From BEHIND THE SCENES... (FBS) No. 7 January/February 2002
A SPECIAL ISSUE! No politics . no economics . Just a personal look behind the spiritual scenes .(With apologies to those who have read earlier issues, theres some recapping here)
LIFE AFTER "DEATH"
Many people can testify to having "near death experiences". These may involve seeing a bright light, passing through a tunnel, feelings of peace, joy and serenity, entering another domain often very beautiful, encountering deceased family and friends and/or a wise mystical being. Invariably there is a feeling of having left the physical body behind. Often they find themselves looking down on their own body, and watching the actions of those around it. Then there is a sudden "pull" as if by an invisible chord, and they realise they are back in their body and normal consciousness is regained. Such experiences have often had profound effects on those involved apart from gaining their own sure knowledge that there is no such thing as "death", their experiences and encounters have altered dramatically the way they live their lives, becoming much less materialistic and much more caring for others.
Some of these have occurred as a result of cardiac arrests, which prompted a scientific study at Southampton Hospital. Observing that patients clearly had memories arising after the point of cardiac arrest at which point the brain ceases to function, Dr. Sam Parnia, who commenced the study as a confirmed sceptic, declared "the results strongly suggest that consciousness survives the clinical death of the brain. We found no evidence to support the idea of an abnormal trigger such as drugs or unusual oxygen levels". He went on to say "when you think about it, the concept of cells alone producing thought is absurd. My suspicion is that, as everything in the universe is matter, consciousness is a kind of very subtle matter that as yet we are unable to perceive or measure".
If we are not just our bodies, then what are we? Presumably our bodies are just a vehicle for our consciousness which provide us with the means of experiencing a physical existence on earth. So why do we get so upset when someone dies as if it is absolutely terrible and terminal, when it isnt? Perhaps its time to take a different view of so called "death". Perhaps we live more than one life on earth? As with near death experiences, there are those who can testify convincingly to previous incarnations.
SCIENCE and CHRISTIANITY
During the last 250 years with modern science, the theory of evolution and more, we have gained a mass of knowledge of the physical world around us. However this has resulted in a mechanistic view of the universe being promoted by the scientific establishment, where the universe is seen as no more than a complex chemical interaction of atoms and molecules - just some gigantic physical accident. In reality as even science is coming to realise, this is only a small part of the picture. Nevertheless, as a result, much of humanity has become so unaware spiritually that it is now regarded as quite normal and reasonable to see ourselves as just our physical bodies and when those die thats it youre gone. This is perhaps not all together surprising because the only alternative explanation of life generally available to people in much of the western world is that offered by Christianity. This tells us that we have just one life on earth it could be long and prosperous, or short and filled with poverty and hardship, or even just months or less, then all are judged on the basis of that one life, prior to some eternal afterlife elsewhere. The problem for the Christian church is that its basic doctrines, to which it still adheres today, were set out in a series of ecumenical conferences which took place around 1500 to 1800 years ago. Since then our knowledge and understanding of the world around us has progressed enormously. There may have been a few cosmetic changes, but the churches explanations are stuck firmly in the past, for which it is paying the price. Its explanations of life death and the afterlife may possibly be the greatest single reason why church attendance in this country has declined so sharply over the last 50 years, and continues to decline. It is not so much a case of people rejecting the positive "love your neighbour" message of the Christian gospels it is surely the fact that the churchs explanation of creation life and death are now seen as so implausible and illogical that more and more people end up dismissing them as nonsense. It may have sufficed in the middle ages when people inevitably had a very limited view of life and the world, but for most people its not much use now.
Although rejected by Christianity, re-incarnation remains at the heart of eastern religions and has been for several thousand years, In fact, early Christianity also accepted it, but abandoned it after the 5th Ecumenical Church Council of 553 A.D., following internal power struggles and manipulation that had a lot more to do with control of the masses than spiritual enlightenment. It is said that references to reincarnation were subsequently removed from the scriptures that eventually became todays Bible. The idea of a single life followed by divine judgement, heaven or hell was what came to replace it. The evidence for reincarnation is very strong indeed. There have been so many reports from reliable sources of past life experiences. People have come up with strikingly detailed descriptions of places and events in the past, which have often been verified as true from the records so much so, as to rule out any possibility that they are making it up.
Is it really possible to experience everything life can teach us in just one lifetime? Perhaps in order to grow and mature and overcome self interest and to learn to treat our fellow humans decently, we need several lives in very different circumstances experiencing wealth, comfort, poverty, war, exploitation and much more.. It probably takes us two, three, many lives even, some needing more than others, to learn and experience all that is necessary for our personal growth in this physical dimension of existence on planet Earth. Those who exploit others may need to return in order to experience first hand what it is like to be exploited, in order to fully appreciate that there is a better way to live. If we all knew and accepted this, might it not remove forever the fear of death that so many people have, because ultimately we would understand there is no such thing as death? When a loved one dies, very sad though this is for those who remain, we would know that it is merely the loss of a physical body the separation is temporary only, with the spirit living on in another unseen dimension, with every chance of returning to physical human form at some time in the future if it so chooses. Indeed much of the evidence of reincarnation shows that often we may reincarnate along with those we knew in a former lifetime often in different relationships to them we may well switch sex for our growth and evolution we would almost certainly need to experience lives as both male and female. Couldnt all this be particularly comforting in the case of the death of a child or baby or a miscarriage, which presently cause such distress, and which we think of as such a total and tragic loss? There are documented cases that suggest that in the case of a childs death the spirit of that child has on occasions reincarnated soon afterwards by being born in another body to the same parents. Some people say once they lose the fear of death, thats when they really start living. Could anything else have a more profound influence on people in the western world?
The cosmos is vast beyond our wildest imaginings with many different dimensions of existence, and we must have endless possibilities to experience life on higher dimensions and elsewhere in the cosmos. It's a bit like classes in school. When youve learnt the lessons in one class, you move up to the next! Notwithstanding Christianitys outdated explanations of life and death, the Christian gospels appear to have much hidden meaning, suggesting an earlier wisdom which has since been largely lost. Jesus says in the gospels "In my Father's house there are many mansions...." This could be interpreted as a reference to the fact that there are indeed in the cosmos many dimensions of existence of which this physical dimension on Earth is just one. In reality life and the cosmos are so wonderfully exciting and the possibilities seem infinite... but yes this is not an endless cycle of birth, "death" and rebirth and maybe eventually the soul does return to the Godhead or source of all that is.. Maybe in one sense that is what the parable of the prodigal son is all about....the soul being given freedom of choice and electing to go on a journey through many lives on many dimensions before its ultimate return to source.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
In our male dominated society, God is always regarded as masculine never feminine. For many people conventional western religion conjures up some absurd image of an old man sat on a throne in the sky which they naturally regard as absurd. One of the big problems of western religion is a judgmental God. In fact what weve really done in many respects is to create an externalised God in our own human image. Because we are always judging each other, we reckon God must do the same, so we end up with the idea that when we "die" we are judged and/or there is some final day of judgement when everyone is called to account. Some people say there cant be a God because if there was he would never allow all the terrible things that happen on earth to take place. However if we accept that one of the fundamentals of life on earth is having complete freedom of choice in our actions, then we have to accept that everything that happens here on earth is our individual and/or collective creation and responsibility. Wars, exploitation, manipulation, poverty, starvation, dictatorships anything you care to mention has been brought about by humanity as a whole. We create the conditions for dictatorships and exploitation evil can prevail because good people often find it easier to sit back and do nothing. There may be one billion plus people presently living on the planet who are under nourished and in abject poverty, whilst in the west there is materialism, waste and over consumption - but only humanity has created that situation and only humanity can change it. God merely observes - lovingly and without judgement, knowing we have an endless opportunity to learn from our negative experiences and grow. One of the great paradoxes of our physical world is that if we could not know of and experience what is bad or evil, how could we ever know of and experience what is good? How would you know what is beautiful if you didnt know what is ugly? You only know what light is because you can contrast it with darkness. So, difficult though it may be to accept, good cannot exist without evil, if one accepts this then it follows logically that God doesnt judge and God doesnt interfere to do so would itself constitute interference with the very freedom of choice that is our birthright here on planet Earth. That is not to say there is no guidance and support far from it, through prayer or meditation it is possible to connect with the wisdom of the God force that is available to and lies within everyone of us. Some of our wiser fellow citizens can offer guidance there have been very wise and evolved messengers such as the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and others, even if their teachings have often been misunderstood and misrepresented at times. And at various times we all end up in challenging situations that may test us and provide an opportunity to put self interest aside and to grow spiritually.
NO RECOLLECTION OF PAST LIVES
Why is it, if we have lived before, most of us have no recollection of past lives? When one "dies" of course the body dies, but the mind also dies. To many peoples way of thinking we are only made up of body and mind, hence they say theres no life after death. It would appear to be a third lesser known aspect of us that survives the spirit or soul. Whilst alive in a physical body, most of us are so preoccupied with our day to day lives that we are barely, if at all, aware of its existence. This aspect is probably our true connection with what we refer to as God. Intuition and flashes of inspiration are perhaps examples of moments when we are in touch with this aspect of ourselves. Its like a storehouse of all our experiences gained in previous lifetimes. When we are born we have a new body and a new mind, which operates in such a way that the memories of a previous life are no longer accessible in detail, but the overall experiences of a previous lifetime stay with us. And this may partially explain why we are all so different even when we are very young we bring with us different experiences from the past. It is probably just as well that generally we dont have past life recollections for a start it might come as a big shock to some of us to know of some of the unpleasant activities we may have got up to in a previous life we have quite enough to cope with dealing with the current life without getting tangled up in the details of an earlier life. And if you think about it, even in the current life, you certainly dont recall every detail of what youve done, but what youve experienced contributes to what you are, even though you dont recall all the details. So perhaps thats the way it is with previous lives.
DISABILITIES .. WHY?
You might recall that several years ago ex professional footballer and former England manager Glen Hoddle came in for some flack. Having first made use of the services of a spiritual healer to help with team morale, which raised a few sceptical eyebrows, he is then supposed to have claimed that people born with disabilities were paying the price for their sins and misdeeds in a previous lifetime. Whether he really put it quite like that is open to some question but the press wanted to make a good story out of it and they subsequently had a field day slagging off poor old Hoddle. However the reality is almost certainly very different. The first thing to note is how so many people with major disabilities simply accept their disabilities and get on with life athletes at the para olympics compete in their specially designed wheelchairs - you may or may not like his politics but you have to give David Blunkett credit for getting to where he is now, blindness notwithstanding. Steven Hawking, confined through muscular dystrophy to a wheel chair, has become a brilliant astronomer of our time. We all probably know someone personally who has risen above their disability. The fact is that disabilities, far from being some sort of punishment, may in reality represent a real challenge to people to evolve and grow. People who have suffered disabling accidents and injuries during their lives also often go on to remarkable achievements. It is thought in some circles that we may all choose at some point to live a life with some form of disability, as part of our personal path of experience, growth and evolution. Indeed it is said that generally we will choose carefully the timing of any incarnation, our parents etc. all of which will be intended to provide us with the sort of life experiences necessary for our personal growth. There is so much that we do not understand and which our science is not yet capable of explaining this issue of FBS is no more than a personal attempt to raise a few issues and hopefully provide food for thought - and of course, we will be back again in a few weeks!
SOME FURTHER READING
Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation by Noel Langley The Antiquarian Press 1989 ISBN 1-85030-857-7 A simple and straight forward account of reincarnation in paperback.
Conversations with God by Neil Donald Walsh - Full of remarkable and profound observations and answers to questions about love and faith, life and death, good and evil and more Usually in stock at any good book-shop.
"The Old Stables" Cusop, Herefordshire HR3 5RQ. Tel: 01497 821406 E-mail: email@example.com