By David Sunfellow
In this world, it’s clear that there are places that are both heavenly and hellish. We have peaceful, idyllic countries like Denmark and dark and dangerous countries like North Korea. And what is true on the level of countries, is also true on the level of cities, and neighborhoods. Some cities are more peaceful than others (they have lower crime rates and have citizens that are generally more happy and healthy than other cities). Ditto for the neighborhoods within cities — some are safer, cleaner, happier, healthier than others. We can visit these places and tell our friends about them. We can find out about them by searching the web, watching movies, reading brochures, etc. For the most part, no one who learns about these places doubts that they exist, even if they haven’t visited them personally. In the same way that we have both heavenly and hellish places in this world, so, too, do we have lots of evidence that both heavenly and hellish realms exist on the other side of the veil. So here’s my first question: why, when there is abundant evidence that hellish realms exist, is there a tendency to deny their existence? Why are we comfortable saying that heavenly realms and states of consciousness exist on the other side of the veil but we’re not so comfortable with the idea that hellish realms and states of consciousness also exist?
The statistics that Dr. Jeffrey Long has been collecting, which mirror the statistics that I have seen from other NDE researchers, indicate that 64.6 percent of NDErs encounter a mystical light of some kind, and a whopping 76.2 percent experience “intense and generally positive emotions or feelings”. These two statistics are connected with the vertical aspect of NDEs — encounters with The Light. How many NDErs report life reviews? Only 22.2 percent. What I’ve noticed is that NDErs who encounter The Light, or the vertical aspect of universal law, without experiencing The Life Review, the horizontal aspect of life, seem to get into more trouble than people who have experienced both. The kind of trouble they typically get into is longing, ferociously, to return to the other side without being tempered by the knowledge that they have work to do in this world. For some, this cannot only be extremely disorienting, but dangerous, as they long so much to get back to the other side that they may consider suicide, or pursue solitary activities that help them disengage from this world and reconnect to the other side. I’ve also noticed that NDErs who do not have experiences that make them aware of how our their thoughts and actions affect others, can return with callous and insensitive attitudes towards others, and life in general. Knowing that we are one with God, or God Itself, and that life is a dream, but not also understanding the value of earthly life and the responsibility we have to purify our thoughts and actions, can lead to all kinds of issues.
To be more concrete: There are many spiritual teachers — NDErs and others — who present themselves publicly as having their act together, when behind the scenes their inner life and interpersonal relationships are a disaster. If these inconsistencies aren’t acknowledged and dealt with, they get worse, as does the life and health of the person who is struggling with them.
So here’s my second question: Do the rest of you notice these inconsistencies? How people who have powerful encounters with The Light can return thinking that they have their act together when, in fact, they don’t? I see this as one of the 800 pound gorillas sitting in the middle of the NDE community. There is a tendency to acknowledge The Light (within and without), but the need to also acknowledge and integrate the darkness is often overlooked, sometimes with tragic results.
I’ve also noticed another striking parallel. In the same way that NDErs are not allowed to stay on the other side of life when they have work to do in this world, so, too, are we repeatedly forced to face the darkness in our lives even when all we want to do is focus on the positive. Have you noticed this too? Try as we might, we can’t stay in heavenly states of consciousness until we do the hard work of integrating the light and darkness within us.
We all know that humans tend to be afraid of the unknown. I’ve come to believe that one of the main reasons there is so much misunderstanding, conflict, and fighting in the world is because the people (and forces) we encounter in life often seem alien to us. And the reason they seem alien to us is because we are unfamiliar with the corresponding forces that live within us.
Have you noticed this too? When we become acquainted with the dictators, murderers, serial killers, rapists, greedy bankers, corporate raiders, shady politicians, lying lawyers, cheating partners, scamming charlatans, fanatical religious zealots that live within us, the people who embody these forces in the outer world are less alien and scary. We not only understand them better, but we also know how to handle them. Bottom line: To the degree that we know, understand and heal the dark, immature, undeveloped forces within ourselves, the happier, more peaceful and stable our personal and collective worlds become.
Have you noticed this?
All of this is another attempt to say that I think it is very important that we acknowledge the darkness in NDEs, in our world, and in ourselves — and embrace and befriend it. Until we do, I think the universe is designed to keep sending us back, again and again, to take another run at it.
To learn more about hellish and distressing near-death experiences, go here.