Remembering heaven and being atheist

 

I rarely write or talk about this, but I thought I would share something since it’s part of my life, and it may be similar to what others have experienced.

As a child, I remembered how it was before this life. I remembered in flashes now and then, especially when outside with the sunlight filtering through the moving leaves. And in those moments, it was like being back. Then, I never spoke about it. Perhaps I knew people wouldn’t understand, and I didn’t have the words for it. Now, I may find some words.

All of existence was infinite love, consciousness, wisdom, light. There were beings – including me – that also were this infinite light, consciousness, and wisdom, and had no bodies. There was a profound sense of being home.

When I started school, these flashes were less frequent and then went away. What remained was a longing. A deep longing for this profound sense of being home. I would sometimes wake up with this deep longing, and do all the things I enjoyed the most to see if I could find what I was looking for. I would read comics (Carl Barks) and books (Jules Verne, adventure books), eat sandwiches with butter and strawberry jam, drink hot chocolate, go to my parents, go outside to play, play with friends. Nothing worked.

I didn’t consciously connect it with God or heaven. I had no framework for it. And when people did talk about God or heaven, it seemed to have no connection with my experience. I wonder if that’s why I, at a young age (in elementary school), decided to identify as an atheist. Religions made no sense to me. They seemed to be just made up by people. If there was some reality or truth to it, it was covered up by what was man-made.

When the initial spiritual awakening happened at age 15, I realized that this was it. All without exception was revealed as Spirit. As consciousness. As infinite love and wisdom. Any experience of a separate self was just that, an experience with no actual reality to it. It’s all – all of existence without exception – Spirit expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. This is what I had flashbacks to as a child. And this knowing is why I had dismissed religions since they couldn’t begin to touch it.

I don’t really think of it as heaven but I see how that word can be used. And that heaven is here. We never left. We “just” need to notice. All of existence already is heaven. And it can appear as mundane or hell through our perceptual filters. Through our beliefs and identifications. That’s part of the play of the divine. That’s part of the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. That’s part of the divine playing hide and seek with itself, as some have put it.

Note: The phrasing I have used here intentionally fits the flashbacks I had a child. In the awakening or spiritual opening in my teens, it was a little different. Here, Spirit awoke to itself as all there is, as all of existence, through this human being. Any sense of an “I” was seen as human- or mind-created, a temporary illusion which allows Spirit to experience itself as temporary and limited.

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