The Near Death-Out of Body Mysteries
A new website, www.eternea.org, has developed out of the growing body of near-death and out-of-body experiences literature which hopes to develop a scientific understanding of life outside the body as a service project to uplift society with the understanding that the over-all principle and purpose of the universe is the expression of unconditional love.
John R Audette, an early pioneer in the field of near-death and out-of-body research and Dr Eben Alexander who wrote ‘Proof of Heaven’ from his tour of the after-life during his seven day coma are principles in this effort.
Spiritual techniques are profiled like the psychomanteum meditation technique employed by Dr Raymond Moody and Eternea has developed ‘The Seven Postulates’ which summarize the findings of researchers in the near death and out-of-body experiences. These Postulates are such key re-sets of traditional religious thinking and expression towards a genuine spirituality that I have added a first century commentary in support of them:
-1. Some core aspect of consciousness extends beyond the brain and its processes, transcending physical form and existing independently of it;
The First Postulate speaking of the existence of consciousness beyond the body expresses a refreshing certainty of this. This is a dark area for even most religious people who might consider that they might be raised from the dead when Christ returns or end up in the bosom of Abraham if they have lived a good life. In any event, life after death is feared to be contingent on certain behaviors in this life. The experiences leading to the conclusion of the First Postulate totally destroy the fear of death—which has been played upon for untold millennia by legions of leaders and priesthoods for their own tactical purposes. This is not to prescribe a dogma that souls never end up in better or worse situations but to announce the essential good news that consciousness is not under the malefic thumb of a vengeful demiurge.
The first several sayings in the Gospel of Thomas announce the good news of the survival of consciousness: “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings of these sayings will not experience death…Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.” Thomas not only announces the existence of consciousness beyond the body but that there is higher consciousness, one that can be accessed, and one that can give one mastery.
2. This core aspect of consciousness or inner essence is eternal in nature, unbounded by
space, time and matter, able to manifest in other forms throughout the infinite spectrum
of eternal existence;
The Second Postulate discussing the eternality of the soul and its potential to express in other forms throughout its existence harkens back to the theology of the great Alexandrian theologian, Origen, who discussed the ‘many mansions’ Scriptural concept that the soul keeps growing after death towards God in other venues. The Second Postulate, however, goes beyond this in affirming the pre-existence of the soul which is more than being just a thought in the mind of God.
It is alleged by many that many Christians held the concept of reincarnation up until the fourth century when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. The great and early first century Alexandrian heterodox Christian, Basilides, affirmed there was no great value in martyrdom and that those who were martyred suffered partially as a result of sins from past lives. While many have not considered him a Christian he authored a dozen commentaries on Jesus which have all been destroyed.
The stunning announcement of Saying 2 of spiritual freedom in the Gospel of Thomas that “he will rule over the All” is reprised in Saying 11 which is the great saying in the Thomas which announces the spiritual freedom of the true initiate:
“…This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it alive. When you come into the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?”
The first sentence refers to the earth and the astral-dream plane. The last two sentences refer to becoming aware of the higher self and living from that consciousness. The last sentence speaks of the spiritual freedom of actually living in the higher self with the freedom to manifest in the physical body at will.
3. All things in the cosmos are interconnected at the quantum level, influencing each other
non-locally and instantaneously, implying that all things are one in the grand web of
The Third Postulate speaking of quantum entanglement gives a scientific framework to the realm of miracles but speaks to the miracle of every day. While miracles are given lip service in the religious life it is not as importantly recognized that every element of creation has value because it is interconnected. St Francis of Assisi is devalued for the religion of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ resulting in the desacralization and destruction of the natural environment. Saying 77 of the Gospel of Thomas expresses this inter-relationship of spirit and matter:
“…From me did the All come forth, and until me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there.”
One aspect of the quantum world was discovered two hundred years ago when light passing through a slit in a screen was shown to spread out in a wave-like motion rather than act like a bullet going straight ahead. This is best exemplified in Saying 108 when Jesus says:
“He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.”
Lip service is given to being one in the body and blood of Christ and ‘pantheism’ is feared. Another saying in Thomas where this is exemplified is 33 where the lighted lamp is not put under a bushel or hidden but set on a lamp stand that gives light to all.
A related quantum principle to that of the wave action in the quantum world is the Uncertainty Principle which states that not every aspect of a quantum particle can be known simultaneously. If you nail down the velocity of a particle, for example, you cannot know its position. Correspondingly, if you know the position of a particle you cannot know its velocity.
The end of Saying 11 in Thomas expresses the latent potentiality of the Uncertainty Principle: “…when you become two what will you do?” Another example good example is the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Saying 57 of Thomas where you don’t pull up the weeds for fear of harming the wheat. A more clear example is Saying 61 where “Two will rest on a bed: the one will die, and the other will live.” This is a play on the danger of being associated with the Herodians but actually refers to the higher and lower self. If you focus on the comfort of the lower self, the higher self will die. If you focus on the higher self, the lower self will die. This is a perfect description of the Uncertainty Principle
Another quality of the quantum world exemplified in the action of quarks is that when two quarks are pulled apart their bond becomes stronger as when a rubber band become taut when stretched. Saying 107 in Thomas expresses this in the ‘Parable of the Lost Sheep’:
“…The Kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. When he had gone to such trouble, he said to the sheep. ‘I care for you more than the ninety-nine.’”
The above parable refers to Simon Magus who is better respected as Jesus and his consort, Helen, who is better known as Mary Magdalene since Simon is known to have referred to Helen as the incarnation of Sophia/Wisdom and as the ‘Big Sheep’ who Simon had come down into the material world to rescue.
This quark ‘spooky action at a distance’ as Einstein called it is not restricted to twin souls or syzygies as we witness in Saying 23: “I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one.”
4. The organizing principle of the cosmos and the overarching purpose of evolution is
The Fourth Postulate on unconditional love being the organizing principle of the universe is given a lot of lip service once again but divisions of sex, race, class, and ethnicity have dogged Christianity from the beginning. An early Samaritan Christian work from the period when oral tradition still flourished called ‘The Second Treatise of the Great Seth’ complains about Roman Herodian Christians in cahoots with the Empire:
“After we went forth from our home, and came down to this world, and came into being in the world in bodies, we were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant, but also by those who think that they are advancing the name of Christ, since they were unknowingly empty, not knowing who they are, like dumb animals…instead, they served two masters, even a multitude. But you (the Romans) will become victorious in everything, in war and battles, jealous division and wrath. But in the uprightness of our love we are innocent, pure, (and) good, since we have the mind of the Father in an ineffable mystery.”
In Saying 14 of the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus warns his disciples about the dangers of trying to manipulate God and people with fasting, praying, and almsgiving. He advises his disciples to just simply to go forth, eat whatever people provide, and heal the sick. In its context, Saying 14 advises not to worship anyone “born of woman”, any great philosophy or religion, or priesthood but follow the bubbling ecstasy of the Holy Spirit.
When we examine the context of Saying 25: “…Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye.” we see it is preceded by and an answer to the preceding Saying 24: …”There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world”. You give light to the whole world by loving your brother. When we journey on to Saying 26 to find out what Saying 25 means we find:
“…You see the mote in your brother’s eye, but you do not see the beam in your own eye. When you cast the beam out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to cast the mote from your brother’s eye.”
The meaning of Saying 25 from its context is that the mote and beam refer to attachment to some form of materiality which separates us from our brother. It is funny that Thomas reverses the verbiage of Saying 13 and 14 in Saying 27 and 28 in advising disciples to fast from the world and not be drunk on materiality.
5. There is a profound creative intelligence underlying the universe from which all things
originate and to which all things return;
The Fifth Postulate proposing that a “profound creative intelligence” underlies everything from where we have descended and to where all things go is more expressive of the truth than an image of a humanoid demiurge presiding over a harp-playing heaven on the one side and the fires of hell on the other with the power to consign people to either depending on their behavior after their rather short and problematic lifetime which presumably would warrant either eternal blessedness or eternal damnation.
Many people allege that reincarnation was a widely held belief in Christianity up until it became the state religion in the fourth century. The great early Church theologian, Origen, held to the pre-existence of souls and their continued spiritual growth after death. Many argue that John the Baptist was thought of as the reincarnation of Elijah and Jewish Christian groups saw Jesus as the reincarnation of Adam. Many different Scriptural references tend in this direction from Ecclesiastes 1:7: “All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they will return again.” to Revelations 3: 12: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.”
The great Egyptian first and second century heresiarch, Basilides, who wrote a dozen destroyed commentaries on Jesus asserted that those Christians who died as martyrs did so as a result of past life karmic issues.
It is clear that Simon Magus believed that his consort, Helen, was the reincarnation of Helen of Troy. The Gospel of John’s ‘Woman at the Well’ is a clear depiction of Simon and Helen. The well is in Samaria and reprises the stories of Moses meeting his wife, Zapporah, at a well and Jacob meeting his wife, Rachel, at a well. The sexual innuendo has been well-noted in sharing water. In addition the woman had five husbands—just like Helen of Troy had. The woman goes and shares the good news with her village which reflects the early Samaritan character of the disciples of Simon-Jesus.
The last great literary work of Bridal Chamber Christianity was probably the allegorical ‘Hymn of the Pearl’ most probably composed by the great Bardaisan in Edessa, Syria in the early third century or slightly prior. The author speaks in the voice of the Apostle Judas Thomas who remembers leaving “his parents” who sent him with a large light load of precious jewels that represent soul qualities. However, they remove his robe and mantel that represent his soul memories and cosmic consciousness.
The author journeys on a quest into the materiality of Egypt to retrieve a ‘pearl’. He meets his soul mate who shares life with him and reminds him of his origin. He becomes enslaved to materiality, however, until reminded by a letter from his ‘parents’. He grabs the pearl, takes off his slave clothes, and makes it back to the home of his parents where he mingles with all the other ‘princes’ present. In a final surprise, his parents take him and his pearl on to see the ‘King of Kings’. This reflects the Simonian and later Valentinian theology of a series of emanations from the divine source.
6. In an interconnected universe an intricate matrix of cause-effect relationships exists,
suggesting that what we do to others we do to ourselves, which means that we reap what
we sow; and
The Sixth Postulate speaking of how we exist in “an intricate matrix of cause and effect relationships” is a healing balm to what has been a domineering, patriarchal, and hierarchical consciousness too simplistically dependent on Biblical authority and various priesthoods and authorities. This Postulate weaves in not only other more global understandings of both karmic cause and effect relationships but more modern and layered scientific understandings of our nature and environment.
Many Biblical quotes have been pointed out as referring to reincarnation and karma such as Jacob being loved and Esau being hated by God before they were born. Matthew 26:52 notes Jesus saying: “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.” This is demonstrably not true unless reincarnation is considered.
There is a certain amount of compulsion and predetermination in this world but it is not enough to say that all we have to do is prosper and multiply, obey God’s earthly authorities, and think good thoughts to obtain eternal life. The Gospel of Philip makes this point:
“An ass which turns a millstone did a hundred miles walking. When it was loosed it found it was in the same place. There are men who make many journeys, but make no progress towards any destination. When evening came upon them, they saw neither city nor village, neither human artifact nor natural phenomenon, power nor angel. In vain have the wretches labored.”
Just as the Middle East was desertified for smelters to make Iron Age weaponry in the era of the Abrahamic faiths so the earth’s bio systems are disintegrating as “evening” comes upon us. Human population is expanding at an unsustainable rate in contrast to our technological capabilities. It only took a one degree rise in global temperatures to set the Arctic on a trajectory where it will be ice-free in a few years in summer. While business and government salivate over new shipping lanes and oil exploration the significance of the run-away melting of the North from Siberia to Canada is the release of methane from wetlands, lakes, and oceans that is seventy times (not percent) worse a global warming agent than carbon dioxide over a twenty year period.
The Sixth Postulate points out the importance of perceiving the Divine Immanence as a corrective balance to the Divine Transcendance embodied in the Abrahamic faiths which assume that only God can change the weather, heal the earth, and save our souls.
In fact, however, at the core of all religious life are practices leading to ecstasy which would heal the earth: love of nature, selfless service, divine song and chanting, dance, meditation, and love of others.
7. The good of the one and the good of the many are symbiotic, affirming the ancient
wisdom that we can be only as strong as our weakest link.
The Seventh Postulate makes the key point that the good of the one and the good of the many are the same in that we are only as strong as our weakest link. This has theological resonance in the Primal Adam theology of the first century and the Logos Christianity of the second and third centuries of Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen who held that Greek Philosophy was a preparation for Christ just as the Law was a preparation for Jews. The implications were that the Logos lived in all people as the image of God so that early sages such as Socrates and Plato could be considered Christians because they participated so deeply in the mind of God.
For these reasons Christians have always been noted for taking on all the dirty jobs: healing the sick, burying the dead, taking in orphans, and speaking truth to power at the cost of one’s life. Today we face the prospect of literally billions of people on the edge of an early death due to climate change who literally call us to be their keeper. If we don’t respond well it could be the death of all of us should chaos reign unchecked and civilizations collapse.
A further daunting prospect is that of meeting all these traumatized souls after death, having to explain our own lackadaisical life, and having to experience their sufferings charismatically as they experienced them.
The Gospel of Philip explains the futility of trying to get something out of this world rather than giving to it to contribute to life:
“Those who sow in winter reap in summer. The winter is the world, the summer the other eternal realm. Let us sow in the world that we may reap in the summer. Because of this it is fitting for us not to pray in the winter. Summer follows winter. But if any man reap in winter he will not actually reap but only pluck out, since it will not provide a harvest for such a person.”
The Gospel of Thomas reminds us of the essential unity of being in the ‘summer’ of the other world. Jesus says to Thomas in Saying 13:
“I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”
Later in Saying 108 in Thomas the ‘bubbling spring’ is reprised in:
“…He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.”
The Seven Postulates are a necessary corrective of the ‘summer’ of Divine Immanence urging us on to ‘sow in winter’ and not ‘pluck out’. Both the Gospel of Philip and Gospel of Thomas contain this warning from Saying 59 of the Gospel of Thomas:
“…Take heed of the living one while you are alive, lest you die and seek to see him and be unable to do so.”
December 22, 2013