Monday, January 31, 2005

Hilary Swank: Where Are You?

The trouble with the celebrity system in our land is that I can never contact a celebrity when I’m touched by one. I was touched by something movie star Hilary Swank said/did on 60 Minutes last night, and I wanted to reach her. Good luck, I know.

So maybe through the magic of the Web and networking and serendipity, Hilary Swank will get this message in a blog. (And if she doesn’t pick it up, maybe it will mean something to you.)

Here is some of the transcript from the broadcast, Mike Wallace reporting:

Swank says she is still deeply in love her husband, and planning for a family. But she's doing her best to keep her private life private. She did, however, tell Wallace one very personal story, which began with a dream.

"I was dreaming a lot that I was going to have to save someone's life. And I thought, 'Well, I'm not gonna ignore this dream anymore,'" says Swank. "And I got certified in CPR. And I'd say three months after that, someone collapsed in an airport."

"I dropped my stuff right there, saw him on the ground. He was the color of an eggplant," says Swank. "He'd not only fallen. He had had a heart attack and wasn't getting -- he was dying. So, I just administered CPR until the paramedics could get there."

"He didn't live," she says, crying. "I mean, I got his heart going. And I kept – I didn't get his heart going. But I acted as his heart, pumping his chest."

Her emotions are always close to the surface. And it’s helped make her one of Hollywood’s best actors, and one of the most well-adjusted 30-year-olds in any profession.

It was clearly apparent watching the program that Swank was deeply moved by this man’s departure. And it was her uninhibited display of emotion as she told the story to Wallace that tugged at my heart.

I so much wanted her to know about The International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS). I so much wanted to share with her Kenneth Ring’s Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience.

Through these resources Hilary could see a much different scenario than the one she may be packing around with her, which I imagine to be “losing him.”

How can you read account after account of people’s near-death experiences and not be moved by the consistency of the message that there is life beyond the body?

I am reminded of that scene in the movie Always where the flyer is performing emergency CPR on the school bus driver while the soul of the driver is standing nearby. In that version, the driver decides to rejoin his body.

Obviously, NDErs come back, too. This is how Kimberly Clark Sharp describes the very first part of her NDE in her book After the Light:

It was easy to give up and be quiet, easy to surrender. I just slipped away, as if I was falling asleep without being drowsy first. I had no fear, no sense of alarm or panic. It was like being carried someplace that was inviting, comfortable, and safe—like my warmest childhood memories of being carried to bed by one of my parents. There was that same sense of security, of being taken to a place where I could rest, and be cared for. Where I would be loved.

It just amazes me. With all the hurt and grief and loss that death and dying cause in this world, and on countless 60 Minutes programs, why isn’t mainstream society paying more attention to these awesome accounts of life outside of the body?

Why, why, why?

Hilary and everyone: Lessons from the Light is an awesome read, especially if you have not had an NDE and want to know more about what it’s like to have one. It's also great for anyone wondering what transformation is like for those who have gone on.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Reincarnation Rocks

I had a surprise in my email box yesterday. I learned that a kindred blogger in Salem, Oregon had written about yours truly and The Big If.

Brian Hines is the author of Church of the Churchless: Preaching the gospel of Spiritual Independence. I became aware of him through an article his wife Laurel wrote for the local Salem Monthly.

I am still new to blogging. It still produces a strange feeling to send material out into the blogosphere having no idea who, if anyone, reads this stuff. I envision with wonder who my thoughts might touch in ways that I most likely will never know about. It thrills me when I actually hear something back from somewhere, a ping back from the sonar.

In his blog entry Brian discussed reincarnation and wondered why coming back to this earthly life was so great. Fair enough. I wonder that, too.

As I’ve written before, I first heard about reincarnation from Betty Bethards, a psychic and frequent radio talk show guest in San Francisco in the 1970s. (She crossed over about a year ago.) I immediately loved and woo-hooed the idea.

It made so much more sense to me that we grow through many different lifetimes, stepping into different gender, ethnic, racial, and economic roles, until we eventually pop out at the finish line ready to depart Earth for some other reality.

Back then it was a much better idea than the prospect of going to Vietnam at 18 or 19 and getting my head blown off for a cause I didn’t believe in (because the people who explain wars didn’t do a wowser job of showing why the anti-war voices were wrong). Quite frankly, selfish as I may have been as a teenager, I did not believe that spending my one life to live on combat should take priorities over other things, like discovering the secrets of lovemaking, which at the time I was also quite naïve about.

It’s not that I want to come back to Earth over and over again. My intuition and my reading in NDEs tell me that living the physical life is much more challenging than living in the thought world. This is tough duty. Material living means getting your face dirty in all the needs, obligations, and limitations that make most of us crazy.

In material life we need money. For me that pretty much says it all. While most of the things I love to do are either free or cost very little, such as blogging, the bottom line is that you need financial energy to keep going. But I suspect you know that.

The thrill of reincarnation for me is more a window through which to gaze at this world and all its events. Coupled with all the input I’ve been getting on what it’s like to die, which NDErs keep insisting is a piece of cake, I get excited about the implications of the system. Reincarnation rocks!

For example, the news bombards us with visions of death. I have come to view this as infotainment. On last night’s news there was an opening story about a horrific crash on I-5 that obliterated a couple of cars. It looked like great gore. Great video of another oh shit moment. I also believe that this style of news presentation is a form of socially acceptable hypnosis that conditions us all to the whole death is final routine.

Now I look at these stories with my NDE & Reincarnation filter firmly in place. I see victims transcending to another place. I don’t see it as tragic. I see the victim as having a life review, studying in the light, and eventually coming back to lead another life. I don’t see it as much different than how a screenwriter or novelist factors in a character’s death in a plotline to make some sort of statement to the whole of the story.

Reincarnation explains diversity. The American version of reincarnation (being the sum of everything I have read about and intuited) answers nearly every “Why me Lord?” question with “Because you (as a soul) chose it.”

While that’s not always an easy answer to hear, it is much more liberating to me than trying to figure out why God chose a fate for you. I like thinking that I am part of my soul’s progression through physical life. Someday I will be able to poke my head above the earthly fog into the sunlight of clear vision and be able to see exactly why my soul chose certain conditions for every lifetime.

Reincarnation can be very jarring. For example, as I ponder possibilities for another life on this planet, I am well aware of places or situations I would absolutely hate to be born into. I cannot imagine what would have motivated souls to choose to incarnate into Iraq, for example. But for some reason that was a hot ticket for millions. I can also imagine people in many places on the Earth thinking about how frightening it would be to be born an American in their next life.

When I look at people and life through the filter of reincarnation, I have much more sensitivity to (and hopefully empathy for) their challenges. An obvious example is choosing to incarnate in a deformed or weakened physical body. You know going in that in our society it’s pretty much a recipe for mental torture. In schools kids will scar you for life with their mental cruelty. All through life you’ll have to endure “not being good enough.” It creates a much different ball game to realize that this wasn’t a case of bad luck in the gene pool; it was a deliberate decision, part of the challenge your overseeing professor soul created for your educational harvest.

For me now, the biggest question I have is why hasn’t the arts & entertainment industry at large picked up on any of this? For me this is riveting stuff. It totally revolutionizes the world view. We could be churning out entertainment that is so much more intriguing than bang-bang you’re dead.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Lessons from the Light

I don’t know why it took me so long to get my face into Kenneth Ring’s Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience. But I am glad I finally discovered it in my hands and then in my face.

Published in 1998, it’s one of the best books on NDEs I have ever read. To make it sweeter, it’s written especially for those of us who have not experienced an NDE and are rather envious of those who have.

(I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog that I most definitely temper my envy with the realization that people who have undergone this experience pay a hefty price for it. In many cases part of the price is intense physical pain. In many cases the NDEr faces intense feelings of rejection, either from having to come back into a broken body or dealing with people who refuse to listen to the NDEr’s story of life beyond the body. In many cases, the NDEr discovers newfound “gifts” that are difficult to accept, like being telepathically plugged into the world in a whole new (and not always fun) way. Beyond that, of course, is dealing with the instant and often profound rearrangement of reality the NDEr perceives.)

A major theme the book tackles is the life review. This is where the NDEr appears to step out of time to get a complete memory dump of astounding detail. It sounds awesome beyond belief. NDErs report remembering things during this life review that are minutiae to the max. You know, like the 13th spoonful of Cheerios on any given day during the 7th year of life.

NDErs report that not only do they feel (and re-experience) everything they ever thought and did, but they also feel everything their thoughts and deeds stirred up in others. One example from the book is the story of a bully who was a cruel kid. During his life review, he re-experienced every time he hit others kids. He also experienced what it felt like being the kid being hit! He received the impact of the punch he delivered.

It goes even farther than that. Say that you did something mean to someone. First you feel the impact of what you did. Then you feel the impact of how your thoughts and actions affected everyone else in the chain reaction of cause and effect. Say you cheated a guy out of some money. During the life review, you would feel his pain. You would also feel the ripple effect of how his pain affected others. Perhaps he, in turn, cheated someone else, who in turn slapped his wife, who in turn yelled at her child, who in turn tortured the cat. You would feel all of that because it was you who set it in motion.

Naturally, the same thing happens when you do good stuff. You experience the ripple effect.

This is not reward or punishment. It is just natural law that you reap what you sow. You create your own destiny by how you think and behave.

For us non-experiencers, of course, the issue is whether this vision of the life review is real or not. It would clearly make a difference if it were.

Listening to a steady stream of NDErs talking about their life reviews gives one the impression that 1) life reviews are real, and that 2) there’s a cosmic purpose why many of us are kept in the dark about them, as we are about much of the spirit world.

For those people who have them, life reviews make an indelible impression. They constitute part of the reason for the dramatic changes that people make when they return from such an out-of-body, not-out-of-mind journey.

Lessons from the Light is an awesome read, especially if you have not had an NDE and want to know more about what it’s like to have one.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Universe Made Me Do It

“Your house will sell when the Universe says it’s time,” a friend told me.

“You’ll meet your soul mate when the Universe says it’s time, and not a moment before,” another friend told me.

“If it’s meant to be, you’ll get that new job,” someone else said. (It wasn’t meant to be.)

If you listen much to people discussing what’s going on in their lives, you’ll hear a lot of rhetoric about what is meant to be. The Universe wants this and the Universe wants that.

This is hard for me to visualize. I still think of the Universe as a bunch of stars and planets and comets in an infinite bell jar of space. I can’t yet visualize the central headquarters where the Universe decides what is meant to be. And where does the Universe receive its mail?

The Universe has become a personality. People talk as if they’ve turned their lives over to a Supreme Being named Universe who has the ability to track everyone’s life. Universe knows everyone so intimately that it can do everything from manage our financial affairs to finding a space in a busy mall parking lot.

The Universe has become God. Or God has become the Universe.

Addressing God as the Universe overcomes a few modern-day issues with that outdated vision of Hairy Thunderer. The Universe is androgynous. It is the “it” that is meant to be. There is no more “Our Father who art in heaven” For all of those people who do not want to see God as a He of any sort—or a She of any sort—choosing the term Universe gets rid of all that.

Countless people grew up under the influence of mean and ugly church experiences. They were abused by organized religions or by people who twisted religious concepts to justify abusive behavior. Turning to the Universe is liberation from all that imagery about a jealous and wrathful God who willingly casts souls into eternal Hell. There is no such legacy for a jealous and wrathful Universe. The Universe just is. (God just is, too, but He’s carrying tons of human baggage.)

For many people, God symbolizes a judgmental entity whereas the Universe symbolizes a system of natural laws. We can deal much more sanely with a system of natural laws than we can with a Supreme Tyrant. We can deal much more sanely with karmic cause and effect than we can with having leaders of organized religions telling us what to do to earn our pass into heaven

People who are spiritual but not necessarily religious frequently mistrust the version of the God packaged and sold by judgmental televangelists. The God they love is the Universe. In the Universe we trust.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Hug a Stranger

Have you ever hugged someone for a whole minute? A whole, long, no-cheating sixty ticks?

That might sound like a piece of cake, especially if you envision or remember hugging the love of your life or if your minute-long hugs were simply a prelude to steamier activities. But what about hugging a friend or relative or (gasp!) even a stranger for a whole minute?

I'd love to see the changes that would occur in our society if we made hugging more prominent and acceptable. I'm not referring to the fleeting body collisions many people in our culture produce for the occasion ("give" would be the wrong word here). You know, the A-frame, don't blink or you'll miss it atrocity.

I'm talking about a true connection, a long pause at the traffic light of time to hold someone in your arms and be present with that person for a whole minute. Hug that person with reverence and respect and empathy. Hug as a prayer and give thanks for our existence by taking the unusual step of holding a kindred soul close.

I know, embracing someone for ten seconds or longer almost automatically dropkicks hugging into the briar patch of sexual intention. That's because hugging is often an onramp to foreplay. Many people stalwartly keep hugs hand-in-flame short to sidestep any chance of sending unintended signals.

Nonetheless, I believe that we're losing touch with each other. Take that literally or metaphorically. Materialism, technology, and competition are taking their toll. We fear the other guy more than ever. We're being conditioned to be more defensive than intimate, more derisive than embracing, and I believe that's making us lonelier than ever.

When was the last time anyone paid close attention to you -- really heard you, really felt who you are? When was the last time you devoted your attention to someone?

In my ideal world, kindred souls would create more hugging opportunities. We would share our stories, our feelings, our quests -- and we would hold each other. (Don't I live dangerously, though?) By regularly staying in touch, physically and emotionally, we would brighten our lives with love.

Hugging feels good because it gives energy. Longer embraces exchange more energy. When given with a pure heart, hugs are healing. It's just plain harder to be as defensive, depressed, or frightened when you feel acknowledged, included, and loved.

Hugging is a simple act. Just hold on. What makes it difficult is the mental chatter that starts erupting as soon as your brain thinks this hug is already too long. Five seconds in? Ten seconds in? Listen to that chatter. It's filled with headlines (literally) about how you design your life.

I've learned that the world won't change just because I think it should. I'll create my own paradise, one hugger at a time.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Your Tax Dollars at Work: $328 million of them, to be exact, although that's probably an estimate.

I have always been a supporter of space exploration, believing that in addition to all the science reaped about our place in space, it has also yielded great inventions that have helped us in our quest for greater modern conveniences.

Yet I am still convinced that as long as we are looking for the secrets of the universe by blowing holes in comets, I'd love to see tax dollars spent on exploring the nature of death. A whole bunch of near-death experiencers believe from their out-of-body travels that there is no death and that the universe is much grander than we ever thought.

Now then, about that search for weapons of mass destruction. The war in Iraq is running at about $148 billion. (That figure would finance 450 missions to blow up comets, by the way.)

President Bush told ABC's Barbara Walters that it was "absolutely” worth it to invade Iraq. No Regrets.

In counterpoint there’s Kenneth Ring and his near-death experience research. Maybe this research isn’t as exciting as blowing up comets in deep space or invading countries to depose evil tyrants, but I think it’s worth a few million to see if we really, truly die.

One reason I think that is that we sent a bunch of Americans to Iraq because the President thought it was “absolutely" worth it. Many didn’t come back. Wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if our tax dollars at work funded a research project that might prove that these brave deceased soldiers still existed?

Research into death might also put a different spin on terrorism than the one sold to us day in and day out through the media. Wasn’t the threat of terrorism the reason we went after Sadam Hussein and his stash of weapons of mass destruction? Weren’t we all (through our public support) terrified of the terrorists and wanting to use our military might to obliterate them? Wouldn’t it change things if we determined that there is a continuity of life beyond so-called death?

To me it makes sense: let’s come to understand the nature of death so we know what we’re doing when we decide to kill people.

And then blow up a few comets…

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dying to Live

On Saturday I went to another Seattle IANDS meeting to hear more people talk about the experience of dying and what they encountered during their unplanned adventures before returning to this world.

This month’s meeting was particularly interesting to me because it featured a seasoned journalist and a 14 year-old boy as speakers.

The seasoned journalist reminded me in some ways of the character Ellie Arroway in the movie Contact. Here was a guy trained in journalistic skepticism who in the 1980s experienced a white water rafting accident that brought him to the brink of death. While his body was thrashing about in death throes, being totally unable to do anything to save his hide in class 5 rapids, another part of him shot off into a world way outside of our physical realm. And when he returned, he had to explain what happened, at least to himself. (As you’ll recall in the movie, the Jodie Foster character had to explain her mystical adventure out of time.)

Imagine being dunked into the swirling, churning currents of a mighty river. You’re unable to control anything; the rushing water owns your destiny. You’re being battered mercilessly against granite boulders. Life feels over and done with—death feels imminent. Meanwhile, your mind/soul is simultaneously somewhere else having a complete life review! Suddenly you remember everything that you ever thought or did during your life, and what’s more, you literally feel every feeling that anyone who interacted with you felt during that event—all the good and all the bad.

Meanwhile, as all this was going on, he also became aware that answers to all his questions came to him telepathically. (That’s the part I look forward to!)

The second speaker was a boy who remembers leaving his body and traveling through a tunnel to the light when he was only six months old! As is typical of kids, according to Kimberly Sharp Clark, this young fellow told his story in about a minute. No fuss, no muss, no heady extrapolations, no deep philosophizing. I’m paraphrasing: “Left my body, went through a tunnel into the light. I met a guy in a white robe with red eyes who told me I had to go back.” So much for drama.

This story came to light when the kid when he was three and could talk. He told his mother about it. His mother, who said she didn’t have a clue about near-death experiences back then, was wise enough not to contradict him and instead over time drew the story out. While it is conceivable that a 14 year-old could parrot what he’d read or heard about NDEs, it’s highly unlikely that a 3 year-old could or would. The mother added that her son said that he was wild about all the love he felt in the other place, words she found hard to hear. After all, she loved him and provided a nice home. “It’s different,” he told her.

The journalist described the difference (and I am paraphrasing) as being thousands of times more intensely blissful than being welcomed home by your mother (or someone who loves you dearly) after a long absence.

For me, the reason to study near-death experiences is that they reveal a picture that life is much larger than the physical reality we’re conditioned to believe in. That to me is wildly exciting! It means that so much of the suffering the 24/7 news shows us might be incredibly misleading.

Is this religion? To me it’s not. To me it’s nature. It’s hearing or reading a bunch of different accounts of people who enter a different dimension; then it’s putting those accounts together into a personal philosophy. Many NDErs find church irrelevant and the news misguided.

Another interesting thing about NDEs is that they are not all the same. Each person experiences his or her own journey. In the NDE literature, you find people who have blissful adventures in the light before they come back to this plane. Other people experience hellish journeys. Some have a little of both. The reason for the wide variety appears to be that consciousness creates reality and you get what you put out or what you believe.

Research is showing, for example, that not everyone goes through a tunnel or sees the light. Not everyone sees light beings or “dead” relatives or awesome worlds.

So much of our suffering in this world is thinking that we cannot do anything to improve our situation, our reality. People who come back from NDEs often return with intense motivation to right some wrongs they committed. They often become highly interested in the cause of promoting love and aiding fellow humans. They also often believe that they can change their reality, largely because their perception of reality has been so altered.

If the brain literally creates NDEs and the resulting psychological changes, as skeptics suggest, someone should be researching what that process is because it truly is remarkable (and bloggable.) The people who have been there shake their heads and say variations on, “Ain’t no dream. Ain’t no hallucination.”

Skeptics usually criticize people who have written books about NDEs. They talk about such things as the author’s profit motives and lack of scientific proof of death. I have learned through the support group atmosphere of IANDS groups that people who have been there and who aren’t selling anything are also seeking answers. They want to know what happened to them when they saw the light.

“Oh, well, you just have a wild imagination” is not a good answer.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Get Rich Quick

If only it wasn't such bad karma, murder would be a great get-rich-quick scheme. And you wouldn't even have to be the murderer to profit from it. Just be a mistress and have the right opportunity channel to publish a book about your foolish choices in boyfriend material.

The San Francisco Examiner ran a story about Amber Frey's memoir flying off the shelves! Woo-hoo! Kiss a murderer and tell. Cha-ching.

I'll be upfront about it; there are some sour grapes here. I am trying to put on my Cosmic Consciousness Thinking Cap to work my way through the Valley of the Shadow of Envy.

I spent two years writing a sexy, edgy, spiritually uplifting novel that one seasoned book editor and author called "the best first novel I've read in a decade." But I have yet to find a literary agent who feels the same way. Most of them won't even read it because it deals with reincarnation, soul mates, and enlightened sex.

Amber Frey just had to schmooze with Scott Peterson.

Books about woo-woo sneak onto the best-seller list.The Five People You Meet in Heaven has been a New York Times best seller list fixture for months, just like Celestine Prophecy was. Still, agents I have approached have been anything but optimistic about how they could sell "such an original work" as mine.

Despite all the writing advice I have been fed over the years, I have not found that being original or breaking new ground has brought me any job security at all. It's the old reliable formula that works, like unwittingly falling in love/lust with a future convicted murderer and telling all about it in sordid, but hastily written detail (never lose sight of the window of opportunity.)

I just haven't written a book like that. I don't murder people and I don't glamorize murder by profiting from it. Meanwhile, as you know if you've read the rest of this blog, I don't even believe in murder. Not literally. I believe Laci and Conner Peterson are still alive in another dimension. That doesn't excuse Scott for anything (assuming he’s truly guilty) but it does change the nature of the crime.

People who have had near-death experiences often report that during their life review they feel all the pain they ever inflicted on anyone. Not only that, but they also feel the entire ripple effect of how their thoughts and deeds affected anyone and everyone touched. So, a murderer is automatically subjected to the pain he caused not only the one he killed, but all those affected. Mere execution seems like a piece o’ cake compared to that, except that execution also hastens the life review.

But back to a point that I keep hammering at: our media culture is much more intent on giving up the gore, the lurid stories, and the outrages than in serving up healthier alternatives in consciousness.

This Saturday in Seattle and Portland

The International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn about or share insights about near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and other woo-woo.

If you're in or around Seattle this Saturday, January 8, you'll want to visit the Seattle IANDS Home Page for meeting info.

If you're in or around Portland, Oregon this Saturday, January 8, you'll want to visit the Portland Oregon Friends of IANDS Meeting page.

Normally, the Seattle IANDS group meets the first Saturday of the month and the Portland group meets the second Saturday of the month. The Seattle group postponed its January meeting a week due to the New Year holiday.

And follow this link to a veritable Alice's Restaurant (you can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant) of goodies about NDEs and other paranormal events not reported on the newtwork news.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

This Is a Serious Question

This is a serious question: is there some unwritten law no one has shared with me that prohibits characters in woo-woo movies and novels from being inquisitive about their paranormal encounters?

If I saw Shoeless Joe Jackson standing on a baseball field that I made out of a cornfield after a voice told me if I built it he will come, I’d have a few questions. I wouldn’t just leave it at, “Oh, there’s Shoeless Joe Jackson. Hi there.”

Don’t get me wrong. “Field of Dreams” is one of my favorite movies. That’s largely because it whets my appetite for more answers about why we’re here on this planet.

Yet I’ve always wondered why authors and screenwriters are so reluctant to mix it up with the good stuff. Even Roger Ebert wrote in his 1989 review, "The movie sensibly never tries to make the slightest explanation for the strange events that happen after the diamond is constructed."


Personally, I want explanations. I want to be challenged by an artist’s vision of wha’ happened. Wouldn’t it be an awesome sequel to see what happens to Terence Mann when he enters the mysterious clubhouse in the cornfield, presumably to discover all those juicy secrets hidden from those of us stuck in the flesh?

“Message in a Cornfield” would be much better than “Message in a Bottle.”

Why are we so reluctant in our mainstream media to wonder aloud about our cosmic nature? Is it all marketing, marketing, marketing? Is it a case of separation of church and entertainment?

Personally, if I were Ray Kinsella and met my deceased father, I’d have a few questions. For starters, “Dad, did you know you’re dead?”

Or is that not appropriate guy talk?

“Ray, you live on an intellectually challenged planet. No one here gives a flying peacock about what happens after you die. So let’s just have a catch.”

“Dad, how can a dead father materialize in Iowa, regress thirty years in age, and have nothing to say about human destiny?”

“Sh-sh-sh. Now, now. See if you can catch my curve?”

A daring film in the spiritual cinema genre was “What Dreams May Come” based on the novel by Richard Matheson. It was daring because it at least toyed with some metaphysical concepts like creating your own reality with your consciousness. The film showed how Chris Neilson’s (Robin Williams) external heavenly world changed as his inner world changed.

Even so, no less of a character than a heroic doctor and family man who’d lost two children in a fatal car wreck had much profound to ask when he reached the spirit world. He finally asks, “Where’s God in all this?”

His guide replies, “Oh, he’s up there … somewhere … shouting down that he loves us, wondering why we can’t hear him, you think?”

Is it just me? Isn’t that the most banal reply from a spirit who just may (just should) have more insight into the workings of the Universe?

So I was just wondering if there’s any unwritten rule about characters using their brains to wonder about their role in the universe.

Benjamin Fields, the main character in my novel, opens thing by writing a note to God.

“Dear God:

“I heard Jerry Falwell say on TV that you only admit people into heaven if they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. If that’s true, I’m already in deep shit... “

Behind every tombstone in every cemetery in the world dwells a question mark. I support our art in panning the goldfields of speculation for sparkling answers.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Murder Stories as Infotainment

Well, since we’re all going to be subjected to Amber Frey for however long her fifteen minutes of fame lasts, I thought it behooved this woo-woo writer to at least throw up some phaser shields.

I’ll confess that I have watched very little of anything having to do with Scott Peterson. Murder stories as infotainment don’t thrill me. That’s primarily because I’ve talked with people who’ve died and been revived; these people say there is no death, only transition to another place. That to me is a much more interesting story than choke-choke, stab-stab, or bang-bang you’re dead.

You might say that if they didn’t really die they really weren’t dead, but they say they know—as a benchmark beyond belief—that nobody really dies. You might think that news broadcasts are objective journalism but NDErs think the news is incredibly short-sighted when it comes to dying.

In the face of so much anecdotal evidence for soul survival, it mystifies me why the mainstream media appears to have such little interest in exploring the afterlife mystery. We seem much more preoccupied with the Murder of the Week than with the possibility that a murder victim is alive and well in another dimension. We’re focused on the gruesome details of horrific acts against a physical body and apparently not the slightest bit intrigued by what happens to the soul or personality of the so-called deceased.

If someone ever proved that death is a transition, not a termination, the fundamentals of murder and reporting on homicide cases would require change. It would be more difficult to spin a soap opera of suffering onto a framework of eternal life. Here are some of my extrapolations based on accounts of NDEs.

In the first place, many NDErs who were involved in accidents say that they were already out of their bodies before the fatal impact. Coming back to a mangled body was extremely painful, but leaving the body was a piece o’ cake that happened on auto-pilot. I’ve written before that a friend of mine who suffered a car crash was out of her body and above her car before her head hit the front windshield. She didn’t feel pain until she returned to her body. I believe that many murder victims gain a quick out and die painlessly. We don’t need to worship the pain of dying.

Secondly, many NDErs experience ecstasy during their out-of-body adventure. They come back with stories of different realities than life in the flesh. They no longer fear death because they know that there’s no place like home, which is how they instantly felt in that nonmaterial place. Murder victims could be having the time of their lives.

Third, many NDErs (although not all) experience life reviews during their visit to their spiritual home. This implies that sooner or later, both the murderer and the murder victim undergo a life review. Unlike trials here in the physical world, by many accounts there are no cloaking devices in the spirit world. Everybody knows everything. Thoughts and deeds are buck-naked. The murderer comes to the afterlife where everyone knows exactly what happened and the murder victim is alive and well and also knows everything.

Fourth, many NDErs talk about reincarnation, karma, and soul contracts. As amazing as it sounds to those of us in physical reality, a murder is sometimes the fulfillment of a soul contract. (If you’re thinking of offing someone, you’d better come up with a better explanation than that, though.) I’ve had an admittedly difficult time working my way through the premise of death by appointment, but it nevertheless deserves scrutiny.

Fifth, many NDErs claim or suggest that before we incarnate, we have already made our death plans. We’ve chosen the date and manner of our exit. If this were true and common knowledge, it would cast a different light on murder. How could it be cast in such tragic terms if it fulfills the plan the soul concocted previous to birth?

Sixth, while we’re at it, capital murder resulting in execution also brings up the issue of what we’re doing when we as a society terminate someone’s physical life. I suspect many people presume that we’re sending convicted killers to oblivion. Others appear happy to send convicted rejects back to God (or perhaps they think they’re sending them directly to Satan. Like, “Here, you take him. We don’t know what to do with him, and it’s politically incorrect to rehabilitate bad guys.”)

For some time I have noticed our rhetoric when describing death from murder to natural causes. Each time we describe death as tragic and disregard any possibility that the victim still exists, we only reinforce the soap opera mentality. We’re deluged with this stuff day in, day out, no contest.

I understand that this may all sound like lunacy if you haven’t had any exposure to the IANDS community, had your own NDE or OBE, or thought outside the box of the see-it-to-believe-it community. Yet the more I am exposed to NDE groups and literature, the more I question conventional thinking, especially that bombarding us from the commercial media.

The Scott Peterson case became a national obsession. TV station coverage of the whole sordid affair plods through the same old mentality of making celebrities out of criminals, their “tragic” victims, and their legal reps. The media society is having great fun demonizing Scott Peterson, stirring up the outrage, and raking in the cash.

Crime is big business. Good for ratings. Hot for profits.

But maybe we don’t have the story quite right. Maybe we don’t understand death. Maybe we don’t understand life.