Is it possible to venture into "the great beyond" without having to pay "the ultimate price" to get there? As a survivor of multiple Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), there is one big piece of advice I can give you about it: Try to avoid having multiple near-death experiences! The lessons you get from them about the afterlife are truly amazing, but the circumstances you go through to get there are definitely best avoided.
There are easier ways—take my word for it—that can lead you to discover that the place "beyond" you’re so curious about; it isn't so far away after all, especially if you look within—as with this example.
What do you see when you close your eyes? Try it right now for ten or twenty seconds: Close your eyes and really look into the darkness inside your eyelids and notice…it's not really complete darkness in there, is it? There's a kind of life unfolding inside of your eyelids—undulating waves of slightly effervescent energy—vibrations and pulsations, arising and receding. I know it all can be explained in a neurological way, but still, there is a lot going on in there—a lot of very mysterious stuff. Just stay there for a minute and take it in. Then, when you open your eyes and look around, see how the light energy floods in from everywhere, bouncing off of everything. There's that vivid, radiating life-energy penetrating every iota, every instant of our being—just as there always has been, and just as there always will be! That experience never changes. We have always—and will always—live in this miraculous, illuminative now. Those inward vibrations are the introductory inklings of the great beyond alive within us all. Those curious vibrating fields of energetic effervescence are a lot like the atmosphere alive in "Heaven"…and that is something I can tell you a little about.
In my new book, How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying): Wisdom From a Near Death Survivor, I take the opportunity to explore each of my NDEs, and to pass along to you all of the attitudes, atmospheres, sensations, and possibilities that define my experiences of the "heavenly" realm I visited, as well as the "normal" life experiences I've had of it ever since. You see, as a result of my accidental excursions into a couple completely different afterworlds, I've come back with this one big message: Heaven isn't a single, predictable place that you'll go to someday. Instead, it's a kind of custom-made, eternal state-of-being that can be reached and experienced everyday, through all of Life. You can get there from here, and in easier, more empowering ways than by having to experience any kind of physical death (so let's just hold off on that, for now). I'd be remiss without a respectful nod to the skeptics, because it goes without saying that I didn't actually die—or I wouldn't be here to talk about it. Obviously, no NDE survivor has actually died and stayed that way—a simple truth that justifies all the skepticism and conjecture surrounding the subject. But it's also pretty fascinating how NDEs are a growing worldwide phenomenon that transcend ages, races, and cultures, and describe an apparent continuation of our consciousness beyond (and I'd suggest within) this world to which we open our eyes every morning.
Despite any similarities about which you've heard, NDEs come in many different forms and motifs, and describe a kind of "custom-made afterlife," a kind of Heaven—or Hell—that all survivors report on. As you might expect, the bottom line for me (and almost all NDE survivors) is that I know life doesn't end here. It continues in an extra-dimensional fashion, but exactly how I'm not sure. Having had the three of them myself, I don't believe that NDEs are a visit to any definitive "next world" that many may wish for. I believe these experiences aren't so much a reliable description of what will come next after this life, but simply more evidence about how richly complex a thing that all of Life really is.
Even though each of my experiences was very different from the others, they all described my life; and though their main features were different, there was always that energetic, effervescent life alive in this miraculous now that didn't change from trip to trip to trip—in fact, that's what may have been the most important part of them all: The powerful sense of a total loving connection to everything. It's the common prerequisite for any "Heaven" we'll ever find.
Having the three trips under my belt, and having learned about many, many more in my travels, one unavoidable characteristic that all these experiences share in common is how perfectly their specifics fit each survivor's life. They almost always involve other critical spirits, places, and events that speak directly to each of us. We know how many NDE events adhere to a set of common motifs—as in my three experiences, I had an "out-of-body" perspective on my own death, a reassessment or "life review," and a forced "return back" into this life (against my will). Along with other scenarios commonly spoken of, such as "the light at the end of the tunnel," visiting an "Elysian" field and meeting up with your dearly departed, experiencing a view of the Earth from deep outer space, and others. Yet, even these similar passages are uniquely suited to us (in fact, they're even specific to the religion and culture of the experiencer).
My NDEs seemed to be just what I needed at the time of each of my "deaths." They were as simple or as elaborate as they needed to be to move me closer into alignment with a greater reality—into a place in my life where I could experience those attitudes, atmospheres, and potential, that state-of-being that I associate with Heaven. That was the powerfully unavoidable sensation that each experience had in common: the enveloping aspect of this miraculous now that each event gave me. In each experience, I was enfolded within a penetrating field of intelligence—an experience of the continuing connection and expansion into what I call the field of "Divine Consciousness."
I lost track of everything material—I don't even remember having a body, or knowing exactly where I was, but the truth that I've brought back with more empowering urgency than any other detail of "the afterlife" is that I never stopped experiencing an all-encompassing Consciousness (which you’ll notice I now capitalize, indicating it as a force of Divinity). Like many NDE survivors, I realized a complete merging into a greater field of intuitive, omniscient intelligence, accompanied by an indescribable non-physical sensation of loving wholeness and belonging-to. It's this continuation into a greater, unified "mind," and expansion into a magical, spiritual dimension—full of every possibility that you can possibly imagine—that now informs my understanding of every life I'll ever live.
It's an experience that I've discovered can (nearly…) be experienced in this crazy human form, and that can be fostered in my everyday-to-day life in this crazy human world. It's an experience of Life that in a variety of very interesting ways, I'd like to share with you.
God bless those overly scientific, "materialist" skeptics, many of whom base their doubts in current explorations of neuroscience. I believe that they're absolutely right in their assertion that NDEs are abstract perceptual phenomenon resulting from the brain not being completely dead. After all, this is a pretty abstract Universe (floating around out here in outer space is already miraculous enough, isn't it?). Like me, I don't think any NDE survivor would ever insist that their brain had completely died—we'd simply acknowledge that we went on "thinking" and "seeing" in what we remember as the afterlife. I think it's simply because (despite even the physiological "death" of our human brains) our mind does not die; instead, it's incorporated into a greater mind. We're folded into an expansive, organizing, Consciousness-based intelligence—a kind of loving matrix of limitless potential experience.
And here's the really good news: That very same experience is definitely available here and now—it's just more of a challenge because we're in these doggone bodies all the time. We don't have to escape them per se, but we do have to elude their materialistic tendencies, so there are what I call "rungs on the ladder to Heaven" that we can make use of—principles to live by that allow us to actually witness Heaven-on-Earth. There's meditation and mindfulness, and teachings from amazing ancient texts that are direct doorways to the kind of Paradise that we may only imagine as being "extra-dimensional." And there are perceptions and practices that can actually help us to restore whatever parts of that Garden we may feel we've lost, or even to create an entirely new one!
But it is true, in couple ways, that you'll have to let go of this world, to let go of "who you're supposed to be," if you want to explore those extra-dimensions. If you want to find out exactly how you can get to Heaven…without really dying, that is.
Robert Kopecky (Brooklyn, NY) explores and teaches about the lessons he learned from surviving three near-death experiences. He's the author of How to Survive Life (and Death), and he blogs at BeliefNet, The Mindful Word, ...