How are we to thrive? By choosing with joy and compassion to
embrace a wider living-world that extends beyond physical death.
A Way to Thrive?
By choosing with joy and compassion to embrace a wider living-world that extends beyond physical death. Our life on earth is an opportunity to add to the compassion and beauty that are among the purposes of our conscious cosmos. Facing death, not only as individuals but as cultures and as a species, would seem to undermine any notion of thriving on earth. Unless we have a personal experience of life continuing after physical death or are persuaded by post-material scientific evidence that consciousness is fundamental. We need not fear death. Near-death experiences and other evidence of life after death have long been affirmed in almost every human culture and more recently confirmed by consciousness research.
As a child in Mumbai, India Angad Daryani developed asthma due to the polluted air. After studying engineering, Daryani developed an air purifier that captures carbon pollutants in a way enabling reuse of the carbon to make floor tiles. The captured carbon is given to Carbon Craft Design, an Indian company that combines the carbon pollutants with stone waste from a quarry and a binding agent such as clay to make the tiles. Carbon and stone waste together are “upcycled” into a useful product at a marketable price. Also, the carbon emissions removed from the air will not leak back into the atmosphere. Upcycling is recycling that adds value to the materials being recycled.
Pope Francis has called on all people of good will “to heed the cry of the earth and the cries of the poor.” Those with spiritual experiences bear witness that heaven is Love’s embrace. Albert Einstein urged that we all “widen our compassion” for others. I urge us to expand our compassion to include life on earth. Exploding supernovas have seeded the universe with the elements necessary for life. Might we celebrate this unmerited gift as grace? Many near-death survivors have testified to their experience of mind-opening Light and heart-filling Love, and to feeling back “home." Might we know Abba, the God of Jesus, as Light as well as Love? And as the Spirit of the cosmos?
Some scientists, who haven’t had a near-death experience, have had extraordinary experiences that altered their lives in ways they are unable to explain scientifically. Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer (1947-2016), a psychoanalyst and professor of clinical psychology, presented some of these stories in her 2007 book, “Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Power of the Human Mind.” In 1991, when police were unable to recover her daughter’s rare, hand-carved harp, she called a dowser In Arkansas, who within two days located the exact street coordinates where the harp was found. Mayer wrote, “I had to face the fact that my notions of space, time, reality, and the nature of the human mind were stunningly inadequate.”
In an article entitled “Modular Cognition” biologist Michael Levin and neuroscientist Rafael Yuste assert: “Intelligent decision-making doesn’t require a brain. You were capable of it before you even had one. Beginning life as a single fertilized egg, you divided and became a mass of genetically identical cells. They chattered among themselves to fashion a complex anatomical structure—your body. This is intelligence in action: the ability to reach a particular goal or solve a problem by undertaking new steps in the face of changing circumstances. It’s evident not just in intelligent people and mammals and birds and cephalopods, but also cells and tissues, individual neurons and networks of neurons, viruses, ribosomes and RNA fragments, down to motor proteins and molecular networks.”
“As a scientist, I was dedicated to the pursuit of truth though scientific means. Imagine my surprise when a decorative leaded-glass window fell off a mantel onto my head, initiating a near-death experience. Suddenly reality shifted. I was speeding down a long, dark tunnel, drawn to an incredible light in the distance. Without conscious control over the situation, a force outside myself stopped me at the entrance to the light. There, my mother and grandmother, long departed from this earth, greeted me. Overwhelmed with love and recognition, and amazed at their health and happiness, I was drawn past them over a threshold and into a whole other world.” Months later, she heard a women’s voice say, “You are called to heal.”
Music from Heaven
Orthopedic surgeon Tony Cicoria was calling on an outside pay phone when a bolt of lightning passed through the phone line and struck him in the face. He fell and was unconscious, but at the same time he began flying. I saw my own body on the ground, Cicoria recalls. I said to myself, “Oh shit, I’m dead.” Then a bluish-white light that I knew was absolute love surrounded me, and I felt like I was in a crystal stream of energy. I was able to see that this energy made up everything and flows through it. A few weeks later, he began hearing unknown music in his head. He began to think he’d been given a mission, “to tune into the music from Heaven.”
I was astonished when my father told me about his near-death experience, due to cardiac arrest while he was undergoing surgery. As physicians worked on his unconscious body, he woke floating above the operating table―hearing their voices as he watched them trying to restart his heart. Then he began to move rapidly through a dark passage toward a brilliant light, where he saw my deceased mother, smiling and waiting. As my father came nearer, he felt the intensity of the bright light streaming from behind her. He had an overwhelming sense of being loved and was eager to remain with her. After she told him telepathically that it wasn’t his time, he returned through the darkness and woke in his aching body
Science writer Ed Yong writes in, “An Immense World,” “There's a vast world around us that animals can perceive—but humans can't.” For instance, in a dark room we are guided only by touch and sound, but “a bird in the room would be able to pick up on the magnetic field of the earth and would know which direction to fly if it was time to migrate. A dog would be sniffing out various odors that a human would not be able to smell. A rattlesnake would detect the presence of humans in the room by sensing their infrared radiation.” In the same dark room, each of these creatures would experience a living-world radically different than the living-world we experience.
In 2021 more than 400 scientists affirmed a “Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science,” which asserts: the nearly absolute dominance of materialism in the academic world has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the scientific study of mind and spirituality. Faith in this ideology, as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality, has compelled scientists to neglect the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature. Conscious mental activity can be experienced in clinical death during a cardiac arrest (this is what has been called a "near-death experience” (NDE). Materialist science relies on a method of research that rules out any evidence of purpose or meaning in the universe.
On July 12, 2022 Ada Limón was named the 24th poet laureate of the United States. This is her poem entitled “Sanctuary.” She writes: “Suppose it’s easy to slip into another’s green skin, bury yourself in leaves and wait for a breaking, a breaking open, a breaking out. I have, before, been tricked into believing I could be both an I and the world. The great eye of the world is both gaze and gloss. To be swallowed by being seen. A dream . . .”
Suzanne Simard, Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia, says: “My queries started from a place of solemn concern for the future of our forests but grew into an intense curiosity, one clue leading to another, about how the forest was more than just a collection of trees. In this search for the truth, the trees have shown me their perceptiveness and responsiveness, connections and conversations. What started as a legacy, and then a place of childhood home, solace, and adventure in western Canada, has grown into a fuller understanding of the intelligence of the forest and, further, an exploration of how we can regain our respect for this wisdom and heal our relationship with nature.”