Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Know What Heaven Is Like

I remember some renowned scientist recently proclaiming that the idea of heaven is a fairy tale.  I thought to myself, "he thinks its a fairy tale because he doesn't really know what its about!" I mean, for those who cannot see, they cannot be moved, and I suppose, in a way, its understandable for how our world has placed such a premium on the mind end ego over spirit. There was no heaven in his life, unfortunately, and its okay, because he will get a great roller coaster ride once he leaves his body and it will be great for how he had been disabled most of his life.  He will be the one kid rushing to the front of the cosmic line for another ride on that roller coaster!   Its understandable, though. He lived in his rational mind and that mind can be trained to only pay attention to what is measurable, observable.  My grandmother was a little bit this way, too.  She lived an insular life in many ways and as she grew old her own physiology was less a blessing as it was a burden.  Then, in the last few years, she had a series of surgeries and her life was good, then it got worse.....Short of knowing another Way, we begin to feel like all we have is what is in front of us.  I will tell you a little secret, though; heaven can be glimpsed, yes, for it is not a place but a state of being.  Simple. Deceptively so.  I can understand why some would want to call it a fairy tale....they never saw it, but its nothing you see.  Its something you feel! Because its not a place, its something that is unlimited in the possibilities.  I know someone in my life who got to touch upon the boundless possibilities that face us after we leave the earth and become unhitched from what seems to be the limits of our focus and awareness here....

In 1993 my grandmother lay slipping away from terminal cancer.  I was called by my brother who promised to make a call when she was the most lucid.  She hadn't been doing well. I talked to her and it was like she was lying under a pile of hay or heavy weights.  I told her I wanted to come see her, but she woke up and spoke loudly that I was to stay out there in Illinois and finish that first semester of graduate school.  Not having the funds to get in that first semester (as a full time out of state student), she had put up the extra money needed for me to establish my residency there.  Honoring her wishes, I did as she asked.  That was the last time I spoke to her in this world.  A few weeks after she died, I would speak to her again.  When I spoke of coming to Virginia to attend her funeral my brother explained that she didn't want me coming, that the best way to honor her passing was to just stay in school and get that first semester there right.  That was her wish. I again honored her wish.

Two weeks after her passing, I was researching a history paper I was working on.  I was in the library and it was about an hour before closing time.  I was in a giant room that was full of stacks and stacks of books.  As I stood there I heard someone whisper my name loudly and clearly from what sounded to come from right behind me.  It was a woman's voice, this I could tell, and it caused me to spin on my heel to see who had been so close to me to do that, and so quiet too!  As I turned I realized the voice had come from the next aisle over from me, so I took four steps to the end of the aisle and then looked down long row of shelves only to find no one there.  I then quickly scampered down the rows of shelves to try and find the trickster who had managed to escape so quietly. It turned out, I was the only person in the entire room.  The library was nearly empty on this night.  Riding my bike on the long ride home to my apartment I thought about the voice and wondered what on earth that was all about.  the whisper was so loud, so undeniable for being what it was.  "Parker!" it rang in my ears, sending a shiver up my spine.  Thing though, I never made a connection with my grandmother because it just didn't SOUND like her voice.

At about four in the morning I found myself suddenly awake.  This kind of behavior is unsual for me. I am a deep sleeper, so waking up like this is by no means the norm. I found myself in a state that was awake, lucid, but at a place where I could have easily drifted back into sleep.  I could have, had I  chosen to,  gotten up and gone to the bathroom.  As I lay there, I asked "I wonder how she is" and I heard or felt a voice from within me say "There you go, you have gone and done it now!  Here she comes!"  After that I began to become aware the sense that something was moving my way.  Its the same feeling you have when you stand near the railroad tracks and can feel a train approaching.  It was very much like this. And it had all the energy of a train.

I felt my being suddenly inflate like a balloon.  I could feel my consciousness expand, lighten, and stream with eddies and currents of energy. This was very similar to some episodes I knew were connected with the out of body state, having had some experiences with this when I was younger. This was what I thought of a the threshold state where I would move into this larger sensing where I could see the room all around me even if my eyes were closed.  I felt her slam into me like some crazy bull in a china shop!  It was more like having a kid slam into you before trying to wrestle you to the ground.....which was all in fun, of course.  While it was playful, it was also incredibly intense.  It was like a train slamming into me at full force with an explosion of sparkling of energy flying all over the place.  As all of this happened, as I suddenly felt her all through my awareness, I became aware of a rapid series of images or impressions.  I knew she had taken a tour of the physical universe, all at lightening speed.  I saw as Jupiter loomed large as she zipped past Saturn and other still darker planets.  I could feel she had been all over the place, and a feeling of awe and excitement pervaded her presence.  One of the most distinct feelings I got from her was her utter surprise, joy, and amazement that she had survived physical death.  Before she died, she showed signs of being afraid of letting go, to simply slip away and die instead of struggling to stay alive.  This was a woman who was a staunch Baptist her whole life, but she held a hidden fear or uncertainty, which is perfectly understandable.  Two weeks after her physical death, she had come back to pay me a visit. 

As I took this all in, I called out her name and said that she was alive!  "Yes!" she called back, her voice very clear in the center of my head.  I said how good she seemed, that she seemed to feel a lot better, and she agreed wholeheartedly.  Then I thought, its time to find out about what heaven is like.  This is my opportunity!  So I asked her.  I asked her if she got the angels on clouds with harps or did she get something else?  She didn't say a word, but since so much of what was "said" was through thought, I could feel her utter sense of amazement and inability to put it to any kind of word. She was utterly speechless.  How could anyone describe any of this? Given how she had been rendered into a glowing presence with trails of star fire flowing out from all around her, indeed how does one even put a word to this? There ARE no words.  We then just hung out quietly for a time and as I felt myself drift slightly, she said that she had to leave, that she loved me and to take care.  I bid her farewell and she shot off the same way she had come in.

A few days after this, I was on a conference call to my siblings to discuss issues related to my grandmother's estate. As we talked business I remembered the experience and gathered the courage to quickly relay some of what had happened to me.  My brother was all a chatter about how he had always felt that those who died had an interval where they were more available to us before going elsewhere.  My sister spoke up and explained that on the same night she had had a dream about our grandmother in which she was coming to say goodbye. It was an emotional moment for my sister and she said it was so vivid, she woke up crying.  For a moment I felt how this little realization circulated amongst us, sharing in its mystery, wonder, and the only kind of proof any of us needed that there was something more. But I can forgive someone thinking it doesn't exist, most certainly, because heaven isn't a place like earth is a place.  We are so used to being oriented to how things feel here that we cant conceive that "heaven" or the afterlife is not a "place" in the same way that your living room is a place.  Wherever you go, heaven is within.  I suppose if you are guilt-laden and fearful, hell could be some kind of reality, too.  Since so many people I have met who have had out of body experiences have explained that whatever you think in this state becomes reality, I tend to think that our beliefs most certainly form our experience not just here, but in the next experiences we have beyond our own physical "death."

Heaven is a transcendent state of being, yes.  It makes it hard for us to imagine what it could be like....and yet its not like its some realm that we do not come and go freely in dream or in altered or higher states of being. Heaven is not a place, it is a state of being. Surely. So maybe any story or fairy tale we try to tell or weave will be just like that.  Maybe in a way Stephen Hawking was right.  Maybe anything that we try to create is merely that; a creation.  How do we put to word the most amazing of our experiences?  We can't.  They are meant to be experienced.  In the end, though, all of this is like trying to prove the existence of love.  We can't.  But we know what we have experienced, right?

I wish we could reach a place where death isn't feared, but looked forward to with a sense of anticipation at a time when a body has reached its limit, or just feels yucky and is ready to go, to leap off that precipice to find itself soaring.


I bring this up because it was the work of Raymond Moody Jr., a physician who noted how patients who were pronounced dead clinically often came back to consciousness with stories to tell of a place they had been. At a tender of age of eleven or twelve, I had read his ground-breaking book "Life After Life" and the way it had been written, which was free from any dogma or religious undertones, hooked me.  Here we had eyewitness accounts of people's OBSERVATIONS of what happened to them after death.  Some have argued that this is merely something that happens when the nerve cord begins to die, and thus the experiences are very similar....but is nothing but the result of how our system shuts down.  The problem with this theory is that there is a place where many who have died have been dead long enough to where there is not longer any electrical activity in the brain, where people reach a place where the brain can no longer record any more images or throw of material in some kind of feedback loop as the system shuts down.  For those who are genuinely curious, there would be a more open approach to this end of our experience, rather than dismissing it out of hand in this way.

Like kundalini, those who have survived clinical death often come back in such a way that they are changed.  Many exhibit abilities, much as those who have been awakened do.  I think that it strikes me as though somehow the change in physiology as a result of death, as well as a change in electrical or electromagnetic current has a way of resetting some part of the field of the person carrying the issues and other things that serve to hand them up.  In a sense, its as though some part of their stuff has been erased, quite literally, as they are given a blank slate in some ways.  When I say this, I don't mean that memory is lost, but perhaps in the process all of the things that were once problems simply evaporate into the ether.  Perhaps physical death can serve as the release that many who are going through an awakening work for years to release from their awareness and body field?

I think that when we make observations in science, saying one form of observation is better than another strikes me as a bit strange.  An animal behavioralist will watch animals and observe, taking notes, and then build a body of knowledge from that.  In just the same way, we have hundreds, if not thousands of people all going to this far country, this other world, and coming back to report their observations.  Some follow certain patterns, while others sound different.  In the same way that a dozen people could all go to India, they could all see very different things.  Some might see ramshackles homes of the poorest of the poor while others might see those same things as well as some of the temples.  One person might go and see a tiger, whereas another person might only see a monkey, another might see a strange bird.  Do we question the validity of the person in their observations, even though no one from the group of a dozen never saw a tiger, save for one?

Since this other realm of experience is not physical, it might be hard to pin it down in the traditional way.  But what about people who do projections of consciousness and meet up with long dead relatives?  And what do they see while in those places?  Perhaps while our world is more practical and permanent in the sense that it does not shift and change before us, suspending its own laws as we stand and watch, perhaps that we are prejudiced to those things which are different, and since its different, we do not have a good way of developing ways to approach it in a manner that makes sense.  Might be that we have to expand our scientific paradigm to allow for more room for considering that we know less than what we don't know, and that just because its not a part of our experience, that does not mean that it does not exist.

No comments: