Why does religion have a monopoly on the afterlife? What if the death experience is not a religious experience at all? For me death was a natural experience, a physical or energetic transformation, a choice between the physical me and the non-physical me, a space of non-judgment.
Today’s post was inspired by social media hysteria about the suicides of two celebrities. My immediate reaction was this:
Suicide. What if it is not a crisis to be prevented, what if it is not a moral crime, what if it is a perfectly respectable way to go? The way I see it is if a person is in emotional pain and death is the only way to find relief, why not be understanding and wish them the best? And if a person has accomplished whatever they came here to accomplish and have no additional lessons to learn, why not respect that decision? Why the outrage, why the public debate, why the judgment, why the horror? Death is a natural part of life. Religious and spiritual people believe that the other side is better and more peaceful than here. So why not allow our friends to go, wish them a safe journey, and congratulate them on a job well done? Life isn’t easy, but they did the best they could. What’s best is that they faced death on their own terms. They chose not to suffer more, they didn’t struggle through old age, they didn’t leave it to chance. I think that dying with dignity means dying on one’s own terms.
I knew my post would be unacceptable to some, who saw suicide as selfish. I received a lot of hateful comments on that post. Both celebs had children and families and the general sentiment was that because their loved ones will now suffer, it was cruel and immoral of them to leave. Having had a near-death experience of my own, and having stood in that doorway between life and death, I have a drastically different perspective.
It has been ten years since that experience, and I never shared it with anyone. When I came back from the other side, I returned to my 35 year old body. Life was good. I had a happy marriage, a growing business, a beautiful house, I was in love, earning boatloads of money, I had nothing to complain about. I forgot about the experience because as cool as it was, my physical life was even more cool, and I had a lot more to experience.
A decade later, life gave me more extreme experiences. Shortly after my return from the other side, I lost everything I own, my business, my marriage, my money, my home. Not a big deal, it was just one glitch in my matrix, and something to learn from. Like any adult, I got a big slap in the face from the universe, then another one, and then another one. The slaps turned into punches, and ten years later my body is deeply scarred, all black and blue. I have been through it all, life’s ups and downs, incredible highs and crashes into the abyss that were so painful I wished I had died many times over.
From my 46 year old perspective, that near death experience has new meaning. Ten years ago, it was cool, and quite intriguing to stand in that doorway and be able to see the other side. But my perspective was limited, not because I was too young to understand, for I believe that even a young child understands perfectly when faced with the same choice. In the near-death space we all understand.
My perspective about death broadened when I learned how to meditate, and discovered that I can access that same doorway, stand in the white light, and bliss there at will. I don’t have to die to see, I can see it within this physical body, experience it with all my senses, and here that white light is much more blissful than it is over there without the physical sensations our bodies can interpret.
To describe the experience in more detail, and what was happening to my physical body as it went through the process, I’ll take you back to 2007. I had a terrible flu, much stronger than any flu I had ever experienced. My fever was 105F, and my doctor had sent me home and told me to get some rest. I got a second opinion, and the second doctor also told me to go home, drink plenty of fluids and call if anything changes.
It was late afternoon, when physically I started to transform. My fever was rising and I knew this was no flu. I was feeling weaker, but not in the way I had felt weakness before. This weakness was me fading out of my own body. As I was shuffling around my living room, I noticed that all my physical sensations felt different. My body was still operating, but I was less in it. I was starting to separate from my body. The I that I am, was now shifting from physicality to non-physicality. I said to myself “So this is what it’s like to be dying”. I had always wondered how people feel when they are dying, and how do they know they are about to go. I was always fascinated by the human mind, and it’s awareness, and now I was having the experience I had always been curious about.
For me this was the ultimate moment because all my questions about awareness were being answered. As a kid, long before I was old enough to comprehend, I was fascinated by the human mind. In college, though I had no intention of practicing, I majored in psychology simply because I needed to know what else can the mind do. I was sorely disappointed in the field when I realized there was not a single textbook nor professor who could answer the questions I had about awareness, so I dropped the subject entirely. Here I was standing in my living room, watching myself leave my body, completely aware that I was transforming from life to death, and I was perfectly okay with it. Cool, very cool.
With my fever now at 106, I got dressed and went straight to ER. A few tests later, they confirmed I had viral meningitis, a brain infection, told me that I had waited too long, and that though my chances were slim, they admitted me into the hospital. My ex was with me that night, and he wanted to call my parents to tell them I may not make it through the night. I remember arguing with him that I didn’t want my parents to know, that I did not want them at the hospital. If I am going to die, I wanted to die in peace, alone, without them or their drama. Now, people ask me how could you not call your parents? Didn’t you want to say your final good-bye? No. My death was not about them at all. I was already separate from them.
I however knew I wasn’t going to go. When the doctor told me that I may not make it, I remember thinking ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’. I just shrugged because I already knew I’m not going anywhere. Even though I could feel myself leaving my body, I somehow knew I’m going to be just fine.
Hours later I was laying in my private hospital room. It was 2 am, I was hooked up to an IV, getting tons of drugs pumped into my system. I felt calm, comfortable, peaceful, whatever happens happens. I fell asleep. I woke up and somehow I was at the top of the room, looking down at myself, I was laying in bed, looking like a mess. I think I was drooling. The room was quiet, my ex was sleeping spread across two chairs in my room. Oddly, I was in the room, but somehow I could see and hear the two nurses chatting outside my door. One was annoyed. Her shift was over, she wanted to go home, but now that she had me to deal with, she was going to have to stay a bit longer. The other nurse consoled her “Go home. They said she won’t make it through the night”. Were they talking about me? Here I am hanging out on the ceiling of my hospital room, but I still know I have no intention of dying.
What does it feel like to be dead? No different than it feels to be alive. Looking down at my monitor, my heart was still beating and the machine said I have a pulse, so technically I was not dead. But, floating above my body I was just as conscious, just as much as me as I ever was, just not physical.
Without the physical body I had no physical senses like touch or smell, and I had no emotions at all. There I was staring at my ex, who was sleeping by the side of my bed, and I had no feelings for him. Before I floated out of my body, I loved him and felt afraid for him. How would he make it in this world without me? Up here, I had no sadness at all. I knew that was just my ego imagining he could not do without me. Up here I knew my death would be a part of his life experience, that was all human experience, and he will heal from it. He would experience loss of a loved one whether I died or somebody else did. Like all humans, he is meant to experience loss, and up here I knew he would do well without me. And so would my parents, and so would my sister, and so would all my loved ones, I understood they will all be well without me. Life goes on.
As I started to get comfortable in my disembodied self I noticed a white light above me. Just like I knew when I was alive that I had no intention of dying, now that I saw the light, I was just as sure I am going to live. The white light wasn’t calling me, it was just there as an option. I started to move toward it. As I got close, it got brighter, it was almost blinding. It was peaceful, it was beautiful, in fact, it was gorgeous. I was excited and very happy. I saw my grandmother, or her image. She was smiling. She was not calling me, nor asking me to join her, nor stay. She was like a signpost, just there to show me it’s okay. I can come in her direction or I could go back. It was all the same to her.
What else did I see? That life goes on. But I could also see that life is a much richer experience here in 3D. Why? Because we have a physical body which allows us to experience physical sensations. We do not value them much, but they actually help us create our experience, and that’s why we are here to create, to sense, to enjoy, to bliss, to live the reality we choose. Each of us is here to design and live according to our will. Life is whatever we want it to be. The other side seems like a resting place. It’s beautiful, it’s peaceful, it’s calming, and it is assuring that there is such a space for us if we chose to exit. But it is limiting and freeing at the same time. Over there we cannot love or hate, we cannot hurt nor experience life. Life is here. Sorry to disappoint those of you who are hoping your loved ones are hurting without you. They aren’t hurting at all. They cannot miss you because they are in fact very much here, and because in their experience nothing is missing at all. They are hanging out in all there is, and they are very much content.
The best way to describe this space is like another dimension. I am not religious so I don’t describe this as heaven, even though it is beautiful. We are simply in a different form there with no need of a body. For the brief moment that I was there I knew that this space was just an option to me, but like I said I had no intention of staying. I was 35 and I had a good life to go back to. It’s good to know that if my life sucked, if I had backed myself into a rough corner, if I wanted to escape, death would not be scary.
I’m happy to report that there was no judgment on the other side. I did not meet god, but then again I am not religious so I wasn’t expecting him to greet me. I saw no angels, no golden gates, and there was no spiritual welcoming committee. No one was waiting at the door with a clipboard to evaluate my good deeds, nor judge my life. The judgment was all mine. It was for me to judge whether I was happy with my life and who I had become, and whether I wanted to work on it some more. It was for me to judge myself, but with no ability to feel guilt, all I knew is that I was ready to go back and live some more. Somehow my earthly existence seemed richer than this.
I came, I saw what’s there, I conquered my fear of dying, and decided my life on earth is pretty good. I can go back now. I am not sure how I got back down into my body. But I woke up the next morning when my fever broke, a whole team of confused med students came to poke me and confirm that I am very much alive, and then someone concluded “she’s going to live”. I chuckled to myself, who the fuck are you to decide?
I never thought much of that experience until now. A lot has changed in the last ten years and I am a different person. Having gone through heaven and hell multiple times, it is reassuring to know that there is always a safe place to go to. I have no fear of dying.
Since then I have been meditating a lot. It is a part of my daily life. I discovered that in meditation, I have partial access to that space I called the white light. When meditators bliss, that’s exactly the space they access. I visit it frequently. In my physical body, that space feels different. Here I have five physical senses, a full set of emotions, plus a lot of other senses available to me in the meditative state. The experience with all my senses is absolutely amazing. I don’t know how to describe it, except that when I meditate in that space (there are millions of other spaces and types of experiences) I feel all powerful, absolutely aligned. I have the ability to see, feel, hear a 1000 times more powerfully then when outside of meditation. But when I crossed over, without the physical body, the space was beautiful, peaceful, yet the richness of the experience was missing. We need the body to experience life fully. In the grand scheme of things, death was a fascinating experience, but in meditation with my physical and non-physical senses, I have seen much bigger things than that. So I choose to stay.
I have compared notes with other people who have had near death experiences. In general, we all saw the same thing. The only differences in perception could be attributed to our religions, personal belief systems and conditioning. We all saw what we expected to see. Friends who had religious expectations claimed that the beings they saw were angels. I, who always believed in science more than religion saw what I saw. I saw beings that I perceived as energies. It seemed that we are all one at their end, while here, we seem separate. Einstein once said that energy never dies, it only changes form. I saw us in energetic form.
Was it a religious experience? Not to me. But my friends who are religious perceived this as spiritually enlightening. For me it was just plain enlightening. Now I know, now I understand, but I don’t feel in any way special or blessed to be here. I decided to remain here with my own free will. Our will is a very important factor in this existence, and we don’t worship it enough. It is the driving force of our lives, except most of us are too afraid to drive. Our will is what takes us from one situation to the next, and most people choose to stay in the same situations over and over again. If you only knew how far your free will can take you, and if you weren’t afraid to drive, life would be an exhilarating experience. In fact, if our civilization was truly conscious, we would worship free will. There is no greater driving force on earth.
I realized that all world religions have claimed the afterlife as their own experience. As if all the world’s religions are the gatekeepers who get to decide if we are good enough to enter the other side. Actually, we decide. We all have equal access and we will all pass through the portal no matter what. There’s nothing to worry about, we are all good enough. We all qualify.
Getting back to the celebrities who committed suicide, I do not fault them for anything nor do I judge them. In fact, recently I lost a friend to suicide, and while others struggled to forgive him for doing something so horrifying and leaving us behind, I totally understood. He found peace. He had a little daughter, and most of the outrage was about leaving the child behind. I understood how he felt. Yes, in his physical body he was able to feel the agony of leaving her behind. In his physical existence I am sure he judged himself, he felt as guilty as they all wished he felt. But in this physical body we also have the ability to corner ourselves into those darkest places of our minds from which there is no escape. Why didn’t he medicate, why didn’t he try to get better? Why didn’t he seek help, counseling, why didn’t he try to live for her? Isn’t he selfish? No. Maybe he just wanted to be free.
We are the ones who are selfish. It is selfish on our part to insist that they live and put up with pain for our benefit, so we wouldn’t have to deal with the loss. He didn’t seek help because he did not want any. I know it’s hard to believe, but some of us don’t want anyone’s help, we don’t want to be talked out of anything. The experience is our own and our own decision. And his daughter will be as fine as any other human who has lost a parent. No human is leaving this earth having not experienced deep loss, and no one can be spared from it. Pain, like any other extreme emotion is part of this existence and it is experienced in equal doses by all of us.
We humans are egotistical beings. We would like others to feel more responsible for our emotional wellbeing, so when an unexpected death happens we get angry. How could he/she do this to me? We like to judge those who left us too soon, wanting to make sure they feel at least a bit guilty, hoping they miss us, wanting to believe they regret leaving us behind. They can have all those regrets while they are still here, but they feel quite good with the decision once they have one foot in the other side. Death is a perfectly rational experience. In fact, there is no greater clarity than at the brink of death. It is that moment when life becomes perfectly clear.
In fact, death begins long before our hearts stop beating. For me the experience started at least six hours before I got admitted to the hospital. I could feel myself leaving my body that afternoon, and it was then that I became totally cool with it. As soon as I accepted that I was dying, pain, terror and emotions disappeared. I decided I will live, so I checked into a hospital. On that brink, we have the choice.
When my father was dying I observed the same changes in him as well. He was dying of both old age and a giant tumor. Yes there is a point where the physical body can no longer function, and we can no longer decide to stay. But even then we are aware that we are going, and that we have some options. In the last six years of his life he had multiple opportunities to go. He had strokes, a heart attack, lots of surgeries when he went under, and though his body was exhausted he kept coming back. He still had work to do here and more things to learn. But on his last day in 3D, I was not anywhere near him. Yet I could definitely feel he was leaving his body from a hundred miles away.
Mom was with him and his day was pretty much routine. He wasn’t feeling great but he wasn’t complaining. The whole day I could feel his energy leave his body, slowly, like he was teetering. He even said in the weeks before his death that he could see his mother, that he could see the other side, and that death was near. Nobody wanted to believe him. He was fully aware and totally okay with it. When the crossover starts to happen, we are totally calm, in a state of acceptance. It no longer hurts. Life’s regrets have already passed at that point. We all know we are leaving loved ones behind, but we now see them from a higher perspective, so we know they will be fine.
At 9:30 pm my mom checked in with him, and he was falling asleep. Roughly around the same time, though a 100 miles away, I felt him hold my hand. I was wearing a glass bracelet, and in the moment he grabbed my wrist the bracelet broke and shattered on the ground. I knew he crossed, and I was happy for him. I knew he was fine.
That’s another side effect of meditation. Our minds are able to filter through this reality which is just energetic noise, and see beyond that. We can see what is beyond this 3D projection, hear, feel, and know much more than this. We have many more senses which we never learned to use. So far, I have experienced dozens of senses which have no name because no one has ever documented them. I’ll write another post about that. For now, all I know that there is more to our experience than what we perceive.
I don’t attribute any of these experiences to any religion, simply because what I see is nature, it is physics, and the universe is nothing but energy. In fact, energy is all there is, we simply interpret energies in many different concepts and forms. All religions describe this space and try to claim the crossover as theirs. They can neither guide us through the process, nor make us feel at ease. In fact they do a good job scaring us, making us fear our entire physical existence, so that we cannot accept the crossing without their help.
There are no answers on the other side. While our 3D existence makes more sense from their higher perspective, our life is still our own interpretation. When you get to the other side, no one explains things to you, informs you how you screwed up, punishes you, nor do they give you a guilt trip. Guilting is an ugly human affliction. You are still you, but a lot more. In the physical world you are your current existence, and what you made of it. On the other side you are that plus all your other physical existences, forms and experiences, and we all had many. Once the energy is released from the body, we join all there is. We are no longer separate beings, we are all one like drops of water in the ocean.
That’s why you want to experience all that you can while you are here. This is why people who come back from the other side, return exhilarated and more appreciative of this life. Here, energy is more dense. Our experience is more tactile, more visually stimulating, more audible, more everything. This earthly existence is where all creation happens. It is all in our hands, and people who return are exited to take advantage of every single moment, and experience all there is. Our free will (and it really is freer than you believe) is the tool that makes everything happen, so use it.
While the other side is nice, peaceful, safe and accepting, it is just a place to rest. Yes, there are other types of experiences, but for the most part life happens here. So if you are doing generally well, or even if your life is unexciting, you are pretty much staring at a blank canvas. Whether you transform your life into an exhilirating experience or just a mediocre one is totally up to you.
And for those friends whose lives were unbearably painful, the other side is a more peaceful place. Is the other side better? That’s a matter of perspective. If you are alive and your life is pretty good, the other side has nothing to offer you. But if your existence is agony, then the other side feels like relief. And that’s all that there is to it.