The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

realjannaweiss

The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THE NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE: A STAIRCASE TO HEAVEN? 337

review. The life-review happens again and again in the neardeath

experience, and demonstrates so clearly the inescapability

of karma and the far-reaching and powerful effects of all

our actions, words, and thoughts. The central message that the

near-death experiencers bring back from their encounter with

death, or the presence or "being of light," is exactly the same

as that of Buddha and of the bardo teachings: that the essential

and most important qualities in life are love and knowledge,

compassion and wisdom.

They are surely beginning to see what the bardo teachings

tell us: that life and death are in the mind itself. And the confidence

that many of them seem to have after this experience

reflects this deeper understanding of mind.

There are also certain, fascinating similarities between the

near-death experience and its results, and mystical states and

altered states of consciousness. For example, a number of paranormal

phenomena have been reported by the near-death

experiencers. Some have precognitive or prophetic planetary

visions, or "life previews," that turn out to be uncannily accurate;

after the near-death experience, some report experiences

of what appears to be the energy of kundalini, 37 others find

they have real and amazing powers of clairvoyance, or psychic

or physical healing.

Many of those who have come near death speak in a personal,

undeniably eloquent way of the beauty, love, peace and

bliss and wisdom of what they have experienced. To me this

sounds like they have had certain glimpses of the radiance of

the nature of mind, and it is hardly surprising that such

glimpses should have resulted in true spiritual transformation,

again and again. Yet as Margot Grey points out, "We do not

need nearly to die in order to experience a higher spiritual

reality." 38 That higher spiritual reality is here and now, in life,

if only we can discover and enter it.

I would like to make one essential caution: Don't let these

accounts of the near-death experience, which are so inspiring,

lull you into believing that all you have to do in order to

dwell in such states of peace and bliss is to die. It is not, and

could not be, that simple.

Sometimes when people are going through suffering and

pain, they feel they cannot bear it anymore; and hearing the

near-death stories might, it is conceivable, tempt them to put

an end to it all by taking their lives. This might seem like a

simple solution, but it overlooks the fact that whatever we go

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