William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910), A Harvard professor, known as the father of modern psychology was also a founding member of the American Society of Psychical Research (ASPR). He was one of the most famous intellectual figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was intensely interested in the question of survival and spent the latter half of his life going to séances, debunking phony mediums and gathering all the evidence he could on the subject of life after death. He was also involved as an investigator in the famous Cross Correspondences discussed in detail in chapter 13. In 1977, he dictated an afterlife journal to the famous medium Jane Roberts in which he had this to say about his experience of the afterlife in comparison to his life of limitation in matter: (Slightly edited for clarity.)
Some elements in my present state are particularly significant to me, when I compare them to physical life. For one thing, my psychological and “physical “mobility is astonishing, and my sense of freedom feels unlimited. In the beginning I found this disconcerting….The boundaries of creaturehood, [for example] morning and evening, time, and even pain, birth, and death, impose a certain order from which the living cannot stray.
My state of mind was one of confusion for a while. Imagine if you will a mongrel of a dog, quite used to wandering, suddenly given, say, wings, the use of a conceptual mind, vocabulary, and along with these fulfilling but surprising additions, a million new choices where, before, instinct and the demands of practical creaturehood had kept his curiosity quite well within a limited range. In other words, new capabilities kept sprouting from my mind, each stranger than the other.
A vivid desire of the most momentary nature [could transport] me from one place to another with no transition or preparation…Countering all of this, however, was the most delightful sense of safety, so after the first orientations, there was no fear at all; and everywhere seems to be couched in perfect safety. I simply use my mind to “go” where I want and the rest of me follows. My body, real enough to me, can appear or disappear in any given place.
The living often equate death with darkness, for how can the dead see? Even if the spirit hovers beside the body, the corpse’s eyes are closed. How can the spirit have vision disconnected from the organs of sight? Yet here I am where [there are] colors more sparkling than any I knew on earth, a light of enchanting varieties, not uniform or monotonous, but seemingly alive in its own fashion. It emanates from what I see, but also seems to be inherent all about me whether or not there is anything to be perceived.
I hear, but since in your terms I have no physical mechanisms, the sounds must be different in nature or range from those I was familiar with on earth. I think of it as similar to my experience, when I was alive, of mentally hearing a voice, hearing it surely, even while I knew that my physical ears were not involved. Sound [here] has nothing to do with the physical version. The sounds here are distinct, bell-clear, and separate and each tone, if it were visible, would be like a crystal, yet in your terms, this would be called mental hearing.
I am sure that the spiritual body that I [now] possess is a kind of mental convention for my own benefit. I forget [my body] and remember it again. When I forget my body, I am operating without it; my consciousness is in no way hampered but follows my pursuits. Then suddenly, like an absentminded professor, I realize that my body has been absent, and without any transition I have it again.
Roberts, Jane, The afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher—The World View of William James: New Awareness Network, Inc. 1978, pp160-165