“There is No Death”
a Tribute to Betty Bethards
(9/23/33 – 7/30/02)

“Life is eternal. There is no death. If people correctly understood death, they would no longer have any fear of the unknown”. . . . “What we think of as life and death are merely transitions, changes in the rate of vibration in a continual process of growth and unfoldment.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” pp. 90-91
“Overcoming the fear of death changes our whole perspective on life. Everything we do and think and feel takes on new meaning. When we realize that we are not limited by the physical, we begin to get the idea that we are really master of our own destinies and we more fully align ourselves with the eternal nature of our beings.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” pp. 82-83
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“To be afraid of dying is like being afraid of discarding an old worn-out garment.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
 you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Betty Bethards (9/23/33 – 7/30/02)


“There is No Death” a Tribute to Betty Bethards (9/23/33 – 7/30/02)

Ron’s Introduction.

Dear Friends,

On this twentieth anniversary of my friend Betty Bethards’ transition, it is my privilege and pleasure to honor her retrospectively as one of the spiritually most important people in my life.

I met Betty soon after my 1976 rebirth experience, when attending her Inner Light Foundation lectures. I was then a busy lawyer seeking social justice for others. She was a prominent Bay Area meditation teacher, psychic/mystic counselor, healer, and author.

Betty had just published and was discussing her first (and still important book) “There is No Death”. My autographed copy of that book is inscribed with her powerful perennial wisdom words that have helped me and many others: “Death is but a bridge to life!”

From 1976 until Betty crossed that bridge to life twenty six years later, we had a harmonious rapport and important spiritual friendship. After retiring as a lawyer I became a spiritual philosopher, poet and writer and began The Perennial Wisdom Foundation, which sponsors this website where I’ve been continuing to publish spiritual memoirs, as an elder student on the path.

At almost age 90, I’ve decided to augment my prior tribute to Betty Bethards by recounting (before I cross “the bridge to life”) some specific ways in which her teachings and friendship have significantly furthered my spiritual evolution.

So this twentieth anniversary tribute to Betty still highlights her history and teachings about why “There is No Death”, but also hereafter includes previously unpublished explanations and incidents of her transformative role in my life.

The beginning pages of this tribute were originally sourced in July 2017 from prominent near death authority and author Kevin R. Williams, whose main posting about Betty Bethards remains online at this link together with my original tribute to Betty. Mostly they include excerpts (below) from Betty’s book, There is No Death, in which she gives her description of what happens when we die.

Because I’ve always appreciated Betty’s wisdom expressed in down-to-earth, pithy yet clear and simple language, I have recommended her books and audio recordings which are still available from Inner Light Foundation P.O. Box 750265, Petaluma, CA 94975, (707) 765-2200.

Also her books are sold by Amazon (and other sellers). They include Seven Steps to Developing Your Intuitive Powers, From My Heart to Yours, Be Your Own Guru, and Techniques for Health and Wholeness. Further you can still buy Betty’s book Sex and Psychic Energy, which apparently Elvis Presley was reading in the bathroom when he died of a heart attack at age 42 on 8/16/77.

Betty’s History.

At age 32 Betty was a middle class mother of four boys, and a professional bowler, when she experienced a transformative classic near death experience long before the term NDE was coined and widely publicized by Dr. Raymond Moody, Jr.. She described her NDE experience in her first published (and still important) book “There is No Death”. Because her main aspiration in life was to help others, she wrote and talked about death and dying to comfort the bereaved and ailing.

“There is No Death” was especially powerful because it came from Betty’s dramatic experience of surviving apparent physical “death” and her continuing communications with supposedly deceased souls, including her two eldest sons who later died in Viet Nam and in a California motorcycle accident. Also it recounts inspiring true stories about how people who consulted Betty transcended their fear of death.

Before we met, Betty had formed the Inner Light Foundation [ILF], promoting development of individual spirituality. For many years, she spoke monthly at local SF area church venues and gave psychic readings with mystic counseling at her North Bay foundation office. Raised as fundamentalist Baptist she ultimately gave universal spiritual teachings encompassed by most enduring religious paths, and she became an exemplar and channel for the path of Love.

Rather than promoting herself as a leader, Betty tried to teach others to develop their own spiritual potentials. Thus one of her nine books was titled: “Be Your Own Guru”. Others included: “Techniques for Health and Wholeness,” “Seven Steps to Developing Your Intuitive Powers,” and “The Dream Book,” interpreting over 1,600 dream symbols, and helping readers to remember and find guidance and inspiration from their dreams.

Once when I was invited by Betty for a private New Years Eve dinner at her home in Petaluma, I learned that she had received as a gift – apparently from the Dalai Lama of Tibet, whom she’d never met – a beautiful Tibetan hand crafted mandala scroll or thangka.

Thereafter, though many people regarded Betty a teacher of ‘meditation for the middle class’, I called her a ‘Baptist Bodhisattva’, who humbly and without self-aggrandizement was lovingly dedicated to helping all sentient beings develop their spiritual potentials. Her energy field was so palpably powerful that many people often felt uplifted just being in her presence.

Since Betty’s July 2002 transition, her teachings still bless this world. And her transformative work may be continuing ‘from the other side’.

And so may it be!

Betty’s NDE Story and Teachings Excerpted from “There is No Death”.

Betty Bethards

1. Near-Death Experience.

My first experience with death challenged all my old beliefs about the nature of reality and why we are here in the first place. I learned that if we are ever to come to terms with the meaning of our lives here on Earth, we must understand the meaning of death. Only then can we see it with a total perspective, fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Otherwise, nothing makes much sense.

I returned home one night from a bridge game with a burning sensation in my chest and went right to bed. An hour later I awoke to find myself hovering over the bed about two feet above my body. A voice said to me, “You’re going to be very sick with pneumonia. Get to a doctor”. [After two doctor visits which did not help her, she ran a temperature of 103 to 105 degrees and was on the road to death.]

Suddenly I was twenty feet across the room. Everything I considered “Betty” to be -memory, personality, senses -was looking back at that shell on the couch. I thought, “Gee, she’s sick. I don’t want to go back.”

Then a very gentle voice said from behind me, “You don’t have to go back, but this is death if you choose to stay.”

I had a body which appeared the same, was wearing the same clothes, and was raised about two feet off the floor. I wasn’t frightened at all, but felt wonderfully enveloped in peace. I knew then how Jerry had appeared to me ten years earlier. It was as if I could see things clearly, and knew that there was no such thing as death. I realized then that one never dies, but changes vibrations, and goes on living and learning on other levels.

I really didn’t want to go back. But then I started seeing pictures of my four children flash before me. It was a tricky way to get me to make up my mind to return to the Earth plane and finish what I was supposed to do. I was fine with seeing each child, knowing they could take care of themselves without me, until I saw my eighteen month old son. I knew he still needed me, and at that point I made my decision. I had to go back.

As soon as I thought this, the voice said to me again, “Unless you take an antibiotic within the next twenty-four hours, you will no longer have a choice of whether you wish to remain on the Earth plane.”

It was after this experience that I knew there was no death and that it wasn’t the way I had been taught to believe. I didn’t know how it was, but I was determined to find out. I had to wait two years before the teachings began coming to me.
[Within this period of time, Betty became more and more psychic until she was able to communicate with her spirit guides.]

2. Not the Same For Everyone.

When the soul has been exposed to the opportunities it chose for a particular lifetime, it is allowed a release from the physical body. The soul knows when the time for release has come. Death is easy – life is hard work.

Death is not the same for everyone. It depends upon how you have prepared yourself during that incarnation, how old a soul you are, how evolved your awareness, and what lessons you chose to learn through the death experience. You may have chosen to learn courage and to build strength through a physical death with suffering. People who die slow deaths from such things as cancer or strokes are often givers who have never learned how to receive. Their souls may choose a slow death in order to allow others to give to them. But you can learn your lesson and move beyond the need for pain and suffering in dying. You may, in fact, have chosen a fast and easy death. Either way it is not a punishment, but a process of growth for both you and those around you. It allows you and others to work through difficult situations with kindness and compassion.

3. Seeing the Invisible.

When you approach the time of death, often you’re able to see relatives who have crossed over standing around you. The etheric body slips easily in and out of the physical, and many times a person near-death talks to beings who are invisible to others. Doctors for the most part think you are hallucinating, but you’re not. Whether death comes rapidly or slowly, your loved ones know ahead of time when you are coming, and are there, prepared and waiting, happy that you have been released.

4. The Tunnel and the Light.

First, you may experience your whole life flashing in front of you much as a drowning person reports this experience. Next, you will go through what appears to be a dark tunnel or dark tube which has a very bright light at the end. Most entities are just drawn to the light without anyone saying, “Go to the light.” It’s a past soul memory of having left the body many times, and knowing what to do.

This light is from higher astral levels, and you follow it to the one you have earned. However you have lived your life on the Earth side determines how high you can go into the light on the other side.

There is nothing to fear. You leave your body every night as you enter the sleep state. There is no difference. You cannot be harmed.

Fears are within, and this is why you must work to release yourself from fears on the Earth plane, because you will carry these same fears over to the next dimension. As above, so below!

5. Hanging Around the Living.

Some people may want to hang around their old surroundings on Earth rather than go on to discover for themselves the beauty and wisdom which is offered to them on the other side. This may take a long time, but they are coaxed along slowly. Nothing is forced on a soul, neither attitudes nor understandings. This is why we are always counseled here on Earth never to force our beliefs on another person until one is ready to hear them. The free choice of every individual should be acknowledged.

6. Seeing Loved Ones and Teachers.

When you die you are greeted by loved ones first so that you may understand what has happened. There is a big celebration, like a birthday party, heralding your arrival. Family and friends who have gone on before you are there to celebrate your arrival.

There is always good at the time of your cross-over. Even people who have lived lives of selfishness will know and understand the rejoicing. Whatever you have sown you are going to reap in terms of structuring your experiences and lessons which continue on the other side. But the first few days of cross-over (as you know time on the Earth plane) you are allowed to be with your teachers, and those who have loved you in the past. You are able to see those you left behind and to hear their thoughts and words. The first six weeks we stay very close to our loved ones on the Earth plane.

You are given glimpses of things you expected to see in order to bring you comfort. You may briefly see a teacher you worshipped in your lifetime: Jesus, Buddha, or another guru, according to your expectations. After the first seventy-two hours, however, you are gently brought out of many of your illusions and shown that you have not landed in an ultimate paradise with gold paved streets. Of course you could choose to create these for yourself on this plane, but once you truly understand you would most likely choose to be around that with which you felt most comfortable.

If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife, you will probably be kept in a sleep state for the first two to three day period. You will wake up in a beautiful meadow or some other calm and peaceful place where you can reconcile the transition from the death state to the continuous life. You are given teachings in the hope that you do not refuse to believe that you are dead.

On the other side you see things with a clearer, more objective nature, but you are not given total knowledge because you would not understand it or be ready to use it, any more than while you are here on Earth. We are given knowledge only as we are ready to receive it, whether we are in or out of the body.

7. After the Homecoming.

After the first six weeks the soul meets with what may be called a loving board of directors. It is composed of teachers and other higher beings who have walked with you. These beings help you review your past life, to begin to look at what was learned and not learned, and what you wish to work on or do from this point. No one judges you, and this is important to keep in mind. You are the one that judges yourself and decides what is best for continued growth.

You will be given teachings, training, and anything you need to help you prepare yourself for your next incarnation. But this is not given immediately. You can choose your own pace and need not be hurried through the realms of the next realms. It may take centuries for your soul to know what is best for your development once you return again to a physical body. It may take a great deal of reflection before you determine a purpose and direction for your next sojourn on Earth. Since we reincarnate in groups we usually wait 80 to 120 years before we come back.

Also, as part of your training, you are allowed to watch people on the Earth plane to see how they handle situations when they reincarnate. Very few people in a physical body realize that their behavior is a teaching ground for those who are out of the body.

8. Reviewing Past Lives.

As you are ready, and as you choose, you will be shown your past lives. If you do not believe in reincarnation it may take a long time before you are able to deal with this. Eventually, you must learn to understand yourself in a continuity of growth over many lifetimes. You must recognize all the strengths you have built and all the karmic ties you have created which must be dissolved.

By the time you are given the privilege of reviewing all past lives and integrating the knowledge learned, you will have reached a state of total objectivity. You will feel no remorse or condemnation, but will see it as merely a review of why situations occurred and had to be worked through.

The record of your life is very private. Only those who have walked with you as teachers are allowed to see what is called your akashic (or life) record. If during your lifetime you ask that a psychic tune into this record, he or she will only be given a minimal amount of information from it which is particularly relevant to your immediate problems or concerns.

You, too, can tune into this record through meditation and get insight and clarity on the problems you are dealing with. Your own attunement is much more accurate than asking a psychic or someone else to tell you about yourself. This builds up a dependency. We may need clarity or help at times, but should never develop a dependency on others. Our whole purpose is to gain strength and learn how to make our own decisions.

9. Religious Beliefs.

Your religious beliefs have little to do with what you experience in the transition from one realm to another, except that you would be allowed to see briefly the teacher or guru that you followed. Regardless of cultural or religious beliefs, you will have the same basic experience at death (just as mystics of all great traditions attune to the same universal energy). What counts is what comes from the heart, not what one professes to believe. It means nothing whether or not one was baptized, for example, or whether one has various other rites administered. How ridiculous to rely on meaningless words!

The true meaning of baptism is an initiation of the spirit, an opening awareness to the God consciousness. People receive this inner baptism when they are spiritually prepared.

You will not suddenly be sitting at the feet of a man with a long white beard called God. God is within, whether you are in or out of the body. Your awareness of the God force will not be greater on the other side. If you insist upon searching for God, you will do this for awhile until you get the idea that you are following an illusion. We must go through at least four more realms beyond the astral before we could even begin to understand the energy of the God force. God is love in all religions, so the more we live love the closer we are to God.

10. The Idea of Purgatory.

Catholics understand purgatory as a place or level of consciousness one goes for further understanding. It is an intermediary state that gives one the opportunity to develop further clarity. At first it is like being in fog, just as many people walk around on the Earth plane in a fog. They don’t have the clarity to understand how they are setting their lives.

If there has been much negativity during an incarnation, or a suicide, one must spend some time contemplating what has happened.

It is a holding place where souls who are confused, who do not want to let go of their earthly attachments, or who choose not to grow will remain until such time as they allow themselves to be released to flow once more into the light.

Purgatory is a place of your own making. We see souls who are punishing themselves here on the Earth plane. This continues after death just the same as it would if they were still in the physical body. Many people must suffer in order to feel worth. When they finally learn this is a negative number they are running, they can move on.

11. The Meaning of Hell.

What about the reality of a place called hell? Hell is a level of consciousness which can be experienced in or out of the body. It is a lonely place where one is not allowed to be in communication with anything other than one’s own negativity.

Souls do not enter this level unless they need to experience it for their growth. Many people who commit suicide will have to go through this hell of their own making in order to become aware that this is not what they are striving for. The soul must learn that it does not have the right to take its own life, that it cannot kill, it cannot hurt other people; nor can it judge others for we have no knowledge of what they came back to do and learn.

Many people at one time or another have experienced this plane. Alcoholics going through the DTs and people on drugs, may also see it. It is a plane of total darkness where we must confront the fears we have built within our own minds. Understand that fears have no reality unless we choose to give them reality. As soon as we are able to meet them directly, to face them, they dissipate. This lower level is not for one’s punishment, but rather to provide the opportunity to confront and move beyond the negativity created by oneself.

The hell fire mentioned in many traditions is symbolic of the “kundalini” energy (Holy Spirit, God energy, or Creative energy) that dwells within the seven energy centers or chakras within man. Fire is symbolic of the cleansing and purification of the soul.

The struggle between higher and lower self or what some call God and the Devil causes growth, until finally the negativity or the destructive elements are completely overcome.

12. Laws More Protective.

Through questions and answers I have received information about what it is actually like to be on the other side. First, my channel has pointed out that the laws are much more protective. We need no longer be exposed to both good and evil, for we have already experienced that. We see the bad only if we choose to. Those who are living in harmony will not be imposed upon by the ignorant, but can visit the lower planes to help another if they choose to do so.

For example, if you loved someone who is on a lower vibration than you are, you are allowed to visit anytime you choose by simply lowering your rate of vibration. This may help the entity greatly by encouraging self-love and growth. However, the entity will need to incarnate again on the Earth plane to test out these new lessons, because it is the Earth experience that determines your stage of evolution.

13. Marriage and Unions.

There are unions of souls on the other side, and marriage as such is optional. If couples prefer to remain together they may do so, as long as their interests and growth are taking them in the same direction. If they choose to go in different directions, there are no hurt feelings. There is no possessiveness or demands. You are free to go your own way, in your own time, at your own choosing.

Married couples will be reunited after death, and may choose to stay together if they want to, provided they are on the same level of vibration. This is free will. If you have been married three or four times, you will find that you will want to be with the one whom you truly love. It could even be someone from another incarnation. You will be with those you love, and there is a total merger which is a much higher experience and a deeper love bond than anything you can know on the Earth plane.

This total merger is like stepping inside one another’s auras, a total blending of energies. It’s a way of expressing love and sharing. What you know on Earth as a sexual relationship takes the form of a higher merger of souls. There is no need for sexual organs on the other side unless you choose to have them. For this merger of energies is far superior to the physical mechanics of the sexual experience. This merger is not limited to husbands and wives, but may be experienced by any two souls who are loving and caring.


2022 Tribute Addendum: Ron Rattner’s explanations about Betty Bethards’ transformative role in his life.

Dear Friends,

To illustrate how my spiritual friendship with Betty Bethards helped transform my life, here are a few important examples:

1) Losing fear of death

“Overcoming the fear of death changes our whole perspective on life. Everything we do and think and feel takes on new meaning. When we realize that we are not limited by the physical, we begin to get the idea that we are really master of our own destinies and we more fully align ourselves with the eternal nature of our beings.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” pp. 82-83

Betty’s wisdom (as summarized in her above quote from “There is No Death”) and my own awakening experiences helped me gradually lose all fear of death and recognize death as a bridge to eternal life. And as I lost the fear of leaving life I gained the art of living life.

2) Learning importance of ever elevating our energies and of honoring energy sensitivities

Betty taught and demonstrated how our energies affect every aspect of our lives; that our lives keep improving as we elevate our energies. And because she exemplified these teachings, she helped to energetically inspire me and many others to develop our infinite potentials. Her energy field was so palpably powerful that many people often felt uplifted just being in her presence.

Though I appreciated Betty’s uplifting energies many times, I had only one unforgettably extraordinary energy experience which happened after I visited her one morning as a patient at the San Francisco University of California Hospital where she’d just had surgery. Her energy field was so powerful that it must have lit up that whole hospital ward.

That afternoon I took my young son Joshua (who was an ardent SF Giants fan) to Candlestick Park to watch a Giants home game. We had lower grandstand seats on the 1st base side of home plate. After visiting Betty my energy field had become so immense that I could sense energies everywhere, as far away as the outfield bleachers. It was so gigantic that I could feel not only every movement of pitchers on and near the pitching mound but I actually could feel their pitched baseballs speeding toward batters and catchers.

But for being lit up Betty Bethards that wouldn’t have happened; and but for her teachings I might not have honored that unforgettable ‘peek’ experience, and many others which are summarized in my memoirs chapter titled Extraordinary Energy Experiences

3) Honoring God as Love

In “There is No Death” Betty Bethards taught that

“God is love in all religions, so the more we live love the closer we are to God”.

Although Betty was raised as fundamentalist Baptist she ultimately became an exemplar and channel for the path of Love. Thereby she inspired me and countless others who aren’t great saints to honor God by living as Love.

4) Learning about Saint Francis of Assisi and his peace prayer

Betty Bethards helped motivate me to learn about and regularly recite the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, by whom I’ve become immensely inspired.

When I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, as a secular Jewish lawyer, I was mostly uninformed about religions other than Judaism, and I knew almost nothing about great saints. Even though Saint Francis of Assisi was patron saint of my new home, I remained ignorant of his hagiographic story until after my profound spiritual opening in 1976.

Since then, through vivid visions of past lives as a Franciscan friar, and teachings of Betty Bethards, I’ve become instinctively identified with and become most inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi – of all great and famous Western saints and sages. On attending Betty’s Inner Light Foundation 1976 lectures, I was taught and began regularly reciting the extremely inspiring “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. The prayer and discussions at Betty’s programs motivated me to begin and keep learning about that great Saint.

Thus that peace prayer became and remains (after over forty years) a deeply instinctive and energetically elevating daily spiritual practice. And I’ve been gradually transformed from identifying as secular Hebrew social justice lawyer to an ardent devotee of Saint Francis of Assisi and (like Francis) becoming a lover of Jesus – history’s greatest social justice reformer.

5) Valuing loving psychic insights

To help ordinary people, Betty Bethards demonstrated extraordinary psychic abilities which I’ve learned to recognize and value in others. Soon after I began learning about Saint Francis of Assisi in 1976, I synchronistically visited a hundred year old SF woman who was freely channelling psychic information to help others. Without my telling her about them she perceived and named my two best friends, and told me about their feelings toward me. Then amazingly she gave me confidential information about Saint Francis in my possible future life. So from Betty Bethards and others I’ve learned to value psychic insights offered with love.

6) Honoring Universal Perennial Wisdom

In 1978 after being inspired by Betty Bethards to honor God as Love beyond any religion, I met a hundred year old Hindu holy man and Guru whose rare demonstration of “signs and wonders” inspired me to receive his shaktipat initiation (like a baptism), and for many years to become a “Born-Again Hindu”.

Like Betty, my beloved Guruji also emphasized the importance of regular meditation and of realizing God as Love beyond rules or religions. So I began learning about Eastern spiritual teachings which all emphasized identical perennial principles. And I learned of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, a 19th Century Hindu Saint, whose life and teachings – like those of Saint Francis of Assisi – have instinctively inspired me more than those of any other saints.
(See Discovering and Honoring Devotional “Holy Fools” )

After retiring as a lawyer in 1992, I became a spiritual philosopher, poet and writer and began The Perennial Wisdom Foundation, which sponsors this website where (as requested by my Guruji) I’ve been continuing to publish spiritual memoirs to help others.

Betty’s simple and small Inner Light Foundation (more than any other charity) was a model for my Perennial Wisdom Foundation whose slogan is “Timeless Wisdom For Every Age”

May it continue helping others until and after I cross the bridge from this precious lifetime.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


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