles. But they are based in observations. If there are just one or two stories, we should throw them out and keep our principles. But when many people seem to know things that had no basis in their senses, maybe we have to change our scientific theories at a fundamental level.

          • Josh, I am not sure that the number of observations of strange phenomena is a criterium. For instance, I remember that around the 1960’s a huge number of people observed UFOs (including airplane pilots, in fact I knew personally one military jet pilot who said he saw one) but this fashion wave passed away and I do not think scientists in general beleive nowadays that extraterrestrial inteligent beings exist and fly on earth around us on their round or disc-shaped space ships.

          • While I don’t know what percentage of scientists believe in extraterrestrial intelligent beings or in their ability to send “UFOs” (drones?) to Earth, I have read several who do hold such beliefs.

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