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A six-week live transformational learning telecourse
taught by Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

January 23rd — February 27th, 2013
Wednesday evenings, 5 to 6pm US Pacific Time

(with optional Community Guided Discussion time from 6-6:30pm and concurrent Continuing Education Guided Discussion time)

Live classes take place on the telephone or online. Recordings of the weekly sessions are available to those enrolled in the course. Registration is required and is now closed.

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Death Makes Life Possible: Mapping Worldviews on the Afterlife
Course Overview


Humans have always been fascinated by the possibility of a "larger reality" that lies beyond death. Throughout history and in every culture, people have created models and practices for understanding death and they have developed cosmologies for engaging with the afterlife. As each of us confront issues of mortality—our own or others—we may sense that there is more to our existence, more layers or dimensions than we usually comprehend as we go about our daily lives. For some, this awakens an imperative to foster our kinship or interconnectedness with a greater whole.

There are many explanations and conjectures about what happens when we die, ranging from scientific materialism to religious/spiritual views of immortality. Ideas about life after death impact how each of us approaches death – and how we live our lives. In this course, we will examine some of these views, considering diverse models of reality and our place in it. We will also reflect on our own worldviews about death. In this process, we will explore the possibility of an afterlife and consider diverse views in the context of other people’s beliefs and practices that may conflict with our own. This six-week learning program will invite us into the most intimate and meaningful conversation we can have today about who we are and what we are capable of becoming.

The learning program is based on ten years of research exploring the ultimate question facing each and every one of us: How does understanding death inform how we live our lives?

This course will be structured around fascinating pre-recorded interviews and insights with people who have had glimpses of what lies beyond death, cultural and religious leaders who share their views of an afterlife, scientists from diverse disciplines who share their evidence-based perspectives, and health and healing practitioners who inform us about therapeutic value and timely nature of this conversation.

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, a cultural anthropologist, scientist, and dedicated seeker, will guide us through this innovative transformational learning program. Together we will examine our own worldviews, gain practical tools from diverse cultures for working with grief, having conversations with loved ones, and share our own insights with others in this transformative learning community. We wil explore questions such as:

How does our worldview of death inform our life?

What can we learn from the world’s cultural and wisdom traditions that helps us understand death and the worldviews people hold?

What can science tell us about Life after Death?

Do dreams help us prepare for our death and beyond?

Is it possible to remove the fear of death so that we may live more freely and more fully?



Lesson Details

This course contains six lessons. Each lesson is offered as a one-hour teleclass with an optional half-hour for guided community discussions or CE credit discussion time. You can participate in each live class on the phone or online, and/or listen to it later. You can access the related course materials any time you like.

Recordings of the classes will be available to registered course members for one year.

See also Frequently Asked Questions


Lesson 1
January 23 – How Death Makes Life Possible: The Great Cycle of Life

This opening lesson offers a deep and sweeping tour of how death is viewed from different worldviews, belief systems, and cultural perspectives. Participants will be invited to consider their own worldview and how it informs their life journey. We will also consider the controversial nature of the afterlife as held by various truth systems. Students are encouraged to explore their reactions to alternative perspectives, and consider the healing nature of the inquiry into the ways Death Makes Life Possible.

Lesson 2
January 30 – Noetic Experiences and the Afterlife

For many people, an experience of Noetic or transpersonal realms suggests worlds beyond the physical and even beyond life. We will be invited into their worldview and then have the opportunity to consider personal experiences that shape our worldview. We will consider ways that we can communicate with others about our worldviews on the afterlife in the face of diverse and sometimes conflicting models of reality.

Lesson 3
February 6 – Exploring Worldviews of Death, Dying, and the Afterlife

Diverse views of the afterlife exist and co-exist in our modern world. In this lesson, we will consider several diverse views and share our thoughts and reactions to these sometimes competing worldviews. We will consider practices for helping us to hold the multiplicity of views while moving more deeply into our own core beliefs. We will consider the ways in which our life in a multi-cultural society leads to greater possibilities for our shared experiences.

Lesson 4
February 13 – Bridging Subjective and Objective Realms: Science of the Afterlife

Recent breakthroughs in science are exploring mediumship, reincarnation, near death experiences, journeys out-of-body, mysticism, neuroscience, and non-local consciousness. Data from diverse disciplines provide an expansive view of possibilities. Delving into the rigorous scientific practices enables the student to engage with and discuss the implications of some of the most recent and compelling scientific findings.

Lesson 5
February 20 – Practices for Death Preparation, Grief, and the Call to Transformation

Transformations in consciousness are linked to people’s beliefs and experiences of their own mortality and what lies beyond. We explore the ways that diverse cultures and worldviews have developed methods and practices for dealing with death, grief, and loss. How we interact with our dreams may help prepare us for the experience after this physical life. Art can be used to explore possibilities of the afterlife as well as a tool of transformation from this world to the next. Students will recognize and deal with the struggles and pitfalls inherent in confronting our own mortality and that of our loved ones. And how pondering death makes life possible.

Lesson 6
February 27 – Healing Self and Society: An Emerging New Story

It is at the meeting place of science and spiritual wisdom traditions that we are discovering a new paradigm of reality and what it means to be fully human. Subtle yet powerful shifts of intention and attention, supported by the combination of wisdom, evidence, stories and questions about the meaning of life help people discover what they need to imbue the transformative spirit that comes when life and death are seen as a seamless whole.

Ultimately, each student will be invited to determine what works and doesn’t work for you as the echo of perennial wisdom reveals an interconnected web that links life and death, individuals and the collective.

Death Makes Life Possible will make the teachings from science and spirituality accessible without diminishing their complexity, empowering the student to explore his or her own views, and reach their own conclusions about life, death and what happens after. Developing an awareness of your own and others views on the afterlife may in turn lead to the development of pro-social behaviors.

Course Features

  • Exercises to explore your views on death and the continuation of consciousness
  • Small group dialogue, which can heighten and increase your awareness
  • Journaling to reflect on and explore your beliefs, assumptions and fears
  • Supplemental learning materials for each lesson
  • Optional 30 minute guided Community Discussion time following 1 hour class
  • Optional 30 minute guided Continuing Education Credit discussion

Course Format

  • Live classes are offered over the phone or online, and optional discussions are offered over the phone
  • Recordings of each class will be available to registered course members only

Course Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Examine the factors that cause us to have a fear of death.
  • Discuss how our perspectives of death inform the way we live our lives.
  • Describe what we can learn from the world’s cultural and wisdom traditions that can help us understand death and the worldviews people hold about the afterlife, including our own.
  • Evaluate what science can tell us about life after death and how it speaks to people's transpersonal experiences, such as near death experiences, out of body experiences, past lives, etc.
  • Consider different methods for dealing with grief.
  • Identify evidence that dreams may help us prepare for our death and beyond.
  • Explore the question of whether or not it is possible to remove the fear of death so that we may live more freely and fully.
  • Develop tools for communicating with others about death and what people believe will happen after.

Continuing Education Credits (CECs)

Health Care Providers may earn 6 Continuing Education Credits for this course with an additional 3 credits available if you participate in each week's live 30-minute breakout session specifically for Health Care Providers, following the one hour class.

Those taking the course for CECs will need to take two surveys, one before and one after course. Please see the Pre-Course page in the Student Workbook for the link to the survey.

At the end of the six weeks, you will be given a link to take the CEC quiz after you complete the second survey. After you successfully pass the quiz, you will be issued a Certificate for 6 Continuing Education Credits. For those who participated in the additional live 30 minutes each week, you will be given a link to another quiz for the additional 3 credits.

The Institute of Noetic Sciences is certified as a continuing education provider by:

  • Marriage Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers – The California Board of Behavioral Sciences, provider #PCE 3885
  • Nurses – The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), provider #10318

We encourage you to approach your board (if different than above) to see if they might give you credit for the course. We do not have the capacity to intervene on behalf of individuals governed by other licensing boards.


About the Instructor

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, is IONS Ambassador for Creative Projects and Global Affairs & Senior Scientist. Dr. Schlitz is the immediate past President and CEO of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where she has worked for 19 years. Her work focuses in psychophysiology, cross cultural healing, and consciousness studies. She has given lectures, conducted workshops, and taught all around the country. As a social anthropologist, Marilyn Schlitz shares what she’s learned over decades of research studying the vast mysteries of consciousness.
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*Death Makes Life Possible is an innovative educational initiative that has grown out of decades of research on questions about the survival of consciousness after bodily death and extensive interviews for a feature film, book and learning guides by researchers at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS).




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If you are already registered for this course and you are logged in, you have access to:

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2. Audio Recordings of Class Sessions (Audio will be posted by end-of-day on the Friday following each week's class.)



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