Recently I had an experience that convinced me that there is an afterlife. Actually, it was two experiences, which came after a lifetime of episodes that have suggested, with varying degrees of conviction, that the soul exists and persists after death.
In the year after I had the close encounter experience that led to the writing of Communion, I became extremely interested in the soul. I was seeing things, and experiencing things, that suggested that it might actually exist. Prior to this, though, I'd more or less given up hope in it. I just didn't feel anything except my body. Like anybody, I feared death. In fact, I was terrified of an end to myself.
Among the things that exposure to the visitors changed for me was my attitude toward death and my awareness of the soul. I didn't fully understand it then, but prior to my December 1985 close encounter, I was deeply asleep. I had spent fifteen years intensively involved in the Gurdjieff Foundation, so I knew that what we consider a normal state is not really normal. It's a state of sleep. We react, we do not act. The attention pours out into the world, and the inner being is left to starve.
But I'd been working toward a more awakened state for a long time. I had the belief that I could come awake, indeed, that I was awake.
Then the visitors showed up. I believe that they began coming in September or October of 1985. In any case an awful terror descended over me every time we went to our cabin, and yet I did not stop going.
And yet, I remained unconscious of their presence until finally, on the night of December 26, they roughed me up so badly that the sheer physical pain could not be ignored.
As, over the next few months, I finally faced their presence, I also entered a school. It was hard in ways that nothing I had previously encountered was hard. The intellectual, emotional and physical challenges were fantastic. I was being asked to discard the most fundamental things that I believed about reality and about the experience of being conscious and alive.
As I learned to communicate with them, they began directing me to various books, among them Robert Monroe's Journeys Out of the Body.
One night after I read it, I was trying to use the method Monroe suggested for separating from the body and suddenly it worked perfectly. Put simply, I rolled out of myself. I remained perfectly conscious and aware of myself. After I had come out, I moved into the middle of the bedroom. I wasn't frightened or confused in the least. I noticed that my vision had changed. I did not need to move to see in any particular direction. I could simply do it.
The first thing I saw was my own body lying on the bed, with my wife beside me. Oddly, the image seemed reversed, as if I was looking at us in a mirror.
I then moved toward the front windows of the bedroom. Plastered to one of the windows, I saw the face of a gray hanging like an African mask. In some way, I think it was alive. Certainly, I saw it as an indication that they were involved in what was happening.
I moved out through the window. I also engaged part of the wall, which was a little more dense than the glass. When I was outside, I could see that all the plants were covered with a glow. I tried to touche some pine needles. I thought to break one off and bring it back inside, thus proving to myself that I had done this. It didn't work, though. I could not affect anything.
I then returned to the room and attempted to reenter my body by lying down inside it. However, it was as slick as wax or mercury. There seemed to be no way to stay in it.
I suspect that this is what happens to the dead when they attempt to re-enter their bodies. But I'd been fine. Was my wife to wake up and find me mysteriously dead beside her? The poor woman had been through a hell of a lot lately.
Then I was suddenly plunged back in time to my childhood. I was standing on the front steps on a summer morning. My father, who was mowing the lawn, looked over his shoulder and said, "when are you going to come help me?"
That did it. I'd loathed mowing the lawn. I was back in my body in an instant.
But what had just happened? I had clearly come out of my body in full and complete consciousness. I'd seen my dead father, or had appeared to do so.
It didn't prove anything about the afterlife to me, though. Obviously it was possible to leave the body, but did that mean that anything would remain after death? Maybe my father had been a figment of my imagination. (Although, for the next couple of years, he engaged me a number of times in various ways, and I came to think that he was unware of the fact that he was dead.)
It was not until last year that I became convinced that there was an afterlife. This came as the result of two things done by a psychic of our acquaintance, Glennys MacKay.
The first of these events involved our hairdresser. Glennys had said that she could read people by simply holding something of theirs, so Anne gave her a lock of his hair.
She told Glennys nothing about the hair, not even that it was from a man's head. Glennys said after a moment that the hair was from a man. Correct so far. Then she said, "I hear somebody calling 'Howie, Howie,'" Anne said nothing, but we both knew that our hairdresser was called Jay.
When we went to see him, though, and told him what she'd said, he literally blanched. He said, "My real name is Howard. That was my dead sister. She called me Howie."
Now, this was just plain startling. Glennys had never seen the man. She had no idea if the hair was even from a man. And yet she had correctly identified him by a name that Anne and I didn't know was his.
It was not done by clever questioning. She hadn't asked us any questions. She simply started talking as soon as she had the hair in her hand. It wasn't telepathy, because we had no idea that our hairdresser's real name was Howard.
Previously, by simply touching Anne's wrist, she had identified her dead stepmother by name, also, and had reported that the stepmother had said that "perhaps" she had been "a little hard on her." She'd been monstrous to my wife, and obviously still has some inner exploration to do before she fully accepts the suffering she caused her.
Now, this was all convincing enough, but then there came an event that was absolutely and finally convincing to me, because it was so incredibly personal.
We were driving Glennys and her husband to dinner when, in the course of conversation, she commented that she often saw the dead among the living. So I asked her if there were any dead with us now. She said that there was a dead man present, and he was to do with me.
Then, without waiting for me to say anything, she added, "he plays the piano. No, the violin. He plays the violin. He's wearing a tuxedo." At this point, I had not the slightest idea who this could be. I don't know any orchestral musicians. Then she suddenly said, "He says his name is Milton."
At that moment, my world changed. All of the experiences I'd had that were suggestive of an afterlife suddenly focused, and I knew that it is true. We do.
And this is why: As soon as she said that name, Milton, I remembered somebody I had not thought of in at least 30 years, a boy who had lived across the street from me when I was a child. He was about ten years older and he played both the piano and the violin, but especially the violin.
In fact, his frequent playing of the Beethoven Violin Concerto gave me my lifelong love of classical music.
His name was Milton.
I am no longer able to rationalize away the idea of a soul or an afterlife. As far as I'm concerned, we have both, and we do persist in this world in the afterlife for some little time. I believe that Milton died sometime around 1977. The last time I saw him would have been years prior to that. And the last time I thought of him was perhaps in 1977 or 78, when my mother mentioned that he had died.
In my opinion, I am here in part to bear witness to these things. We are, most of us, soul blind and coming into an era where soul blindness must end.
It has for me, and I have gone on a mission to relieve soul blindness, because from where I sit it looks now like a disease. The visitors once said to a child who was staying at our cabin that they were doctors, and after that the kids would often call them "the little doctors" when they glimpsed them in the woods from time to time.
They awakened me with a classic initiation. I didn't like it one bit, but if I had been initiated, say, in the Osirion or at Ephesus when the ancients still had the knowledge to do such things, the experience would have been every bit as ferocious. Or if I had been a plains Indian from a number of different tribes, to become a shaman I would have needed to experience an ordeal.
In fact, the ordeal is the beginning of most transformation. That's what the crucifixion is really about. It shouldn't ever have been used to induce guilt in the guileless. As hard as it was, it was a triumph.
Birth is not pretty and it is also dangerous.
Mankind, as a whole, is experiencing a journey down the birth canal right now. Earth is pregnant with mankind and has reached term. Dead or alive, we're being born.
My next step will be to create a series of talks about how to make a strong soul. They will be a follow-up to the talk "Sensing the Soul" in the Unknowncountry subscriber area. I've learned enough about this to provide some clear and useful ideas that will help anybody end soul blindness and begin useful work on feeding and strengthening this essential part of themselves.
One might ask, what's wrong with what's available in our existing holy books? The answer could not be more simple: they have all been corrupted by changes and additions that are designed to do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what is needed. This has been done, frankly, by people who are themselves soul blind, but who have been elevated in this fallen world of ours to positions of honor.
To a man, they have been motivated by a greedy desire to control others. Every word in every religion that comes with a dose of guilt is a lie. Just knowing that is the beginning of the road toward re-establishing a healthy internal life of the kind we have when we are little children.
We were not born guilty. In order to come into a true relationship with God, we do not need any organizations to control us.
We are part of God's journey, all of us. To find our souls and feel them again is to reconnect with our innocence. False guilt, ritual, none of it matters. What matters is discovering within oneself who one truly is, and feeding that knowledge--that soul--with honest, real love.
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