Weekend in Nirvana

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Some of these travelers write books about their experience; some keep quiet. Most of the places they go don’t sound much like “Heaven” as Christians and Muslims usually talk about it. Very few float on clouds or see Jesus. Their destination seems more like Nirvana, the Hindu/Buddhist idea of a blissful state without suffering, beyond mental clamoring, a state that comes (according to Buddha) when there is no more desire, fear, or delusion.

As I heard their stories, I thought, “I want to go there, too.”  So I’ve been studying people who live in Nirvana (or someplace near there) much of the time and on Earth with the rest of us at other times. When I first read these books, I was filled with questions. Do these experiences mean anything, or are they just comforting hallucinations?  What do their stories tell us about the physical world we live in? What do they tell us about life and death?

A big surprise to me has been how many people, when I tell them I’m researching visits to Nirvana, say, “Oh, yeah, I do that.” I’ve interviewed some of them. Apparently, it’s not that hard to get to Heaven. So how is it done?

One ticket is severe brain damage. Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD lost her left cerebral cortex to a massive stroke and spent several months seeing the world almost exclusively through her right brain. She liked it: “My perception of my physical boundaries was no longer limited to where my skin met air. I felt like a genie liberated from its bottle…this absence of physical boundary was one of glorious bliss. My consciousness dwelled in a flow of sweet tranquility…”

Although sad on occasions when she remembered that the Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor she had always known was, in effect, dead, it didn’t bother her. “I was not capable of deliberating about past or future, because those cells were incapacitated,” she explains. “All I could perceive was right here, right now, and it was beautiful.”

Her right brain saw literally everything as connected. To the right brain, that’s not a scientific theory or spiritual belief; it’s the way the world actually looks and feels. “My eyes could no longer perceive things as separate from one another,” she writes. “Despite my neurological trauma, an unforgettable sense of peace pervaded my entire being.”

It certainly sounds heavenly, and Taylor isn’t the only one to have taken this journey.  Thousands of people report powerful near-death experiences or NDEs. Those who have peeked through death’s window report a wide variety of experiences, but there is almost always the sense of peace, of being loved, and of being at the beginning of something.

Scientists have come up with some possible neurological explanations for NDEs, but they don’t agree on what is happening there. Survivors of NDEs have their own organizations and web sites. You can read hundreds of their stories and associated research at Near-death.com.

These survivors may not be able to commute back to their after-death worlds, but most report feelings of peace and an absence of fear that last for years or decades afterward.

One famous NDE survivor is Dr. Eben Alexander, whose book Proof of Heaven has topped bestseller lists for over a year. Alexander went Jill Taylor one better. His right and left cerebral cortex were both completely closed down by a raging meningitis infection. He was in a coma, on life support for a week.

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11 Responses to Weekend in Nirvana

  1. Jeffrey Shurtleff says:

    Life is only here and now…and then
    Death just deepens the wonder.
    Why? and How? are simply the best practice.

    thanks David,

  2. Anh Le says:

    Thanks for sharing your discoveries and insights, David.

    Appreciating The Beauty That Surrounds Us
    Being With Nature
    Thanks And Gratitude

    These are among the things that give our lives the Deepest Meaning and Joy.


  3. Sugandha says:

    Loved reading about your spiritual journey – a long (or very, very short) road to the amazing NOW. Enjoy!

  4. Patricia Monagle says:

    David – you have already travelled so far, and your writing is so much more authentically humble and wondrous than even your last newsletter. I am impressed and inspired to return to the meditation practice I once knew and enjoyed so many years ago while living at the Transcendental Meditation Center in Phoenix, AZ.

    Perhaps this is something you may enjoy, or find too temporal, but I wish to share it with you regarding your spiritual journey and/0r your path to physical health: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird, that cannot fly.
    Langston Hughes

  5. David
    Nice to read once again what JKM had said about observing without judging.
    “The highest form of intelligence is to observe without evaluating.”
    As I spend about ten days each month with Indians of North America, I am astounded and then content, how close is their deep philosophy to that of Buddhism and also of such philosophers as JKM.

  6. June says:

    Is it possible that the dark energy we read about could be consciousness? That the Universe is conscious and that is what we tap into on a minor immediate scale and on a greater transcending scale that you are describing?

  7. Arlene Jech says:

    I have recently read Eben Alexander’s best-selling book “Proof of Heaven,” Anita Moorjani’s “Dying to be Me,” and Raymond Moody’s classic on near death experiences, “Life After Life,” and have been astounded by how similar each person’s near death experiences have been. Dr Moody’s book is based on 100 interviews with people who had a near death experience. In all three books, people talked about feeling incredibly loved, of going through a dark tunnel that was full of energy, coming to a bright light and being told they had to go back because they still had something to accomplish. The tunnel and the bright light are not different from that described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, where people urge the dying person to go toward the white light and not be afraid. The dark tunnel full of energy is not different from what Prof Higgs describes about the Higgs Bosun, where space is filled with dark energy. Interestingly, Dr Alexander is a neurosurgeon who described heaven as being in a different dimension, free of the limitations that we encounter as human beings. I’ve always thought we are limited by our senses: we see a limited spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared, but more is out there. Humans hear in a narrow range: my dogs hear sirens before I do. And dogs see at 70-80 flicker-frames a second, while humans only see at 60-70 flicker-frames a second. And dogs have a keener sense of smell, and have even been trained to detect cancer in a person, and to detect a person about to have a seizure before it happens. Can we experience heaven in the here and now, by meditating? Many have done so, even me on occasion.

  8. Roger Eaton says:

    Here’s a quick prescription – binaural beats on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/FulLengthBinaurals

  9. Melissa J says:

    There is one other way. Drugs. I started to smoke pot after 20 years sober. My to-do list went away and I connected with the greater. It’s amazing.

  10. CAROLINA PEREZ says:

    is it true that when a person dies they travel back to every point they lived in or been in life

  11. Howard Jachter says:

    For me the question isn’t whether heaven exists. It’s whether the physical perceptions aren’t simply an experience of the eternal dreamer — source energy or soul. Maybe heaven is everywhere and there really is no external reality beyond souls acceptance of that illusion.

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