The Division of
Consciousness: The Secrete Afterlife of the Human Psyche
by Peter Novak
Book review by Dr. Bill Lanning
A very personal theology can emerge as a result of an individual's deepest grief. Experiencing despair, hopelessness, or anger enables a person to delve into those inner emotions we sometimes neglect when life appears to be going well.
Just such an emotionally-shattering experience caused Peter Novak to write The Division of Consciousness. Novak's young wife died just a few months after the birth of their daughter, and he was gripped by a devastating grief.
Three dreams of his wife's seeming "progression" in the afterlife helped him adjust to losing her. The last dream, occurring years after her death, was the impetus for him to investigate the concepts of death and life after death.
Not satisfied with what he regarded as the two traditional views of life after death--the heaven-hell duality and reincarnation--he began a serious search into the sacred writings of various world religions (past and present), Freudian and Jungian psychology, Swedenborgianism, near death experiences, past-life regressions, contemporary science, and the recent discoveries at Nag Hammadi and an increased understanding of Christian Gnosticism. After he collected and sifted extensive data from these studies, his theory of the division of consciousness emerged. Taking his cue from the Native American ni and nagi, the Egyptian Ba and Ka, and the ancient Chinese hun and p'o concepts, and finding what he believes to be a "division" understanding in ancient Zoroastrianism, classical Greek, Swedenborg's visions, various philosophers and psychologists he concluded that at death there is a "division" of the individual, which results in the separating of the tripartite nature of the individual--body, soul, spirit. These arguments are succinct, and except for a few instances of debatable data interpretation, easily support his tenet.
For many in the West, the difference between the soul and the spirit is not clearly delineated. In fact, many will use the terms interchangeably. Novak understands the soul to be the unconscious, the seat of the instincts, the feeling, subjective part of the individual while he sees the spirit as the conscious, the seat of the "free mind", the thinking, objective part of the individual. Prior to this "division," he concludes, humanity "would have possessed a complete and unbroken mental record going all the way back to its very beginnings."(p. 66) There existed a Primordial Unity of the soul which divided when the spirit asserted a dominance over the soul, which would cause the soul to be sublimated and "unconscious." Thus, the original separation of humanity from the divine would be that time in which the soul is unable or unwilling to provide the necessary negative inputs--a process of free will which resulted in the soul submerging to the unconscious. The varied myths of a deity or deities struggling over chaos were attempts at explaining this split.
From this understanding he expands his theory to include the classic Christian concepts of the Fall, Original Sin, Redemption, theodicy, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the Resurrection of the physical body. In his explanation as to how the division theory helps to explain, and in some cases even simplifies, traditional Christian theological tenets, he maintains a consistent point of view. It is at this point that many of the more conservative readers might find objections. Whether one can agree with his basic premise, his approach of delineating and defending the division of consciousness is logical and consistent.
Novak not only writes from the heart but also from extensive research into areas not normally conquered by lay people or a non academician student of religion. Though his research emerged as a result of personal experience, his scholarship is evident as he interprets data from an eclectic, widely varied wealth of information. His book is an exhaustive compilation of the thoughts of many throughout our world and throughout time upon the timeless questions of life and death and the mysteries of the next life.
Is his Division Theory true? That, of course, must be answered by the individual. Even Novak admits that his conclusions do not come from a vision from God or other heavenly source. Regardless of agreeing with his conclusions or not, the reader will find a wealth of information to supplement and challenge old concepts and theories.
Any seeker of truth should read Novak. He will help the beginning researcher to form a basis for deeper study and will challenge the advanced researcher to go beyond personal biases as the search for truth continues.
Copyright1999 by Dr. Jeff and Jody Long