“If the doors of perception were cleansed,
everything would appear to man as it is –
In reviewing hundreds of near death reports, there are of course many variations of experience, suggesting that the subjective element of one’s belief structure contributes appreciably to the quality and tone of the super-conscious event. Apparently, the beliefs and mind states we invest in while alive serve to define our death experience to a large extent (at least in its initial unfolding). As one adept succinctly noted: while alive, we make mind; after death, mind makes us.
Regardless of the variations, however, there do seem to be certain recurring thematic elements that stand out as significant and consistent across the spectrum. In this brief consideration, I will present some of the more salient life insights gleaned from the testimonies of experiencers from around the world.
To peruse a substantial collection of these reports, I refer the reader to the Near Death Experience Research Foundation website: http://www.nderf.org/
The purpose of human life is primarily for experience and expansion, and the essential experience is Love. Love is all that matters, and ultimately, we come to recognize that Love is all there is. Once freed from the temporal shell, Love is most frequently experienced as unbounded, joyous Light – Living Light beyond the ability of human words to describe, or human intelligence to comprehend. This Living Light is Love without judgment or condition, our true Source and essential nature. Our “home”.
Linear time and distance are illusions, as are our dreamy flesh bodies and the complex phenomena that we call “the world”. This human experience is recognized as being of the same nature as a virtual reality game. Here in the physical dimension, our carbon-based senses are designed to perceive and interact with this carbon-based reality –a spectacular illusion indeed, but one that is very real to us as long as we are identified with the human bio-vehicle. Nevertheless, reality itself is not bound by concepts such as past and future, near or far, but is simultaneous, multi-dimensional, and omnipresent.
All life events are adventures in probabilities. Nothing is “set in stone”. It is only our rigid and uninspected beliefs that keep us stuck within ourselves, fixated on the fractal and unaware of the whole. We tend to over-identify with our external self-images and under-identify with what’s “inside” – the heart. Any sense of unhappiness that we experience is the result of our own resistance to Life and Love. Even that resistance is a play of Love, not unlike a game of “Hide & Seek”. In any event, there is no real “winning” or “losing”. It’s a game of make-believe.
Contrary to many religious assumptions and practices dedicated to escaping from the incarnated condition, in reality the soul wants to experience the physical state. Life is what the soul clamors for, and consequently experiencing the physical dimension is something to be honored and thankful for. The material plane is where we come to “walk the walk”, and test ourselves on what we have learned between lives, but mostly just to have the experience of being human itself, however that might play out. There is only life as it is, to be enjoyed as it is, with “no strings attached”. Whatever concepts we may be inclined to superimpose on it can never stick. With the benefit of direct recognition, we know deep down that everything is as it should be – all is well.
As indicated, many choose to come to arenas like Earth to simply enjoy the unique experience that this psycho-physical realm affords. Perhaps others in the spirit realm recommended the tour. Others might come to fulfill a plan of some sort, or to learn directly about a particular interest. Some return to accomplish unfulfilled desires, while others may incarnate just to help a soulmate realize a particular lesson.
As powerful and immortal spiritual beings, we have infinite choices for experience in the vast playground of the multiverse. Some of us may enter into human bodies and fuse with them for the lifespan of the bio-vehicle in order to experience human life and all its challenges, as a way to test ourselves and gather experiences that help contribute to our soul evolution, as well as the evolution of our spiritual family, or soul group.
The more experienced among us might choose the most difficult lives (knowing that they are not actually “real”) because we seek increasingly more demanding challenges, to probe into what we are really made of, so to speak. As it so happens, we all participated in the design of our present lives while we were in-between incarnational adventures. We are fascinated to discover how we will react to all the various experiences that come with being human, in the same way that those who play video games enter into difficult situations in order to test their ability to take on various challenges and increase their gaming skills.
What is important to understand, but is not clear at all, even to experiencers, is that the human persona does not have the capacity to understand the choices that the soul makes, and so we may claim that we would never come back here (based on our human persona’s understanding), but once we are able to resume and stabilize in our natural state in the spirit world, we may have a totally different understanding, and choices that don’t make sense to the human persona may make perfect sense to the fearless soul.
Another way to regard this adventure might be in terms of costume changes. We like to try on different costumes, different self-images, to see how they fit. Eventually, we find that none of them are permanent, so we resume our natural nakedness. It’s all fun, like playing dress-up. None of the costumes were “wrong”, it’s just that we tend to identify with them and forget that we are not the costume, no matter how appealing or interesting or glamorous or even raggedy it might appear. We came here to try on the human costume, which includes a lot of wardrobe changes in the process.
One experiencer described the mechanics this way: “As I was shown around, it was explained to me how most of our celestial, eternal knowledge is blanked-out during our chosen life spans on earth. We must temporarily forget most of what our higher-self already knows so we can immerse ourselves in the roles we have chosen to play. Furthermore, they said that it might take a while for all my knowledge and memories to return. To ease the transition back into this realm, I was told to think of my time on earth as an extended visit to the ultimate theme park. Consider it a place with thrilling rides and various adventures that I could choose to experience or not. I was also reminded that the reason we leave the celestial realm at all was for the excitement, variety, adventure, and entertainment that different incarnations offer. However, to take all our celestial knowledge with us on our various adventures would have ruined the very experience that we had chosen to live. Someone there said that I should think of our trips to other realms as choosing a new novel to read. I can choose a new book, depending on what I am in the mood for. Furthermore, if I knew every turn and twist of the story, line by line, prior to reading it, it would spoil the fun.”
One of the big draws of human life is the opportunity to experience physical love. Bringing the “spiritual light” down into the denser vibrational frequencies of the material plane is an engaging challenge for many souls, and it most often revolves around variations on the love theme. Indeed, as varied as any of our incarnational motives may seem, behind them all is the call of Love and self-awareness.
Moreover, there is no such thing as a “wrong” life, since all are perfect just as they are – unique expressions of the infinite Source. There is no such thing as failure. Such a concept is purely a human convention, and does not apply in reality. The wonderful writer Kurt Vonnegut put it succinctly when he said, “We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”
We can experience dis-incarnate life on many different planes, but our life here on Earth is one consisting of physical experiences, which require a 3-D body as a vessel. This life here is just a drop of water in the ocean of lives which we all experience — some taking place here on the material level, and many in other realms of existence too numerous to catalogue. Regardless of whether our circumstances may sometime seem to indicate otherwise, our main purpose in being here is to progress and blossom in Love. Love is the real challenge, and Love is the true reward.
There is no separation in the universe other than in temporal appearances. Nor is there some external god outside ourselves, but rather, everything is a holographic fractal of Source-Energy, as is life itself, which is simultaneously everything and nothing. The holographic appearances of reality are created by Source, and composed of the mind projections of all of us who ever were. All temporal phenomena within this dimension emanate from the blueprint of a shared dream of Source that is repeated indefinitely until we understand what is essential or real — Love. To the degree that we live by true Love — unconditional and universal — the closer we are to real wisdom, happiness, and peace.
Our creative mind plays a game of self-deception in the creation of events. “I” includes “We,” and as in a mirror, we perceive the reflection of our reality in its many facets and illusions. As the contemporary sage Namkai Norbu notes: “Because all of samsara and nirvana, everything that we consider positive or negative, everything that we differentiate, defining it as good or bad, and so forth, can be compared to a reflection in a mirror. The State of Consciousness, on the other hand, is like the condition of the mirror that remains clear and pure without changing.”
The essence of life is its total no-thingness (elsewhere called “Emptiness”). In other words, it has no intrinsic or independent substance or origin, but is rather constructed of a multitude of phenomena, which in turn are formed by other untold multitude of phenomena, to the point of infinity. This intangible, indescribable life is all that exists, although its true depth and breadth is barely suspected by us while on the human plane.
Consciously living in and as Love is the aim of life itself. In this play of Love’s radiance, emptiness recreates or expresses itself in temporary, illusory events. The known universe itself is but a mere fraction of infinite reality which becomes our ever-changing stage in the luminous dance of Love. We are the “point of emptiness” where the void or no-thingness of the universe becomes aware of itself as nothing but Love. Phenomena do not emerge from emptiness and then later dissolve back into it. Rather, all appearances, just as they are, are themselves emptiness.
In terms of the spirit world, one commentator described it in similar terms when he noted: “The spirit world is actually empty, void, until you place some-thing inside it, such as consciousness that crosses over from the physical world. What happens? That consciousness is added to emptiness and that emptiness becomes something. The consciousness manifests itself onto emptiness, and so it becomes filled with consciousness. Thoughts are living things. The spirit world is full of thought. So, in a sense, when you enter this paradise called heaven, you will experience only that which you are capable of comprehending within that consciousness you have. This is why you will only gain access to realms that your vibration allows you to, simply because you would not be able to comprehend or process it otherwise. There is no judgment in the spirit world apart from that which you ‘bring in’ to the spirit world. Meaning your own. So, it is actually you which places judgment on yourself and your deeds, not some God figure.”
From the perspective of spirit, which can operate on multiple levels of awareness, we can recognize that consciousness itself is far richer than the human intellect can fathom. As Natalie Sudman, an insightful and articulate voice among current near death experiencers notes: “Although we arbitrarily assign consciousness to only a few things in our current definition of what is real in this physical universe, it becomes clear in the expanded consciousness perspective that all form has consciousness. And all of consciousness cooperates to co-create and maintain what we think of as our physical world reality.”
Everything is recorded in a universal memory, even the most insignificant things, and can be accessed with the right intention and attention, especially once we have transitioned to our life between lives. Many near death experiencers have reported that they are able to review hundreds and even thousands of previous lives, lived both on earth as well as throughout the universe in myriad shapes and forms. Moreover, since time does not exist in the linear fashion we conceptualize, all these lives are inhabited simultaneously, when viewed from expanded awareness.
As unique expressions of Source, we each assume the form of these physical bodies voluntarily, for as many reasons as there are people. Primarily, we design (co-create) the life we are to experience in order that we may learn how to love more profoundly and consistently, beyond all fear — particularly in the midst of the tests which we fabricate to plumb our own depths and discover what we truly are made of. For spirit, physical incarnation is typically both a creative and enjoyable endeavor, even the kind of lives which might seem painful or even disastrous from the human perspective.
We choose life to start with, and we can choose reincarnation into this world or another world, this universe or dimension or another, and this form or a different one. We can also choose to remain in the whole Oneness, and it is all flexible, not permanent, just as this life on earth isn’t permanent, either. We need not fear death, recognizing that it is not an end but a beautiful togetherness, flexible, unending — another exciting journey.
The only real redemption we have on earth is love. Love is what makes us: we ARE love, it’s our very essence, not something we do. It is only fear and resistance that seem to take us to a lower realm of experience after death, whereas, surrender grants access to the realm of enlightened gnosis which is called by some “the clear light” — the ultimate refinement and source of creation, pure being-ness and beyond.
That Light receives every human being to her womb. The Light (God) understands our limitations and does not condemn us for not being able to overcome our traumatic experiences or our shortcomings that spawn unskillful and counter-productive behaviors. If any hell exists, it is empty.
For many, the Divine initially appears as a sphere of light, but light that is aware. This Light is awareness itself — an aware light that is both the substance and the medium of communion within its own spherical spaciousness, an aware light that creates and sustains the possibility of shared awareness on a universal basis.
This infinite space of aware light is occupied by all the individual spheres of aware light that ever have or ever will exist. I is also described as the One Mind, occupied by all the individual Ideas it ever has or ever will conceive, or a timeless, limitless Oversoul, occupied by all the individual souls that ever have or ever will enter the realm of time, space, and personality.
In any case, there is no limit where we end and someone or something else begins. We are one, inseparable, independent but not separate — we are all made of that same light, or “universal sphere of communion”. We are God, playing for brief moments in these human forms, as part of an infinite expansion in all directions. Love transcends time, it stops it and becomes everything in an instant and forever. Just as one cannot hold on to the flow of time, neither can one hold on to the uncreated love that comes to us at every moment. That which is Life lives within us, as us. It is always waiting patiently there.
Among the “lessons” many experiencers claim to have learned in their near death sojourn is the recognition of the futility of taking things seriously, of fixating on the superfluous, and especially of carrying grudges. We must forgive everybody everything, again and again, because we truly are each other – there is only one, wearing a billion masks, beyond all notions of duality or even non-duality. Any harm we have done to others is keenly felt by us, because we are not separate. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is more than just a pious slogan, but represents the literal truth of our oneness.
One experiencer describes our prior unity within the Light in this way: “Each of us, as an individual sphere of communion seems the embodiment of two complementary halves: Understanding and Memory. While Understanding seems the principal characteristic of the higher soul, Memory seems to be the principal characteristic of the lower soul. As I experienced it, Understanding is our individual portion of the limitless Knowledge of the One Soul, the evolving insight we possess into the Way of the One, our individual spark of immortality. Memory, on the other hand, is the accumulated impressions of all the lifetimes we recall, the sum of all the personalities we have yoked to our soul, our enduring storehouse of mortal treasures.
I was fully awake when I realized that whenever another sphere of aware light came into contact with me, there was an immediate and spontaneous exchange between us of our respective Memory and Understanding. This is why I say we are individual spheres of communion within the Universal Sphere of Communion. Because when we come into contact there, all that we know and all that we are passes uninhibited between us in a natural and open communion of shared being. Spheres of aware light touch and so exchange the totality of their experience and assimilate one another’s experience into their own.
I was fully awake when all the individual spheres of communion came into contact with one another at the same time, breaking through every dam of individuality and flooding us all in the totality of our shared being. This is why I suspect its name is the Sphere of Universal Communion – because when all the individual spheres of aware light periodically come into contact at the same time, every individual awareness that ever has or ever will exist is spontaneously and immediately At-One with the One. I cannot say what it is that periodically draws all of us together at the same time but, cause aside, its effect is the complete and overwhelming experience of every drop of awareness in the ocean suddenly merging into the single sea of awareness.”
Synchronistically, a very similar scenario was described by the 20th Century Sage, Sri Aurobindo, when he wrote: “And what is the end of the whole matter? As if honey could taste itself and all its drops together and all its drops could taste each other and each the whole honeycomb as itself, so should the end be with God and the soul of man and the universe.”
Most humans, however, do not have the benefit of a transcendental near death or spiritually transformative experience to refer to, but must find their way in the dark, usually with only borrowed knowledge and beliefs to fall back on, like man-made religions for example — most of which only obscure the truth and create division. This is a very challenging realm in that respect, a realm of uncertainty and apparent suffering on many levels. Just about everyone lives a life suffused with fear — often fear of each other, fear of lack, and definitely fear of one’s own mortality. Moreover, only a rare few will even get a glimpse of something approaching the truth while embodied here, but only by passing through the portal of death and returning to the spirit world will most even gain a clue about any of this.
Realizing that, compassion can awaken in our hearts, compassion for the suffering of our fellow beings. Even though we may recognize that this world is really like a movie, a dream, an illusion, nevertheless, the suffering is felt to be real, and so we are called by love itself to do whatever we can to help relieve that suffering (even if it is only to be quiet). Once we know that we are not separate from each other, then we can cease indulging in pointless conflict over issues that are relatively meaningless within the bigger picture, and instead learn to act with intelligence and mercy.
While embodied in the material realm, relinquishing greed, envy, ignorance, pride, and hatred creates a life-experience of real integrity, which in turn opens us to the increasingly expansive revelations of the multiverse. The potential of our spirit is indeed infinite, but as long as we remain fixated on the alternating cycle of craving and aversion, our attention will remain bound in the lower densities of possibility.
When we wake from a dream at night we cease to exist in that dream world. Essentially, we die from that world and wake up in this one. So too with this life — at death we awaken to another existence. As the great poet Rumi wrote:
“On the day I die, don’t say he’s gone. Death has nothing to do with going away. The sun sets, and the moon sets but they’re not gone. Death is a coming together. The human seed goes down into the ground like a bucket, and comes up with some unimagined beauty. Your mouth closes here, and immediately opens with a shout of joy there.”
Truly, there is no true death, only a continuous stream of life with many branches and realities. Some people come back to this place (or one like it). Others will remain in the spiritual sector and continue their work from there. Some humans will become other types of beings working in this solar system or one of the billions of other star systems in the galaxy.
The biggest mistake most make after any spiritually transformative experience, such as an NDE, is trying to figure it all out by using their limited human intellect and logic, expecting it to match someone else’s experience, or attempting to superimpose a preconceived framework onto it (such as one of the human religious beliefs). Those are much happier who renounce all such efforts and just live day to day, enjoy the little things, extend kindness to all, and refrain from taking things too seriously.
At the culmination of our 3-D adventure, nobody judges us but ourselves. Our own loving, super-lucid consciousness reviews our life experiences in the Light of Love. We exist in the total embrace of Love. Nothing is withheld. What’s most important to remember, in the midst of, and even beyond any provisional experience, is that Love is all that matters – all that we take with us, and all that we leave behind.
“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”