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What Actually Happens In The Beyond?


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According to Vorin Doctrine(Which has been proven false on more than one occasion), it is stated that when a person dies, "The body remains in our realm, to be reused. The spirit rejoins the pool of divine essence that gave it birth. And the mind … the mind goes to the Tranquiline Halls to find its reward.” The "Pool of divine essence" is usually considered to be the spiritual realm, as that is where a person's spiritweb is expressed.  This passage insinuates that(According to Realmatic Theory) the Mind goes to the Cognitive Realm(AKA Shadesmar). This is mostly correct. However, the Vorins missed an essential bit of the process of death. the mind does go to the Cognitive Realm for a measure, but are then taken to the Beyond. This is all(mostly) considered canon. Then, where the heck is the Beyond if not in the 3 realms, and what the heck goes down in there?!

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2 hours ago, ShardBrick said:

Then, where the heck is the Beyond if not in the 3 realms, and what the heck goes down in there?!

Brandon has said repeatedly that he will not answer that question - it is up for each reader's personal interpretation (on purpose). WoBs:

Brandon Sanderson

Is there an omniscient, omnipotent God in the cosmere? Some people believe that there is. You guys laugh about this, but I don't mean it to be a laughing thing. There are certain questions I will not answer in the cosmere, specifically because it would too much undermine some of the characters' beliefs. And I want to treat characters respectfully. So whether there is life after you pass into the Beyond, and whether there is a God of gods, an omnipotent, as we would define "monotheistic God," are questions that I don't answer, and I let the characters deal with. Because if I answer that, then the character discussions about this are meaningless.

Arcanum Unbounded release party (Nov. 22, 2016)


After people die, in this universe, where exactly do they go? Because, at first they appear in this one world, and then they go somewhere else.

Brandon Sanderson

So where do people go when they die. *laughter* In the cosmere. One of the things that's very important to me as a writer, when I am writing stories, is when we get to these kind of fundamental questions about faith and religion and things like this, that the narrative is allowing multiple characters' viewpoints to be plausibly true, if this makes sense. For instance, I am not gonna come out and say, "Is there a capital-G God of the cosmere, is there an afterlife?" These are not questions I'm gonna answer, because in-world, they can't answer them. What they can say is, your Investiture will leave what we call a Cognitive Shadow, which is an imprint of your personality that can do certain things. And that most of those fade away, and you can see them, glimpse them, and then watch them go. But, are they going somewhere? Or are they not? Is that simply the Investiture being reclaimed, Is it more of a Buddhist thought, where your soul is getting recycled and used again? Is it nothing, you return to, you know, being-- yeah, is it a different type of matter? Or is there a Beyond, is there a capital-G God? Things like this. These questions are not answered. I'm never gonna answer those.

Now, the characters will try to answer them. But it's important to me that both Dalinar and Jasnah can exist in the same universe, and that the story is not saying "This one is right, and this one is wrong." The story is saying "This is how this one sees the world; this is how this one sees the world." It's very important to me from the beginning to do that, just because-- Like, I hate reading a book where someone espouses my viewpoint only to get proven wrong by the entire structure of the narrative, and in that universe, that person is wrong. But I'm like, "In our universe, I don't think that I am. Just the way you constructed everything makes it so that I have to be wrong, if I were living in your universe, even if it's a universe that's not a sci-fi/fantasy one." If that makes sense.

This is just kind of for respecting my characters and for the people who hold the viewpoints of my characters, in particular if they happen to be different from my own viewpoints. I feel there are certain lines I'm not gonna cross.

So, the answer is: who do you believe? Which of the philosophies in the books do you look at and say "Yeah!" Or, even better: listen to lots of different ones, and maybe these different viewpoints are all gonna have interesting points that'll give you things to think upon.

JordanCon 2018 (April 21, 2018)


Was really Evi the voice that Dalinar heard when he opened Honor's perpendicularity?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. (You knew it was coming.)

So here's the thing--I'm never going to confirm or deny anything from Beyond the Spiritual Realm. Because it is unfair for me to do so. I believe there is an afterlife in our world, while others (quite rationally) conclude there is not.

The Cosmere has systems in place for ghosts and things to be real, yes, but I want it to always be possible for intelligent people to disagree about things like Evi's voice. Spiritual Connection creates visions in the Cosmere that are quite realistic (like all the ones Dalinar experienced.)

What Dalinar heard here could very rationally be a version of such a vision. That's what the Death Rattles are, for example.

Or, it could be his dead wife speaking to him from beyond the grave. Navani would say that's what it is; Jasnah would say it's the first. I try very hard (despite my personal biases) to not undercut the viewpoint of someone who doesn't believe in an afterlife. It is vital to me that the author not sweep in and say, "Yeah, it's cool some characters are Atheists at all who doesn't believe in an afterlife...but nudge nudge, we both know there is one."

The existence of an afterlife (not Cognitive Shadow style, but in the Beyond) in the cosmere is subject to your own personal interpretation. Everything that happens like this CAN be explained by Realmatic Theory, with very valid examples from the books.

General Reddit 2020 (June 5, 2020)


What question about the cosmere does Khriss most want answered?

Brandon Sanderson

She would want to know what happens in the Beyond. Followed secondly by, how can you get Stormlight off of Roshar?

FanX 2021 (Sept. 18, 2021)



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