Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Proof of Heaven: A Book Review

Proof of Heaven—do not let the title fool you that this is a Christian tome about streets of gold and pearly gates. Eben Alexander, M.D., a well-respected neurosurgeon, saw many medical cases in which patients claimed to have seen deceased loved ones or heaven. He dismissed them all as chemical processes in the brain—until he had his own near-death experience while in a seven-day coma. Alexander states that while in his coma his neo-cortex was non-functional. The only thing keeping his body alive was his brain stem.

Alexander says he was a Christmas and Easter church-goer, and thought ideas of God were pleasant fantasies. In his coma, however, Alexander experienced angelic beings, and sounds and sights more beautiful than anything on earth. He gives a list of scientific explanations that he used to cite as reasons for these “delusions,” and refutes most of them because his neo-cortex was not functional and it’s the neo-cortex that processes such experiences. He also refutes other scientific versions in an appendix, with medical language that only a physician would understand.

Alexander was in a coma induced by bacterial meningitis, and his recovery was a medical miracle in itself. He should have died and his story alternates chapters between his medical condition that worsened day-by-day, and his concurrent experiences in the other realm.

While on the “other side,” which Alexander states is really a dimension that is right here, he had a female guide who took him on a tour of the universe. He’d always had a fascination with flying, astronomy and physics, and found that while out of body he gained instantaneous knowledge and understanding of how the universe works that would take him years to learn here.  He reports that he did not see any loved ones in the other dimension and had no personal identity as a neurosurgeon who had an earthly family to which he wanted to return. He feels his lack of a sense of personal self allowed him to go deeper into the experience than most others who have near-death experiences. While he thought he had not seen any loved ones, once out of his coma he was given a picture of his birth sister, whom he’d never met because he was adopted and she had died. He was shocked to find that she was the angelic guide who gave him the tour of the universe.  

Alexander states that our physical existence on earth is like a speck of dust compared to the vast reality of love beyond space and time. The reason we do not recognize true reality is that the brain filters it out of our consciousness. While Alexander used to think that consciousness was solely of the brain, he now knows that the brain has nothing to do with consciousness and our sense of existence goes on beyond the body. Again, he knows this because his neo-cortex, which allows for the organization of personal life information, was not functioning. He now feels that our society, while it has benefitted from technology, needs to regain its lost sense of the mystical. Without knowledge of our oneness with each other and all life, we are prone to random violence, escalating greed, global pollution and lack of purpose and meaning.

Alexander states his scientific mind never allowed him to believe a loving God exists. In fact, he calls the God he experienced “Om,” a feminine presence whose message is that love is all there is. “Om” felt like the primordial creative sound that pulses throughout the universe. This presence is available to everyone and has nothing to do with accepting religious tenets or being a good person. The main messages Alexander received were: all of us are loved and cherished; there is nothing to fear; we can never do anything wrong.

I have read a number of near-death accounts and what I like about Alexander’s is that his description of life beyond the body most closely resembles what is taught in A Course in Miracles (ACIM). ACIM is the only spiritual path that satisfactorily answered my questions about world suffering. Some of the areas in which Proof of Heaven sounds like it’s right from ACIM are:

Ø      The brain does not really think. It filters bits and pieces of information and formulates a story. This is what it decides is reality, all the while true reality lies outside its awareness. Our daily experiences are an illusion. However, love is the true reality and the love we have for our children, spouses, friends, pets, etc. never dies.

Ø      Time does not exist in reality. Time and space are only a function of the dualistic nature in the physical universe.

Ø      We are loved, innocent and there is nothing to fear.

Ø      We must choose love instead of fear because we are allowed to choose what we will experience.

Ø      The false belief in separation from God is the source of all anxiety and problems and the solution for every problem is recognizing that we are one with each other and God.

Ø      Physicality is characterized by defensiveness. There is no loss in Spirit, therefore nothing to defend.

Ø      Alexander described life as being like an egg and the creative aspect of God is the shell around the egg’s contents. However, he felt that while his consciousness was identified with all that is, he could never fully become one with Source. A Course in Miracles  likewise indicates that God is beyond consciousness.  

Proof of Heaven is both enlightening and entertaining and it is a must-read for anyone interested in life beyond the body. It is especially helpful for skeptics with a scientific bent, as it answers commonly-held criticisms scientists hold about consciousness and God.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Connecticut School Shooting and ACIM

My heart clutched with horror and grief when I heard about the Connecticut school shooting. I ached for the parents who lost their children, but, unable to tolerate that level of pain, I immediately surged forth with rage at political and societal factors I believed caused this tragic incident. I had plans to attend a Christmas gathering the next day and many of the attendees were of a different political persuasion than me. I found myself attacking them in my head. I hope one of your kids gets killed. Then maybe you won’t be so smug in your beliefs.

Appalled, I saw in myself the murderous thought system that A Course in Miracles says abides in all of us. I was no different than the shooter or the people I blamed for their “wrong” beliefs. Rage, boiling from within me, led me to wish death on loved ones! My rage was not caused by what appeared to happen in Connecticut. My rage was not caused by other people’s political agendas. My rage is my own, and I am the one who has to take responsibility for it.

A Course in Miracles tells us to pray to see things differently, so I did. The first words I heard were, “Lorri, there is no world! There is no world! There is no world! (W-132.6:2) (The miracle) looks on devastation and reminds the mind that what it sees is false.” (W-p.II.13.1:3) This calmed me down. Emotions are an ego device, designed to make the world seem real. They work well, for how can the world not be real when it feels so intense? The ego voice argued with the Holy Spirit. But if I don’t feel for the parents, if I don’t take political action to stop escalating gun violence, aren’t I being callous and complacent?

The Holy Spirit reminded me that action in the world, if we are guided to take such action, must be taken from a standpoint of love, not rage. Rage is a cover for fear and fear always stems from the ego thought system. My desire to point out my friends’ political insanity was clearly not coming from love. Our task as students of A Course in Miracles is to choose love over fear consistently. We have to choose Truth over illusion and not waver, because the second we believe in the false world we perceive, we’re in hell. Forgiveness is not callously denying the pain a brother thinks he is experiencing—it’s a blessing of sanity on an insane world. “(Forgiveness) looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, ‘My brother, what you think is not the truth.’” (W-134.7:5)

A Course in Miracles says there is no cause for the Connecticut shooting, because it is a dream of death being projected from our sick minds. A dream is an illusion. ACIM says the entire world is in our minds. It’s not out there! The only way violence, disease, poverty and injustice are going to stop is by healing our minds, for the mind is the source of the belief in separation. We have invented a world of chaos, murder and suffering because we think we’re separate from God. We think we’re shameful and guilty, but because facing that shame is unbearable, we project it onto others. “Do not forget, however, to deny God will inevitably result in projection, and you will believe that others and not yourself have done this to you.” (T-10.V.2:1)

When we remember God, we know we are the holy Son of God who cannot suffer. I thought I had faced my belief in separation, but there were deeper levels I was still defended against. My rage at the shooting was evidence that I continued to believe I was a body, vulnerable and capable of being attacked. The random shootings in public places left me frightened and feeling bereft without God in this terrible, cruel world. As the Course says, “The world provides no safety. It is rooted in attack.” (W-153.1:2-3) Our only safety is in our relationship with God. Our only peace is in not returning attack for attack, but choosing to forgive. Then we will wake up from our nightmare and be restored to our oneness with each other and God.

As I forgave those who held different opinions, forgave myself, and forgave the entire Connecticut tragedy, the sense of separation lifted. As I continued to pray for guidance and healed perception, I was reminded that the body’s eyes see only the past. (Lesson 7) What appears to be happening in the world is over and done. Every single person that appeared to be killed or peripherally hurt in the Connecticut tragedy is an eternal, holy Child of God. If you want to give a true gift to them, pray in a manner such as: “I see the Christ in You. You are a holy Child of God. You cannot suffer. You are as God created You. You are safe at home in Heaven now.”

This is the Truth of their Being, and of your own. To join in suffering perpetuates the illusion, but to join in Truth is to make whole.

Merry Christ-mass! May the Christ Self be born in your awareness this season.

Love, Lorri

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Physical Healing with A Course in Miracles


Here is an hour radio episode in which I discuss physical healing with A Course in Miracles. I read from the book Gorgeous for God, by Lisa Natoli, an ACIM teacher who has had a positive influence on my spiritual growth. Her website is www.teachersofgod.org.

We discuss how healing occurs when we release the concept of linear time and move into the NOW. In the present moment you are spirit and you cannot be sick. When you learn to identify with your true identity as spirit, you shift dimensions and move outside of time and space. Miracles happen and you know that you are healed.