Let me take you down, ‘cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields...
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever.
Have you had a loved one pass away any time recently? If you have, chances are you remember the bitter twinge. Even if you were long expecting the transition, you may find yourself obsessed with the big picture for another two or three weeks.
During such times, people find comfort and solace in religion in a way they never did before. This should come as no surprise, as religion was designed exactly for that.
We live largely in presumption that we are going to make it through the day. We have done this for so long that we begin to forget the eternal questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?
We could choose to live in total gratitude for each day as another precious gift from God. We could open our hearts and minds to everyone we meet in total love. We could remember Who we all truly are and commune with all sentient beings. But we don’t.
Mostly, the day-to-day grind all but takes us over, all the cares of this world. We get so caught up in the game that we totally lose touch that it is only a game, and that we are here to play and celebrate. Then, when we lose someone irreplaceable to us, all that changes.
We don’t really know what happens after we die, at least, not all the details. However we have a fair idea, based upon when and where we grew up. In recent years, four models have emerged to explain why it all suddenly shuts down.
During the modern age, which abruptly ended around 9/11, our common sense suggested that we are here today and gone tomorrow. No soul survivors. Live for the day, for tomorrow we die. This is based on a couple hundred years of rational materialism that remained unquestioned until Einstein introduced both relativity and quantum mechanics.
For most of human history, people held to some kind of afterlife, but differed considerably as to what it meant. All cultures recognized a soul or spirit that had some kind of existence independent of the body. The question was where it went.
Did it go up to heaven or down to the lower earth (hell)? Or perhaps it hung around and re-entered a newborn babe.
Since the wave of Eastern philosophy and religion following the Beatle’s Maharishi, the idea of reincarnation has been increasingly hip. It is no longer very cool to think you go to heaven, or you give your final breath, and that’s it.
Life is looked at as a curriculum in consciousness where you get many tries and pass many grades before you graduate.
The idea that you check out, and that’s it has been increasingly weakened, as we are learning too much from globalization. Communism as an institution has suffered what appears to be an irreversible demise. A more expansive form of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is reviving universalism, where everyone eventually comes to God. Thus, religion is becoming much more palatable.
There is increasing evidence for reincarnation, based upon thousands of well-documented cases of children remembering former lives in detail. When taken back to where they claim to have lived, they identify the exact house in painstaking detail. Not only that, they often share birthmarks closely resembling defects of the deceased in question.
Annihilation seems less and less credible as we begin to realize that matter is instantly convertible to energy, and that we can’t have either matter or energy without consciousness. Einstein even ended up deeply questioning just how real are time and space. He entertained the possibility that they are just mental constructs.
In the modern age, resurrection was all but incredible to the scientifically minded. How many people have we empirically observed coming back, with the possible exception of Jesus Christ? Surely resurrection is, at best, purely symbolic. Life goes on, even in the face of death, just as every springtime gives us a fresh start on life.
This presumption has steadily eroded as we increasingly realize that there is only consciousness at the foundation of our reality.
Our body and the world are experiences within the field of our awareness.
It is increasingly hard to prove they have any independent existence apart from us as observers. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle took care of all that.
Resurrection becomes increasingly plausible as we construct virtual realities, and watch computers create three-dimensional people interacting with us, using only a few hundred megabytes.
If consciousness, energy and information are at the basis of reality, why can’t God remember us any time He wants, whether or not we are living or dead? As Saint Paul put it, “For in Him, we live and move and have our being.”
If we take a close look at reincarnation from a cultural standpoint, it is ironic that highly educated Americans finds the idea extremely comforting, while the average Hindu considers it a simple matter of fact. However, Hindu or Buddhist seeking enlightenment looks at it as samsara, the endless, futile wheel of birth, death and rebirth. They are doing everything possible to once and for all get off the wheel!
Americans like reincarnation because it implies karma, that everything that ever happens to us, in this world or the next, is simply our own doing. Also, it goes well with an educational perspective against a crazed notion of a punitive God who is about to, once and for all, swat us, who enjoys bringing us utter agony every bit as much as a mean little boy enjoys pulling off the wings of a butterfly.
However, once the punitive notion of God is replaced with Infinite Love, then the idea of going through life after life can seem a bit dismal. We need a more enlightened conception; such as we are here to play and celebrate.
There is both a lower and higher conception of being born again. In India, a second birth is never referred to as reincarnation, but a higher birth, a spiritual awakening to your divine nature. The sacred thread given to the higher castes at their adolescent initiation ceremony provides a continual reminder.
Also, in Christianity, the born again passage in the third chapter of the Gospel of John refers to a spiritual rebirth, as Jesus Christ makes clear. “That which is flesh is flesh, that which is spirit is spirit.” In all likelihood, Jesus had heard of reincarnation through Buddhism. There were many Buddhist missionaries throughout the Mediterranean.
The whole point of being born again is to…
…remember our divine nature, that we are already God having a human experience.
When you step back far enough, you will see that there is ONLY GOD, and God (Supreme Being) is our ONLY TRUE AND ULTIMATE SELF.
What all but destroys a rigid, materialistic perspective on life is the emergence of literally millions of documented cases of Near Death Experience. This is the experience of people who have flatlined, encountering clinical death, or, at the very least, a protracted coma where there was little or no chance of recovery.
The vast majority of cases involves the person seeing his or her body from above, looking at the entire room, and then being sucked up into a tunnel, much like a birth canal into the Great White Light. In that Light, they typically see loved ones who have transitioned, hear glorious music and witness indescribable beauty, such as idyllic pastures or stunning forests and lakes.
What many, if not most, highlight in their accounts, as did Dr. Eben Alexander whose brain flatlined for seven days, an experience of incredible love that overwhelmed their entire being. They were enveloped in an ultimate sense of well-being.
All is One. It’s all good. It’s all perfect just as it is.
Then they are given a choice to come back, usually to complete their mission. Typically, they exhibit transformed lives, being vastly more open and inherently spiritual than before. You might call them Beings of Light.
Recently, I lost two people rather close to me… an immediate family member and a long-term friend who helped me grow up while fresh out of college. It is no fun dealing with funerals, informing relatives and going through all the business of transition.
For a number of years, I have also enjoyed a revival of my childhood faith, only from a Universalist perspective, informed by the immense depth of Hinduism. I have all the passion I did as an adolescent; yet I have a mystical understand that changes everything. Salvation has become Transformation.
What has shocked me is that my assessment of the Love of God has gone to infinity. We can simply find no limit to that Love. It is absolute, omnipotent. No one and nothing can possibly overcome it. I recognize in that Love the Eternal Life that Jesus spoke about in His earthly mission.
You may be confronted with ultimate issues, either now or in the not-too-distant future. You may wonder how best to deal with them. You can take an academic approach, such as studying comparative religion. You can also take an introspective approach with meditation and contemplation, whether with a mantra or centering prayer.
However, there is a faster approach that may be more deeply satisfying. You can be in a cathedral, the forest or by the seaside. Simply Presence God. For that, you simply need an open heart and mind. Call upon the particular form of God that most profoundly resonates with the core of your innermost being.
From my own experience, I assure you that, if you call upon God, God will come. I can also assure you that when He / She / It comes, you will be overwhelmed. At that moment, you will know that Love is stronger than death. At that moment, it will no longer be an article of faith. YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU WILL LIVE FOREVER.