Spritual Experiences.Flirting with death, life and love.
It's strange to be so convinced of the reality of the spiritual world where divisions can be seen, appreciated and shattered, and love and understanding are universal, while I haven't had a Near Death Experience. I've had several "flirtations" with the spiritual realm. Most of these have come to me through the use of hallucinogens, so I won't blame you if you dismiss them as delusions. However, I do think that I would have missed out on an important element of my learning and happiness if I dismissed them this way.
A contributing factor to my belief that these hallucinations weren't completely unreal is that I had a few experiences during my childhood (before I ever experimented with drugs) that were identical in nature to these "trips". Not in clarity or intensity, perhaps, but the message was the same.
The two major experiences I can put into any words at all, I will describe here. One was with someone I loved very deeply in a romantic way, and the other was with my brother, whom I love deeply in a platonic way.
In the first experience, me and my boyfriend were tripping on acid and just laying on the floor, listening to music. It didn't take long for us to get completely submerged in the music, everything sounding, feeling and looking incredibly different and fascinating and somehow, very important. Throughout the trip, we spoke to each other very little. In the early stages, I was lucidly dreaming amazingly intricate scenarios where I was on a shore, underwater in an endlessly deep ocean, in a place something like Atlantis underwater, in deserts, on mountains, in towns, in space, and everywhere in far-off beautiful places.
In all of these, I was interacting with other people. I didn't notice the patterns in the interactions at first, but gradually I began to pick up on what "worked" and what "didn't work" with the people I met. They were always strangers at first, even my boyfriend. I felt the usual mix of curiosity and hesitation with them. But when I endeavored to find out what they were trying to accomplish, I desired to help them. Whenever I found I desired to help them, I found that I could. Helping them solve whatever puzzles or dilemmas they had gave me the most intense pride and joy I have ever felt. I felt totally free of my own life...totally important to these other people and loving and loved.
Many of the problems they had were rooted in their fear or distrust of other people, especially foreign or different people. I became the translator, the one to soften the edges of both people to each other, to teach them how to trust each other and not feel in danger. Giving them the ability to find joy and solve problems together, I felt fully alive and ready for the next scenario. Immediately it would come up around me. I got "smarter" with every situation, so I was really very into what was happening and craving more. I wasn't looking to see what was happening behind me, in the places I had already been.
I did stop and pull myself out of the beautiful dream at one point to see my boyfriend's face, twisted in fear and confusion. He was obviously somewhere very different than me. Inwardly I shouted for joy at the opportunity to help him, the one I already knew and loved deeply. I knew that words would echo differently in his mind than what I would mean to say, so I tried to just physically radiate love and security and compassion. I looked deeply into his eyes and spoke softly. I told him that he could let go of the fear, that I would take it for him, that he was free to go anywhere. I maintained my fixation of love and comfort and confidence on him. He relaxed and opened his eyes wide in a new way, in a look of fearless wonder and gratitude.
All this time I felt like angels were whispering to me what I needed to do to set people free. I wanted to do everything I could for them. I saw nations of people celebrating together, celebrating their freedom and love for each other and the world. Laughing over their troubles and fears. Joyful in giving love and help to each other. Grateful in receiving. Absolutely beautiful and logical, in the most fascinating way. It was like everyone "got it" at once. I heard the message, with a mixture of joy and importance in every heart, "We are here to make heaven on Earth". The whole Earth seemed to sing that, feeling for the first time that other people understood and that it was worth it to try. Feeling for the first time that we all are here for a reason, to create and enjoy paradise.
My boyfriend and I talked about it many times later. He had seen some of the same things, although we both had trouble articulating it later. But our relationship was forever transformed. We felt a sense of purpose together, and a purpose to everything and every person, here on Earth. Any time we came up against confusion and fear, we felt we could "give it away" and that God would take care of it. Our love became true, and now no distance will ever change that.
My brother's awakening.
It was several months afterwards that my brother, John and I got ahold of some mushrooms and transformed our relationship. We had tripped together a couple of times and always had great fun. The subject matter never really got metaphysical or philosophical like some of the other trips I'd had with people. I had described some of my other trips to him, and on this one he wanted to try tripping the way I did. This entails mostly relaxing and meditating on the different sensory experiences you set up for yourself: music, natural surroundings, art, etc.
I explained to him that when you're with someone that you are comfortable with and care about, you can relax enough together to take your mind much further than you could with unfamiliar people or alone. Having someone else with you who understands and listens to you always gives you a feeling of comfort and security and a witness to what you are experiencing. This has the effect of freeing you to think about whatever you're curious about and gives you a sense of being more objective or scientific about the logical steps you take. It's thinking fearlessly.
We were both very happy and eager going in to the trip. As planned, I put in a trance CD and began to try to help John lucidly dream to it. It's difficult to do if you're trying too hard, so we talked a little and did some body-hallucination techniques, to relax his mind and distract him from trying to see the images in the music. I was "lowering him into his grave", a technique that involved him lying face-down on the floor, my slowly raising his upper body by pulling his wrists up and out from in front of him, holding it there for a few moments, then very slowly lowering him back down to floor level (which seems much further down, even to sober people!). His eyes were closed and he was passively listening to the trance, when his face lit up in wonder. I stretched out the exercise as long as I could, knowing he was transfixed by whatever he was seeing. After he reached the floor he lay there for a minute or so while I comfortingly kept a hand on his forearm. He pulled himself out of the trance to tell me about it. He had been seeing the same things I had! He started to describe standing on a high cliff, and I asked him about the colors and details of it, and he looked at me in amazement and every answer was, "Yeah, yeah! it was just like that!" and I would describe the next part of the trance and he had seen that too.
But as rare and wonderful as that new discovery for him was, it was nothing next to what happened in the middle of it. We were sitting indian-style on the floor, facing each other, describing the visions we had, when we looked at each other and it was like we "found" each other for the first time, spiritually. It was a feeling of recognizing each other, seeing the light of life burning inside each other, and instantly knowing that it couldn't just be us. It was a feeling of such intense power and beauty. But there we sat in silence, each knowing that the other was "recognizing" us. We held our hands together and it felt like so much energy was exchanging between us. We were communicating without words. John, who is not publicly emotional, even with us, began to cry. We started talking about this energy, this life we saw in each other, and we cried and cried in recognition and joy for each other and the world around us--everything that we had and exchanged with.
We moved outside and talked for hours about the life of the world, moved by some of the most intense gratitude we'd ever felt. We also felt so silly for having been blind to it, we just laughed and laughed at how simple it all really is. What is God?--What is the most wonderful thing in the world?--God IS the world! He's everything and everyone, blind to himself because he hides himself in different forms like nature and man. He is playing this great game of hide-and-seek, hiding in the most protected part of all of us--our hearts. Just like the game, as soon as we think to really check there, there he is!
John was very atheist up until that night. He talked about that a lot, lamenting about how much comfort and joy he could have had in years before if only he had not been so skeptical about everything. His biggest regret was that he had had an experience of God before, and he had been so afraid that people wouldn't understand or respect him for it that he'd pushed it to the back of his mind and forgotten it himself.
He and I talked and talked just to document what had happened to us together...some semblance of proof makes an experience more real and lasting for us. All night we joyfully took in the beauty and intelligence of the world around us and talked and felt that God was giving us the power to reach certain conclusions and choose words we couldn't ordinarily have chosen--to make things very clear. We treasured that night for all that it was.
Afterwards, I went back to college and didn't see him until the following Christmas break. I knew that we hadn't talked about the experience since it happened, and I was wondering what he did with those thoughts after all this time. Did he push it away like he had his other experience? So one night on the back porch as he was talking about a debate he and my father had had about the nature and existence of God, I asked him what his beliefs were again. I didn't know what he would say. I hoped the question wouldn't make him uncomfortable. Fortunately, I had nothing to fear. He looked up at me from where he was sitting, paused for a moment, and gave me an ironic, happy smile. "Come on, you of all people should know that!" and he looked into my eyes with a hint of that intense recognition we had felt. I laughed, so relieved that he still allowed that wonder and love into his heart and mind. He talked about it; he had gone through a period of doubt over the experience because it had been drug-induced, and he knew that was something not to trust. But it seemed that every time he would doubt, some surreal and magical circumstances would catch him off guard and convince him again. So he renewed his resolve to defend his beliefs if challenged, and to be open-minded and loving with people of different beliefs.
John and I are gifts to each other. Without the other, each of us would be so much more doubting and alone, wrapped up in ourselves, and timid about discussing our beliefs with people. We are here on Earth for each other, we truly believe that. Not just me and John. All of us. Every creature in the universe. It's just a matter of recognizing and trusting it. Recognizing the God within us and each other. People experience it in so many different ways...sometimes several in their lifetimes. The beauty is that there are so many paths to the same truth. So much love and knowledge to exchange. No guilt, no fear, only complete love and hope for each other.
I do believe we are meant to meet the people we meet on Earth. There are reasons for the seeming randomness of our lives: it's not very random at all when you look at it. It never hurts to explore the reasons why someone--anyone has come into your life. If nothing else, it will give you a greater appreciation for them, which is a wonderful feeling. Your circumstances will teach you whenever you are willing to learn. And they will open up beauty for you if you will look.
I pray that you will experience much wonder and love and happiness along your journey. :)