What happens as we die?

I have been reading about the recent research into how people experience death (see “The New Science of Death” from The Guardian), and this video with some of the highlights just showed up in my YouTube recommendations.

Their findings fit what has been previously reported, including from people who have had near-death experiences. People dying often report deep relaxation, light, a review of their life, a sense of coming home, and a few more things.

THE WORLDVIEW CURRENT SCIENCE OPERATES WITHIN

Our current science operates within a strictly materialistic worldview, so scientists are expected to interpret this as more or less random things that happen in the brain because of the dying process.

That’s understandable and it has some upsides. It’s grounded in verifiable data, which is important, and it’s a good starting point for exploring other possible explanations.

If these experiences are random results of a dying brain, I have to say that some of what people report seems surprisingly fitting and meaningful, including the life review and a sense of coming home.

THE POSSIBILITY OF CONTINUING BEYOND THIS LIFE

The findings from this research can also be understood within the context of other worldviews.

For instance, the consciousness we are may continue beyond this life.

Research into apparent past life memories is interesting and may be interpreted in that way, although other explanations also fit the data.

Some people seem to have memories from between lives. I am one of those. When I was little, I had vivid and visceral flashbacks to a time before this life: All was consciousness and golden light, and there was a profound sense of all-encompassing love and of being home. I had a longing back to that place throughout my childhood. This too fits with consciousness continuing, although it can be interpreted in other ways too.

CHANGING WORLDVIEWS

Does the consciousness we are continue beyond this life? For me, that’s a question for science, and it has mostly been taboo in Western science because it doesn’t fit the accepted worldview.

Worldviews change. The one we have now will be replaced by another that makes more sense to future generations, and may better fit the data.

It may well be with a future context of worldview for science is more open to the possibility of consciousness continuing beyond this life. It may be seen as one of several possible explanations, and perhaps one that fits the data well.

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Don’t know as context – the rest are questions about the world

I wrote an article yesterday where I pointed out that we don’t know what will happen after death, and that the most peaceful – for me – is the rest in and as that not-knowing.

Today, I wrote another article about how I sometimes check in with people who have recently died to sense what’s going on with them.

How can both be true? Don’t they contradict each other?

Not really. They can easily co-exist. In a sense, they complement each other.

The not-knowing is the context. And the checking-in is pragmatic and part of daily life activities, and hopefully held lightly.

It’s the same for my general view on what may happen after death.

Not-knowing is the context and what’s most true.

And everything else – my apparent memory of the time before incarnation, checking in with those who have recently died, NDE reports, research, and so on – informs my view about what MAY be happening. I have experiences, interpretations of those experiences, and ideas about what’s going on, and I aim to hold it all lightly.

They are questions about the world, not answers.

Not-knowing and questions about the world live together. They come from the same place.

Image by me and Midjourney

Connecting with people who recently died

In my mid-teens, I discovered I could connect with the system of other beings and sense (some of) what’s going on. I have mostly used it for healing purposes since I also do distance healing.

And this also works for people who have recently died.

It’s been interesting for me to check in with people who have recently died, and perhaps do a little healing for them if it seems helpful and their system seems to want it.

I have been surprised by how diverse their experience seems to be.

One seemed to be in turmoil and disoriented when I checked in the day after he died.

Another, who died from cancer and was Christian, seemed to experience relief and peace.

Yet another, who recently died, seemed to experience a fullness and restfulness.

And yet another, who died just a few days ago, a kind of sober peace. My sense is that he left earlier than he wanted.

It also seems that the typical human responses are most obvious shortly after death, and then it seems to wear off. After a while, there is less to connect with. Maybe they shed layers in the period after death? I also assume the essence moves on – away from this kind of life or into another incarnation.

Is what I perceive accurate? I would think yes, mostly, based on my experience with this over several decades. And also based on checking in with others who can also sense at a distance. I sense what’s going on with someone – living or recently dead. They do it too. We compare notes. And most of the time, our reports closely match. (Even if one or both of us know next to nothing about the person in a conventional sense.)

Note: I wrote an article yesterday where I pointed out that we don’t know what will happen after death, and that the most peaceful – for me – is the rest in and as that not-knowing. That’s true. And what I write here too is accurate enough. Both can co-exist. The first is more accurate and the context for the second, and the second is more pragmatic and is held lightly.

The image is by me and Midjourney

What we are never dies? Timeless is not the same as eternal

I saw an ad for a non-dual course that said: Find the part of you that never dies.

I understand it’s a hook, and I see it slightly differently.

The simple answer is: I don’t know for certain. I don’t know if what I am will never die or not.

And there is a longer answer that also points to something essential.

FINDING WHAT WE ARE

We find what we are – that which our field of experience happens within and as.

We find that time, change, and death happen within and as what we are.

We find ourselves as what a thought may call consciousness, and the world to us happens within and as the consciousness we are.

We can also imperfectly label this timeless since it’s inherently free of the passage of time. Change, time, birth and death, and so on happen within and as what I am.

This is our more fundamental nature, and it’s all we have ever known whether we notice it or not.

Our nature has all the characteristics that mystics through time and across traditions talk about.

That’s all fine. It’s something we can find for ourselves and check out for ourselves. It’s not even that difficult to have a taste of it with the right guidance. (To stabilize in it can take a little more effort and, ironically, time.)

STICKING TO WHAT I CAN SAY SOMETHING ABOUT

I like to stick to what I can say something about, which is my own nature as it appears to me.

I can say that, to me, the world happens within and as the consciousness I am. So everything inevitably appears as consciousness to me.

My nature is consciousness. And I cannot say anything about the nature of anything else. It appears as consciousness to me, but I don’t know if that’s its actual nature.

This view is grounded and honest to me. And it has the upside that it’s compatible with a range of different worldviews, including materialism, atheism, non-theism, theism, and more.

I love this approach for those reasons.

I cannot say anything for certain about what happens after the death of this human self. It’s possible that the consciousness I am goes with it. And it’s possible that the consciousness I am will continue free of this human self. Either option is compatible with my nature as I notice it.

In other words, timeless is not necessarily the same as eternal.

And as the Zen master said: I don’t know what happens after I die. I am not dead yet.

TAKING IT ONE STEP FURTHER

Some like to take this a step further.

We can assume that existence itself has the same nature as us.

To us, the world will inevitably appear as consciousness since that’s what we are. From here, we can assume that’s how the world actually is. The world and all of existence is consciousness AKA Spirit, the divine. God, Brahman, and so on.

This view fits with another assumption. And that is that what we are – the consciousness we are – will continue after the death of this human self.

There are two leaps of faith here. One is assuming that the nature of all of existence is the same as our own as we experience it. The other is assuming that it means that what we are continues after the death of this human self.

BEING HONEST ABOUT IT

Taking those leaps is fine. It may be comforting. It may fit what traditions say. It may fit some reports from some people. (Including me since I had memories of my time before incarnation as a little kid.) And it’s good to be honest about it.

It’s good to be honest about it being an assumption and not something we can easily check out for ourselves before this human self dies.

For me, it’s much more comfortable to be honest about all this.

Yes, I know my own nature to some extent. I have been swimming in that water for more than three decades now. I know what traditions say. I have my own memories of the time before this life. (Similar to what people describe from near-death experiences.) I have often checked in with people after they have died and what I sense has matched what others have sensed. (What I pick up about them is surprisingly varied, ranging from immense confusion and turmoil to peace, relief, and joy.) I know what the few studying this scientifically say.

And yet I cannot know. I cannot know for certain what will happen after this life. Anything is possible. I’ll see when that time comes.

THE UPSIDES OF A MORE GROUNDED VIEW

Taking a more honest and grounded view on this has many upsides.

I don’t need to create, uphold, and rehearse stories.

I don’t need to defend stories against anything that may seem threatening to them.

And it gives me more zest for this life. I have no idea what comes next. I have no idea how long this human self is here for. So why not make the most out of it? Why not enjoy what’s here now?

Why not even see if I can find enjoyment in it even if it’s something my personality may not like?

WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE DIFFERENTIATE?

Why don’t more people differentiate in this way?

Why do some mystics and non-dual folks assume they know what will happen after death? Why do they assume that the nature of all of reality is the same as their own? Why do they assume that timeless means eternal?

I am not sure. Maybe they just latch onto what others have told them. Maybe they haven’t noticed the difference between finding their own nature, and assuming that’s also the nature of all of existence? Maybe they don’t notice the two leaps of faith they have to make? Maybe they find comfort in it? Maybe it’s a kind of wishful thinking? Maybe this differentiation is a more modern (?) way of looking at it, and many still stick with traditions?

SCIENCE

To me, what happens after death is a question for science.

It’s something we can, to our best ability, study. And some do.

And even then, we cannot know for certain. There is always more than one way to understand the data.

DON’T KNOW

Which brings us back to don’t know. We cannot know for certain.

I cannot know anything for certain.

And I find it most comfortable to admit that and rest in and as that. It’s closest to reality.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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My memories from between lives, how it has colored my life, and similarity to near-death experiences (NDEs)

When I was little, I had flashbacks – spontaneous memories – of what seemed to be the time before this life. The time between lives. All was golden light, consciousness, and love. There was a profound – infinite – sense of being home. It was timeless and time seemed infinitely far away. And there were (non-physical) beings guiding me. These flashbacks lasted until about school age.

I didn’t put words on it at the time, and I didn’t mention it to anyone. It didn’t seem necessary. The flashbacks were just something that happened. Especially when I was outside and the sunlight was filtered through the leaves of the trees.

So how did this color my life? I cannot know for certain, but here is how it appears to me looking back.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – REJECTING RELIGION

Later in childhood, I sometimes experienced a deep sense of longing. I didn’t know for what, but I would often wake up with this deep sense of longing, and nothing I did satisfied it. I suspect this deep longing was to the infinite love and sense of home I had flashbacks to earlier in childhood.

I rejected religion early in elementary school. It didn’t make any sense to me. Why should I pretend to believe that something was true just because someone told me? I also saw no connection between what they talked about in Christianity and the flashbacks, it didn’t even occur to me that there was a connection between the abstractions I heard about and the alive experience I remembered.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – FASCINATION WITH THE PARANORMAL

At about the same time, sometime early in elementary school, I became fascinated with parapsychology – ESP, telekinesis, ghosts, past lives, and so on. I loved Jack London’s story “The Star Rover” and a book my brother had called “Det Beste: Utrolig men sant (1975)” (“Unbelievable but true”) which had chapters on ESP, telekinesis, ghosts, reincarnation, and so on. I even did my own ESP experiments using the standard ESP cards and symbols.

When I was fifteen, I got into Erik Damman’s “Bak tid og rom” and Fritjof Capra’s “The Turning Point“. Both had a profound impact on me, I read both several times, and I sought out the books they referenced for continued reading.

My family had some interest in these things. My mother had Dalai Lama’s autobiography, which I loved. My father had J. Allen Hynek’s main book on UFOs. My brother had the “Unbelievable but true” book. For them, it was a peripheral interest. And for me, it was a profound fascination. I suspect that this interest had to do with the memories from between lives. Somewhere in me, I knew we are consciousness and that something exists beyond the physical world.

MID-TEENS – AWAKENING SHIFT

The initial major awakening shift then happened when I was sixteen, which colored everything from then on. Here, it was undeniable that I am consciousness and everything is consciousness. All of existence is Spirit. Everything is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself as that.

Here, I also realized what my earlier longing was for. It was for this. It was for coming home to recognize all as Spirit. It was for recognizing myself as Spirit taking this form. (I later nuanced this into the small and big interpretation of awakening but that’s another topic.)

FINDING IT HERE AND NOW

As part of this, I realized that anything I longed for from these memories was here now. My invitation was to find it here and now. It won’t look the same, obviously, since I then didn’t have a body and now I have one, and my human psyche is much more in the foreground now than it was back then. But the essence is the same. I can find the essence here and now.

What is this essence? It’s finding myself and all experiences as consciousness. It’s finding myself as Big Mind, as what has no beginning or end or limits. As what any and all experience, and the world to me, happens within and as. It’s finding myself as that infinite love. It’s giving to myself the support I experienced then.

Anything I see “out there” – in the past, future, or in others or the world – is already here and I can find it here. I can find the mental representations telling me about it. I can find the characteristics these mental representations point to. I can find myself as what all of it happens within and as.

And so also with these apparent memories from between lives, and before this life.

HOW IT HAS COLORED MY LIFE

How did these memories color my life?

I cannot know for certain, but I can come up with my best guesses.

As a child, it likely opened me up to something beyond a purely materialistic worldview. It may have given me a fascination for those topics.

It’s also likely that it has something to do with me rejecting Christianity and religions in general since they seem abstract and dry, and something we are supposed to pretend to believe without having the possibility to check it for ourselves. In comparison with the experience between lives, they are not much.

I do have fear of strong suffering, pain, and so on. But I am not sure how much fear I have of death. Of course, I may be unaware of it now, and then it comes up later.

When I was close to dying from septic shock last summer, I initially had fear come up since I had no idea what was happening. When I knew, the fear went away and was replaced with curiosity about death. There was still a chance I would die (my kidneys and other organs had collapsed), and I had a curiosity about that next adventure. I noticed I was even looking forward to it a bit, whether it would come now or in several decades.

SIMILAR TO NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES

My apparent memory from before this incarnation is similar to what many describe during a Near-Death Experience (NDE). All is consciousness and love, there are beings and guides I communicate with, and so on. (Minus the floating up from the body, the tunnel, etc.)

And my Before-Incarnation Experience (BIE) seems to have impacted me in a similar way to how NDEs often impact people. Our views, interests, priorities, and lives are transformed. We appreciate life more, and especially our connections with others and the simple and daily things. Our fear of death is reduced or goes away. We value what’s non-material. We become interested in protecting nature and Earth. And so on.

Here is what the Wikipedia article on NDEs says:

NDEs are associated with changes in personality and outlook on life. Ring has identified a consistent set of value and belief changes associated with people who have had a near-death experience. Among these changes, he found a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, less concern for acquiring material wealth, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, desire to learn, elevated spirituality, greater ecological sensitivity and planetary concern, a feeling of being more intuitive, no longer worrying about death, and claiming to have witnessed an afterlife. While people who had experienced NDEs become more spiritual, it doesn’t mean they become necessarily more religious. However, not all after-effects are beneficial and Greyson describes circumstances where changes in attitudes and behavior can lead to psychosocial and psychospiritual problems.

HOW COMMON IS IT?

I have no idea how common it is to remember the time before this incarnation. I have almost never mentioned this to anyone. It doesn’t seem necessary. Although it is a bit interesting to me how this before-incarnation experience seems similar to NDEs, and the effects may also be very similar.

WHAT TO CALL IT?

I am not sure what to call it. I usually think of it as a Before-Life experience (BLE) or Before-Incarnation Experience (BIE). The latter is perhaps more accurate since the life between lives is still a life.

DO I KNOW IT’S FROM BETWEEN LIVES?

Do I know it’s an actual memory? And that it’s a memory from the time between lives?

No, I cannot know for certain. That’s the honest answer.

At the time, I did experience it as actual flashbacks to the time before this life, and the experience was spontaneous, clear, and strong.

It happened very early in life, before I was very influenced by anything. Also, my parents were not religious and religion was not a topic one way or another in the house. And when I later was exposed to religion, I made no connection between these flashbacks and what people talked about. It didn’t even occur to me there was a connection since what they talked about seemed so dry, abstract, distant, and not relevant to anything in my life.

It does match what many describe in a Near Death Experience. That means it either points to what it seems to point to, on the surface, or it’s a product of some universal psychological/biological dynamic.

So I cannot know for certain. If I had to put money on something, it would be that they are actual memories, but if they are not, that would be equally interesting. And for me, personally, it’s not so important. What’s important is that they point to something I can find here and now.

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A memory from between lives

I may have written about this before, but thought I would revisit it.

When I was little, before school age, I had flashbacks.

THE FLASHBACKS

They usually happened when I was outside and the sunlight was filtered through the leaves of the trees around the house.

They were flashbacks to a time before this life where I was disembodied and everything was a golden light and infinite love and wisdom. I was a part of an ocean of light, love, and wisdom. And felt infinitely at home. This is where I belonged.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t have those words. It was an experience, not anything I put words on or even had the thought of telling anyone about.

Now, I understand it as oneness, and perhaps how it is – or may be – between lives. In these flashbacks, all was golden light, one, consciousness, love, and infinite wisdom. And there were other disembodied beings there that occasionally communicated with me, also infinitely loving and wise.

Later in childhood, I would often wake up with a deep longing. I didn’t understand what this longing was for, and none of my favorite people or activities would satisfy it.

AWAKENING SHIFT AND FINDING IT HERE

When the awakening shift happened in my mid-teens, I realized that this is what the longing was about and it was also about the flashbacks. This is the oneness of the flashbacks. This is the infinite love of the flashbacks. This is all revealed as consciousness, as in the flashbacks. This is the infinite sense of belonging of the flashbacks.

FINDING IT INDEPENDENT OF STATES AND EXPERIENCES

And since then, I have explored finding this independent of states and experiences. This is my nature and it’s always here, what’s required is to notice it. It may not always be as flashy as in the flashbacks or the initial shift, and that’s natural and fine. It’s noticing the essence of it here and now that counts.

WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON?

Were these actual flashbacks from between lives? It certainly seems that way, and it does fit what many reports from near-death experiences. The flashbacks were strong. They made a profound impression on me. And they didn’t come from anything I had been told. (My parents were not religious, I didn’t live in a religious culture, and I didn’t consciously connect the flashbacks with God or anything spiritual until the awakening shift several years later.)

At the same time, I cannot know for certain.

What I know for certain is that these apparent flashbacks showed me my nature, even in early childhood. They showed me my nature of oneness and love and metaphorical light. (Although the light seemed very literal in those experiences.)

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Does our timeless nature mean we live beyond the death of this human self?

Some seem to assume that their timeless nature means they – consciousness – will somehow continue beyond the death of this human self.

CONFUSING TIMELESS WITH ETERNAL

I understand it can seem that way.

When we find our more essential nature, we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears t us. We find ourselves as that which all content of experience – time, space, the world, this human self – happens within and as.

We find ourselves as the timeless that allows for and forms itself into our experience of time. We find ourselves as the spaceless that allows for and forms itself into an experience of space.

Our nature is the timeless that time happens within and as. We are what this human self happens within and as. We are what all change happens within and as.

Doesn’t that mean that we – as this consciousness – continue even after the death of this human self?

Not necessarily. My timeless nature doesn’t say anything about what happens after the death of this human self. Noticing my timeless nature doesn’t give me any privileged or special insights into that topic.

Noticing my timeless nature is consistent with a wide range of worldviews. It fits with assuming that the nature of all existence is the same as my nature, and that all of existence is consciousness and the divine. It also fits with assuming that consciousness is produced by this physical human body, and dies with this body. It may even fit a traditional Christian view assuming a kind of soul that exists before and after this body. (The soul is then either what we are, or it’s something within content of experience that happens within and as what we are as anything else.)

A TOPIC FOR SCIENCE

What happens with consciousness after death is a topic for science. It’s something we can study, at least indirectly through near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, recollections of apparent past lives, and so on.

There are some relatively serious studies on these topics, as outlined in Leslie Kean’s Surviving Death. And within mainstream science, it’s still a mostly taboo topic. Probably because modern science has attached itself to a mostly materialistic worldview.

Life is change so this may change too. I wouldn’t be surprised if these topics are included within a future mainstream science.

WHY ASSUMING THAT TIMELESS MEANS LIFE AFTER DEATH?

Why do some assume that our timeless nature means life after death?

I am not sure.

They may be relatively new in noticing their nature so they don’t have a more mature and nuanced view yet.

They may engage in wishful thinking. That’s more than possible even if we notice our nature.

They may come from a tradition assuming life after death, and they adopt the same view without examining it more closely.

They may be aware of some of the research and jump to conclusions based on just a few studies and interpretations.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

For me, intellectual honesty is important.

I want to differentiate between what I can say something about, which is my immediate noticing. And what I cannot say anything for certain about, which is just about anything else. (And, of course, my stories about my immediate noticing are also up for revision.)

I notice my timeless nature. I notice that, to me, this timeless nature allows for and forms itself into my experience of the world, including time and space and change.

Beyond that, I cannot say very much. I cannot say anything for certain about the nature of existence, or what happens after death.

And that’s a relief. It brings me back to the most immediate and simple.

MY STORY

When I was little, before school age, I had shifts where I seemed to remember how it was before this life. I was shifted into an experience of all as golden light, consciousness, love, wisdom. There were no bodies, although there were occasional beings – far more wise than me – I could communicate with.

During my childhood, I had a deep longing in me. I didn’t know exactly what for.

And when the awakening shift happened in my teens, I realized what the longing was for. It was for this oneness, timelessness, and love. I also had dreams that seemed to be from past lives, and I found the historical details to be correct when I later checked.

It’s easy for me to assume that these were real flashbacks to a time between lives, and the apparent past life dreams were just that. But I don’t know. I cannot know.

And that’s more peaceful. It’s more peaceful to embrace the mystery. It’s more peaceful to be honest about it and hold it all lightly. It’s more peaceful to see what happens when that time comes.

Note: The seed for this article is seeing that some nondual folks, including teachers, seem to assume that our timeless nature means life after death. For me, it’s more honest to say that I cannot know for certain. And it’s more peaceful rest in not knowing

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Using Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as a pointer for what’s here

I listened to an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Long, a Near-Death Experience (NDE) researcher. And although the topic is familiar to me, it was a reminder that the NDEs are all pointing to what’s already here.

Any story, and any cosmology, is pointing to what’s already here in our experience.

What are some common features of NDEs? And what do I find if I use them as pointers for what’s here?

ALL AS THE DIVINE

A common experience in NDEs is of all as the divine, and beyond what we can easily put words on.

It may seem very different from our daily life experience, but we can find the essence of it here and now and bring the noticing to life and allow it to transform us.

In a conventional sense, we are this human self. That’s not wrong.

And yet, is it what we most fundamentally are in our own first-person experience? What do we find when we look a little closer?

We may find we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what all our experiences happen within and as. We can make this noticing into a habit and explore how to live from it. And we can allow this to transform our perception, life, and human self in the world.

The easiest approach to finding this may be through some simple structured inquiries, guided by someone familiar with the terrain and guiding others. Personally, I find the Big Mind process and Headless experiments most effective here.

LOVE, PEACE, HOME, ACCEPTANCE

Most report a sense of infinite love, of profoundly coming home, a deep peace, and a deep acceptance.

When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what all our experiences happen within and as, we find these as characteristics of what we are and this noticing.

All our experiences happen within our sense fields, and they are part of a seamless whole. Noticing this oneness invites a love independent of feelings and states. Since this is what we more fundamentally are and always have been, there is a profound sense of finding home. And there is also an inherent acceptance in this since it already allows and takes the form of whatever is here.

NO BODY / SINGLE EYE

People with NDEs often report panoramic vision, a vision free from depending on the two eyeballs, and generally sensing free from physical sense organs.

When we find that all our experiences are happening within our sense fields, we may also find that it’s all happening within and as what we are. Here, we notice that all our experiences are happening within our seamless field of experience. In a conventional sense, we still see with eyes, hear with ears, and so on. But in our direct experience, it’s all much more immediate.

The thought that we see through the eyes, hear through the ears, sense with the skin, and so on, is still correct in a conventional sense. But it becomes peripheral and the more immediate experience and noticing of what’s here in the sense fields take center stage.

LIFE REVIEW

Some report a kind of life review. They get to see a series of instances from their life and the impact their actions had on themselves and others.

Our mind always seeks to process unprocessed material and experiences. It brings it up in daily life and dreams. Often not as explicit memory, but in the form of contractions and reactivity. We may not even notice it, or we notice just a feeling or discomfort without recognizing what’s behind it. And often, the resolution and healing process doesn’t go further unless we actively engage with it and allow and invite deeper and more thorough processing.

In this sense, the life review is ongoing. And we can engage with it more intentionally through therapy, inquiry, and so on.

HELLISH EXPERIENCES

A few who experience NDEs report a kind of hellish experience. It may be turmoil, despair, confusion, anger, struggle, and so on.

This too is part of our daily life experience. If we look for it, most of us can even find it here and now even if it’s at a very low level.

It’s what happens anytime we identify with a struggle with what’s here in our experience.

TRANSFORMATION

Following an NDE, many say their life is transformed.

It leads to changing our priorities and putting what’s most important – typically connections, love, service – at the center, and the rest more in the periphery.

It leads to appreciating life in a fresh way. They find a deeper appreciation of life as it is.

It leads to a realization that we are not, most fundamentally, this human self.

If we explore what’s on this list and make it into a part of our daily life, that too leads to this type of transformation. It transforms our perception, orientation, and life in the world.

UNIVERSALITY

These types of NDEs are found across cultures. There is a universality to them.

And the same universality is here when it comes to finding what we most fundamentally are in our own experience, and the rest on this list.

HOW CLOSE IS THE MATCH?

I imagine it’s easy to look at this list and think: Yeah, this is contrived and an intellectual exercise. The two – NDEs and what’s here now – are obviously very different.

So how close is the match between the two?

On the surface, it can certainly seem like an intellectual exercise – until we engage with it ourselves, examine it, and actually find it all here and now. Then, we see that the essence is the same. What’s in an NDE is no different from what’s already here, and what we can find when we look.

And finding this in daily life can be as transformative as any NDE experience.

MY OWN STORY

I have been fascinated by NDEs since I first heard about it when I was eight or ten years old. I read anything I could find about it, even back then.

Why? At the time, I didn’t really know. I was just fascinated by it.

Later, I have seen some connections.

When I was little, before school age, I had flashbacks to an earlier time. There was a profound sense of being home, infinite love, all as consciousness, profound understanding, and so on. I was without body, and there were other beings there – infinitely loving and wise – I communicated with now and then. It was all golden light and consciousness. These flashbacks would often happen when I sat outside and saw the light filtered through the leaves of birch trees.

Later, when I was in my teens, I realized that this seemed like flashbacks to a time before this incarnation. I realized that this was very similar to what people describe in NDEs.

And when the initial awakening shift happened in my mid-teens (age sixteen), I also realized that the essence of these flashbacks pointed to what’s already here, and what was revealed in the awakening shift.

Does my timeless nature mean I won’t die?

I sometimes see people who have found themselves as timeless say that it means they won’t die. Our timeless nature means we won’t die.

When we find ourselves as capacity for the world, we find that all our experiences – including of space and time – happens within and as us. We are timeless and time happens within and as us.

From here, it’s easy to assume we won’t die. This human self comes and goes, and what we really are stays around.

It can seem convincing, but it all depends.

To myself, I am consciousness, and that’s how it would be even if the materialist view is accurate. This human self and the brain may be what supports and allows consciousness to exist, and – to myself – I would still be consciousness. I will still find myself as capacity for the world, and all my experiences will happen within and as what I am. In this case, when this human self dies, I – as consciousness – dies. What I am dies with the body. (This is the small interpretation of awakening.)

That’s why I am a bit more careful with stating that I – as what I am – will be around even after this body is gone. I don’t know. And if I am honest, I have to admit that the scenario above is possible.

There are hints of something else. We have accounts of people apparently remembering past lives, and research that seems to support it. We have stories of near-death experiences and people perceiving things they couldn’t through their physical senses. We have stories of sensing at a distance and healing at a distance. We have synchronicities. And so on. It’s possible to dismiss this, especially if we don’t know much about it. And yet, many of us have experiences of this and more which hints at something more. (I have experienced most of it myself.)

To myself, I am consciousness and the world to me happens within and as the consciousness I am. That means that, to me, the whole world appears as consciousness. It’s made up of consciousness. It has to appear that way. It’s inevitable, whatever its true nature is. And these experiences – of near-death experiences, sensing and healing at a distance, and so on – suggest that the true nature of existence may be the same as our own. (This is the big interpretation of awakening.)

So if I am honest with myself, I cannot know if “I” – as consciousness – continue after the death of this human self. And yet, it does seem possible, but not because I find myself as timeless and what time happens within and as. It’s because of these other experiences and research into these phenomena suggesting a life beyond death.

My “Near Death Experience” was really a Before Life Experience

In my early childhood, I had flashbacks to the time before incarnation – or between lives. The content of these flashbacks was very similar to many Near-Death Experiences. This lasted until about school-age when my mind probably became preoccupied with other things and trying to be as normal as possible.

The flashbacks brought me back to…. Being without a body and disincarnate. A sense of oneness – although there was also a sense of being a self as well. All of existence as infinite light, love and wisdom. A profound sense of being home. Timelessness with some vague sense of the passage of time (decades and perhaps centuries). There was also a sense of communication with infinitely wise and similarly disincarnate beings.

These flashbacks typically happened when I was outside and saw the sunlight on the ground filtered through moving leaves. I know this sounds very specific but it’s what I remember.

At the time, I didn’t have any particular thoughts about this, and I most likely didn’t mention it to anyone. I wouldn’t have known how to put it into words, and maybe I thought it was something everyone experienced. Most likely, I didn’t think about it one way or another. It wasn’t until the awakening in my mid-teens that I made the connection between this and the more typical near-death experiences.

My sense is that these flashbacks created a deep longing in me. During my later childhood, I didn’t know what the longing was about. But when the awakening happened in my teens, it was clear what it was about. The longing was about coming “home” to all as the divine, as it had been before this life.

For the next phase in my life, part of my process has been to notice that this is already here. What I longed for is already here. It’s what I am. And I can notice that independent of any particular content of experience. More accurately, it can notice itself through the changing content of experience.

Memory from between lives

Since it seems slightly unusual, I thought I would mention it here. (I have written about it briefly before.)

As a child, I sometimes had vivid flashbacks. It seems they were often triggered by a sunny day and sunlight filtered through the moving leaves of a tree. The flashbacks felt like memories from before this life.

I feel profoundly at home, living in and as a golden light, living in and as profound wisdom and love. There are formless beings here and wordless communication and knowing. All is happening within and as an infinite sense of being home, a gentle bliss, and infinite wisdom and love.

All is Oneness filled with a golden light, infinite wisdom and love, and some formless beings I can wordlessly communicate with. All is happening as timelessness although with a slight sense of time.

The words don’t nearly do it justice. And I didn’t have those words back then, of course.

I had these vivid flashbacks up until about school age.

From then on, I would sometimes wake up in the morning with a deep longing that nothing could satisfy. I tried all my favorite things – spending time with my parents, eating strawberry jam sandwich, drinking hot cocoa, reading Carl Barks stories, playing with friends – and nothing could satisfy the longing.

When the initial awakening later happened (age sixteen) and everything without exception was revealed as God – I realized what the longing had been for. The longing had been for all as the divine. For home.

The home I had flashbacks to as a kid and that was revealed to me as always here when I was sixteen.

About the same time, I also realized that the flashbacks – and the initial awakening – in some ways were similar to near-death experiences. I have always felt a kinship with people who have had near-death experiences although I haven’t had any myself. The effects on my life seems similar to how people describe the effects of near-death experiences.

There is a second (and third) part to this which I may write about later. I have also included the initial draft which includes a few paragraphs about it.

In short: In the initial awakening (which never went away), there was a more clear memory of the time between the lives. Specifically, I remembered being “told” by about a dozen formless beings that it was time for my next incarnation. I was shown some general things about this life. (Mainly, that it was important for me to incarnate now because humanity was going to go through challenges and a transformation and I could help.)

I was also asked if I wanted to incarnate into this life. I said “yes” although parts of me meant “no”. It seems to have created some trauma in me and this lack of clear communication reflects a pattern in my life that has been painful. When I have gone back and replayed it differently, I found that I could say “I know it’s right and good, and yet I don’t want to leave”. I would be met with deep understanding and love, and felt I could do it from a more wholehearted yes.

Note: When I say “formless beings” I mean that they were beings without physical body or any body with a form. I assume they must have had energetic bodies. And they and everything else happened within and as Oneness, within and as the divine.

Note II: This was initially written March 20, 2017 but I didn’t publish it for whatever reason. I decided to rewrite it slightly and publish it today, April 6, 2020.

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Spiritually Transformative Experiences

I have been reading more about Spiritual Emergencies and Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs) again recently. (I was very much into it in my teens and early twenties). A couple of things stand out right now. One is the commonalities in what happens to people after an STE, whether it’s an opening or early awakening, a Near Death Experience (NDE), apparent alien abduction, loss, death of a loved one, child birth, travel, sex, or much more. For me, it was an opening or early awakening in my teens, and the way it changed me is very similar to how people who experienced other types of STEs report it changed them.

Watching a documentary about Near Death Experiences, I am also reminded of another commonality. As a child before school age, I had flashes of memories of how it was before incarnation: infinite love, infinite wisdom, all a radiant golden subtle light, infinite sense of being home, infinite sense of belonging. (All of these are crude descriptions.) People who have an NDE report something that’s quite similar. And there is also another parallel: a sense that this was in the past, and not here now. I perceived it that way too, for a while. Now, I see that what was then, is also here in immediacy. All the characteristics of what was “then” is here now. A simple and sincere inquiry helped me see that:

Is it true it’s not here now?

A thought may come in and say “it’s not the same, this is much less strong”. Which leads to another inquiry:

Is it true it needs to be strong? Is it true that strong is “better”? Is it any less real or significant if it’s not as strong?