A slight movement in the chair in front of me caused the diamonds on her fingers to scrape against the wicker. It made me look up and take notice. She always entered without any sound and her appearance never failed to startle me. The curve of her shoulders and arms were highlighted by the fashionable cut of the dress, a shade of watermelon silk. The smoothness of her skin glowed with a golden summer tan. I never considered the thought that souls in heaven were affected by the seasons. Time is an element of space and therefore does not exist in God and all that philosophical stuff. But today my soul was revealing the effects of a glorious summer. Outside my window I could see the splendor of the high season. As my visitor contemplated the lush trees and the distant forest stretching out before us, her eyes grew soft and reflective. The high oval shaped back of the chair in which she sat resembled wings that stretched and folded behind and above her head. The points of the wings that framed her face touched each other above her. Her hands lay folded in her lap. Today, her feet were bare, no polish on her toenails.
I cleared my throat. “I have been thinking a lot about the Afterlife these days.”
Even before those words landed in the silence between us I remembered that if time did not exist in the realm of the Soul, neither did before and after. There was no after so there was no Afterlife. Only the present moment.
Her gaze had been distant before, but now her eyes became radiant with interest. She said, “Right now, for many of you, the idea of what you call an afterlife is just a wager. As yet many humans feel that they know little about it, mostly because they are not interested in learning more. They perceive heaven as far away and a God somewhere out there in a separate world, away from humans. At least those of you who conceive of such a Being.”
Truth is, something in me never believed that. If I had not had other ideas pounded into me as child, I would have trusted the other realm, as it is called, because I sensed it all around me. I could feel the unity, a wordless understanding among all of humanity as if it were just one soul. Thinking back now it seemed hard to believe since I had been born just after Auschwitz. Then, as I grew older, heaven seemed further and further away. Still, it was the reason I developed a keen interest in another realm, other than the earthly.
I marvel at what people pin their hopes on, how they love to gamble on everything, from winning the lottery to gambling for the jackpot or holding their breath for a door prize which they rarely if ever get. But when it comes to what we call ‘Afterlife’ they stick to the most basic beliefs that promise some form of security.
She should know, this majestic angelic creature who was my soul. She had lived with me for a long time and she knew how I had been indoctrinated with such beliefs as a child and how upset I got with both those who wanted to perpetuate them and those who threw out any possibility of afterlife altogether. I said, “Even the possibility of not gambling on any life at all, the idea that there is nothing left of you when you die. That this life is all there is and that when it ends you stop existing.”
Which in itself is a wager. You focus on this life because outside of what you can see with your five senses everything is simply wishful thinking, or they are beliefs created by some outdated religion, before science proved otherwise. Then there is the other option. To gamble on the idea that when you die there will be judgment and punishment and reward by a Father in the distant sky? She seemed to want to limit her focus on the mostly Western heritage.
“That fits in well with those who need to feel morally superior. Those who want to appropriate heaven for themselves and delegate others to hell.”
The wicker creaked when she leaned forward. It is a form of power of the worst kind. It is the oldest trick in the book. You threaten people if they step out of the belief system of the group they will face punishment for eternity of the most horrible kind. Some of those beliefs are so ingrained in the genetic code of the collective that many are willing to defend them fanatically, while completely disregarding other possibilities? Those old traditions continue to live on in you as a persistent background noise. Unless you become conscious of their power over you, you will never be free of them.
Her knowing smile revealed how much she knew about the predicament of human nature.
I looked down at the floor, feeling the familiar despondency drain my energies. “It baffles me that so many people are willing to take their beliefs literally and defend them as if their lives depended on it.”
They are gambling on the belief that there is an end time when the good will rise up and the evil cast in hell. But outside space there is no time, so there is no end, only ever-present awareness.
” So then why would you want to stake your life, your actions on the fact that your body remains in the ground until a future judgment day when corpses will be resurrected? And so says the Bible” Now it was my turn to laugh at the idea of taking such a myth literally.
Would you not rather risk everything on the notion that love never dies, that the measure with which you have experienced transcendence in this life will catapult you into further development and growth even after your mortal life has come to an end? Are you willing to bet that you will leave behind your cocoon and become a butterfly?
Her eyes shone with excitement as she spoke. She perceived this world as a marvelous Universe and humans as amazing gods in the making. For her everything was always evolving, birth and death simply being punctuation marks within the flow, the grand scheme of things that she knew so well.
“That is the only belief I am willing bet on, and so are many of my friends already.”
Do you want to wager that a living connection exist between the living and those on the other side? That heaven is closer than we think, a higher vibration very near us but not to be detected through our lower level perceptions?
Many teachers, mediums, psychics, channelers, energy workers already hold on to that conviction because they experience it through their work. But there is so much new age fluff surrounding those beliefs that it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I let out a sigh feeling the weight of having to sort out what was true for me.
So far you have only spoken of the Western traditions. But from the East have come many more beliefs that have penetrated your culture. There are also those who put all their chips on the idea that when you have not lived a good life, then reincarnation is a form of punishment, and you will have to come back because you did not learn your lessons well in the previous life, and you will suffer negative karma? She wiggled her toes playfully, moving her feet back and forth. She was having fun and laughed unabashedly at many of the ideas that came up in our dialogue
But what about karma, is it not something many people adhere to?
Her voice rose a pitch. Karma means that every action has a consequence. Every thought has power, what you believe you attract. Sure, there are consequences to your actions, causes have effects. Some of them are good and some not so good, but either way they are part of the tapestry of life.
“Here is the problem. On the one hand we are so deeply involved in this life, and we do not spend a lot of time thinking about ultimate things like death and Afterlife if we can help it. When we do talk about it seems so elusive we only give it the tiniest bit of attention before moving on to another subject. We even stay away from people who have experienced a loss through death because it might make us think about our mortality.”
Do you want to bet that you have infinite opportunity to gain knowledge through many lifetimes by learning all the difficult lessons the life has to offer? That earth school allows you to experience suffering and joy, male and female, intellectual and mentally challenged, hardness of heart or kindness, the role of perpetrator and the role of victim, and everything duality has in store for the rich fabric that makes up a soul? Do you want to gamble on the belief that earth school is the best school of all in that it enriches souls more than any other place in the universe? Do you want to wager on the hypothesis that it takes tremendous courage for souls to enter into life on earth? Do you want to bit that every experience that humans have enriches the godhead through the multifaceted aspect of each unique soul and each unique combination of families of souls?
“That, too, is a wager I am willing to take. I didn’t particularly want to be reincarnated into this life, let alone be willing to do it another time, but you may want to invite me to do so again. And, I am most certainly going to refuse.” I clenched my teeth with determination.
She was studying me intently. “The reflection on your face seems to be a combination of exhaustion and expectation. You have that contradictory demeanor between grim anxiety and childlike faith.”
I shrunk back a little. She had noted my clenched fists. I said with a pinched voice, “I am old. But yes, there is something childlike in my openness to different possibilities when it comes the Afterlife.”
I see your life as a beautiful tapestry, a work of art, no less.
I am grateful for that. Mostly because the knots and the threads and screwups are hidden at the wrong side of the finished work and I do not have to reveal the messiness of the reverse side.
You call them screw ups and errors, I call them brave lessons learned. What is your preoccupation with perfection anyway? From where I stand, everything is perfect, even the false turns and dead ends.
I have learned that, from the view of the right hemisphere of our brain everything is one, fluid, and flowing, a knowing that separation and death are not possible. It is the left-hemisphere that sees problems and rattles constantly at a speed faster than speech. It lives in fear of death.
Her shining eyes grew big with interest as I continued. It was a good feeling that my Soul was willing to learn new things.
You mean that separation and loss are a perception of the left hemisphere?
Yep. Its command center is only the size of a peanut. Just think, my whole life is run by something the size of a peanut. But in order to function in this world, the left hemisphere is essential. It does everything my body needs to do and it navigates this person I call me through the complexities of daily life in the world. Trying to silence some of its chatter for awhile is my biggest problem.
She gave me an encouraging look. “You are doing better than you think.”
“I just want both sides to be more in balance with each other. While my left brain is capable of navigating through greater and greater complexity and inclusiveness, my right brain embraces higher states of consciousness and oneness all the time. It is all part of the evolutionary process.” I was getting warmed up to my favorite subject now and my Soul was humming along with me.
Her turn again. Do you want to bet that this greater consciousness involves a closeness to heaven and the other side so that we will never look at death in the same way?
The truth of that had been driven home to me only very recently.
I know that I am surrounded by loved ones, guides and angels. Just do not tell anyone. I live in a scientific world. Right brain, left brain, that is scientific. All the rest is unmentionable.
Sex used to be an unmentionable subject at one time in history, but that did not make it go away.
The smile on her face spread into a wide grin. Her eyes sparkled with mischief. I was thinking that even sex was still a very misunderstood subject and we were only always learning its significance to the transcendent world, but that was a subject for another dialogue with her.
Do you see that if you stick to any kind of tunnel vision, in regards to life or death, it will be your reality. Your imagination and daring will simply not allow you to experience a much grander possibility. On the other hand, if you can imagine it, you can enter into a creative process of infinite possibility. If you want to gamble on the grandest prize you cannot be timid about it. The fearful, security minded bets will not get you want you desire.
“So, if you want to imagine God as an old man in the sky who judges your every move, one who waits to judge the living and death as the Creed says, when you choose to remain with that image, your imagination will not allow you to experience a God that is big enough, close enough and you enough.”
My tone was becoming strident and she took note. She beamed a forgiving smile. I was battle wary. Doing combat with those who wanted to put God in a box had become a useless habit of mine. She poked a slender long finger in my direction toward the peanut side of my brain.
Your baggage from the past and your vision of the future are colliding right now. Your left hemisphere wants to plan and fix and manage the past as well as your vision for the future, while your right brain enjoys the perfection of each moment just as it is.
If I do not have a strategy, an intention, a plan, will my life then not become hijacked by my own unconscious motives and those of others?” I was protesting. I want to be free to create my own future in service of those who can be enriched by you, my dear soul. But what is freedom anyway, I wondered?
You cannot change the collective, only yourself. That alone will have an impact on the collective. Remember that each human life is a tapestry, with many knots and loose ends hiding behind.
I muttered and sputtered and wished I could just rest in silence where I knew that my wager is no longer that, but a true experience of what could never be put into words. The experience of God is slippery and impossible to express. No wonder that people who have near death experiences come up with so many different versions and symbols of what they have learned. Some even use that event to fortify their literal understanding of their old beliefs. I had never had a near-death experience, but as far as I was concerned there was no religion in heaven. Religions were mere scaffolding, leading up to a path where each could choose in freedom. Mature souls no longer had a need for that scaffolding, only for the companionship of kindred spirits. After all, Spirit was a sociable God who even liked the costume parties.
You ask about freedom. Do you want to stake your life on it that as human beings we are completely free to create something new in each moment, and that this freedom is the divine energy, the divine life, the grace that pulsates through all that is; it has the ability to change everything through us?
Sometimes I have the feeling that my life was hijacked when I was eighteen years old and I lost my family, my language and my culture.
But don’t you see, every human soul is constantly held hostage and in danger of losing its freedom, through family, ethnic and cultural expectations, advertising, status symbols, excessive parental control, religion, unconscious emotional involvement, the list is endless. Freedom means that you remain aware of what derails you, of the times that you betray yourself. Contrary to what you think, your life presented you with a great opportunity to discover what is true freedom to be your unique self and develop your gifts.
I guess that is true for everyone. Life itself is a wager, then. Despite our circumstances and hardships, we can continue to walk our path and learn to choose with greater freedom.
Do you want to bet then that categories of good and evil are only adequate for those at a very basic understanding of morality but that as adults we need to have to have sufficient backbone to decide about more complex issues? What is often too easily categorized as evil is something to be explored and transformed.
So, there are no easy answers as to how to deal with complex issues? Black and white choices are for the simpleminded.
Or for those who want to project their shadow side on others. Us the good ones, them the bad ones. Do you want to wager instead that human beings have a zillion chances to get it right, that every mistake leads to a new opportunity, that there is no punishment in God, only infinite life and love and faithfulness?
I was totally on board with that. I was willing to put all my stakes on it.
But much of it remained a wager. Along with so many others like believing that love never dies and that we continue to grow in a life beyond the grave. But what else can I do than live with that hypothesis since I am not really going to get the complete picture until I come to the end of my earthly life? If only we could accept the mounting evidence of what we can see with the right-brain or the eye of the spirit or transcendent consciousness or whatever name we wanted to put on it. If we could count that of equal importance with what we can observe with the five senses.
Yes, I am willing to up the ante that this peaceful, joyful, loving Presence that sustains us through the trials of life is both our Source and our Destiny. It is what my right-brain tells me constantly if I am willing to relax in silence and enter a place of no boundaries.
My cat Muffin jumped up on my lap and wanted to play. Her teasing bite brought me back to the visible world and as always, I left the invisible world with a touch of sadness.
I looked up to see that my visitor was gone. Only a single long blond hair remained stuck in the wicker of the angelic wings of the chair where she’d shared my space with such an aura of mischief. My partner in iconoclasm, I thought gratefully. I could feel a tingling in my fingers as I was typing and I knew she was merely gone from my vision and not from my energy field, my field of grace. She was One with all those whom I loved and lived inside me moment to moment, ever-present. I was willing to sit still and listen.