There’s a whole "science" of collecting the last words of famous folk who are dying. The 19th century playwright and gay activist Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said, "Either the wallpaper goes, or I do." (he did).
Queen Elizabeth I was driving the country slightly mad because she had no progeny to inherit the English throne and she refused to name a successor: When she finally died in 1603, when the priest at her bedside, Archbishop Whitgift, asked her who should succeed her, she is reported to have whispered, "Who else but?" We assume the name she mentioned was the Protestant King James VI of Scotland, who became King James I of England. She died on a Thursday, as did her father and half-sister.
The most famous last words of our time are those of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is reported to have said to his sister, the author Mona Simpson, "Wow! Oh, wow!" when he died on October 5th, 2011. In the Wall Street Journal, op-ed columnist Peggy Noonan called these "the great words of the year" for 2011.
I think he went out of his body and saw himself lying on the bed. Being an endlessly curious and innovative man, he would have been fascinated by this and also would have realized that this meant he had a soul (an idea that–as a pragmatic scientist–he probably always rejected).
While I had a near-death experience in 2004, I didn’t go out of my body–I obediently followed my dear, dead Siamese cat to the World of the Dead. I haven’t ever left my body for any extended period of time, the way that Whitley and others who have attended the Monroe Institute have learned how to do, but I did leave my body once–for a very short time, while lying on my bed. I didn’t look down and see myself–the moment was too brief for that–but what I remember about it was having an incomparable feeling of joy.
I hope this means that wherever we’re going after we live this life, we will be happy. There are surprisingly few references to hell in the Bible (mostly in Matthew and Mark), despite the emphasis that some so-called "religious" folks put on it. I remember taking a course from a theologian at Chautuaqua who taught at a university who said, "When my students interpret the Bible too literally, I always remind them that the Bible was written by PEOPLE."
This is an important point because it is one of the things that has kept the West relatively peaceful in modern times, at least compared to Islamic countries. Why aren’t Methodists and Baptists blowing each other up, the way Sunnis and Shiites are? Because their religious book, the Koran, was what we would call "channeled," thus you can’t disagree with it and you may feel the need to destroy people who interpret it differently than you do. This concept eliminates the possibility of a religion’s growth, change or reformation. In contrast to this, the Bible is considered to be "divinely INSPIRED."
I’ve always felt that the concept of hell is a human construct. What else could it be? Payback, retribution, punishment–these are all things that HUMAN BEINGS like to wallow in. And anyone who stresses this part of their belief system–instead of the joy and wisdom it brings them–needs to reconsider their religion or at least the way they are interpreting it, because you can’t scare or threaten people into doing the right thing–you can only inspire them.
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