Holding onto my god-reality gets difficult. Consensus reality refers to what a given culture affirms as real and true. Everyone is socialized to adopt a similar model. Where I live, in an urban, high-tech setting, most people dismiss the idea that god is an actual presence and power in everyday life.
Today it’s not crazy to believe every object around us is 99.999% empty space punctuated by vibrating atoms with orbiting electrons whose “wave function is spread out over a cubic Angstrom (10^-4 microns), which means that the electron ‘is’ everywhere in that volume. So [while] the electron has no volume, …it is spread out over a relatively big volume. ”*
Totally! Got it! Physicists know their shit, right?
But it is crazy to believe the statements of thousands of perfectly sane people who claim to have left their bodies, entered a spiritual realm far more vivid, and there encountered a being of Light who beamed them love, compassion, and insight beyond anything comparable on earth. (For examples, browse those posted on the NDERF site.)
Those guys are just trippin’! Sure, they all think they left their bodies, but really it was just X… [insert hypoxia, DMT dump, etc.]
The problem? Religion has claimed authority over god and the afterlife for so long that we as a culture seem unable to divorce the two. Sometime in the mid 1800s, there began a cultural landslide that demoted the church to a social club and the bible to myth – BUT also took out with it the conviction that our spirits are of god and survive physical death.
The Last Judgment, a total bummer – versions by Jan Provoost, 1525 (above) and Stefan Lochner, 1435 – click to enlarge
I’m feeling weird. At long last I’ve read Life after Life, by Raymond Moody – the pioneering exploration of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) published in 1975.
I say “at long last” because, in spite of having undergone an NDE myself in 1982 (as described in my book – along with my alcoholic wreckage and recovery), I’ve strangely resisted reading Moody’s book for many years. If you’d forced me to read it the day before my NDE, I’d have scoffed at it as total crap. If the day after (though my slight brain damage made reading difficult), it would have blown my mind, upended my universe – to know that so many other people had experienced what I did.
At the time when Moody conducted these interviews with NDE survivors, the terms NDE, being of light, life review, tunnel, etc. had no place – zero, nada, nichts – in our culture. Moody coined them. In fact, the interviewees struggle to come up with the best words they can find for what they individually maintain exceeds the scope of both language and earthly experience. All had kept their stories to themselves to avoid being labeled kooks.
Just as I did – even to myself! And… here’s the reason I’m feeling weird: I realize I’m still doing that. WTF?! On a daily basis, I unknow my knowledge of the other side to align with the consensual reality around me.
I recently came across this video on Facebook showing the power of cultural conformity. In it, a woman is conditioned by study “actors” in a waiting room to rise from her seat every time she hears a beeping tone. The shocking part is that she continues the behavior after the planted group is gone; in fact, she “teaches” a new group of five non-study civilians to stand up every time they hear the tone – just because.
And I am DOING THAT! Every time I set aside my knowledge that the spirit world really does exist, I’m allowing the beep – the consensus model of materialism – to control my internal behavior.
I know the being of light that beamed me full of love and bliss on the other side, while back here I’d become a corpse, was a piece of god – a god that knows us all because we’re of it. And I know that same celestial being sent me back here. It beamed, “You can’t stay; you’re not done.” To me. Which enraged me. I remember that. And yet MOST of the time, I go around with my god truth stuck away in a little mental compartment.
Reading Moody, when I really think about the fact that I came alive in a body that three minutes before had shut down from snorted lidocaine (sold to me as cocaine), I see that it simply makes no sense. A lethal dose of that drug was still in my system. How could CPR restart my heart? I came back to my body in a vast puddle of sweat, dazed and child-like but fully functional – when three minutes before, extreme bradycardia had shut down my brain and triggered a grand mal seizure.
But it’s SO UNCOMFORTABLE to know this when my culture categorizes such a claim as fantastical. It’s SO HARD to own it when it sounds arrogant and self-important: “MMmm- god sent me back!” I’m frickin’ embarrassed to say the same things so many people in Moody’s book were frickin’ embarrassed to say.
But it only seems arrogant because our culture squelches acknowledgment of miracles all around us – every goddamn day! Miracles in the lives of virtually every goddamn person! Why are miracles so hard for us to acknowledge? GOD IS REAL. Why, as a culture, do we have to explain the evidence away? Some of us predict that the internet will change this denial. For the first time in human history, NDEers can find one another†. We can become a group with a united voice – and power to challenge the consensus that insults us.
For example, I recently read a skeptic’s theory that the light is actually an optical migraine. Dude – I’ve had optical migraines! Lots of ’em. They’re a big swath of shimmering light, sure, but they’re less like the Light than a firefly is to a bolt of lightning. How stupid do you think I am?
But I’m promising myself, I’m promising my god, and I’m promising those of you who share my experience: I will fight to know what I know.
Continuous prayer is really the only sane state of mind.
* See Quora explanation
† Every year hundreds of NDEers and interested fellows fly in from all over the globe to attend the IANDS conference because, according to skeptics, they’re all, like formerly sane Dr. Eben Alexander, a bunch of self-deluded dummies who actually believe this other-worldly shit happened to them. Related links on my Links and Stuff page.