Friday, October 29, 2004

Bill Clinton Sees the Light

"Bill Clinton has told how ghostly visions of death which he saw while he was having open heart surgery were chased away by images of his wife and daughter."

I have always wondered what would happen if a US president were to have a near-death experience. Well, it sounds as if Bll Clinton kinda did.

I find it interesting that the stories about this came from the United Kingdom. What's up with that?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Lose the News

If death doesn't truly kill us--that's the big if--it changes everything. It means that many paradigms driving our material culture are as dead wrong as when everyone thought Earth was pancake flat.

The media culture dotes on graphic details of fatal car wrecks, plane crashes, and murders, but ironically we seldom publicly ponder what happens next to the victims who died. The news media assume flatline oblivion and focus mostly on the gore of the exit scenes.

So here's my issue: what if the news is wrong? What if the news gives us only part of the story?

This could be all about vision and perspective. Say that you had a news team standing on the tracks watching a train disappear into a tunnel. Without a helicopter or a second news team, objective reporting would have to conclude that the train disappeared. TRAIN LOST INSIDE HOLE IN MOUNTAIN--HUNDREDS FEARED DEAD.

It would take investigative reporting to figure out that the train emerged from the other side of the tunnel and reached its next station stop safely. Whew.

While you may not believe that the news is wrong in how it reports on death, millions of people who remember popping out of their bodies do. They believe that the news is appallingly shortsighted. They have been to the other side of the tunnel.

I have not had my own near-death experience, but I know people who have had them. I also like reading accounts of NDEs.

Since reading accounts of NDEs and hearing people's stories in person, I have become increasingly incensed at how the news treats the subject of death. (Watch me shudder in anger.)

Of course, the reason why the news reports death as it does is that science has not gotten very serious about investigating what death really, truly is. Amazing anecdotal evidence is piling up that strongly suggests that death is a transition to another dimension, not a grand finale.

I think the implications of that are enormous. It has a direct bearing on the hotly contested issues of our day including stem-cell research, abortion, war, capital punishment, health care, hospice care, etc.

Meanwhile, we're spending billions of dollars to explore outer space. Ostensibly we're doing this to discover the origin of life. But what do we spend to study the true nature of death?

It is with this vantage point that I will devote much of this blog to point our how the news shapes our vision of reality, and it may not be a correct vision. More and more I see the news and newsmagazine programs as much more of a soap opera. I think it is only fair to shine a light on this.

Monday, October 11, 2004

What Happened to My Body?

Joanie Thurston’s life changed radically the night she almost died in Portland. Yours would too if what happened to her happened to you.

Exhausted beyond prudence from a day at work that had stretched well into the night, Joanie left her office at 3:55am. On her way home, she fell asleep at the wheel.

“What are the odds that my car would turn the corner at SE Lincoln and SE Grand, merge into traffic, drive five blocks in the right lane, turn sharply and hit a light pole before I killed someone? What are the odds that others would witness my being asleep at the wheel and call 911 before the crash happened?”

In her new book Possible Fatal, Joanie describes how she hit the steering wheel with such force it crushed her chest and propelled her consciousness out of her mangled body and into the night sky over the Rose City. She explored a personal Wonderland until light beings insisted that she wasn’t done living her Joanie life. WHAM—slammed back into her body and its excruciating physical pain.

A classic near-death experience (NDE) like Joanie had is not a metaphor for a close brush with death. It’s not like narrowly missing a collision with another car and thinking, “Whoa, I nearly lost it.” An NDE is usually a medical phenomenon. The pulse ceases and the person flatlines, although the person might not be hooked up to machines.

Yeah, you can argue that someone didn’t actually die if that person came back to life. Yet millions of people have taken the journey outside their bodies, often finding themselves in different realities than what science asserts is “real reality.” If they didn’t in fact die, they experienced something that isn’t taught in schools about the nature of life.

Many of the books covering near-death experiences that came out in the 1970s and 80s touted the magic and wonder of paradise beyond earth. The newly dead pass through a tunnel into a world of light where they are ushered into castles in the sky, gardens literally to die for, and gargantuan museums that put the Smithsonian to shame. They meet ancestors and old friends who’ve died and have incredible life reviews. Often they meet light beings whom the writer often perceives as Jesus or God.

Current research has expanded the vision well beyond these early works. Many victims don’t see tunnels or light beings. Many don’t get life reviews. Many end up feeling ashamed that they experienced something hellish or an out-of-body void. Like Joanie, many others resent being denied access to paradise and being slammed back inside a pain-racked body to deal with it.

The jury may still be out on exactly what these people experience, but something profound happened to them. Their perceptions have been wildly stretched beyond normal boundaries. They have visited other dimensions and no longer accept the version of reality pumped through our news organizations.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Is Death a Creativity-Off Concept?

Some people think it’s crazy to believe in anything but death after life. Other people think it’s crazy to believe that death ends life. They think that death is a real creativity-off concept.

The artist in me thinks that life is a lot more intriguing when it’s eternal than when it’s confined to one physical lifespan. Eternal life is creativity-on, and the version of eternal life that I like the best is reincarnation.

I first heard about reincarnation back in the early 70s when Richard Nixon was still President. The Vietnam War was still raging. As a college student at San Francisco State University, I thought that the idea of “just one life” sucked. It just didn’t seem fair that you had to take whatever poker hand you drew at birth and play out your destiny that way forever.

I figured that the God who created all the wonders of the universe would not be so lame as to only let a few scripture-quoting followers of Jesus join him in heaven. Billions of people don’t believe in Jesus, primarily because they were born in places where Jesus doesn’t rock as resolutely as the competition.

So I was delighted when I heard rumors that in reincarnation, we get to live different lives and experience different genders, races, religions, social classes, and so on. The most creativity-on aspect is that the soul gets to decide what life scenario to pick for each life.

The part I like best is that if you have a big problem with the other gender or another race or another religion, you may very well choose as a soul to come back embodied in whatever you despise. So if you’re highly prejudiced against some group, you just may wind up next life as a card-carrying member of that group. Watch out if you’re a chauvinist pig or a ball-biting femme.

Cool, huh?

At first, reincarnation actually sounded too cool to be true. So many cool things turn out to be either illegal or unattainable. I loved the notion that I wasn’t stuck in the bell jar where Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were the best guiding brains we could get. It was liberating to conceive of a Universe designed by a much higher intelligence than displayed in global politics.

Now in 2004, I have several friends who’ve seen the afterlife with their own eyes. They died, clinically speaking, and discovered that life does indeed go on. Their classic near-death experiences gave them indisputable proof (to them) that the universe is a much more exciting place to live in than the dreary picture of it we get through the mainstream media.

These folks say it’s crazy to believe in the finality of death. To them death is a transition. It’s just like turning the page to a new life.

And Away We Go

During every moment of every day, we toggle our creativity switches on or off.

Society mostly teaches us to live with our creativity turned off, off, off.

When your creativity toggle is locked in the off position, your brain is more pliable to suggestions from others. You are much more capable of being manipulated by the forces of conformity when you don’t produce original thoughts.

When people want you to do something, like buy a product or vote for someone or believe in something, they hope to find your mind locked in the creativity off position. Sometimes they’ll scare you to get you there, like telling you that your wife will despise you forever if you don’t spring for Viagra to pump you up. Like you can’t create your way into a love fest without a stiffy because good sex is just about that turgid phallus.

Creativity on is original thinking. It is thinking for yourself. It is the ability to approach life’s pleasures and challenges with creativity—the ability to use the imagination to develop new and original ideas or things.

Conformity is “behaving or thinking in a socially acceptable or expected way.” Thinking like the rest of the pack gets us the Wal-Mart mentality.

Sometimes conformity is a good thing. Conforming to various laws saves lives and keeps us out of jail. Some conforming behavior makes great common sense. If someone yells at you to get your ass out of the street and you ignore it to ponder your awesome creativity, you could well be squished by that speeding express bus.

Yet too much conformity is hazardous to your health. It gums up the fuel lines of your personal potency. It keeps you sputtering inside the box of convention. While that may make you feel secure in the peer pressure cooker, choosing conformity over creativity inhibits the change of attitude that could save you.

Here's to creativity on!