Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Heaven?

On my walk yesterday I found this tree. Standing underneath it you are surrounded by its branches, like an umbrella.
"Proof of Heaven"
A friend gave me a book by Dr Eben Alexander called "Proof of Heaven - A Neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife." I read it yesterday.  I have read and reread a little book by Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross called "On life after death." Both books put forward people's near death experiences. I had read articles and stories about these before. I like Kubler-Ross' perspective that we are bundles of "psychic/spiritual energy" that are not lost at death.  On the other hand I had read articles by neurosurgeons and scientists debunking the whole idea of these experiences, claiming that it is just a process of the brain shutting down. (though both writers give some compelling evidence that goes wider than just brain processes) Because of these skeptics it is compelling to read Eben Alexander's book because he is a neurosurgeon and can give the medical background and perspective. Both these Doctors are no fools, both changed from being skeptics and both give basically consistent and compelling accounts of life after death experiences.
Jesus and life after death
Let me make a couple of points. First, in spite of the popular notion that Christianity or Jesus is all about getting to heaven when you die, this is not the way that I see things. Jesus was about involvement in and with the "Kingdom of God" or reign or realm of God. This is the mysterious layer of reality that is a part of life nudging everything toward wholeness. In the words of a creed I mentioned in an earlier post; "God is Love, the cosmic creativity present everywhere and in everything, gently urging all toward the good." Jesus calls us to switch on to the directions and flow of that creative love. I do not follow Jesus to "get to heaven". Secondly if somebody could prove there was no life after death, I would still seek to express the values that I see in the life of Jesus. I think it would simply be the best investment of my existence, the best and most constructive use of the time I have alive.
Two eternal truths..
Both of these writers claim that on the other side we discover truths, and Eben Alexander highlights these. First he discovered unconditional love. Secondly he discovered that we are joined to everything else.  While I find these two folks' perspectives compelling, I see these two truths as undergirding our everyday existence, whatever happens after death.
- Unconditional Love Every human being is loved and of immense value. Jesus presents this truth in the story of the prodigal son with the crazy father, who just continues to love both sons generously and freely. How they treat him does not change the way he treats them.  He told this story when people were criticising him for mixing with low-lifes and losers. The sooner we recognise this deep down for ourselves first, and then see others from this perspective too the better life will be.
- We are one..We are all part of the same essence, joined to each other and the world we live in ... we are all one. This too is a deep essential truth of our existence. When I kill my enemy I am killing a brother! When I damage a part of this world, I do damage to a part of me, another brother or sister in essence.
 Dr Eben Alexander discovered these truths "on the other side", but our highest and noblest spiritual people know them deep down and make them a part of their awareness and reality now.

It is a very interesting, human and compelling book that really gets you thinking about "the beyond."  I kind of suspect that each human existence is too special to finish at death, and that whatever heaven is we move on to join with and lose ourselves in a higher reality.
Lessons from the tree (photo above)

  • I have walked, run and driven past this tree heaps of times but never really noticed it. Are there realities and layers of life we miss in passing?
  • In the centre of the tree you catch glimpses of that which is outside. In the midst of life we catch glimpses of a bigger world and different dimensions.
  • The branches of the tree completely surround you. Is this like the love at the centre of the universe surrounding us?
Dr Eben Alexander interview. .... check him out for yourself.