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A READER'S TREASURY
Time's Arrow — A Novel
Chapter: Reading for Enjoyment
Published by Harmony Books in 1991
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©1999
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In the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner, he describes a period of time called Kamaloka when shortly after death we review our life. During this stage we live our life backwards — we experience feelings in reverse. If we harmed someone during our life, during Kamaloka, we re-experience our interactions with others from their feeling states. Thus if we made someone feel good, we feel good. If we caused them pain, we experience the pain they felt as our own pain.
The Christian concept of sin leading to suffering in Hell seems consonant with Steiner's description of kamaloka. The other Christian concept of "if you suffer on earth, your reward will be in heaven" also fits nicely. Completing the process of kamaloka returns one to a childlike state, free from sorrow, and, as a child, prepares us "to enter the kingdom of heaven."
In Time's Arrow, Martin Amis describes a similar time-backwards process. Through the eyes of Tod Friendly, he leads us to observe how Auschwitz prisoners walk backwards from the fields in the morning watching the souls of their loved ones moving towards the chimneys for their upcoming arrival. In the ovens, German guards take gold fillings from their personal cache and carefully place them in the mouths of the new arrivals shortly before they are resurrected by sucking the poisonous gas from their lungs. Note how the feeling states are reversed when one lives such events backwards in time. Ovens of death become ovens of rebirth. The stealing of gold fillings becomes the careful filling of cavities with gold fillings. Inexorably Tod Friendly grows younger until a tiny baby he re-enters his mother's womb at birth, having completed his fictional Kamaloka, in a childlike state, free from sorrow, Tod prepares to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Reading this book can give one a shadowy experience of Kamaloka, a foretaste during the time between birth and death as preparation for the real experience during the time between death and a new birth.
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