This will be embarrassing, but at least it will be short.
The ancient Greeks looked down on anyone who was guilty of false modesty; they felt that if you were a superior person, you should flaunt it. But this ancient Jew feels the opposite, that his modesty is well deserved and any suggestion to the contrary normally makes him cringe. He’s the kind of guy who when a compliment is bestowed upon him looks over his shoulder to see who the intended recipient actually is.
All right, you can see where this is leading. Yes, I am going to devote this essay to some good things that have come my way lately, at least in regard to my professional work. My body is another story; it is always something that continues to need work as it is continuing to decay at a vertiginous rate. But you have heard me sing that plaint before and don’t need to listen to the mournful tune again. Instead, let me turn to some of the things that have made me forget my body for a while and have even cheered me up. They have made waiting to die worth the waiting, for now I’m glad my number hasn’t been called just yet.
And, by the way, in case you’re wondering about the title of this essay, it refers to the fact that I am writing it just as I have reached the venerable age of 82 and a half.
First, some necessary background. In 1981, two friends and I established the first professional organization to foster research on near-death experiences (NDEs) and to provide support services for those who had had such experiences. I named...
My life began and changed swiftly with the death of my mother when I was seven weeks old. As I grew, I had the sense that someone or something was always watching me. I somehow knew I was different than the siblings around me.
At night, I would sit at my window and look up at the stars. I would talk to what or whom I did not know. Then at seven years of age, the people I thought were my parents told me about my mother and that she had been killed.
I then knew that someone who I felt was watching me was her: my mother.
As I grew, I had some events that happened to me that might have killed me. I ate an entire bottle of aspirin at age two, and resulted in a long hospital stay. The nurses called me "the little escape artist" because I would get out of the covered crib and crawl up to the window to look out !
Then at age three and a half years, I fell off of a pier in South Carolina and nearly drowned. Once again, I knew someone was there with me. At age eight, while chasing my cousin in a game of tag, I went through a plate glass window and nearly bled to death. Again I was not afraid: Someone, some presence, was there for me.
As I entered my teen years, my dreams changed and became so vivid. When I was 14, I had a dream that my cousin was in an automobile accident. The next morning, my aunt woke me to tell me that my cousin was just in an accident! Luckily she was just fine; a passerby pulled her from her overturned car before...
Judy My question is about mirror gazing and the idea that it is a situation, finally, where the paranormal can be predicted and measured and all that good scientific stuff. Has anyone practiced it yet?
Dr. Arthur Hastings of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology took 27 people through a three-hour session to contact a friend or loved one who had died. Half of the participants said they had felt the presence of the person they wanted to contact. While only 50 percent had an experience of contact, all of them reported less grief and more able to manage the feelings associated with their loss. One of the graduate students involved in this research, Dr. Rebecca Merz, (see video link below) will be offering a module in our upcoming prerecorded psychomanteum workshop that will be offered on our platform in mid-summer. We will let everyone know when it is available.
Here are some links you might find helpful:
Anon Did anything negative happen to you when you practiced psychomanteum?
Surprisingly, I never did have any negative reports. I think...
Philip Roth, who wrote so fiercely about the torments of aging and the calamity of approaching death, died a few months ago. In the end it was congestive heart failure that brought his long life to its close. His wait is over.
I can only wonder what his last days were like. I’d like to think they weren’t what he had so long imagined them to be, and that he went easy into death with a sense of relief if not of hope. For as he often said, he had none where death was concerned. For him, death simply was extinction. The flickering flame of the candle of life would be snuffed out for good and after that – no after, no nothing, no more Phillip Roth.
In any event, when I heard the news about Roth’s death at the age of 85 last year, it was natural for me, as it was for millions of his readers, to think about the man – about his life and work, and perhaps his legacy. What had Roth wrought?
I was never a big fan of Roth’s, however. (I was always more partial to his great rival, John Updike.) Of course, I had read a number of his books, beginning with his breakout novella of 1959, Goodbye Columbus, when I was just a graduate student hoping to break out in my own way. After Roth’s death, I heard an interview with him that had been conducted about ten years earlier in which he told a funny story about that book. He took his parents aside to warn them that the book would almost surely be controversial, and possibly a bestseller, so they should be prepared for attacks on their beloved son. His mother said...
What’s an NDE? A mystical journey to another realm? A glimpse into heaven? An opportunity for a reboot? Or is it something else--something ineffable? An experience we can’t possibly fathom?
Trying to understand the complexities of an NDE is complicated and perhaps we’ll never get to the bottom of it. But NDE after effects, those long-lasting, life altering characteristics, gifts and abilities, are even more complex and an aspect of the NDE that experiencers grapple with when they return to earth. Like NDErs themselves, these after effects are rarely discussed for fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Yet, they occur to most NDErs to varying degrees.
So what are NDE after effects? Those sometimes incredible gifts and abilities that didn’t exist prior to the NDE? Are they normal? Are they part and parcel of the NDE? And what do they mean?
These and other questions about NDE after effects arise frequently. It’s a very misunderstood topic, one that most experiencers can’t find information about or process very well on their own. They keep the myriad changes they experience to themselves and only when they speak to someone like me (I’m a psychic and medium who reads for many NDErs) do their secrets spill out.
When I began to study NDEs a number of years ago, their after effects were not part of the conversation. That was one of the reasons I wrote my book, Life After Near Death: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Transformation in the Extraordinary Lives of People With Newfound Powers, to help others understand what these after effects mean and...
The Brain and Spiritual Practices Associated with Altered States of Consciousness
Perhaps one of the best ways of evaluating consciousness would be to study those individuals who are adept at specifically altering their consciousness. For this reason, spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer might be an exciting target for research in both neurotheology and consciousness.
There are a number of reasons why spiritual practices might be so amenable to being studied and yield potentially valuable information in the context of consciousness. To begin with, spiritual practices generally are well described in terms of their process. They have a defined starting point, and frequently have specific goals such as an altered state of consciousness to be achieved. In a prior research article on the taxonomy of meditation practices, my colleague and I delineated such practices on the basis of their goals. While many commonly available approaches today (and particularly secular ones) strive more for stress management and the reduction of anxiety and depression, those practices specifically part of spiritual traditions frequently have the goal of achieving altered states of consciousness in which the individual may have a one or more intense experiences. Some individuals feel that they lose their sense of self, along with their sense of space and time. There can also be a sense of oneness either between the practitioner and some universal consciousness or God, or...
Dr. Mark Pitstick Answers Your Questions About Reincarnation & More
(1) Why is it so important to learn anything in an earth-based reality if it's not "who we really are?" If we're supposedly perfect, why must we learn or grow at all? I'm not even sure that there is a purpose outside what we decide it is. Or is our purpose assigned by something else?
Such deep and important questions! I’ve searched for sensible, evidence-based answers to such questions for 45 years since working with many suffering and dying persons.
We can learn and grow while experiencing the field of all possibilities from a non-earthly observation point. It’s reported to be easier to learn lessons while seeing without human brain induced myopia.
However, the density of the earth experience – while operating under the illusion that we are separate, lose loved ones, die, and other false notions – can deepen growth. Being on this planet is a great testing grounds to see how we do when ‘the rubber hits the road.’ Learning lessons in metaphysical realms is akin to reading a book about how to play tennis. Experiencing reality as an earthling puts you on a court with a racquet in your hand.
Put another way, developing more love, compassion, and strength of spirit can be greatly aided by the challenges of this world and its seemingcruelty and chaos.
Like you, I’ve heard it said that we each are perfect in some sense. In my worldview, we each have the potential to grow...
(1) I would like to know if suicide or murder as well as other heinous crimes, can be a part of a soul contract? I have been told suicide is never entered into a soul contract and is a part of free will. Can you please give me your answer on that?
Suicide is never planned as a certainty prior to birth, but it is planned as a possibility, a probability, or (rarely) a probability so high as to be almost certain. There's an entire chapter about the pre-birth planning of suicide in my second book, Your Soul's Gift: The Healing Power of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born. Cameron, the person who is the subject of that chapter, planned before he was born to bring into body unhealed energies from past lives for the purpose of healing them. He knew before he was born that these energies would cause depression and anxiety to such an extent that a suicide would be highly likely. Why then did he create such a plan? Because some souls are very ambitious, and because not fulfilling his pre-birth plan is not judged as a failure by his soul. His soul simply views this lifetime as incomplete and so feels a need and desire to try again.
I would like to add that the suicide chapter in Your Soul's Gift contains the single most healing piece of information I've come across in all the years I've been doing this work: that every suicide that could have been prevented was prevented (pp.410-411). Why? Because if the suicidal person has any openness or willingness to change his or her mind, Spirit knows and stages an intervention. Understand: if you lost someone...
Nancy Clark has been a dear friend of mine ever since writing to me in 1982 about a very profound near-death-like experience she had a few years earlier while delivering a eulogy – and you will shortly be reading an expanded version of that experience in the post that follows. It is actually taken from a chapter in Nancy’s latest book, Beyond The Mystical Near-Death Experience and into the Unitive Experience.
Nancy is the author of many books (I particularly recommend Revelations from the Light) and has devoted the last two decades to writing and teaching about the importance of NDEs and other spiritually transformative experiences. Among other things, she is also the founder and leader of the Columbus, Ohio, branch of The International Association for Near-Death Studies. For more information about Nancy and her books, visit her website at www.freewebs.com/nancyclark .
Now get ready to read one of the most enthralling and wondrous encounters with the Divine that you will ever be likely to experience. It happened almost exactly forty years ago and was the greatest gift of Nancy’s life, which she wanted me to share with you today.
DOWNLOAD THE COMPLIMENTARY EXCERPT:
(Once on the home page, scroll down a little bit to get to the download button. )
For the past 25 years, I have had the great fortune to be able to work in an emerging field sometimes referred to as “neurotheology" :
The term itself reflects a hybrid, multidisciplinary approach that does not eliminate either the scientific or the spiritual side, but seeks to find ways of integrating them in such a way that helps us more deeply understand who we are as human beings.
I typically like to define neurotheology broadly so that the “neuro” side includes fields such as neuroscience, neuroimaging, psychology, and consciousness studies. The “theology” side includes theology itself, but also religious and spiritual practices, experiences, and beliefs. Today we have the ability to combine the best that both sides have to offer to deepen our understanding of ourselves and what it means to be human.
With that in mind, neurotheology has profound implications for the study of consciousness in terms of both its potential material and non-material aspects (or local and non-local aspects). After all, many spiritual traditions embrace the notion of altered states of consciousness that might arise through various rituals and practices. These altered states of consciousness may manifest as spiritual experiences of varying types, near death experiences, and ultimately some of the most powerful mystical or enlightenment experiences known to human beings. In addition, many religious and spiritual traditions acknowledge aspects of the world that go beyond the purely material and may include spiritual healing, the notion of spirits or angels, psychic concepts,...