Friday, November 15, 2013

The Essence of Religions: A Glimpse of Heaven in the Near-Death Experience. A conversation with my son. Part 1.

Event: Friday, 15 Nov 13
Updated: Saturday, 30 Nov 13
Amazon.com image 
On Friday, 15 Nov, my oldest son Nick called to wish a happy 80th birthday the following Sunday, correctly thinking that I would be preoccupied on that day. After pleasantries, he made me aware of a new book that substantially agreed with his own experience and views and would I discuss it with him. Having unsuccessfully attempted an on-line discussion with him on this subject in earlier years, I agreed and immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle.

Saturday, November 23, 2013
On Saturday morning, 23 Nov, I was about 20% into the book and am finding it a fascinating and useful discussion of the five major religions as they compare to current and proliferating NDE accounts being increasingly reported world wide.

Later in the day (2:35 PM) I wrote to Nick:
What is your first question of me now that I'm about 20% into the book?

Nick answered (9:32 PM):
Is there anything new for you in this book? Are you learning anything about religious history, philosophy and NDEs that you were not already aware of (so far)?

I answered (9:38 PM):
Good question. Yeah, I am learning more about Hindu and Buddhist history. Not so much about NDE stuff. Not yet sure how that blends in with Mormon history and doctrine, if it does. How about you?

Nick answered (9:45 PM):
Keep reading for more interesting stuff...and it's all related; all different interpretations, extensions & mythologizing of originally authentic divine conduit and "enlightenment".

I answered  (9:52 PM):
OK. I've wanted to do this earlier, but do you still object if I post this conversation on my blog? I'd like others, such as Tom R., Birgitta and maybe even other family members to join in if they choose.

Nick answered (9:53 PM):
This would be worthy of posting and discussing. :)

I answered (9:54):
Agreed!

On Monday, 24 Nov 13 (11:33 AM), Tom Rogers wrote: 
I've since perused the conversations with the two sons you just forwarded. [ENK note: see here for second conversation.] 

Congratulations on your recent 80th....What's most exciting and gratifying is to have such conversations with one's adult children.  That's as fine a birthday gift and tribute as I can imagine.  I have little to add here to what are still clearly quite preliminary discussions that do not yet address any truly substantive issues. 


A statement rang out to me in what I recently read in "The New Republic":  "We grow intolerant when we take notice of the outward forms, but the truly wise will discern the unity within plurality."  While, as you well know, I do not consider all religious institutions equally inspired or efficacious, this was good advice for all of us.  The article, by Harvard history professor Peter E. Gordon (Nov. 25) is one of several that the essentially Zionist  "TNR" has recently sponsored in the defense of religion, per se.  Earlier, one of my favorite commentators, Leon Wiesltier, gave a strong rebuttal to Harvard's noted psychologist Steven Pinker's (a strictly secular Jew)'s defense of so-called 'scientism,' which explains everything naturalistically.  It's been a stimulating and timely exchange. 


I've by now interviewed 2,547 candidates for LDS patriarchal blessings--except for several grandchildren, all East Europeans.  They often tell me of their dreams and various telepathic experiences.  I do not discount them in any way and take them as seriously as they do.  This has occasionally involved 'near-death' experiences, though I do not presume to be at all expert on the subject.



Later that Monday (3:35 PM), I replied to Tom: 
In this blog thread, I hope for a communication (communion!) with folks of good will (beginning with my son), not a fight over ideology or dogma... Sharing our respective experiences is all I ever hope to achieve. With this in mind I was greatly encouraged by your comment: "…They often tell me of their dreams and various telepathic experiences.  I do not discount them in any way and take them as seriously as they do.  This has occasionally involved 'near-death' experiences, though I do not presume to be at all expert on the subject." That is directly to the point of this thread! Thank you.

On Wednesday, 27 Nov 13 (9:44 AM), Nick wrote:
Dad, i think you might find this movie [Inception] intriguing... It's all about dreams and how "they" have learned how to steal ideas from people by sharing dreams using a futuristic high-tech device. In this movie they attempt to "plant" an idea, instead of stealing one, from the target person... :)


I replied to Nick the same day at 11:23 AM:
Nick, this movie is interesting and I want to view it! ...Reminds me of my story "Heart Planting"... written back in 1975-76 with all you kids in mind, especially 9-year-old Michael. The idea...gives me further confidence in my growing awareness of certain ETs and their centuries old (if not millennia!) purpose on planet Earth. This also may contribute to our conversation re "The Essence of Religions…" and NDEs.

Later that day at 1:39 PM, Ken wrote:
Much good stuff which I briefly looked at. So much going on ... that I can't follow it all. But thank you for including me. Ken
[ENK note: Ken is a former professor of pubic administration at the University of Southern California and a retired police psychologist for the Long Beach Police Department.]

Still later that same day at 2:03 PM, Paul wrote:
Gene--Who is Tom Rogers?  And are you _really_ 80??
Best, Paul

I replied to Paul at 2:21 PM:
Yeah, 80! I don't believe it myself!

Tom is one of three official LDS patriarchs to Eastern Europe, which means mainly Russia and Ukraine. He's been in that capacity for maybe four or five years along with Gary Browning and one other guy, whom I don't know. Gary was the first [LDS] Mission president to Russia [in 1991] and Tom followed him in 1993-96 after Gary was released in 1993. I got to know both of them in 1979, when they... were professors of Russian at BYU and I was working with the Eyring Research Institute, which you know about.

Good to hear from you! Thanks for responding…
[ENK note: Paul is a retired US Army officer and former member of the now declassified CIA Stargate project, which was spoofed by the movie "Men who stare at goats" (2009).]

On Thursday, 28 Nov at 3:42 AM, Joseph Dillard wrote:
In my own experience, having interviewed a number of people who have had near death experiences, the essence is not religious or even spiritual. It is context dependent and context driven. If you provide a religious or spiritual perspective, that is what you will perceive and experience; that is what it will mean to you. If you interview another aspect of the experience, for example the tunnel or the Void or the Light, you will shift into another perspective that may or may not be religious or spiritual, and that will be what you perceive and experience; that is what it will mean to you. This is important to remember to avoid falling into either dogmatism or metaphysical overlays of what is on its own a profoundly transformational experience. 

On Friday, 29 Nov at 11:06 AM, Pat wrote:
...your blog reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in "Mere Christianity."  (See below) He was a Christian and so am I, as you know, but I did at one point in my life study other religions.  I found the Servant King (the Humble Servant who died on the Cross ) and the Creator God who lives outside of time and space the most appealing of all, but also found just joy and even peace that was beyond words to express my love for Him.

C.S. Lewis wrote:  The world does not consist of 100 percent -- Christians and 100 percent non-Christians.  There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen.  There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so.  There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand.  There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it.  For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teachings about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points.  Many of the good Pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position.  And always, of course, there are a great many people who are just confused in mind and have a lo of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together.  Consequently, it is not much use trying to make judgments about Christians and non-Christians in the mass.  It is some use comparing cats and dogs, or even men and women, in the mass, because there one knows definitely which is which.  Also, an animal does not turn (either slowly or suddenly) from a dog into a cat.  But when we are comparing Christians in general with non-Christians in general, we are usually not thinking about real people whom we know at all, but only about two vague ideas which we have got from novels and newspapers.    

On Friday, 29 Nov (4:56 PM), I replied to Pat:
Pat. I'm motivated to reread Lewis's book from today's perspective...I read it at least 30+ years ago and his insights seem a good fit for this blog's purpose...

On Saturday, 30 Nov (9:34 AM), I responded to Nick:
I'm about 30% into the book now and notice several differences between the Buddhist concept of Nirvana and the NDEr report of Heaven. Whereas the Buddhist seeks to leave this planet and all personal sense of self, having been enlightened and experiencing Nirvana, NDErs often are sent back with a new awareness and personal sense of a specific task to perform.  In both cases a spiritual transformation occurs. How does your personal experience square with this? Do you have a sense of a personal task?

As far as the movie Inception is concerned, I realize I'd seen it years ago when it was first released in 2010. However, this time it meant a great deal more! What a mind-bending experience!! Drama all the way! Dreams within dreams within dreams….  Hard to keep track. This is why I am wary of lucid dreaming training. It imposes an ego perspective--i.e., having thinking decision-making dominate feeling decision-making, which means to me that such an attitude does not respect or even acknowledge the fundamental wisdom of a dream, which comes from the heart. 

On Saturday, 30 Nov (7:06 PM), my wife Birgitta wrote:
I've only read about the first 12% of the book and so far it appears as if the author doesn't differentiate between NDEs and OBEs, as in the case with the man who had “an NDE” while enjoying life sitting on the beach and no way near death. I would call that experience an OBE (out of body experience). For a long period in my early 30s years ago, I had many OBEs. At that time I had never heard about NDEs or OBEs.  I was in good health at the time and also no way near dying. After my first bewilderment about these experiences, the OBEs took away every bit of my fear of death. They also confirmed my early childhood spiritual experience of love and forgiveness after inviting Jesus Christ to live in me. I also think of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he talks of having been “caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know…was caught up to Paradise…heard inexpressible things that man is not permitted to tell.” In my own OBEs, I left my body and visited specific places and saw people instantly, miles away from where my body was. I could later confirm by going to these places that I had actually been there. During one of these OBEs, I moved upwards and saw how I separated from my physical body, which had stopped and stood still. Up under a high ceiling in a big grocery store, I felt myself spread out and could see far and wide everything and everybody moving below me all at the same time, as if all of me was sight. This is hard to explain!

Later that same day, at 7:30 PM, I replied to Birgitta,
This is the kind of experience that belongs to this thread, my dear. I'll be interested in how Nick and others respond. 

At 8:00 PM on 30 Nov, Nick wrote:
I had to watch the movie [Inception] a couple of times to make sure i got it.
If you like it and want to see it again, + the extras, i'll order/send you one. :)

Ah yes, the good old Heart Planting story. I'm going to give it a good reading. I'd be interested in knowing how much of it was based on actual experience, imagination and perhaps magic mushrooms?! ;)

Love you and am glad you're my Dad. 

At 9:15 PM on 30 Nov, I responded to Nick:
...You will also see that I have viewed the movie already...and commented on it in the blog.

About Heart Planting, I'd be glad to sort out which is real, dream and fantasy. How do you want to proceed...? Line by line? Paragraph by paragraph? Or image by image? 

There were no 'magic mushrooms' or anything psychedelic!  :)


To be continued...

1 comment:

Joseph Dillard said...

In my own experience, having interviewed a number of people who have had near death experiences, the essence is not religious or even spiritual. It is context dependent and context driven. If you provide a religious or spiritual perspective, that is what you will perceive and experience; that is what it will mean to you. If you interview another aspect of the experience, for example the tunnel or the Void or the Light, you will shift into another perspective that may or may not be religious or spiritual, and that will be what you perceive and experience; that is what it will mean to you. This is important to remember to avoid falling into either dogmatism or metaphysical overlays of what is on its own a profoundly transformational experience.