Saturday, November 11, 2017

Look Beneath the Surface (and Watch the Spirit Arise)



"I am ever present to those who have realized me
in every creature. Seeing all life as my manifestation,
they are never separated from me. They worship me
in the hearts of all, and all their actions proceed from me.
Wherever they live, they abide in me."
                   The Bhagavad Gita, 6:30-31

With that somewhat invisible foundation in place, let's consider that it's really basing our judgments on the surfaces of what we see that creates a great many of our world's problems. They insist that by being the "visible" parts of life, they are also the most important parts—the parts we're actually interacting with all the time. But that's not really true, is it? Aren't we seeing, and more importantly feeling, the invisible parts of life, perhaps more deeply, all the time?

You can neither tell a book by it's cover, nor the content of a person's heart from the clothes they wear. It's impossible for our limited vision to see into the whirring masses of sub-atomic particles all dancing inside of our supposedly solid world. There is an inwardly exponential relationship of the outsides of everything to their insides, where the real story is told in the many pages beneath the cover.

When we're confronted by surfaces—appearances, behaviors, "final outcomes"—it does us no good to compare our insides to those outward presentations, but to start by considering what we don't know about the insides of each. That's where we can find our real understanding. We've all experienced the illusion of something looking really good on the outside, only to find out that it's actually full of pain. (I've picked a lot of chocolates like that...)

So, it's our ability to witness this occupation by spirit, and the outward expression of it (as mysterious as it is miraculous,) that's the most important, truly interactive, and compellingly honest perception we can have—whether we can actually see past the physical surface of something (or someone) or not. When we don't get too wrapped-up with surface appearances, we can see that remarkable relationship pretty plainly...but we have to relax, stop labeling, and allow ourselves to. So try this sometimes—pay as little attention to the surface of things as possible. Practice looking into it (intuit); and just try to witness the spirit arising from within things and people, as often as you can. Like everything that's worth getting good at, it takes practice.


"To God belongs the East and the West;
and wherever you turn,
there is the face of God."
The Qu'ran, Surah 2

These quotes from ancient wisdom sources really say the same thing, don't they? We display a kind of silly ignorance when we rely on visible affirmations—on outside appearances—when we know that every surface changes, and that it's the mystery within that remains Eternal. Everything we witness with our minds, and our eyes, and our hearts, is actually just more proof of our shared elemental composition—the substance of our Source, and our ineffable connection to each other and every living thing. It's all the real "face of God."

So, it's just a matter of our perception, and allowing ourselves to look beneath the surface of things by looking with a vision that's free of judgment and comparison—that's the only way to be more fully, more realistically, engaged by our compassion, identifying with the insides, instead of the outsides. Heres a quote, from a wonderful egghead, that tells us the same thing:

"A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
Albert Einstein


And this last natural note – did you know that bald eagles have naturally "polarized" vision? They can see right past the surface reflections, past the glare, into the river, at all the fish swimming by. Life looks like a parade of candy bars to them. They sit, fully and appropriately engaged, and, once they've learned the proper technique, they swoop down and snatch up the bounty of life, whenever they want.


"The disciples asked him:
'When will the Kingdom come?'
Yeshua answered:
It will not come by watching for it...
The Kingdom...is spread out over the whole earth,
and people do not have eyes to see it."
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 113


The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyondbased on lessons (learned the hard way) by a three time near death survivor is now available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore! How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

When Your Country Loses Its Soul, Hang On: “The Global Shift" is a Personal Thing



  
Now more than ever before it seems like our country is losing it’s soul—it’s connection to the real life of our world, but that's really nothing new since the domination of the material ethics and sensibilities of 'non-indigenous' cultures took over. The true story of our country as a political, material entity is pretty awful in many ways when you look at the actual impact we’ve had on the Life of the Earth.

Life has always felt rather lost (in every life you've ever lived) when you're exclusively connected to the world of the material, to the world of ego. In fact in those cases, the more materially-oriented the prevailing cultural attitudes are, the madder and more soulless the mad matter-world appears. The richer certain people get, the crazier and more mindlessly destructive they become. The Earth, in a completely justifiable protest, responds to man's fraudulent assertions to "success" and "control" by sloughing them off like a sick skin, starting with the divine evacuation of the most innocent — the loss of natural species we’re witnessing now. And so it appears more and more that the world loses its soul, because this diverse beauty is its expression of soulful Consciousness.

In truth everything is Divine, in every direction you look. Everything is incontrovertibly connected at an essential, elemental level—at the level of our shared Divine Ground of Being. When you consider the natural world, and the losses of it we're suffering as a result of our own actions, you feel the loss at that essential level—like part of yourself is being lost; because it is. That is your soul's recognition of your connection to The Divine. Unless you're paving over that awareness with self-importance and material gratification, you can’t help but feel it every day. The global "shift" in conscious awareness that we’re all hoping will save us is simply based in realizing that what never changes is what is really real—and what comes and goes isn't; and with the understanding that we are all the same Life, profoundly and irrevocably interconnected…and it will save us, but perhaps not right on our own schedule.

Thanks to growing population and instantaneous communication, many of us sense our Divine Connectedness arising in every direction we look, and it seems impossible that everyone hasn't become aware of our oneness, our mounting losses, and our increasingly precarious situation; but the sad fact is that they haven't. They can't see the obvious because the delusional ego-forms of the world they perceive dominate their reality. Sadly, there is no mass "shift" that is going to take place for these people—mostly men—that will remove the blinders from their eyes, and reveal the critical truths before it's too late. This ignorance is their karma. Everyone’s karma is to overcome this ignorance.

So, the miraculous shift is something that can only happen for you, personally. It only ever has, and only ever will. That's the point of being in this world—for you to realize your divine connection to a deeper reality, regardless, in spite of, and inspired by the madness of the ever-changing material ego-world—a phenomenon the Hindus have long called maya, the play or illusion (or delusion) presented to us by human life on Earth. To think that there will be some chain of events that will inspire an instant change-of-heart for all those men who strive for "success" and control is to enter into the insane delusion that all of this can somehow be controlled. At best, we can only observe it, and respond and contribute to it as well as possible. To have compassion, and to be of service is to inspire the greatest possible “shift” for others. To behave unselfishly, responsibly, and to seek and express forms of Love is the only way to recreate Heaven on this Earth.

When we realize this, and let go of the need to control or fix the world, then we might "gain the world" — that is, we'll become able to move into other worlds of unimaginable beauty and potential, and create them around us. Those who don't get it, will continue to destroy the beauty of every world they inhabit — and we will always witness their madness, hopefully with enough compassion to allow us to make whatever changes we really can. Fortunately, it requires far fewer “enlightened” people to change the balance of the world; but that won’t happen until we reach that threshold of individual understanding and compassionate realization.

That's the true nature of this world—it's a place of great beauty, and great sadness, where the greatest thing we can gain or accomplish is that not-so-simple, extra-dimensional power we experience in our heart that we call Love. Everything else we must become willing to watch change and become willing to lose; and everything we wish to change, we can change, by bringing as much Love as possible to any world we occupy — but only one world at a time.



The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyondbased on lessons (learned the hard way) by a three time near death survivor is now available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore! How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Spiritual Lives of Beavers and the Purpose of Life

   
     We walk around in a bit of a stupor at certain times in our lives, with a head full of crazy questions, like: who am I, really? And what am I doing with my life? We should know those answers naturally, shouldn't we? But things are always changing (including us), and life can be very demanding, and it might all become a little confusing now and then. At those times it's good to recognize that the answers we should know naturally may actually be living in plain sight, in our very nature, in our very form. Perhaps we should look to natural forms to get a handle on our elusive sense of the purpose of Life.
     As I see it, Life is three things: a matter of expression – expressing your true self, that is; an evolution – that is, growing toward some kind of connected self-realization; and naturally (and most importantly) finding, feeling, and living in Love. So let's take a look at a very natural example of all those things; let's look at beavers.

     But why, you may ask, would we seek such advice from a beaver? I mean we all know that they’re fuzzy, have paddle-tails and build dams and all, but what does that have to do with expression, evolution, and Love? Let’s look at the natural forms of beavers and how as simple, purposeful expressions of what I like to call Divine Consciousness, they present living evidence of the Love in everything, and a lovely lesson we can learn for ourselves.

     Beavers have dense oily fur that keeps them warm on the inside no matter what. They have flaps in their ears and noses that block out water when they submerge, clear inner eyelids that serve as goggles, and even a set of inner lips that seal their mouths off when they carry cut greenery in their teeth underwater. Their teeth are self-sharpening, so they never, ever get dull their entire lives. They can chew through practically anything from the coarsest bramble to large tree trunks, and cut and arrange wood with precise dexterity and intelligence in such a way as to build dams and lodges of unequaled design efficiency for their uses. 
     Their homes are multi-roomed, vented at the ceiling, and have multiple entries – one conveniently leading directly to their storehouse of cut greenery, naturally refrigerated underwater to retain freshness. Their tails not only propel them above or beneath the water with great speed and grace, but also serve to pack mud as a building material, or to slap the water loudly as a warning to their loved ones.

     In terms of their impact on the environment and the creation of their habitats, the beaver's expression of intuitive engineering skills is second only to humans – except that beavers don’t harm the natural world in realizing them. 
     So who is smarter than who? Who has real direction and purpose? Whose form provides an unencumbered connection to the Divine, and brings balanced and beneficial contributions to our shared planet? And what might all of this have to do with Love, as opposed to being a simple accounting of natural selection? How, exactly does Love come into play for our beavers?

     It’s because Love – as survival of the most cooperatively adaptable – actually is natural selection. That’s true authentic purpose, “survival of the fittest,” in its most loving, heavenly sense. The beavers form facilitates expression, evolution, and, yes, Love – like our form does as well (or almost as well).
     Did you know that beavers mate for life (something a few of us have trouble with)? They give birth to numerous young, spread out over time, and they all live together sharing their food and warmth and companionship – at least until the kids can make it on their own (no surprise, it can be difficult to get young beavers to finally leave home too).

     Their homes not only serve to shelter and protect their families, but create ecosystems that dozens of other species thrive in, and contribute to the health of the greater, holistic environment. It’s a kind of natural stewardship of the Earth that demonstrates a purer purpose, and the metaphor of “The Garden” – where plants and animals contribute to the planet just by being, not by being able to think about it too much. Beavers don’t cut down trees to spite anybody, only people living in ignorance of their natural Divine Unity do that.

     The First Nation Americans recognized the merging of these purposeful forms of nature and Love. They called beavers the “little people.” They saw Love in the building of their homes and their families. They witnessed, with wonder and res-pect, how Love created their perfect purpose, which was simply, perfectly, to be beavers.

     The indigenous peoples of all countries around the world have never had any problem with the presence of Love in all of their surroundings – as the body of Mother Earth, as the land they love (which no one ‘owns,’ and which bears the bones of their ancestors); the air they breathe (the same air as their forefathers breathed); the water which cycles through themselves and this layer of Life on Mother Earth; and as the Sun which brings energy to the cycles of Life. They saw their purpose clearly was to be natural human beings – part of something infinitely larger than the rigid concepts of what our material lives “are supposed to be,” and more as a channelers of greater energies – more what we are meant to be.

        “The heart is a sanctuary at the center of which there is a little space, wherein the Great Spirit dwells, and this is the eye…by which He sees all things, and through which we see Him.”
                                     Black Elk

     It’s with this perspective of shared Divine Consciousness and the presence that allows us to find Love in every eternal moment, that we can receive the gift of our purpose – the expression of our innate intelligence, our potential for rea-soned and responsible stewardship of the world – and its other, very important occupants. Getting there does require effort, even if it’s just by living by those principles that we know will liberate our spirits and contribute to the welfare of all Life.

     It’s not supposed to be easy being a human being. This is where we learn some of our very hardest lessons, but the beavers show us there are easier ways to cut through the obstructions created in our inner lives – the destructive beliefs that tie us to the illusion of separateness and struggle, and remove us from the direction and purpose of our natural forms. They direct us toward an unimaginably rich and magical world where our purpose is to protect the forms of life who aren't subject to the ravages of self-centered thought. A world of expression, evolution, and Love.

     Beavers show us how to live in a world we might call Heaven. 



The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyondbased on lessons (learned the hard way) by a three time near death survivor is now available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore! How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What Are Near Death Experiences, Really? Realizations of a Three Time Survivor




Believe me, I never intended to become a “Near Death Experience” survivor, much less to have had it happen three times over the course of my life, but then I suppose anyone who encounters “near death,” encounters it by accident. On the whole people don’t generally plan on dying, even though we know that eventually we’ll have no choice but to add it to our schedule.
It goes without saying that I didn’t actually die—or I wouldn’t be here to tell you about my three trips into “the afterlife;” and obviously, no NDE survivor has actually died and stayed that way—a simple truth that justifies all the skepticism and conjecture surrounding the subject. But we NDE survivors can be a fairly emphatic bunch, given the powerful redefinitions of reality that our otherworldly perceptions have created in our lives. We (who didn’t necessarily choose to become believers) can be prone to dismiss the skepticism of non-experiencers in much the same way as they may dismiss our “paranormal” assuredness.

I make an effort not to do this, because despite having survived three of them myself, I don’t necessarily believe that NDEs are the definitive look into the “next world” that some of us insist on, as much as they are a preview of the potential that may follow this life—for each one of us. I make a special effort to leave my NDE memories as they are, or as they originally were, without further elaboration. I hold to this principle not because newly arising details in those memories don’t seem true and deeply meaningful, but because I know how unreliable the memories maintained (or often generated) by our human physiology can be.
I don’t think that NDEs are really a reliable description of what we should expect after this life, as much as they are a reflection of our spiritual lives (—what may be missing in our current lives), and a door into the truth about how complex all of Life really is. After all, each near death survivor can only report their magical passages from the limited point of view of a human living life on this Earth—not as a fully disinterred, extra-dimensional spirit.

Since the publication of my first book, How to Survive Life (and Death), I’ve also found myself becoming something of an accidental expert. It’s resulted in my spending countless hours in the library and online, pouring over spiritual accounts, ancient wisdom, and neuroscientific explanations. In my travels, I’ve read and heard hundreds of other survivors compellingly heartfelt NDE stories. I’ve even witnessed firsthand some of the miraculously synchronistic gifts of insight and intuition that have been received by this unique group of human beings—and for me this word, unique, has become the operative in describing what’s really going on in the expansive, extra-dimensional world of Near Death Experience.

With my three different experiences myself, and all the stories I’ve come to know, to me the one unavoidable characteristic these experiences share in common is how perfectly tailored they are to each survivors experience of Life. Many NDE events correspond to a set of common motifs. In my three cases they were an out-of-body perspective of my own death, an interview or ‘life review,’ and a forced return back to this life (against my will); but many experiences include encountering the light at the end of the tunnel, an “Elysian” field populated with beloved deceased relatives and friends, a view of the Earth from deep outer space, and other commonly uncommon scenarios. But always, my NDEs aren’t quite like yours may be, and in every case, the nature of the motifs themselves, as well as the narrative details, are uniquely custom-formed to suit the experiencer’s life. As it turns out, even the surprises aren’t really that much of a surprise.

In researching the commonalities of these experiences, one almost immediately discovers that the changeable contents of NDEs are often determined in large part by the predominant religious and cultural expectations of the experiencer. Western Christians meet a Christian God or Jesus, or witness angels in traditional heavenly landscapes. Hindus may meet, and be guided by Yamaraja, the god of death, and be introduced to The Akashic Record that details their karma from life to life. Buddhists often meet Yama, as their guide into the afterlife, who may lead them into a surrealistic exploration of the bardos—the different levels of Life between lives. Jews of different types experience their own particularly appointed, expectation-based hereafters, and so on. Islamic doctrine states that (due to the spiritual limitations of our human form) humans cannot accurately know anything of the afterlife, Muslims tend not to have (or to report) near death experiences. That’s a belief that as an experiencer of three very diverse experiences, I tend to share.

There are a few characteristic features of NDEs that tend to remain consistent: being enfolded within a brilliant, pure white or golden light; “seeing” beings of light; experiencing different ‘sensory’ realms and perspectives; and having a kind of ‘life review’ take place. These aspects tend to be consistent, yet their form, content, and interpretation can be vividly unique to each experiencer. To me, the most important consistency in my stories, and in all the stories I’ve ever encountered, is the experience of the continuing connection and expansion into what I call the field of Divine Consciousness.
You see, in all three of my events (despite not being physically aware of actually having a body), I never stopped experiencing Consciousness (which I now capitalize as a force of Divinity). Like most NDE survivors, I realized a complete and total merging into a greater conscious sense of intuitive, omniscient intelligence, accompanied by an indescribable non-physical sensation of loving wholeness and belonging-to. It’s this continuing expansion into “mind” (possibly exclusive of brain), manifesting into varying spiritual dimensions that informs my understanding of what NDEs really are.

God bless the scientific, materialist skeptics, many of whom base their doubts in the explorations of neuroscience, and the mysteries revealed in the systematic, technological investigation of the brain and its many functions. The challenges they face are that—aside from the fairly direct operations of our physiological machinery, and the organization and distribution of data concerning feelings, facts, and perceptions—they still can’t fully describe exactly what the brain is, or everything it can actually do; nor have they been able yet to really wrap their heads around what Science calls “The Hard Question,” that is, how does conscious intelligence arise out of simple matter?

I think that materialists are absolutely right in their assertion that NDEs are abstract perceptual phenomenon resulting from the brain not being completely dead. After all, this is a pretty abstract Universe (floating around out here in outer space), and abstraction often leads us to our most accurate and dearly held truths; and more importantly, I don’t believe any NDE survivor would suggest that their brain (as we experience it) completely died, a well-known exception being the wonderful Dr. Eben Alexander, a neuroscientist who is understandably compelled to investigate all the academic imperatives. The rest of us would simply acknowledge that we went on “thinking,” and “seeing” in what we call the afterlife (as did Dr. Alexander).
This is simply because despite the implied “physiological death” of our human brains, our mind itself does not die—instead, most of us experienced a kind of incorporation into a greater mind, into an expansive, organizing, Consciousness-based intelligence—a kind of matrix of potential experience. This is another important consistency common to all NDE survivors, despite their religious and cultural associations.

Our brain, as the organ that interprets our experience can only speak to us through the ideas and imagery we know and can express as humans. As a material machine, the brain is a real mystery, but that mystery opens up a lot if we think of the brain as being a spiritual machine. If the brain is actually connecting us to a field of Divine Consciousness as human physiology dictates (rather than generating all experience out of new material), then the ideas and images of all experiences—including the near death variety—conform to the typical pattern recognition that enables us as humans to organize the worlds we experience, and to report on them.  
In the near death state—free of the constraints imposed on us by human form, our consciousness is free to expand and be expressed in Divine Consciousness as our karma requires, and allows. Good karma can deliver heavens to you, bad karma can send you into hells.
We can be conceived of then as (I believe our spiritual selves to be)  packages of timeless karmic data—amorphous kinds of energetic information clouds with feathered edges that exist projecting back from our physical embodiments into our past, and forward into our futures, overlapping and interacting with other such packages in a timeless, unseen field of pure, unrealized potential. In near death, we enter this unrealized field of Divine Consciousness unconstrained at last, and perceive what our karmic form memories, and our imaginations, uniquely manifest for us. Many of these perceptions will still conform to the pattern recognitions of our changing forms as we report on them as humans.

From this opening-up into extra-dimensional, spiritual potential, the current scientific evidence begins to cascade into place. As wholly energetic phenomena—as quantum packages of karmic data—the changing states of “our selves” can best be described by thermodynamics—as energy simply changing forms; as well as by quantum mechanics. The medium (the “ether” apart from Time and Space) that we exist in can be described as the quantum, Planck, or “Zero Point” fields, hosting the attractor energy patterns of nonlinear dynamics, where each conscious receiving/transmitting/projecting energy participant manifests shared and personalized realities from the field of Divine Consciousness common to all Life in the Living Universe, as in Dr. Karl Pribram and David Bohm’s Holonomic Brain Theory (the holographic universe). Our shared patterns of life are relatable to Rupert Sheldrake’s “morphogenetic field” theory of like physical forms sharing quantum energetic information, and spontaneously generated in unison along the lines of Dr. Stuart Hameroff and Dr. Roger Penrose’s proposal for the collapse of “mind” energy waves into matter at the quantum level of infinitely small quantum tubules. (Forgive my haphazard simplifications of these complex scientific theories).
That paragraph of scientific possibility only goes so far to describe what’s behind the scenes we relate as the memories of our experiences. The actual language of words and images (archetypes) we use can be described by Dr. Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, a framework of shared, extra-dimensional data that fits into all of this abstract theory very well. We draw on our shared wellspring of descriptive imagery to relate to one another the uniqueness of our experiences.

Add to this the latest discoveries of neuroscience given us by way of The Blue Brain Project, a major Swiss-based study that digitally recreates the biology of the human brain as accurately as humanly possible. It’s most recent investigations into the synaptic neural connections at work in our perceptions of the world we live in (as detailed in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience) utilize the mathematical field of algebraic topology to create a more accurate mapping of this activity. They’ve revealed a previously unnoticed, remarkably ‘spiritual’ reality—the spontaneous neural formations that determine our perceptions, while only measured (or considered) in terms of three dimensions, actually take place in up to ­eleven dimensions.
 No wonder MRIs come up short. No wonder the manifold workings of the human brain remain so mysterious. This is evidence that comes as no surprise to people who are informed by spirituality as well as by science.


With this in mind, we can see that the contents of our Near Death experiences may simply be based on the interaction of our personal ‘karmic energy packets’ of quantum information within the transpersonal, nonlocal field of Divine Consciousness (Brahman to a Hindu, emptiness to a Buddhist, The Kingdom of God to a Christian), resulting in our participation in dimensions populated by other energy beings and states coexisting there (our “next world”), and perfectly customized to the data contained by each experiencer’s karmic self—our souls.
Then, the imagination and illusions that we experience here in this life on Earth (what the Hindu Vedas refer to as maya, or “The Play of Life”) don’t end at our physical death—as our near death peeks behind the curtain demonstrate so spectacularly. Some people may behold heavenly landscapes, talk intimately to an estranged, long-lost relative, ride a golden butterfly with the spirit of their unborn sister, witness interactive timepieces from their past, chat with Jesus, or experience a variety of momentous (or even mundane) scenarios—much of which can be witnessed in psychic episodes here in this life—and all of which is entirely true to the experiencer.
And what always does hold true in Near Death Experiences (as it did in the three I survived myself), is that each one was custom-designed by my own spiritual, karmic information, expressly for me to realize, expressly for me to learn from.


By this simple, Divine process, every moment of every life we live is working for our spiritual evolution in the very same way. 


The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyondbased on lessons (learned the hard way) by a three time near death survivor is now available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore! How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide.