Saturday, November 23, 2019

"The Perspective of Presence," It's Always Been Now, and Will Always Be

      This excerpt from How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) comes from Chapter 8:  
Finding Presence Now: It's Always Been Now, and Will Always Be

      Maintaining presence allows us to respond appropriately to life's personal challenges. Our ego always wants to be in control by labeling, judging, comparing, and making demands, while being truly present lets us recognize our harsher ego demands and reject them, allowing our deeper, intuitive intelligence to arise within that eternal moment. If we let our ego-mind – our feeling offended, our sense of injustice, our need to be right – spontaneously dictate our actions, we tend to be reacting, or often over-reacting to simple circumstances.  We can blow situations out of proportion, losing the perspective that kindness, humility, honesty, forgiveness, and compassion can give us. In fact, we can make proper choices only when we're fully present to do so, because not only does presence give us the priceless gift of constraint – the ability to take that extra moment to let sanity and reason arise – but it also puts us in touch with an existent intelligence that is greater than our own. Just stopping and intently focusing on one breath can instantly allow us to check in with Heaven, so to speak.

      In Heaven nobody gets caught overreacting in senseless or destructive ways. Everyone relishes taking that eternal moment to adjust to every situation. In fact, in Heaven everyone is quite calm and thoughtful, as you may have already imagined.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Announcing: The Zen of Near Death ©2019

I'm pleased to announce the working title of my next book:

The Zen of Near Death
Afterlife Lessons for Transcending the Mess 

©2019 by Robert Kopecky
Watch for it in 202?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Halloween Soul Metaphor—The Zombies Among Us

Each Halloween, we get a chance to think a little about famous monsters. The monsters of our childhood. The monsters of our advancing age. The monsters our kids might be for the holiday (or that they may seem to become, sometimes). The monsters that we witness in public life, or that, occasionally, we ourselves can become too.

You may notice that the really famous monsters are scary on a couple of levels. First, on the level of the material imagery; and then on a deeper metaphoric, or spiritual level. Take Frankenstein (please!). He's plenty scary on the obvious material level, but he also makes a pretty scary metaphor – as the manifestation of self-will run amok; the consequences of our wanting to play God with the natural world, with our lives, and with the lives of others. Or Dracula, as a symbol of soul exploitation – people who selfishly suck the life out of other people; or out of Mother Nature, for that matter. Or the Wolfman – the potentially violent beast within us all, unleashed by the uncontrollable cycle of life...a curse he passes along whenever he bites someone else.

So what's up with all the Zombies? They seem to be everywhere these days. Zombies in the movies, on TV, in commercials and videogames – almost everywhere you look, there are zombies popping up. What are we trying to say, on a deeper level, with this zombie fascination? Well, let's take a look (if you dare…)

 Most obviously, zombies are the undead. Inhumane humans who've lost their souls, so the only life they have left is spent unconsciously feeding off the souls of the living. They selfishly grope around for the next bite that's going to fuel their empty search. In that sense, they're really much like unconsciously self-centered people (profit-driven entrepreneurs or mindless consumers), lurching about ineffectively, swarming on any situation where their appetites may be sated. So eternally they flounder around, staggering through a soulless system, driven to find something to feed their emptiness, but only finding more remorseful, bottomless hunger.

They would find their solution – their rest – if they'd just die already, wouldn't they? Symbolically, that simply means "dying" to the empty, ego-driven life of schlepping from one incessant need to the next. Realizing that the death of "who you are supposed to be" and "how it will look to others" in our often soulless, demanding culture will reveal a real peace, and a responsible purpose that may have been hidden right in front of you all along. It's not really about what any single one of us needs – it's about what every single one of us needs: Love, Purpose, Spiritual sustenance.

I'm sorry to point out that the people responsible for all of this zombie programming, sadly, may just be the zombies "in charge" – which gives us another spiritual challenge to do we recognize the undead among us?
Well, zombies couldn't care less about what you think. They're not at all interested in your thoughts on any subject; and what's even worse, they don't give a damn about how anything makes you feel. You're not going to get anywhere by politely asking a zombie not to eat you. Zombies only think about their own delusion of self, and no amount of actual evidence will persuade them to recognize reality, so zombies dare not allow themselves to feel anything except fear or anger (which are the same thing), and expresses itself as hate or entitlement or arrogant bullying. God bless 'em.

Not being zombie-like yourself means opening up to what others think; and more importantly, to how they feel. Relating, sincerely, to one another’s feelings, and by doing so, to share the experience – and the intelligence – of our shared heart-energy. Forgiveness and compassionate consciousness are the only things that can help a zombie re-enter the real world of the living, and the only ways to deal with a zombie, even if – God forbid – we realize it’s ourselves.

I hate to get too graphic, but they do say the only way to kill a zombie is "to kill the zombie's brain," and they may have a good point there (whoever "they" are). It’s very likely that zombies probably think too much with their dizzy, addled heads, and not with their grounded hearts. That’s where the path to restoring a zombie’s soul (or to help a struggling ghoul to find it themselves) must initiate from. It seems like a long schlep, sometimes, that short stretch from the upturned graveyard of the head, to the peaceful, heavenly realm of the heart.

When dealing with a zombie, try to look past that unkempt exterior – the unconscious self-centeredness, the fearful pallor and fugue-like gaze past you, the blood n' guts everywhere. Many zombies are really good at heart, they've simply been made “undead” by a monstrous metaphor ­– ­the Dark Lord of the Unconscious Ego; but look beyond the quickly fading external images, into the compassionate spirit we all share, and you will find the zombie’s struggling heart.
If you fear you’ve become a little zombie-like yourself, simply start living in your soul's life, that's where you’ll find the real, joyful world of the living–not on the shifting horror show of life’s “silver screen.”

And for Halloween, I recommend that you don't go as an orange, flesh-eating  ghoul, or dress your kids that way, either. Instead, go as a fairy, or an angel, or just as the bright, shining light that you really are. Happy Halloween!

"There is a light within people of light, and they shine it upon the whole word. If they do not shine it, what darkness!
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 24

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Is a Cultural "Anti-Christ" Bringing the Real "Rapture?"

"...our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the in being able to remake ourselves."
Mahatma Gandhi

We're a little like moss on a rock here on earth – a simple colony of life. In the same way that any collective life form experiences stress when the conditions for it's survival begin to change, our world is beginning to experience the very real stress of climate change, species extinction, environmental degradation, income inequality, and the spread of unsustainable lifestyles based on exploiting the planet. For all of us – as well as for each of us – there's a need to adapt. The destruction driven by blind predatory capitalism leads to the weird conflations of "patriotism" and religion, self-defeating delusions we see in the ugly ironic examples of market-based "winners," and "christians" supporting diabolical perverts and criminals because they are leading us to "The End of Days."  
Much of this grows out of a serious flaw in our culture's perception of Darwinism, which is not about "Survival of the Fittest," but actually about Survival of What Adapts in the Most Cooperative Way. What is it that carries us through the tough times, with Love? 
It's an altogether different definition of fitness. It's a spiritual fitness, based in a spiritual context – answering our human problems with the recognition of simple, spiritual answers. It's about real, quality survival.

For example, the biggest, meanest guy may clobber everyone who disagrees with him, take all the food, and force himself on the prettiest women; but his karma (created by ego and fear) and the failure to evolve spiritually in a world of expanding consciousness, will cause his destruction (sex specificity intended) – a genetic dead end. The richest guy may have the most secure, most isolated fortress, the largest vault of canned food, and the most guns and ammo; but his isolation and fearfulness will lead to spiritual atrophy, and the inward collapse of his shrinking world. Those attributes and characteristics that are associated with Power and domination are dying out, as those associated with Ethics and compassion are on the rise. Life on earth is always adapting – the parts that don't adapt, don't last on our biological time-table.

Hard times stress the colony, challenging it, forcing it to change; and now we see the shape that change is taking. It's like breaking up bad pottery, and soaking it until it softens and becomes the clay that forms the basis of real life, in order to start over. People are coming together to re-configure their world on that basis – what's actually real and important in life; inspired by a sudden common awareness of what the management of Earth's abundance actually entails, and what the real consequences of continued unconscious exploitation is leading to.

A new cooperation – an evolution –  is exploding into reality, based on the spiritual unification of humankind, facilitated by the internet, manifested in an expanding sense of a global community, called to action by the impending catastrophe of climate change. The explosion in clean energy, expanding cooperatives, reuse and recycling, uncontested environmentalism; the elections of Obama, of women, of representatives of diverse religion and ethnic backgrounds; and the impetus for universal health care, local food production, the accelerating growth of animal rights awareness, vegan and vegetarianism, social support systems of all kinds – as well as the public momentum to institute these ethical concepts by means of regulation and legislation (a result of the rise of destructive fascism in the world), is the shape of the change.

Extremists and fundamentalists – religious, financial, racist and militaristic fascists – are dividing themselves off from the majority of peace-loving, compassionate humans, and defining their differences in preparation to be shed from the whole. They actually constitute just a small part of the world's total population. The rise of climate-denying, pro-corporate racism and fascism actually marks the end of their world. It will be a little messy, but it's happening.
 Do everything you can to help it along. If you open your heart, you'll intuitively know what that is. You'll know how to behave, how to shop, how to contribute, how to vote. You already do.

In a manner of speaking, a kind of biblical "Rapture" is actually taking place now amongst those who are awakening to this new consciousness, many of whom are experiencing hard timesand finding themselves and their neighbors falling through the same cracks in the system that allow spiritual evolution to enter. These are fractures in the false world of materialistic consumerism, and a dis-identification with a media that's destructive by corporate design. The Christ Spirit that's returning isn't the bearded redhead in the paintings, it's the spirit of Ethics, Cooperation, Compassion, and Love.

Those who want it all, who think they have it all, who are trying to get as much as they can, and will do anything not to lose it; who want to prevent change and "make things great again" – who suffer the delusion of their superiority and entitlement – who think they can will the truth to be what they want, are fast being "Left Behind" in their spiritual morass, a private hell of their own making. But they won't remain here suffering while the blessed 80% ascend to Heaven – they'll simply become redundant. Their hateful opinions will hold no sway. Their methods of fear-mongering will become ineffective. 
 Your biggest job may be to help those you know and care for, who've been compromised by fear-mongering, to catch up to the change – by generously applying Love and compassion.

Heaven will return on Earth as we stop poisoning it (because we must), restore natural balance, use free energy, distribute the earth's resources equitably, and evolve into our truest "Divine State" of spiritually unifying our global human family. The balance is returning as it must, and if you're part of that change, you needn't worry about the hard times. What truly matters is what each and every one of us keeps in their heart – just be sure it's Love.
"Our present world is conditioned by our present mode of consciousness; only when that consciousness passes from its present dualistic mode...will the new creation appear, which is the external reality of which our world is a mirror."
  Bede Griffiths

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Lessons from an "Out-of-Body Experience"

It isn't often that you hear someone describe what it's like to die – that's an experience rarely reported; but I have the dubious qualification of having survived three distinctly different "Near Death Experiences," and I'd like to pass on what I learned from the first one, an "out-of-body experience" – in hopes that you'll never find the need to try this at home. It wasn't what you'd call fun, but it was very informative.

We most often think of Evolution with a capital E, as in "the Theory of," or as the transitioning growth of successive generations, species adapting across expanses of Time – and so it is. My experiences lead me to consider it as a personal process, largely because of realizing the importance of the Eternal Moment (in which everything alive is always living), and because the evolution of the whole spreads out from the evolution of each individual. As that phenomenon of personal experience, my life's evolution is more directly related to my NDEs than to all but a few of my "conscious" life lessons. It's like peeking behind the curtain...

So here, preceded by brief circumstantial descriptions, here is the gift I received from my first NDE, set down short and sweet as possible:

I was in a serious single car accident (I'd like to say through no fault of my own, but it wouldn't be true) and instantly found myself suspended in mid-air over the crash site, observing the wreckage, my body, and the ministrations of the lovely people who rushed to my aid (God bless 'em). After a while into all the hub-bub, I was gently shepherded off by a kindly entity (that remained out-of-view) into what I can only describe as a soft, warm, cotton-wool cloud, and on to a place of great ease and comfort where I was sat down in a congenial but serious conversation regarding the true nature of things, and my position within it.

The space was idyllic, like a very nice summer's cafe. There was no sense of Time or of gravity, and certainly not of any want or necessity.Thought operated in a non-sequential, undemanding way – all at once easily, as it were, rather than in any urgent, serial way (like after a good meditation). Here's what I learned:

We are avatars living spiritually within these physical bodies, very much like driving around in a car (...I wish I could afford a new one). Of course, our bodies are us, here in this place we call The World; but they aren't really us – they're the means to experience this sensory experience, "good" and "bad," and to gain as much from it as we can in the service or our own, and our greater collective Self's evolution. This allows us to investigate the karma of our lives, to repair it, and to create it anew by being of service to those we love, and to the world as a whole.

So when we observe others as well, we can realize that they are simply their karmic energies (as I am mine), filtering through their somewhat limited (and not always easy to maneuver) human forms. That understanding informs a sense of compassion and identification that allows the people and events in your life to clearly be happening for you – not to feel like they are happening to you. Then, we can objectively witness the miraculous diversity of Life – in all it's sometimes challenging forms – with tolerance, respect, and wonder!
I call this way of seeing: The Gift of Perspective.

"The fundamental, simple, and great mystical realization is that by which you identify yourself with consciousness, rather than with the vehicle of consciousness. Your body is a vehicle of consciousness."
Joseph Campbell

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Take a (Spiritual) Summer Road Trip, or: How Rte. 66 Can Lead You to Bliss

        It’s Summertime…and the highway is calling. With vacations planned and wanderlust on the rise, now is the time that we find ourselves striking out on the road to adventure and discovery. On our drive to discovering a few different Americas out there, it can be all too easy to find a disheartening drone of interstate arteries, drained by identical off-ramps evenly spaced, fed by the same corporate fast-food chains, pitching a kind of fabricated heartland patriotism – a navigated, located, ATM card “freedom” that’s only designed to free you from your vacation savings while propelling you past an alien, deeply divided America. It almost makes me just want to stay home and cry…but wait—there is another way! 
The Buddha said this about Life’s transit:

We are created by our thoughts; we become what we think.
Pain and suffering follow negative thoughts like the 
wheel follows the ox that pulls it.

The Dhammapada, 1:1

        What if we struck out on a different route instead? On a path inspired by our longings for a truly fulfilling vacation – healthful, connected, and discovering our uniquely diverse American wholeness, lined with joyful creativity and camaraderie? Well here’s the good news: That America is out there, waiting for you…but how do we find it?

        Recently, my wife and I left our home of many years in New York City, and drove cross-country for twelve days to our new home in the West; across a southern route we’d never taken before. Along the way we accidentally – almost magically – discovered a beautifully spiritual route, right through those limited options and glaring cultural divisions we might otherwise drive by without investigation. It happened as a result of one amazing “secret” trick that I’ll give you in a minute, but also by following a couple pretty intuitive tips that made it all possible. So here’s the dharma of the road trip we discovered…

        First of all, don’t crowd the drive into fewer days than necessary – getting there really is half the fun. Lay out your days in a general way, and limit yourself to four or five hours of driving per day, starting in the morning, and arriving to your daily destination in the early afternoon, giving yourself time to explore along the way, and to settle into your overnight surroundings with some space and energy. The variety of excellent lodging apps makes finding a place to stay as easy and worry-free as spending five minutes after lunch to book your top pick.

        While traveling, be willing to venture off the beaten path, and be positive and open-hearted to everyone you meet. Remember that practicing radical, unconditional kindness is an incredibly powerful way to open doors and possibilities. It’ll precondition every experience you encounter, and magically gain you upgrades and invitations that you could have never dreamed of. Let the trip show you where to go next – synchronicities and “magical” meetings will pile up as evidence that the Universe is showing you where you have to go, and what you have to see next; and introducing you to exactly who you’re supposed to meet. The coincidences will be custom-made, but won’t appear unless you’re fully flexible, and open to the energies generated by each experience. You’ll find yourself being mysteriously woven into the fabric of everywhere you are. 
        And naturally, If a place is telling you not to stay, get in the car and leave. 

“Let the road home, be home.”

        Now here comes the secret trick – and it came to us because my wife is a vegan, and I’m a vegetarian, but whether you’re a non-meat-eater or not, you’ll find this method works miraculously well. (It worked especially well considering that we traveled across the old Route 66 – through a slice of the heartland where you wouldn’t expect veggie-types to find many easy meals…)  Now here’s the secret:

        Do a search for vegan/vegetarian restaurants before getting to your daily destinationwhether you’re a veggie or not, and watch how it will transform your trip, and maybe your life!

        It (literally) turns out that as you navigate towards those destinations, you’ll find yourself completely avoiding the big boulevards lined with corporate tourist-traps and “neighborhood” chains, and heading into the artistic, architectural, entrepreneurial, and “alternative” neighborhoods instead – the parts of town where you can really eat well, and feed your soul at the same time. 
        There aren’t any aggressive 24-hour TV truckstops blaring where “alternative lifestyles” are quietly creating the new sustainable businesses of the future; bringing the solid old (often industrial) neighborhoods back to life after having been abandoned by the rigid corporations and their forced, soulless “food and fun.” They’re the parts of town where you find new galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, music venues, live theater, and of course, cutting-edge food. Right away, you’ll thank God it isn’t Friday.

        There you’ll also find the greatest local diversity – people bridging ethnic and generational differences who may have had to live outside of local expectations – the real innovative rebels, often rejected by common dogma and unconscious politics. These are people who’ve learned the real value of tolerance and compassion, first-hand. They’re the people who are growing new alternatives towards a new reality, preparing for the actual challenges of our changing planet – without burying their heads in some shallow Fox-hole, or blindly consuming another Bud and double-double bacon cheese burger…and they’re in every town, forming brands that are timelessly fresh, inventively earned, and altruistically authentic…and there’ll be a tattoo or two…

        Along Interstate 40 and the old Route 66 you’ll find incredible vegan cuisine at the stylish bistro Bizou, on the resurrected Main Street Mall in Charlottesville, VA (the most sadly maligned beautiful little town in recent media history). At the delicious Laughing Seed, in the cool part of downtown Asheville, NC. Then on the outskirts of Knoxville, TN, tuck into comfort food at Sanctuary Vegan Café, whose proceeds go to save condemned animals…and you’re on your way to the heartily excellent Wild Cow, in the globally-countryfied neck of Nashville. From there, wander over to Oklahoma City, OK? for the truly super-deliciousness of The Loaded Bowl (where they have weekly alt ok-bingo and watercolor classes too); and before you bust out across the Texas panhandle, load up on delicious dumplings at Three Fold Noodles & Dumplings, on South Main in Little Rock. AR. Take a Texas break at The 806, for great coffee, veggie-fare, local color, and live music, in old Amarillo. When you officially hit the semi-hip Southwest, stop for a chile relleño at the iconic Rte. 66 Silver Moon Café in Santa Rosa, NM…and drop in for excellent locally-roasted coffee and not-to-be-beat breakfast at Java Joes, on the edge of downtown Albuquerque, NM.
…and absolutely DO NOT MISS one of the best meals you’ll ever have at Chef Ahmed’s amazing Jambo Café, just a little bit south of Old Santa Fe, NM. As you roll towards the sunset, don’t miss the beautiful Palestinian family that really is the Oasis Mediterranean Café, out on the western edge of Gallup, NM.

...beautiful food and beautiful people at The Oasis, Gallup, NM

        To paraphrase what Mahatma Gandhi said: If you be the change you’re looking for, you’ll find it – by following your heart, and your health (mental, physical, and spiritual). All the food you encounter on this path tastes like Love, because it’s being brought to you with that secret ingredient, wherever you go..
        Stick to the Blue Highways, follow your heart, Google Vegan/Vegetarian and you’ll find people—and food—that you’ll swear you’ve loved all your life, and that you’ll never forget. 

        Blessings, and safe travels…vaya con Dios!…and remember what the Buddha said about heading out onto the road:

We are created by our thoughts; we become what we think.
Happiness attaches itself like an inseparable shadow to 
the positive thoughts that precede it.

The Dhammapada, 1:2

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"The More Your Eyes Open, the More Sacred You See"

This excerpt is from How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), 
Section 3: Purpose. 

Caught up in day-to-day life, it’s easy to overlook the miraculous nature of everything (especially in the morning before our first mi­raculous cup of coffee), but all we have to do is be present for one moment and there it is again, pouring out in every direction we look. Unconsciousness clings onto its defenses, but when you’re really honest with yourself and recognize the undeniable interconnected­ness of all Life, it’s hard not to appreciate the concept called pan­theism, the idea that absolutely everything is a manifestation of the Divine.

If you’ve been practicing the spiritually perspective-enhancing principles from the first chapters (kindness, humility, honesty, for­giveness, compassion, and service), you have probably noticed something happening as a result of your changing view of Life—the undeniable connection that changes you forever.

This is the realization that it deeply hurts you to cause pain. Causing injury to another sentient creature creates bad karma for you, and ef­fectively causes an injury to yourself. You begin to notice that when you say something that isn’t particularly thoughtful or considerate, it just sounds wrong to you. Like spilled coffee on a clean white shirt, you can’t wear it well—your ego may want you to conceal it, but your true self knows you need to quickly blot it out. Soon, small things that never mattered before come alive in your conscience. When you see a person being wasteful or exploitative, being a bully or a brag­gart, you sense the energy of injustice, of insecurity, of pain; and you increasingly feel like intervening somehow to possibly correct the impropriety. Pretty soon you’re capturing bugs in a jar and releasing them out the back door saying Go be free, my little bug friend.

You may start feeling a little out of place from the growing sen­sitivity to your surroundings, but this perceptual and behavioral change is really a very good thing. When you notice the harm you can do to Life when you’re not conscious of your actions, it means you’re beginning to develop the sensibilities of an angel.

You’re be­ginning to see and feel what Heaven looks and feels like.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!