Think I’ve shared this before, but in my early teens I kind of got swept up in stories about near-death experiences, about how all over the world and cultures and across history these NDEs have largely shared many of the same traits. And about how various studies have confirmed these patients were indeed dead – sometimes for a considerable period of time – and that the dead routinely come back to describe all kinds of things they couldn’t possibly have known, being dead and all.
One of the elements of those NDEs that really stood out to me was the life review, usually with the light of god or whatever right there with them. And the problem for a lot of folks was that this light is so loving, so unimaginably loving, that they feel really ashamed about a lot of what they’re seeing in this autobiography.
It’s not that the light is judging them – far from it. The light is putting off the most beautiful, embracing, all-loving energy. And that’s the problem. It’s like having your mom walk in on you masturbating. The light is putting off this intense, unconditional love while you’re watching yourself kick a dog or give an old lady the finger in traffic or cheat on your mate.
I think this is what religious teachings mean by ‘standing naked before God.’ It’s our destiny, apparently, yet we carry on like God doesn’t know we’re secretly afraid an awful lot of the time, that we’re lusting after the guy next door, or that we really just want to get in the car and keep driving and never look back because we might see the kids waving frantically after us.
I love how, at the end of David Carse’s book, he tells the seeker he or she has to be willing to be emptied, hollowed out, gutted. No sacred cows, no secrets, no illusions or delusions.
At some point, ideally while we’re still alive and kicking, maybe it’s a good idea to own up to these things, to shed all that reptilian skin – the belief systems and philosophies and dogmas that we picked up along the way and at some point decided to make our own. Get rid of all the hate and envy and bitterness and jealousy we’ve been carrying around for ourselves or others.
Maybe if we look into all of these words and concepts we carry around we’ll start to get to something resembling real truth – not the made up truths that saturate popular culture (you know, the way the lunatics on The Bachelor are ‘in love’ 17 minutes after meeting each other, or the way someone is always telling the grief-stricken that “you’re in our hearts and prayers” or my personal favorite, “Rest in peace”).
Something is constantly reminding me, don’t be lazy, don’t settle – for the words, the concepts, the easy outs. Dive deep and see what’s really going on. And be open to incoming too, don’t duck and run, no taking cover. If someone wants to hit you between the eyes with something, let them. As Robert Adams liked to say, you’ll know where you are on the spiritual spectrum by how you react to someone calling into question that beloved little story of me.
I’ve noticed that the more you do this, the easier it becomes in catching yourself. The stuff that seemed important your whole life just isn’t. It just falls away. But the stuff that does still bother you becomes even more intense. It’s like you’ve said, “OK, I’m up for the challenge,” and whatever is listening says, “We’ll see.”
For me? I’ve got two hot buttons right now – maya sucking me back toward her event horizon, back into the abyss. One of them is race, more on that in another blog. Suffice it to say, the crap going on here in the U.S. with the confederate flag and rebel statues and everyone from every side shouting and pointing and occasionally hitting each other (or crushing them with cars) is driving me half nuts. I cannot understand these lazy, indolent minds that refuse to stop and simply consider – just consider – the same tired belief systems they’ve been dragging around with them their entire lives. They’re like robots, push a button, out comes the same tired ignorance.
It brings to mind that Charles Bukowski exchange, the one where he’s asked, “Do you hate people?”
No, he answers, “I don’t hate them. I just feel better when they’re not around.”
So let’s all commit to questioning everything we hold to be true. Everything. And then once you start peeling that onion and everyone’s eyes are watering, you can encourage them to do the same. And if they can’t take it, if they’re too frightened of letting go of that little story of ‘me,’ let them go on their way. They’ll be standing naked before God soon enough.