What Students Say About
Personality and the Afterlife

Dr. Leon James, Instructor

1. I truly believe that one's personality exists after our life here on earth. I do believe in the afterlife, yet I wonder whether reincarnation exists.

I support dualism since I don't believe that the mind and body are equal. Personality makes up our unique identity, and when we die I feel that it is an inseparable part with our soul (mind). The afterlife has been a controversial issue for sometime now, and through an experience my sister had, I believe in it. My sister and I were sitting together at our grandfather's funeral and all of a sudden my sister was terrified. She said that she had heard someone calling her name (which I didn't hear). My cousin also experienced this that same day. I do believe in the afterlife, but I still wonder about reincarnation of whether there is another world or higher plane out there.


2. I believe in the positive bias. I think that your mind and body correspond to each other. I don't believe that personality is forever. I believe that your past experience and environment mold your personality. I am unsure of whether there actually exists life after death, but if it does exist, the environment would be altered, therefore altering your personality.


3. I am still divided about the issue: I could argue that I am dualist, thinking that the mind and body are separate, but function together. But I don't know whether the mind can go on without the brain. Thus, I am still undecided.

A part of me still says that I need physical concrete evidence to indicate that there is an afterlife. Sometimes I feel that human testimony isn't enough.

Sometimes I think that when you die, the energy, life force, that sustained you when you are alive, returns back into the earth to sustain something or someone else.But I think that if you believe that God sustains you, or God is the force within you, then you will go to a Heaven or a Hell, depending on your actions on earth.

If there is an afterlife, how can you prove it besides human testimony and acts of faith or belief? If there is no afterlife, then why do people claim that there is one, or claim that they have experienced it?


4. I am dualist since I believe that there is life after death. I believe that when we die our mind still operates in some way, but I can't take a stand on what way. Because I am still young, I haven't really thought the afterlife because I'm really more connected with enjoying my life day by day. Probably when I get older I'll start thinking about life after death, hoping that I will still function in some way.

I can't see myself believing that when I die everything stops. I believe that my Bodily function stops but my mind will still be active. I hope to develop a more through theory at the end of this course. I still can't see how psychology can prove that there is an afterlife. I think this subject is more like a personal view. It should be up to individuals on what they believe.


5. I believe that to a certain extent our personality continues after death. What I mean by "a certain extent" is that there are some fundamental views and values that are carried over, even if a person is reincarnated. (Yes, I believe in reincarnation.) I do not believe that the entire personality can cross over into another being. There are too many various biological and social influences that can alter that original personality. I do, however, believe that certain values and beliefs can be passed on, hence the explanation of a "collective unconscious"


6. I believe that when we die our personality is released into the world in the form of energy. This energy does not go into one specific animal, vegetable or mineral. Once the physical structure is gone, I do not believe that it is possible for the personality to be sustained.

Someone said that our personality goes on forever on account of Jesus who was raised from the dead and is in spirit form now along with countless other saints. My problem with this view is that it doesn't see personality and soul as separate components. A similar problem exists with the view that our personality becomes a part of our soul, which reincarnates in another person.


7. I know people who have said that they experienced spirits visiting them. Or people have experienced their soul exiting their body. Being Buddhist has helped me to believe that there is afterlife. In our church they do stress reincarnation and a spiritual world.

Although there is no real solid evidence and proof on this theory, I guess I will say that I do believe that the mind and the body are separate -- although the evidence is not there which makes it hard to believe in a spiritual world and that personality does exist forever.


8. I believe that a person's entire personality (values, beliefs, rules, etc.) is a learned thing that is stored/housed entirely within the physical brain. I think a person is affected by genetics then learns via positive or negative reinforcement. In this way, people's personality is formed. After death, I believe, the physical brain is deteriorated and goes back to the dust. Therefore the personality that was stored there ceases to exist.

However, I do believe that a person's chi or life energy remains in existence after death. Buddhism's belief in this life energy, and Christianity belief in a "soul," cause me to believe that there is some residual thing left after death.

I've attended chi gong demonstrations where the expert practitioner stood 30 yards away and literally threw energy towards the subjects, and they felt it. I also used to on and off practice chi gong and you can actually feel the energy moving. So I believe in life energy. However, I'm still a little skeptical.


9. My belief is based on my background as a Christian. The whole basis for belief in Christ is that He was raised from the dead. So, as I pray or maintain a relationship with Him, it is the communication between Jesus Christ's personality in the spirit. As many Christians believe He is the God of the past, present, and future, so His personality lives on through believing in that statement.

Being a Catholic Christian I also pray to saints to intercede for me to God. My belief that they still stand for the same things, being dead physically but alive in the spirit world, supports the belief that personality goes on forever.


10. I tend more towards being a dualist. I'm influenced greatly by my religion as I grew up with the idea that there is an afterlife, and stories I have heard confirm some of my beliefs.

People may leave their physical bodies. However, their minds continue. Their minds are, in my opinion, their souls (an energy source that worked with their physical body on earth. Once it leaves the body it goes on to another world, or otherwise an afterlife. Psychology may do research and ask questions to find out if there is an afterlife.


11. I think I am a dualist. There could be an afterlife. I think that when a person dies, that person's spiritual being, which is I think basically their personality, would travel to the afterlife. Their personality wouldn't remain the same because of the fact that the person just experienced death. Depending on how the afterlife would be, which hopefully is much better than life on earth, the personality would change for the better.

The idea of psychology actually accounting for personality in the afterlife is hard to comprehend. People may say that they have experienced it, such as Swedenborg, but no one will dispute it. I think you would have to accept it at face value and take like a proposition, since there is no actual way of proving it for a fact.


12. I would have to say until provided with evidence to the contrary, which I don't expect to encounter until after my death, if at all. I believe that without structure there can be no function. When the physical body dies there is no structure to support the functioning of personality. My guess is that personality then dissipates its form, like energy. I have encountered no objective evidence to support a belief that personality after death finds a new body to occupy. Since no two bodies are identical, it seems to me that, granted a process called "reincarnation," the energy/soul/personality which occupied a new body must necessarily be unique.


13. I believe Swedenborg's stand that we will not be alone after death and that we must maintain our unique personalities to prove that we can still have differences of opinion that lead to greater understanding, creativity and variations of experiences. If personality were not forever there would be nothing to look forward to. Just meaningless existence.


14. There are many cases where people claim that they are in contact with the spirit world, or know many ghost stories with wandering spirits. People like Swedenborg and near death experience people create many questions in my mind about another world or dimension. To me there are not enough facts to state "When we die, we die" so I'm leaning towards the dualist point of view.


15. Somehow monist thinking is somewhat limited to the concept of life. There has to be something else than just a complete stop. Within the dualist theory there are a bunch of different "schools" that teach of the separation of the mind and body. It is here that controversy within controversy starts. The first controversy is the monist/dualist theory or, as I would like to call it, evolution/religion. The second would be religion which would be the different sects in this field, whether it be Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Shintoism, or even philosophy.


16. I believe there is a mind or spirit separate from the body. I believe this because I have experienced it through meditation, where I have felt my body fall away and I have become purely spirit. I have also had several out of body experiences, where I could look down at my body as a pure spirit.

I do believe in an afterlife because it's a natural progression, i.e., going out of my body and staying out, rather than choosing to return. I have also done some past life regression work, and have relived a past life event, so I know that I have lived before. From this I deduce that I will keep living in some form after I leave this present body.

personality can only know about the afterlife if it opens itself more to possibilities. Perhaps this knowledge can never be gained through scientific methods, as it's more right brain, intuitive knowledge than left brained, scientific knowledge. that can be seen and measured.


17. I think that personality does go on forever. I am a dualist in the sense that I believe in the afterlife. To me people's minds go on living after their body dies and so does their personality. But I feel that people's personalities can change depending on the environment and people you interact with.

Psychology finds out about the afterlife because of psychologists like Swedenborg, but how do we know these people have valid findings and theories? Depending on who believes these psychologists makes us sway towards one side or the other, but how do we make sure? As far as I am concerned, I do believe in life after death, but I am unclear as to what goes on.


18. I believe that the personality does last forever. If personality is spiritual shouldn't it be part of the afterlife? Something spiritual lives on forever. I definitely believe that there is life after death and that each person goes on living, not necessarily in the physical sense, but rather the spiritual. I don't think the body can function without the mind.

As far as monism is concerned, I don't see how the mind and body can be considered one unit. Being equal, does that mean that when a person dies, everything about that person dies also? There would be no life after death.


19. I believe that I hold more views towards the dualist perspective because I don not believe that the mind = the brain, rather I believe that the mind relates to the brain, therefore in my view, the personality is forever.

Although I am a Buddhist, I still question its beliefs on reincarnation and how the soul is treated in the afterlife. With my religion and innate beliefs about the afterlife, I believe the personality continues on after death and that it is manifested in the spirit which lives on eternally.


20. I personally take the stand that the mind and brain are essentially one, although religiously I take the stand of dualism. How can we say that we humans who are made of the same materials as other animals, as other celestial bodies, and made of the very earth we live on, be so selfish to say that just because we hold a level of higher intelligence that we live forever? Do other animals, beings and other living things have personalities too? What happens to them after they die? Do all things living have spirits? The Indians believe that things around them - trees, mountains, rocks, etc. - all have spirits. What happens to them?


21. So far in my life I have been "coached" to believe a monist position toward life. Martial arts has had a big impact on this philosophy. In martial arts we are trained to let your mind and body become one because this is supposed to make you stronger. I guess this gives you more certainty in everyday life along with more confidence.

I do believe, however, in the Taoist concept of yin/yang.which suggests a dualism in everyday life. For example, "there is no good or bad in the world, because the good are half bad and the bad half good." I think humans are of nature and there are no extremes in nature. So I want to believe there is a dualism in me, but I have not yet discovered it in my mind and body. I learn every day about myself and, hopefully, as I mature physically and mentally, so does my philosophy. I feel strange that there is no substitute for experience and, experience is what I lack.


22. There has been evidence of an afterlife given by many people. I tend to believe these accounts that we go to a higher plane in the spiritual sense. If our spirits do go on, then our personalities must continue on too. So I believe our personalities are forever. Our personalities are part of our spirits.

No one will ever really know if there is an afterlife of any kind until we die ourselves. But I truly feel that no matter who we are in this life we will experience the same afterlife on a spiritual plane.


23. I believe in the positive bias that there is always something beyond. If you are negative, or have a negative bias, you probably will never believe even if someone tries to show you something. A person who has a negative bias tends to have a small, closed mind. It seems to me that many of the scientists are like that because they will only believe in what can be be proven. There are many things that can not be proven but are there. Many scientists will dismiss that and say it is part of the supernatural or what the mind has made up on its own.

I definitely am a dualist who believes that the mind and personality endures and probably changes. My theory does include the afterlife. Your mind isn't bound by space and time. Psychology will not know that there is an afterlife unless the majority of scientists open their mind and accept that the unknown is there and should be explained. Swedenborg is one out of many who will not be believed.


24. I think that personality is forever although I find it difficult to explain why. Because I have a difficult time explaining why I believe what I believe, if another person opposing me makes a sound argument, I would take it into consideration and also agree with it. Well, I'll try to put down reasons for why personality is forever.

For one, I believe in the afterlife. I believe that there is a heaven and a hell. Since this is closely related to religion, I think I believe it more because of a religious aspect. As I have grown up I believed in Christianity. I don't see it as wrong. I can however defend my faith. I think I have a hard time explaining because I don't really much about the subject. It seems so true, yet it seems so bizarre.


25. If people believe in life after death, then personality is forever. For myself, I feel that personality is not forever. This is because I do not believe in the afterlife. When a person dies there is no continuation of life. I am as a monist who feels that my mind equals the body. When one stops existing, so does the other. I believe this way because I have not come across any concrete evidence to support the notion of the afterlife. However, if such evidence presented itself, I may possibly change my mind.

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