The Near Death Experience Brings Heaven to Earth

What can we do to enjoy a better December?


This was a question of the week for one of our December Sunday morning men’s group. (These are regularly, though not always, held in my front living room. The group includes at least one atheist, several agnostics and a rainbow of other weltanschauungs. As the organizer of our local Buddhist Methodist Quaker Church, Satsang and Artist’s Studio, it is often, though not always, my responsibility, and pleasure , to come up with the question of the week for these dudes.)
For longer than I care to admit, December had not been my best month. As a husband, son, father, (now grandfather) brother, and other assorted societal positions of trust, I feel the pressure to make sure everybody has a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Serendipitous Solstice, and/or Bountiful New Year. I’m not always artful in meeting these expectations, or dealing with these pressures. Thus, the origin of the question of the week. (I generally, intentionally do not have the answer to weekly questions posed, though I do have the curiosity.)
So, December:
The solstice: the bringing of new life, new light.
Christmas: again, the bringing of new life, new light.
Hanukkah:  this makes thrice: celebrating bringing light back to the Temple.

So how do we do it? Bring new life, new light?

Paradoxically, at least part of the answer might come from people whose lights went out, who died, and then came back to tell about it. I admit, those types of experience intrigue me, and were helping me to have a better December.
For the previous three or four months I’d been on a “near death experience “ (NDE) kick—not literally, or physically, myself, near death, or so it seems, and so I hope —but reading about it in the vast NDE literature, and talking with folks in person who have had these experiences and listening to them on Youtube.
Along with NDE’s, I’d also been led to research the “between life” phenomenon, and the “before life” phenomenon—e.g., reincarnation and the memories of such. And oh yea, I also likde to read about, and listen to those folks, “mediums,” who are able to talk with those who have passed on– ‘a la Long Island Medium, and the like.

Let me also confess, when I say I had been on that kick for the previous three or four months, that just means this time around. These questions and these experiences have been for me a lifelong fascination.

I know, I know… I’m somewhat of a kook, out on the edge.
But as John Lennon famously observed, “I’m not the only one.” So…

One of the latest books I’d been reading— God and the Afterlife, by Jeffrey Long., MD. and Paul Perry— is one of the more enjoyable and informative books in the NDE literature simply because it contains more first-hand accounts than many of the others, and is organized in a unique way. Long’s book once again inspired me to simplify and rethink “the purpose of life.”
(As mentioned in previous posts about the purpose of life, it seems both practical and wise to have a basic working theory for the purpose of life, for one’s self, if for no one else. If we don’t have at least a grade school hypothesis for the purpose of our life, then we tend to while away our time here for any old purpose that comes along, which can be both dangerous and unhealthy, for ourselves and others, not to mention disappointing when it’s time to turn in our cards.)
Trying to articulate “The purpose of life” is a biggie, of course, but seasons do arise in one’s life where it seems quite appropriate to tackle these bigger issues—issue like what the hell we’re here for. Lots of times those questions come up early in life—particularly in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood— in one or all of these seasons.
But then we often get lost in paying the mortgage, going to school programs, making the team, or the cut or a promotion or the next best house, etc. etc. We get lost, distracted and just do our daily deeds as if we had a clear picture of the Big Picture.
The question about the purpose of life often comes up again for many folks in mid-career. They say, “I can’t keep doing this for the rest of my life. Life surely needs to be more than this. What’s the purpose?” Sometimes known as mid-life crisis, which can occur at any time.
And then again the question comes up at the end of a career—nearing retirement, or at retirement, or after retirement : what now? Endless golf? Cruises to the sunny places? For some, it’s simply: what’s my next diversion? More knitting, woodworking, lawn care, scrabble or cross word puzzles?
But for others, it goes deeper: what am I supposed to be doing with this breath I take every day?

After going on this NDE kick, this after-life, before life, previous-life kick, it has, for me, come down to this: OUR BASIC PURPOSE HERE ON EARTH IS TO BRING HEAVEN HERE TO EARTH.
I know, that sounds corny. And heaven, of course, is multi-hued, multi-leveled, multi-beautiful. But heaven is basically LOVE, in all its permutations, which is another word for BEAUTY, in all its expressions, and Love and Beauty are words for PEACE, and JOY, DELIGHT and SURPRISE— all words for the same frequency. (“Heaven is not a place,” one NDE’er remarked. “It’s a frequency.”)
Our purpose here is to bring heaven—love, beauty, peace, delight, surprise, joy, compassion, wisdom—to earth. Which might mean something as simple as putting a flower in the windowsill of the kitchen. Or helping the gas station guy to laugh at the craziness of his customers. Or to sit quietly with a friend who needs to talk it out.

Almost every NDEer talks about experiencing peace like they’ve never felt before, unconditional love, beauty, joy. “I felt like I was home,” they report time and time again.
So, it struck me that our purpose, there in December, as well as in all the other months, was– is–to bring heaven to earth. To the room, and space, and frequency that we are?.

Such musings made me think I might clean up the clutter in my office. And not be so judgmental about the skill level of other players in pickle ball. And simply enjoy the companionship of my kids and their kids and the chilly weather that we share.
Bringing heaven to earth. A good catch-all phrase for what we’re doing here, in the flesh, at this time, but perhaps most especially in December, and in all the other winter months, when light seems scarce. 

It would of course be nice to bring an end to the wars, an end to poverty, an end to ignorance and brutality in all its shapes and forms. Which we do, by putting a flower in the kitchen window, and being with a friend in need.
Bring heaven to earth. Such a simple phrase, Such a practical life’s work.
I’m open to other suggestions, if you think you can say it better…
And a Merry, Happy, Serendipitous December– and New Year– New Life–to you…

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