Near Death Experience (NDE)
If you go to YouTube, and search for “Near Death Experience”, you’ll get pages and pages of videos testifying to life-after-death experience. Many of them are hallucinations, if not hoaxes or propaganda, but many of them are not. It may seem confusing, as well, since depending upon whether the witness is an atheist, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian or a Muslim (or maybe a follower of Voodoo) they will typically experience it differently, according to their belief systems, and as being “proof” of the ultimate truth of their particular belief systems. So, instead of speaking so much of “hallucination” it would be better to speak of it as “camouflage”, because the core experience is valid for all.
I was looking today for one in particular that I viewed some time ago, which was particularly lucid. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate it again. It was the experience of a man who had no particular religious convictions, and so his NDE was not coloured by perceptions of Heaven, Hell, Jesus, Devils, Angels, etc, etc, as are many of the others. It was clear of that sort of clutter, distortion, or “camouflage” conditioned by any belief system. Moreover, you don’t have to wait for some physical trauma or physical near-death experience to verify such things, because what is called the “death state” or “after-life” isn’t in time, and doesn’t “follow” anything. It is the perennial background to life itself and requires only a shift in the focus of consciousness to know.
But, for convenience sake, we will call it here “after life”, even though that’s not really fully accurate, for it could just as well be called “pre-life”, even though that is as much a conventional way of understanding it as well.
In any event, you have these different narratives or mental maps of the after-life depending upon the form of the understanding or mode of perception, and so you may come to the conclusion that it’s all nonsense — or hoax, hallucination, etc. But the variety of such after-life scenarios is simply a continuation of the principle — as in life, so in death consciousness creates form, and “you create the reality you know”. The imaginal continues to construct the terms of existence or, as the case may be, non-existence.
Of course, there will be the objection that many an “atheist” who had a NDE witnessed angels or devils, God, Heaven and Hell, Jesus, etc, etc. and suddenly became “religious”. My answer to that is that their atheism was a mile wide and an inch deep, an affair of the mind and intellect only. But it’s the emotional convictions that are ultimately decisive, and that provide the fuel for the camouflage. I know plenty of people who are split between head and heart, so to speak. They can’t intellectually or rationally credit religious belief systems, but emotionally they remain attached to them in a more or less subliminal way. This emotional intelligence is called “the imagination of the heart” and it pretty much overrules the rationalisations and is the architect of scenario. Your more or less consciousness or unconscious expectations, convictions, assumptions, beliefs are decisive in how you come to experience the after-life state. Pythagoreans, for example, have a somewhat different picture or map of that than Christians or Muslims, Jews or Buddhists, and so on. This variety is not such a bad thing in some respects — this sense of familiarity.
The one in particular that I was seeking (and couldn’t find again) was particularly interesting because it was the NDE of a man who had no particular religious convictions, and so it was less coloured by visions of religious images and icons. He wasn’t met at the “Pearly Gates” by St. Paul, or Jesus, or Mohammed, or Moses, or the Buddha or by angels or devils. And I found it of some interest because it closely resembled some of Carlos Castaneda’s experiences.
This gentleman recalled passing by a dark mass, a black emptiness, a profound horror that as a destination he says, he wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even Adolf Hitler. But then, he immediately recognised it as his own life. He was seeing an image of his own abysmal life he could return to. It lacked intelligence. But then appeared a light, towards which he was drawn, and the light energy bathed him like water, he recalls. It flowed through and around him. It was intelligent and he knew he was “home” there and not in the inky darkness that was his life. Then he was revived.
This account of near death experience was interesting because it cut through all the guff. The doorway to the abysmal that he saw was the same “dark mass” that pursued Castaneda one night in the desert in one of his first experiences as a “sorcerer’s apprentice”. It was, in effect, his own life, his own darkness or Shadow. And he would also encounter this darkness as a kind of monster or creature a few more times during his apprenticeship. Eventually, also, he would come to know that same light energy as his perception of “energy as it flows in the universe”, and as a “supreme intelligence” that was called “intent”. Basically, that experience of the light and dark was the meaningful and the meaningless, and corresponds to the distinction between cosmos and chaos which then became represented in the metaphysics of “good” and “evil”.
So, ancient texts speak of “sons of light” and “sons of darkness”, and everything in between these states. From this it is assumed that there are two discrete metaphysical forces in constant conflict in the universe or of “the fall of the angels” who were sons of light and who became “sons of darkness”. But they are not metaphysical beings but states of consciousness, for the “sons of darkness” are the Prodigal Son, and the “good” and “evil” conditions are states of knowledge and ignorance. The “sons of darkness” are those who have fallen into a state of sensate consciousness or merely sensate existence, and this distinction between “sons of light” and “sons of darkness” was the original rationale for distinguishing between “noble” and “ignoble”, or the “elite” and the “vulgar”. And if you trace back the etymology of these terms through history (and their various revaluations and devaluations) you come to the fact that they did not originally describe power relationships at all but between the knowing and the unknowing, or the guiding and the guided, or the “seeing” and the blind, the free or the bond. But over time, these meanings have become corrupted and distorted. What originally had meanings of “teacher” and “the taught”, has come over time to mean the rulers and the ruled, with successive ruling classes appropriating the language and symbols of the original “spiritual” teachings to justify their own rule, and to keep the so-called “masses” politically subordinate and in darkness, which is completely contrary to the original arrangement. So, you have various kinds of elites — warrior elites, financial elites, priestly elites, corporate elites, etc — who have basically usurped from the “teachers” this function, and have distorted it for their own legitimisation.
Basically, the meaning of the “sons of light” and the “sons of darkness” has to do with the free and the bond, but not at all in the merely political sense it has acquired through the ages. Nietzsche recaptured something of the original with his distinction of the “noble” and “ignoble” and the “free spirit” but probably didn’t go far enough, and got stuck on the “master-slave” dialectic when it was really, at root, a “master-student” one.
But I’ll have more to write about those changes in later posts.