Sunday, July 28, 2013

Those we meet on the way (the most important part of the NDE)

Those we meet on the way
(the most important part of the NDE)

It is often true that some of the favors or mercies, shown to us by others, those most remembered, are the small instances that may make the biggest impact.  Perhaps this is so because it can be done in such a spontaneous manner, done freely and without any thought of getting anything in return.

There was an instance I guess more than a few years ago, when a plane crashed landed, in France (?), I believe.  The worst of course was thought to have happened and that there would be many dead and injured. Yet, when the rescue crews got there, all the people were out of the plane, safe and sound.  It seemed that those who were passing by in their cars, stopped and helped. Got the people out of the plane and then when everyone was safe, they just left, got back in there cars and drove off…. neither waiting for, nor, wanting any kind of recognition.  It happened spontaneously.  Now the people who helped out, because the plane was not on fire etc., possibly did not think they did all that much.  For after all, they did not risk life and limb in doing their good deed. Yet for those who were helped, I would think this would have a deep impact on their lives and hopefully on those that they would meet for the rest of their earthly lives. 

I would suppose we all do things like that in our lives, helped out someone without any thought that we were doing anything important and who knows, possibly we do it more than we know, because again, it is done without thought, without ego and without any thought of being seen or watched.

In the NDE, whatever anyone wants to make of the tunnel, light, the being of love etc., to believe it is real or not, is in the end unimportant.  I say this because I believe the “the life review” is at the heart of the experience, at least for those who came back.  If you read the accounts of those who had NDE’s, some of the most important acts done by those having the experience of reviewing their life, were about helping others in ways that were considered unimportant, small and of no significance.  It is a strange development and if thought about and deeply pondered, can throw on its head many of the things we think important, but in reality may not be at all.  They are modern parables given to be meditated upon.

I am not sure how this ability to remember not only all of ones life, as well as how others experienced us in the first person, could have evolved.  In any-case it seems to be part of the dying process, at least for some, how many I have no idea. Nevertheless, I hope that this aspect of the NDE is given the attention it deserves.  I believe compared to this, all the rest, as beautiful and as important as they may be, is in reality cotton candy to what is being taught to us by those who have experienced the life review.  I believe that the experience of the life review points to the often overlooked reality, of the dignity of those we meet, help, love, hate, hurt and ignore on the way.  How we treat ourselves and others is important and perhaps the central point of our lives. The place where we grow into being the person we are meant to be.  I wonder what our cultures would look like if this was learned.  I believe that our societies are mirrors of our souls, for where do our cultures come from, they come from us. Yes our cities, families and the state of our countries are a hall of mirrors, often difficult to observe and learn from.

Saturday, July 27, 2013



Some habits are easy to come by and then can become compulsions draining the one chained to them of freedom and unable to have a real life.  Other habits lead to deeper inner freedoms which have a positive affect on life.  Study for instance can be a good habit that will benefit the one who likes to learn and deepen insight and knowledge, for a lifetime.  Usually the habits that are life affirming and lead to greater freedom are the ones that need discipline, they do not tend to control life but to expand it. 

Prayer and meditation are habits that can be difficult to maintain, but when they are cultivated there is much fruit from having this ‘habit’.  Breathe for the body, prayer and mediation for the soul.  The inner life is the most important aspect of the human person, yet it is one facet that is often not sought after.  Prayer and mediation leads to self knowledge, they are both twins in fact, attached at the hip.  To relate to the infinite, to seek intimacy to the ultimate mystery, in the end develops compassion for all. For those who are on the path of self-knowledge learn of their own weaknesses, compulsions and sins, as well as their own need of healing and mercy, or grace to use a Christian term. When this deepens, it is harder to look down on others.  The one on the inner path has more than enough to deal with; there is no need to seek out the faults and sins of others.  Or if they are noticed, there is empathy instead of condemnation.

To see to pray and contemplate may start off being peaceful, but the desert experience is one of the most common phases that those on the inner path must go through.  For love is deepened through struggle and suffering and the letting go of what is comforting and familiar. Which can in truth, be a barrier to deeper inner freedom and intimacy, with what is called in generic germs, “God”.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Often overlooked

Often overlooked

I find it amazing that the spiritual side of our nature is often overlooked by a great many people. Many have the assumption that all they need is to have lots of money, beauty, good health, lots of sex and they will be happy. When in fact, when all of these are attained, deeper more urgent needs will arise to the surface and demand to be dealt with. Restlessness, boredom, depression can be the disguises worn by these deeper aspects of our nature. Many addictions seek to assuage the pain of our inner fragmentation, but over all, apart from some momentary release from suffering, it soon returns. Escapades usually have a heavy price, a bad hangover being the least of them.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A foretaste

A foretaste

What connects us expands the heart and makes us more human is love of others, beyond our family, tribe, and nation and yes beyond our religion.  It is perhaps about moving into some form of greater life that is at this time unknown but at the same instance desired.  In our love of others, in our trust, we get a foretaste perhaps what this means to live in a greater inner space. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Check the kool-aid before you drink

Check the kool-aid before you drink

Freedom is an interesting word and can be used in different ways.  I was listening to a song the other day on the radio and to paraphrase its content, this is what it said:  “We can make love to whomever we want, do whatever we want, for it is our bodies and no one can tell us what to do”.   It was of course true, but the song left a lot out, that being that there are often unforeseen consequences that can lead to a great deal of suffering for those involved.  I guess you could say, even death for some of the more unlucky ones.  Being young has its benefits, but there are also a lot of casualties that are often forgotten, except for some sort of human interest piece that will come out from time to time, making people feel bad about how the young are manipulated by the press and the economy without any regard for their actual well being and then forgotten.

I am a 60’s child and it is often celebrated for the revolution that it started.  What is often forgotten is the human wreckage that was left along the way.  Many young people lost, more than in the Viet Nam war, yet ‘drugs, sex and rock and roll’ to this day are celebrated as something good….apart from the growing 12 step movement that is.  True there was some good music, much of which I still like to listen to, but the affect it had on many, and its philosophy was devastating.  The contents of the kool-aid that is consumed should be checked carefully.  In the end, much of the 60’s was created by the press and lots of money was made in the deal.  Money made by the older generation; those who owned the music business, as well as those who dictated style to the impressionable young, all became very rich. 

It is amazing how many times when I was a teen ager, I was told by some reporter, or author of some book, what it was I wanted, thought or desired, even if they were twenty or more years older than me.  Well, teenagers are joiners among their own age demographic and will say “hell yeah that is what I want”.  Lots of money made, and a lot of people also lost everything.  That includes some very talented people.  When Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix died within weeks of each other of drug overdoses and choking on their own vomit, I remember telling a friend that this is a message for us, but I doubt many will listen.  The king and queen of rock and roll showed us where it all leads.  I believe it was a great loss to lose such talented people. 

Everything we do has a consequence, some of which may take years to come to fruition.  There are many ways to undermine life, some more acceptable than others.  To work oneself to death for instance is acceptable in a culture where wealth and prestige are given high marks.  The death of ones marriage and the aftermath that has on the children is seen as an acceptable loss and even joked about in our movies and literature.   

To commit slow suicide say by smoking, or drinking, or over-eating is less acceptable, but so common that it is acknowledged as a normal, if an unfortunate part of life.  The crazy way people drive is also so widespread that it is accepted as normal and that people will take risk everyday while on the road that are potentially fatal, as if our cars are made of foam and a collision is not really something to worry about.   On one of my more pessimistic days, I really wonder what is the matter with us, why can’t an intelligent species such as we  actually are, why is it so hard to in point of fact act like it, instead of like a 14 year old teenagers out of control.  A good thing for a teenager, a necessary part of growing up, but for a culture to be like that, well the word ‘sad’ does not even begin to express the feeling that evokes.

I have an atheist friend who is very much into social awareness and helping the poor and disadvantaged.  One day he quoted me this:  “Man is like a cancer destroying the earth”.  He said this with sorrow and I told him I did not agree.  “There is also a great deal of good out there, love, compassion and empathy showed to others.  People raising their families, young people who don’t drink the cultural kool-aid and actually do think for themselves.  Good does not get our attention, it is too life affirming, it is the underside that seems to get the attention”.  “Yeah” he responded, “But in the end chaos always wins and our histories are littered with the ruins of dead cultures, it will happen to us as well”. 

Well we shall see I guess, history is merciless in its judgments, if there will be anyone to record, or if we will even have the ability to write down what happened is yet to be seen.  It is easy to forget that evolution, be it of a species or of culture is not a guarantee of advancement; it could easily go the other way.  I think it is funny how heedless we can be at times on the directions we as a culture choose to go, for the easiest road seems to lead to a cliff that is very easy to fall over.  When personal autonomy becomes the end all of life, then things really do fall apart.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Near Death Experience

The Near Death Experience

For the past 30 years the NDE (near-death-experience) has been of great interest to me.  I think it is an important development in our culture due to our medical sophistication that allows many people to be brought back from the brink of death.  Millions actually, in the United States alone 13 million according to P.M.H. Atwater in her book “The big book of Near-death-experiences”.  Of course the number is most likely much higher.  I think it is something that needs to be attended to, and is of course being done, studied by an ever expanding number of people.  I think one of the reasons that the belief in another life and in the Transcendent is so universal, is due to the fact that this kind of experience has been going on for all of mankind’s history.  Today perhaps we just need to be pounded over the head about this reality; something is trying to get our attention.  Perhaps because we now have the ability to destroy ourselves, something not possible in the not so distant past but a very real threat today. 

Many Christians believe that all these experiences are demonic, which I believe is absurd and based on fear.  Others believe it is just chemicals in the brain and the experiences are stressed and fear related.  Others want to start a religion based on their experience, or try to use them to prove that their faith is the true one. It seems that many want to find some way to own them, make them theirs, to prove something.  When in fact these experiences happen no matter what ones beliefs are.  Atheists have them, Christian, Hindus, Buddhist, etc.   

I think they happen to let us know that reality is broader than we can understand and that these experiences show us what is at the very beginning of our journey into the vastness of the eternal mystery.  Those who come back, the majority of them, come back changed and believers in the afterlife, or let us say, in the on-going-ness of life.  Many come back and say, there is always life! What does that mean?  Perhaps it is a call for mankind to stretch a bit more in their understanding of what our lives are all about. 

Agape love is hard to understand, a love for everyone that is not based on need, and steeped in compassion, empathy and love for all of mankind.  Christians experience this during their NDE from Christ Jesus, others have an experience of a being of light, and others see loved ones. In all cases it is based on love as well, at the same time, a call to responsibility for ones life and actions.  It brings to the fore “free will” and also if the life review is real….to experience all the pain and joy we have laid on others.  In other words, empathy seems to be one of the most important things we need to learn in life…..we get away with nothing; we will experience all that we do, and there is no escape.  The fact that we seem to have the ability to record how others experience us on some level is astounding, or perhaps there is depth of oneness that we have yet to understand.  It is this life review in fact that seems to be the deepest life changing experience for many. 

One day perhaps when enough people have this experience of coming back from the brink of death, it will begin to change our cultures from the bottom up, which is actually the only way that change can come.  Jesus himself spent a great deal of his time with the so called dregs of society, much to the chagrin to people like me, people of the book, who think of themselves as in the inner circle with God.

In a world that seems to be steeped in contempt for others outside of ones group.  In a time when religions seems to be taken over by fanatics, as well as a time when those who don’t believe are becoming just as fanatical, perhaps the NDE is something we all need to look at, ponder and perhaps come away with a different understanding about what our lives are all about.  To just contemplate the life review would be enough, in fact for me the most important aspect of the NDE that can be experienced if one is sent back. 

I believe that the Transcendent, God, for Christians, Jesus Christ, is a reality that is ‘Wild” in the best sense of the term.  Truth, the infinite, reality can’t be corralled by any group, we can only hope to grow in the path we choose, and if love is what is experienced, if inner healing happens and we learn to do as all religions tells us, to treat others as we would like to be treated, well then that is a good start and I believe a response to grace, an invitation.  It takes self-knowledge to know how we each would like others to treat us, so why waste time attacking others, when in fact, each of us perhaps has a great deal of work to do in responding to what I would call grace, the ability to grow in compassion, empathy and love. 

I would recommend getting hold of Atwater’s book: “The Big book of Near-Death-Experieces” and to study it.  Anyone would learn a great deal about the vastness and depth that our ‘common’ experiences can show us.  All we need to do is to focus on these phenomena and to take them seriously.  They are not a threat to anyone’s faith, but a call to stretch and learn.   For they deal only with those at the brink of death; but they are signs of things to come for those who pass over that brink and don’t return to life, as we experience and know it.   She is I feel the best person to read on this subject, she is second to none.