For two decades, Carlo lived a life that wasn’t his and chased dreams that were handed to him. Influenced by his childhood experiences and society, he conformed to standards set by others for him. On the surface, his life was picture-perfect. He had a great job, a family, a big house, and many things he thought he needed. But deep down, he was secretly dissatisfied with his life but paid no attention to the whisper that urged him to explore his curiosities and live on his own terms. The turning point came when he lost his mom, stepfather, dad, and marriage within four years. These tragic events thrust Carlo into a deep dark pit. Feeling like he had lost all that defined him, Carlo was forced to examine his life and find himself. He rose like the phoenix from the ashes and began chasing the life he wanted.
Carlo Pietro Sanfilippo’s AfterLIFE is a true story of how the author dared to venture beyond the confines of a lifestyle prescribed by society. It displays the difference between going for what we want and accepting what life throws at us. Carlo shares the lessons he learned on the journey to purposeful living, hoping that others can benefit from them.
You know why this is different from many other self-help books you’ve read? It’s real and practical. I mean, you can actually try the things Carlo did by adapting them to the context of your situation. He took seemingly small but highly influential decisions that turned his life around. And the best part is a lot of these choices revolved around him becoming more self-aware and changing his mindset.
One point that struck me was that as much as we might like to find reasons outside of ourselves for why we aren’t doing the things we want, we are primarily the ones holding ourselves back.
I couldn’t help but note that the decision to embrace our true selves will have ripple effects on those in our sphere of influence. It could encourage them to do the same, thereby helping us draw even more satisfaction from life by seeing those we love being their best selves partly on our account.
AfterLIFE is an insightful memoir that takes readers on an enlightening journey of self-discovery with an immersive story you will not soon forget.
Pages: 160 | ASIN: B08TF9FC73
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Soul Afterlife delivers a thought-provoking examination of life, death, and the afterlife. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Several years ago, I was studying at Wat Yaranna Rangsee, a suburban Thai Buddhist Monastery in northern Virginia. Although the topics of life and death were occasionally discussed, any tolerance for hard-hitting afterlife debates were almost always tabled or played down.
Let me explain why something like that might occur. Buddhists believe that it is the human ego that triggers suffering when we struggle to find our personal compassion for death and a possible karma driven afterlife. Additionally, they have an uncommon expectation about what occurs after we take our final breath when compared to the general population. These unconventional views are conveyed in the Buddhist doctrine of anatman – the principle of “no self/no soul” that is discussed in the book .
I found anatman to be a difficult concept to support. My explanation for that struggle? My ego’s outright refusal to accept that upon passing I am basically a ball of energy that dissolves and wanders off into the cosmos. I could not comprehend the casual evaporation of my individuality – the essence of who I am.
As a result, my ongoing mystical questions and the narratives within the book were attempts to unearth what is required to “emotionally balance” what I have held as historical spiritual beliefs against newly acquired information.
In writing about a Soul Afterlife, I was not testing my Buddhist friends tenets; I was humbly seeking to understand unusual beliefs that conflicted with my understanding of otherworldly adventures.
What I did not expect, however, were the powerful opportunities, and unorthodox possibilities that the soul guide Laz shared.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about near-death experiences?
I am not sure I would classify anything I have learned as a misconception regarding near-death experiences. Certainly, there is a scientific community that suggest multiple explanation as to why someone might have mental, emotional, or visual outcomes when their biological systems shut down. Additionally, there are a number of academic and philosophical professionals who have a wide variety of explanations regarding human consciousness and they would add to the debate.
In Soul Afterlife I tell the story of a former patient, Whitney – it is the only earthly exposure I have had with a near-death experience. As I began asking questions about an afterlife, it was my ability to recall that encounter that led me to believe that there might be something beyond what many individuals encounter. As my questions were laid out and the answers were forthcoming, I tried to imagine something beyond what I found in research and discussions with religious scholars – something that might just be extraordinarily different.
For any readers seeking to examine conventional expectations from near-death experiences I suggest visiting the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine – Division of Perceptual Studies. For others looking for a more mystical “life after Life” exposure Michael Newtons works, including “Destiny of Souls” is an option.
As for me? My guide was insistent that near-death walked along the parameter of an afterlife experience and as a result souls experienced aura attachments, human memories, religious beliefs, or alternative lives in near-death – beyond those boundaries everything becomes more complex.
I appreciated all the candid reflections on life and life after. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Throughout my ten-year adventure into the world of souls there were three primary themes that were laced throughout the five unconventional memoirs that have been published, including Soul Afterlife – Beyond the Near-Death Experience.
The first was the part my human ego plays in suppressing the awareness required for me to see beyond the obvious. The second was the reminder that I am largely made of undying energy and the third was how I am fixed to the critical elements of life, especially water.
To answer your question, however, let me briefly explain the influence of the human ego, it is the essential theme played out in Soul Afterlife.
To begin, my Buddhist friends have always promoted the human ego as a heartless regime that is on an untiring mission to suspend the development of my human mind and to a degree I concur with that approach. I was encouraged by my monk companions to liberate my ego’s authority over how to live my life – by imagining that nurturing this ability would make available an unpolluted release of both daily life and spiritual awareness. Essentially, I came to trust that there is much more to be understood that the human ego will permit to be known, and if permitted to an unlocked (aware) mind, unusual afterlife possibilities can be explored.
I believe the premise that reverberated most throughout the year long journey was this – “stagnation only comes with the human shell, and when that occurs, the human ego takes over stalling out the soul’s evolution”. I found it odd that throughout life we intentionally rely on our ego for support and strength while developing our earthly plan and self-esteem, yet “soul awareness” might be more achievable if the human ego is silenced.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
I believe there might be two that I recommend. First, from a spiritual or soul perspective, we are more than we could possibly imagine. Too often we become locked into the expectations of others and present-day dogmatic understandings – assuming life just becomes easier to navigate under such a mindset. I was consistently invited to think about how traditional spiritual teachings assist during daily human activities yet may delay how a soul might navigate an afterlife. How regrettable, I thought, if this is true.
The second takeaway was Laz presenting the image of old fashioned “key”. He disclosed that it represented the ability to become mindful to discretionary prospects after we die. Suggesting that newly formed afterlife alternatives might create unobstructed pathways for our future soul travels. I was plagued by that comment.
As a final commentary – The Socratic dialogues contained in Soul Afterlife are unquestionably “offbeat” and remarkably unlike other approaches to a life after death. There are countless opinions about how we exist now and hereafter, including that there is no life after death. Soul Afterlife is offered merely as an alternate point of view.
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Can it be true that soulmates can share a love so deep that it can transcend more than one lifetime? That is what James tell his loving wife Kathleen before they suddenly die in a tragic car accident that snuffs out their lives and perhaps their love. Will they be able to find each other in the next life to rekindle the love they share, and who will believe them if they do?
Joseph, only six years old, is haunted in his dreams by a woman and scenes he doesn’t initially recognize. Sweating heavily while twisting and turning in his bed, he sees flashes of the mountains, the beach and a beautiful young woman. He awakens suddenly, hearing himself scream, “Kathleen(!).” He is drenched and dazed, not realizing that his dream is a replay of the final scene of his past life as James with his wife, Kathleen. A few years later as his dreams continue, he recalls more clearly Kathleen’s soulful singing, bubbly personality and sweet smile as well as his deep love for both photography and her.
As a teenager, Joseph loves to watch singing competitions on TV shows, especially when teenage girls are singing. One day he sees and hears Kimberly singing on one of these shows and his heart skips a beat. He does not know why, but her singing consumes him. Kimberly grew up a sad little girl. She knows that something is missing in her life, but for the life of her, she cannot identify what it is. Only singing lifts her spirits, even if just for a little while. Joseph is drawn to her immediately. He has to meet her.
What happens when Joseph meets Kimberly? You can find out by reading Richard Sieg’s novel, Love After Life.
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Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.
As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
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Zombie Mage follows Olligh who is a Walker on a quest to remember who he is. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
I remember once being told that we’re just like plants. We eventually wither and die whereupon we basically feed the earth and maggots with our juicy remains. Nice, eh? Something to look forward to then!
I was also duly informed that there’s nothing special about us, we don’t come back and there’s certainly no afterlife in any form.
This was certainly an interesting perspective on death; I suppose the person I was speaking to had no religious (or spiritual) beliefs and therefore deemed death to be one final kick in the groin before the earth and its elements consumed him.
On that note, I mulled over these words with much interest and decided that, ultimately, there must be more to it. Something deep inside of me certainly didn’t agree with that rather blinkered opinion of a desolate death.
In fact, this whole debate over death inspired me to write Zombie Mage. Death is certainly something that is unavoidable and definitely not desirable although to some degree this probably also depends on how you die. But, rather than worry about this eventuality, is it best not to think of it as an exciting, new adventure into the unknown? Or, if that sounds overly positive and verging on the ridiculous, how about, at the very least, accepting death, being mindful of it and certainly not despairing over it?
For Olligh Selthnik, death has a whole new meaning and certainly isn’t how he imagined it. I’m quite a spiritual person and like to think there is more to life than merely these slabs of meat we walk around in. I’m hoping the book will provoke thought into this as well as entertain.
I had a fun time reading this story because there were so many colorful zombies in it. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of a zombie?
In Zombie Mage, zombies are still people, albeit perhaps missing a few vitals. I suppose if I asked you how would you react if you died and somehow returned to existence but your skin was rotten and strewn with black veins and bulbous blisters or you discovered you were missing an arm or a leg (not to mention terrible breath), how would you cope?
Ultimately you’re still alive and you still have to deal with it. So, creating the colourful characters that exist in Zombie Mage was fairly easy (and the most fun part). They’re just people making the most out of a bad time.
Olligh is a character that I enjoyed watching change over time. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Olligh has quite a raw deal and the more he finds out about himself, the darker his situation becomes. The most difficult part of writing Zombie Mage was the beginning; trying to piece his past together and explain the situation whilst also trying to help the reader feel his frustrations. You confessed yourself that you found it difficult in the beginning to understand what was going on. This is certainly how Olligh would’ve also felt; such is the desolate, chaotic nature of his new life.
I tried to imagine how I would feel in Olligh’s predicament and what I would do once I began to piece together my past. And, of course, putting the pieces together allowed me to transform Olligh’s journey in many weird and wonderful ways.
Lara, his wife, was also an important addition to the story which helped mould Olligh’s character. Without that spark of love and real feeling there would be very little light in the ensuring, desperate darkness.
And finally, friendship; it’s something we all need and thrive on. I like to think that during his journey, Olligh discovered some new friends that helped him get through his turmoil. Like you, Marvin was my favourite character as well.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
It’s been a while but I’m currently working on Zombie Mage 2 as the original ending left much opportunity to carry on the adventure. Expect some old faces and some new. The Dark Cloaks will be returning with a new High Warden, that’s a sure thing. I’m hoping to finish and release it later this year. Only 9k words so far so I’ve got a fair bit to go.
Life isn’t too grand for Olligh Selthnik. When he awakens, all he can remember is his name. With his memory vague, and now having to live life in a decrepit body, he doesn’t envision things could get much worse. Join Olligh as he begins his journey on a quest for knowledge. A horrifying adventure of intrigue and deception awaits but, will he find the answers (and the soap) he so dearly requires? With black humour from the off, prepare to be taken on a ghastly, stench-ridden journey into the unknown. This is Jonathan’s first book edging on the darker side of fantasy and, as such, it may not be suitable for children.
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