The "Journey of Souls" by Michael Newton (amazon.com review
) is a book based on many Case Studies where he has used his hypnotherapeutic techniques to hypnotise people into between-life states [in contrast to eg Weiss hypnosis to Prior Life states (where between-life states only occur rarely)]. Other than for 'interest' purposes this (apparently) has therapeutic benefits in a similar way that past-life healing does.
It goes into extraordinary detail about the whole 'soul', 'non-corporeal' existential state... and in a sense in almost difficult to come to terms with - kind of "oh so this is how the entire soul scheme works??!?!??'. Newton claims (and no reason to disbelieve him on this) that the patterns he has identified come independently and unprompted from many many different case studies all of who overlap on the process (whilst of course differing on precise descriptions/metaphors etc).
So in a sense I cant say much about this one other than for those interested in the esoteric, the metaphysical and kind of "data" its a must read. Having said that the prose style is not as engaging as a Weiss... its kind of dryly presented.
Here is an extract from the book (altho' atypical in that the book is Case-Study-rich and this long chunk contains none) from http://www.near-death.com/newton.html
When Dr. Michael Newton, a certified Master Hypnotherapist, began regressing his clients back in time to access their memories of former lives, he stumbled onto a discovery of enormous proportions: that it is possible to see into the spirit world through the mind's eye of subjects who are in a hypnotized or superconscious state; and that clients in this altered state were able to tell him what their soul was doing between lives on earth. His book, Journey of Souls, presents ten years of his research and insights to help people understand the purpose behind their life choices, and how and why our soul - and the souls of those we love - lives eternally. His follow-up book, Destiny of Souls, is highly recommended as well. Also, you can check out Michael Newton's touring schedule. In May of 2004, Dr. Newton's new book entitled Life Between Lives: Hypnotherapy for Spiritual Regression was released. Dr. Newton is also the founder of The Society for Spiritual Regression. The following is an excerpt from Journey of Souls describing the nature of the afterlife.
The Transition After Death
There are souls who have been so severely damaged they are detached from the mainstream of souls going back to a spiritual home base after death. Compared to all returning entities, the number of these abnormal souls is not large.
There are two types of displaced souls: those who do not accept the fact their physical body is dead and fight returning to the spirit world for reasons of personal anguish, and those souls who have been subverted by, or had complicity with, criminal abnormalities in a human body. The first type we call ghosts. These spirits refuse to go home after physical death and often have unpleasant influences on those of us who would like to finish out our human lives in peace. These displaced souls are sometimes falsely called demonic spirits because they are accused of invading the minds of people with harmful intent.
Those subverted by criminal abnormalities do undergo separation in the spirit world, and this happens at the time of their orientation with guides. They are not activated along the same travel routes as other souls and will go into seclusion upon reentering the spirit world. These souls don't appear to mix with other entities in the conventional manner for quite a while.
Because wrong-doing takes so many forms on earth, spiritual instruction and the type of isolation used is varied for each soul. The nature of these variations apparently is evaluated during orientation at the end of each life. The relative time of seclusion and reindoctrination is not consistent either. For instance, I have had reports about maladjusted spirits who have returned back to earth directly after a period of seclusion in order to expunge themselves as soon as possible by a good incarnated performance.
All souls, regardless of experience, eventually arrive at a central port in the spirit world which I call the staging area. Once past the orientation station there seems to be no further travel detours for anyone entering this space of the spirit world. Apparently, large numbers of returning souls are conveyed in a spiritual form of mass transit. Spirits are brought in, collected, and then projected out to their proper final destinations similar to a central terminal of a metropolitan airport that has the capacity to fly people out in any direction. The most outstanding characteristic of this world is a continuous feeling of a powerful mental force directing everything in uncanny harmony. People say this is a place of pure thought.
After souls arrive back into their soul groups, they are summoned to appear before a Council of Elders. While the Council is not prosecutorial, they do engage in direct examination of a soul's activities before returning them to their groups.
Group placement is determined by soul level. After physical death, a soul's journey back home ends with debarkation into the space reserved for their own colony, as long as they are not a very young soul or isolated for other reasons. The souls represented in these cluster groups are intimate old friends who have the same awareness level. Members of the same cluster group are closely united for all eternity. These tightly-knit clusters are often composed of like-minded souls with common objectives which they continually work out with each other. Usually they choose lives together as relatives and close friends during their incarnations on earth.
The Levels of Soul Groupings
The Beginner Soul
There are two types of beginner souls: souls who are truly young in terms of exposure to an existence out of the spirit world, and souls who have been reincarnating on earth for a long period of relative time, but still remain immature.
I believe almost three-quarters of all souls who inhabit human bodies on earth today are still in the early stages of development. Souls end their incarnation on earth when they reach full maturity.
The beginner soul may live a number of lives in a state of confusion and ineffectiveness, influenced by an earth curriculum which is different from the coherence and supportive harmony of the spirit world. Less developed souls are inclined to surrender their will to the controlling aspects of human society, with a socio-economic structure which causes a large proportion of people to be subordinate to others. The inexperienced soul tends to be stifled by a lack of independent thinking. They also lean towards being self-centered and don't easily accept others for who they are. Every soul was once a beginner.
The Intermediate Soul
Once our souls advance into the intermediate ranges of development, group cluster activity is considerably reduced. This does not mean we return to the kind of isolation that occurs with novice souls. Souls evolving into the middle development level have less association with primary groups because they have acquired the maturity and experience for operating more independently. These souls are also reducing the number of their incarnations.
These souls are at last ready for more serious responsibilities. The relationship we have with our guides now changes from teacher-student to one of colleagues working together. Since our old guides have acquired new student groups, it is now our turn to develop teaching skills which will eventually qualify us for the responsibilities of being a guide to someone else.
This is a significant stage for souls in their development because now they are given increased responsibilities for younger souls. The status of a guide is not given to us all at once, however.
As with many other aspects of soul life, we are carefully tested. The intermediate levels are trial periods for potential teachers. Our mentors assign us a soul to look after, and then evaluate our leadership performance both in and out of physical incarnations.
Only if this preliminary training is successful are we allowed to function even at the level of a junior guide. Not everyone is suited for teaching, but this does not keep us from becoming an advanced soul. Guides, like everyone else, have different abilities and talents, as well as shortcomings. By the time we reach the advanced level, our soul aptitudes are well known in the spirit world. We are given occupational duties commensurate with our abilities. Different avenues of approach to learning eventually bring all of us to the same end in acquiring spiritual wholeness.
The Advanced Soul
I believe that people on earth who possess souls which are both old and highly advanced are scarce. A person whose maturity is this high doesn't seek out a regression therapist to resolve life-plan conflicts. In most cases, they are here as incarnated guides. Having mastered the fundamental issues most of us wrestle with daily, the advanced soul is more interested in making small refinements toward specific tasks.
We may recognize them when they appear as public figures, such as Mother Teresa; however, it is more usual for the advanced soul to go about their good works in a quiet, unassuming manner. Without displaying self-indulgence, their fulfillment comes from improving the lives of other people. They focus less on institutional matters and more on enhancing individual human values.
The mark of an advanced spirit is one who has patience with society and shows extraordinary coping skills. Most prominent is their exceptional insight. This is not to say life has no karmic pitfalls for them, otherwise they probably wouldn't be here at all. They may be found in all walks of life, but are frequently in the helping professions or combating social injustice in some fashion. The advanced soul radiates composure, kindness, and understanding toward others. Not being motivated by self-interest, they may disregard their own physical needs and live in reduced circumstances.
Returning to the Physical
There comes that time when the soul must once again leave the sanctuary of the spirit world for another trip to earth. This decision is not an easy one. Souls must prepare to leave a world of total wisdom, where they exist in a blissful state of freedom, for the physical and mental demands of a physical body. Once back in the spirit world, souls have misgivings about even temporarily leaving a world of self-understanding, comradeship, and compassion to go to a planetary environment of uncertainty and fear brought about by aggressive, competing humans. Despite having family and friends on earth, many incarnated souls feel lonely and anonymous among large impersonal populations.
The rejuvenation of our energy and personal assessment of one's self takes longer for some souls than others, but eventually the soul is motivated to start the process of incarnation. While our spiritual environment is hard to leave, as souls we also remember the physical pleasures of life on earth with fondness and even nostalgia. When the wounds of a past life are healed and we are again totally at one with ourselves, we feel the pull of having a physical expression for our identity. Training sessions with our counselors and peer groups have provided a collaborative spiritual effort to prepare us for the next life. Our karma of past deeds towards humanity and our mistakes and achievements have all been evaluated with an eye toward the best course of future endeavors. The souls must now assimilate all this information and take purposeful action based upon three primary decisions:
(1) Am I ready for a new physical life?
(2) What specific lessons do I want to undertake to advance my learning and development?
(3) Where should I go, and who shall I be in my next life for the best opportunity to work on my goals?
Once a soul has decided to incarnate again, the next stage in the return process is to be directed to the place of life selection. Souls consider when and where they want to go on earth before making a decision on who they will be in their new life. While some spiritual locales for life selection are difficult for my subjects to describe, they use remarkably similar descriptions. He is told it resembles a movie theater which allows souls to see themselves in the future, playing different roles in various settings.
In this place of life selection, our souls preview the life span of more than one human being within the same time cycle. When we leave this area, most souls are inclined toward one leading candidate presented to us for soul occupation. However, our spiritual advisors give us ample opportunity to reflect upon all we have seen in the future before making a final decision.
After souls have completed their consultations with guides and peers about the many physical and psychological ramifications of a new life and body choice, the decision to incarnate is made. It would be logical to assume that they would then go immediately to earth. This doesn't happen before a significant element of preparation occurs. The space souls go to for this in the spirit world is commonly called the place of recognition, or recognition class. I am told the activity here is like cramming for a final exam.
One of the last requirements before embarkation for many souls is to go before the Council of Elders for the second time. The spirit world is an environment personified by order and the Elders want to reinforce the significance of a soul's goals for the next life. Some return to their spirit group after this meeting to say goodbye while others say they leave immediately for reincarnation. Those souls getting ready for embarkation to earth are like battle-hardened veterans girding themselves for combat. This is the last chance for souls to enjoy the omniscience of knowing just who they are before they must adapt to a new body.
Michael Newtons website is http://www.spiritualregression.org/index.html