Final Passages: Research on Near Death & the Experience of Dying: Panel Discussion – Drs. Sartori, van Lommel, Moody & Weiss; Steve Paulson (Moderator)

The 2012 Bioethics Forum offered two days of thoughtful information-sharing and discussion regarding Final Passages: Research on Near Death & the Experience of Dying.

Designed for the general public, it focused on the sharing of scientific research and the consideration of related social and ethical issues. Many questions related to near death experiences (NDE), dying, and consciousness were addressed by global experts, including:

What is a near death experience (NDE)?
What has scientific research revealed about NDEs?
Are the phenomena associated with NDEs caused simply by chemical
activity in the brain – or is something more going on?
What do NDEs suggest about the possibility of consciousness
continuing after death?
What do we know about the experience of dying? How is this
knowledge shaped by different cultural and spiritual contexts?
What is a “good death”?
How does the study and exploration of mystical experiences and
altered states of consciousness contribute to our understanding of
death and dying?
How do interpretations of NDEs and the experience of death inform
life choices? How can a heightened awareness of death lead to a more
fulfilling life?
How do life choices influence NDEs and the experience of death?

To view and listen to the panel discussion:
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The Modern Book of the Dead: A Revolutionary Perspective on Death, the Soul, and What Really Happens in the Life to Come by Ptolemy Tompkins

What happens to us after we die?

It’s a question people have been asking since the dawn of time, and entire civilizations have been shaped by the ways in which they’ve answered it. All the world’s religions offer their own perspectives on what happens to us after death, and even in the modern world, where the existence of the soul is so often questioned, channeling and near-death experiences have kept those ancient questions alive all the same.

So it is that in today’s largely secular society, thousands still continue to turn to ancient texts like the Tibetan and Egyptian Books of the Dead for consolation and inspiration. Like the world’s other great sacred works, these Books of the Dead offer wisdom, hope, and comfort. But because they’re so old, the material they present needs to be seen within a modern context in order to be truly useful. If “What happens to the soul at death?” remains perhaps the single most important question we can ask, then whatever answer we find should incorporate not just ancient wisdom, but also the fruits of modern experience. The Modern Book of the Dead does just that.

Author Ptolemy Tompkins grew up in a family where questions about the shape and fate of the human soul were discussed on a daily basis, and he has explored those concepts in his critically acclaimed books The Divine Life of Animals and Paradise Fever. But as he explains in his boldly unconventional new book, it was only with his father’s death that he began to think about death in a genuinely concrete way—as something that really and truly will happen to each one of us.

Part memoir, part history of ideas of the afterlife, and part road map to what might truly await each of us when we leave our bodies behind, The Modern Book of the Dead is a wise and courageous book that approaches the question of the afterlife in a refreshingly intimate manner. Weaving together philosophy, science, stories of near-death experiences, and theology, the author comes to one amazing and uplifting truth: that somehow, human consciousness lives on after death. Both inspiring and intimate, this is a modern meditation that allows the reader to think about death in an all-new way.

Ptolemy Tompkins examines how the different spiritual traditions across the millenia have viewed death and the afterlife in his latest book, The Modern Book of the Dead. He discusses the common elements of ancient and traditional beliefs as well as the results of near death experiences, and how taken together they present an enormously convincing and encouraging argument for the continuance of life after death, with its implications as to how to live our lives today.

Listen to the entire interview Here

Understanding Death: Implications of Mystical States of Consciousness Occasioned by Entheogens – William A. Richards, Ph.D.

William Richards, PhD, reported clinical research that’s now underway at Johns Hopkins University. This revolutionary study is looking at the ways in which psilocybin is being used to help patients who are in a terminal phase of life. He described the ethical implications of this work as people explore what the dying process means to them within the framework of altered states of consciousness. One of the primary objectives of the study is to reduce a person’s anxiety and fear, brought on in part by a culture that does not explain or face death well.

A similar program involving assisted palliative care treatment for cancer related anxiety is underway at New York University. Jeffrey Guss, co-principle investigator and director of psychedelic psychotherapy training at NYU, shared details of the psychotherapeutic model his group is using and described how this cutting-edge work offers an uneasy bridge to the mainstream academic community.

Click Here

Adyashanti – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Adyashanti dares all seekers of peace and freedom to take the possibility of liberation in this life seriously. He began teaching in 1996, at the request of his Zen teacher with whom he had been studying for 14 years. Since then many spiritual seekers have awakened to their true nature while spending time with Adyashanti.

The author of The End of Your World, Emptiness Dancing, and True Meditation, Adyashanti offers spontaneous and direct nondual teachings that have been compared to those of the early Zen masters and Advaita Vedanta sages. However, Adya says, “If you filter my words through any tradition or ‘-ism’, you will miss altogether what I am saying. The liberating truth is not static; it is alive. It cannot be put into concepts and be understood by the mind. The truth lies beyond all forms of conceptual fundamentalism. What you are is the beyond—awake and present, here and now already. I am simply helping you to realize that.”

A native of Northern California, Adyashanti lives with his wife, Mukti, and teaches extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area offering satsangs, weekend intensives, and silent retreats. He also travels to teach in other areas of the United States and Canada.

“Adyashanti” means primordial peace.

Interview recorded 8/30/2011

Be Still and Know I AM God: The Direct Path to Knowing God Within by Nick Gancitano

It offers a direct path to knowing God in your own being. Through this series of conversations between himself and God within, Nick Gancitano leads you in the process of Self-inquiry, enabling you to shed the layers of conditioning concealing from you the fact that you are One with God to bring about authentic spiritual awakening.

Chapters Include: The All-Important Introduction, I AM, Religion, Ego, Death and Desire, Money, The Body, Conspiracy Theory, Humanity, Faith and Free Will, The Illusion, Surrender,

An Interview with the God Within – by Nick Gancitano

“You can talk to God and listen to what She says back to you. Everyone has the innate ability to do this, even if they aren’t aware of it, and in times gone by it was a much more common practice, which is why those ancient spiritual texts in the form of dialogues between a deity and a mortal were written.You’ll find many in Be Still and Know I Am God, which Cygnus has just published.” Ann Napier

How can I be certain I’m communicating with God?

Does this feel like Love or resonate as Truth?

Yes. Yet how can I be sure?

When your mind is still, your heart opens and the indescribable fills you.

So if it doesn’t feel like Love, then it’s not God?

Not what you would call the highest expression of God; I AM appearing to you in every conceivable way; even now I AM being perceived as a mere thought.

So You really are God?

As you would have Me Be.

Why do I see so many people leaving organized religion?

Religions are training wheels for spiritual seekers, so they are falling off because people’s intelligence has evolved beyond the need for them. They are realizing the Truth without the dependency on outside organizations that preach borrowed beliefs rather than encourage one to trust one’s own experience when Truth can never be discovered in the former way.

What is all the repression about?

When feelings of guilt and being judged become too painful they are repressed, and the fear of being exposed manifests as rage, which when further repressed becomes depression. This is how depression has recently become pandemic in the world, because most religions have persuaded people that anger is wrong. This suppression has become a disease, and the prescribing of anti-depressants is likewise ignorant and founded in greed.

How is this related to religion?

Religious morality promotes shame and therefore repression, which consequently becomes depression. Preaching morality is unconscious arrogance. This arrogance implies I cannot express directly through those who are looking for direction. So, one need not use drugs or attempt to guide others; offer your loving presence instead.

If people felt they were being guided by You, maybe they wouldn’t need to look for guidance elsewhere.

This is the ego’s standard response, yet realize that one only turns to another for advice when one refuses to surrender. For if one surrenders, where is the need for guidance once it is realized there is no other?

It is best to forget about organized religions and the scriptures of the past. What I prescribe for you now is on a private basis. True-life spirituality is living life, not congregating like cattle to listen to pontification. So release yourself: play, dance, sing, make love, experience nature, laugh, cry, or even go for naked walks in the park with your dog.

Whatsoever, be creative and enthusiastic in all aspects of life. Live passionately – without holding back. Allow for emotional eruptions and sensual expression. Then feel the contrast of a new world untainted by fear or restrictions. Stop learning about morality from your preachers and go experience life.

Do you think people try to come to You through organized religion, rather than turning directly within, because they are intimidated by You?

Yes, religions have made it so. How can someone surrender if they are frightened? And why are you afraid? Because what is being shared in religions is not love at all, but behaviour control. Many even attend temples of worship to appear righteous, believing that I do not know the difference.

Why do You require my surrender if You’re egoless?

Who are you surrendering to but your Self? I AM You and You are All That Is. I AM that inner Presence within, felt as ‘I’. By loving Me, you love All That Is, including everyone and everything. Many have even been taught by religions to fear Me, yet I AM the mirror of one’s own Image and Likeness, so what one sees in one’s self, one will also see in Me. By loving All of one’s Self, surrender happens naturally.

Should one bypass God and go directly to this ‘I’?

They are the same, so whatever suits one is best.

The Bible says You are vengeful. Is this true?

Yes, I AM, yet you should understand the meaning of the word if you are to use it. To be vengeful is to respond with equal measure; it is the law of karma. When you hit something, do you not hurt your hand? So you learn not to hit. The hard surface is teaching you: Will you listen to its message or continue to inflict suffering upon your self? It is compassionate to respond, so you learn to love and not be aggressive. Would you expect anything different? How can you learn if I do not reflect behaviour? How will you experience Your Self if I AM not a mirror for You? I have said ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Why? Because they are You. One attacks others only when one expects attack from others, even if the other is really one’s Self.

Once I felt that I was one with the entire universe, like I was enlightened, but after six months it disappeared. Why is that?

It was precisely as you imagined enlightenment would Be, correct?

That’s right.

If one is expecting enlightenment to be a phenomenal experience, then that is precisely what one will receive. This demonstrates how powerful intention is, and that one receives exactly what one imagines. This degree of knowingness without a shred of doubt, which is Faith, is what it is to Be God.

Would You explain?

Enlightenment is not an experience and there are no ‘enlightened masters’. No person can ever get enlightened because enlightenment is an Impersonal Happening that incorrectly gets labelled as a personal accomplishment when it is actually the meeting of consciousness with consciousness – God realizing it is God through the body. Love Thy Self and be free of worshiping ‘others’.

Isn’t loving my Self vanity or selfishness?

There is nothing wrong with loving Your Self. What leads to suffering is one’s self concept, yet if your sense of self extends to include all existence, then it is joyous to love one’s Self.

So what is the highest spiritual path?

All spiritual paths ultimately fail, thereby throwing one back upon oneself, so one may know the futility of seeking happiness elsewhere. The greatest obstacle to Self-realization is arrogance, which is the absence of humility. Your greatest failure humbly becomes your greatest victory, whereby You surrender to find out Who You Are and All divisions blur in the Light of Eternal Love.

So all paths are a waste of time?

There is no time and there are no paths ultimately. You are already what you are looking for.

From Be Still and Know I AM God, © 2012 by Nick Gancitano, published by Cygnus Books.

A Lasting Taste of Spiritual Enlightenment

Nick Gancitano

Author and spiritual teacher at The Self-Inquiry Center, Nick Gancitano graduated from Coral Springs High School in Florida, where he was an All-American Soccer Player and earned a football scholarship to Penn State University. He was the place-kicker for the Penn State Nittany Lions under the legendary coach Joe Paterno, where his team won the National Championship in 1983. Nick graduated in 1986 with his degree in Biomechanics, and played briefly with the Detroit Lions before a knee injury retired him to the business world as a regional vice-president for A.L. Williams. Four years later, Nick entered the public school system to teach science and coach wrestling, soccer and football. Nick has privately mentored nearly 50 place-kickers who received Division 1 collegiate scholarships, emphasizing the significance of yoga and meditation to assist athletes with finding The Zone. He then transitioned into teaching yoga and then meditation to the general public. After discovering Self-inquiry, he experienced a profound shift and sought the direction of various conscious teachers, including Ramana Maharshi, who then guided Nick to share the Self-Inquiry in the West.

In 2002, several of his students formed the South Florida-based Atma-Vichara Ashram, where he was the acting spiritual director known as I Am for five years before teaching abroad from 2007 to 2010 and writing his first Be Still and Know I AM God. In early 2010 he established The Self-Inquiry Center in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. When he is not traveling to share the Self-Inquiry or Be Still and Know I AM God, Nick resides at the Center and disseminates the teaching with humor and lucid precision.

Nick Gancitano – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Nick Gancitano has spent most of his adult life delving into the mysteries of the ancient spiritual teachings and has undergone a conscious transformation that has made him a specialist in the field. Nick studied under some of its most respected sages and has traveled extensively around the world to deliver this teaching. In addition, Nick himself has been recognized for his simplification of the often complicated spiritual system of advaita (wisdom through direct insight).

After returning from his journey, Nick became committed to disseminating these teachings among friends and associates who became students and soon erected The Self-Inquiry Center for Conscious Living, where Nick now provides his lighthearted works to a growing population of devoted spiritual seekers.

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