A Little Slice of Heaven: The Essence of Religions and Near-Death Experiences ~ Christophor Coppes

People who have had a near-death experience are convinced that they had a glimpse of heaven. Although each near-death experience is unique, we find recurring messages in them. I have become convinced that by acknowledging the wonderful messages from those who had these experiences, people can become much happier. Furthermore, the messages relayed to them can make our world a better place. But these messages come right under the domain of religions that say they have the answers to many, if not all, spiritual questions relating to the purpose of our life: the way we should lead it and what will happen to us when we die. By forcefully maintaining that point of view over a long period, religions have claimed to have a monopoly on answers to spiritual questions.

For this reason it is interesting to compare the essences of religions with the essences of NDEs. I did that for the five major religions. My conclusion of this comparison is that the true essences of each of the five studied religions can be found in NDEs, but not the other way around. Not all essences of NDEs can be found in each religion. Therefore, NDEs seem to be more universal and more encompassing than each of the religions individually.

There are some wonderful messages relayed during NDEs. For many the most important message is the reassurance that life goes on after we die. And that is what NDEs tell us: We are eternal. Heaven is our birthright. However, the most important messages to me are the ones about love.

We are all loved beyond our wildest dreams. This love comes from the spirit world. When people meet what they describe as The Light, they feel overwhelmed by the greatness of its unconditional and limitless love. It is crucial to note that people who had an NDE consistently use the word unconditional.

Another message about love is that loving other people and nature is something that will be greatly appreciated. Astonishingly, this appreciation will come from ourselves! When we die, we will be able to see whatever we did for others, and we will see and even feel this as if we are these others. If we did something lovingly, we will feel the happiness from the ones for whom we did these loving things, and we will be happy with our actions. Of course, the contrary holds when we have hurt others. This is an absolutely amazing thing, because it means, in fact, that we are all profoundly interconnected.

A last message I would like to convey is that we are all important. The reason is that we all carry The Light within us and that we all have a significant task to fulfill on Earth. Remarkably, many people who claim to gain knowledge of their task say that returning to their body makes them forget what this is.

What, then, are some parallels between the NDE and religions? Interestingly, all religions stress that love is vital. God, Allah, Brahman, YHWH or the Buddhas love us immensely, but it is stressed that we have to love one another as well. In Christianity Jesus has a fantastic message for us. He says that the two most important commandments of Judaism, in fact, are equal. To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind is equal to the rule to love your neighbors as yourself. In Buddhism compassion is the centerpiece. In Islam, Allah is told to be most merciful and most compassionate, and his followers are urged to imitate this.

There are some interesting differences, too. For instance, Hinduism is the only mainstream religion to tell us clearly that we carry God within us. We are a part of God. And that is one of the important messages of NDEs: We have The Light within us, we are one with God. This is something that clashes with Christianity, Judaism and Islam, where God is some other entity outside us.

A major difference with Christianity has to do with the Original Sin that we all start with at birth and that is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden fruit in Paradise. But we should know that Jesus never mentioned original sin. Nor was it mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament. The truth is that this most important Christian dogma was developed many centuries after Jesus’ death. In NDEs we won’t find anything that remotely resembles Original Sin.

But let’s stick with the important parallel for us on Earth: Be aligned with the love of God, YHWY, Allah, Brahman or the Buddhas. It will make us happier.

View here on the recent book by Christophor Coppes

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1. “The Problem With Spiritual Meetings” 2. “The Guru is Dangerous” ~ premodaya satsang

Swami Premodaya explains that spiritual meetings have one big drawback: if you haven’t already had some experience of the spiritual truth of things, the ideas and discussions involved will all seem “theoretical” to you. But in fact, genuine spiritual masters are not theorizing or conceptualizing; they are simply explicating the inexplicable and saying the unsayable!

This is an excerpt from a Satsang with Swami Premodaya, a live and spontaneous public meeting.

“The Guru is Dangerous”

Swami Premodaya responds to a question from a disciple, explaining one aspect of the guru-disciple relationship.

This is an excerpt from a SATSANG ONLINE, a live streaming broadcast, where anyone, anywhere, can interact in real-time with Swami Premodaya.

Non-Duality Magazine: Interview with Karen Richards

Q. 1. Can you please tell me how you became interested in non-duality and what would you say it is?

As I was never a conscious seeker, there was no active interest prior to the ‘awakening experience’ in what can be termed ‘non-duality’. I had never heard that word before or terms such as awakening / self realisation and so I had no preconceived ideas about what it could be.

In a way it could be described that life circumstances seemed to engineer an opportunity for all ideas of a personal self to be seen through. It appeared that due to intense physical and emotional suffering the ‘I’ that I believed I was had to really stop. As a direct consequence of this stopping, there was a sudden and radical experiential recognition of life as it truly is – in other words an awakening experience. What is simple, obvious and always the case was clearly revealed when all ideas of a personal self fell effortlessly away. Following this revelation, it was subsequently realised that this recognition required an ongoing dedication and commitment to embody what had been revealed – and not to simply live from the memory of an ‘experience’. What seemed to naturally emerge from this subsequent realisation was a deeply sincere commitment to what had been realised, to shed the layers of conditioned reactivity and ever more deeply abide as that recognition.

Subsequently, an interest then seemed to emerge about how this realisation is being communicated and how it could be communicated to ‘others’. Although effectively it was recognised that there are no ‘others’ – all is appearing in life as life – it was realised beyond doubt that experiential recognition of life as it truly IS is the answer to all self conflict and the associated emotional suffering. Furthermore, recognition has a profound impact upon the way life is experienced moment to moment, making the peace that is eternally here experientially available – and this has huge potential implications for the wider ‘world’. This ‘understanding’ then cemented the commitment to living this realisation and gave rise to a great passion to share with whoever is receptive to self inquiry.

Subsequently, non-duality was experientially understood to mean that life is effectively ‘unified’ – that there is no separation anywhere – separation is only apparent and ‘lives’ in thought identification only. Every ‘apparent’ thing is simply life expressing itself and as such all expressions are understood to be equal (that paradoxically includes thought identification). Awareness is a good ‘pointer’ to this unified ‘field’ from which all apparent things come and go – but in and of itself isn’t a ‘thing’. That thing-less thing is undeniably present, aware, exists and yet in cannot be separated from experience – so in truth they are ‘understood’ to be one and the same. Awareness / experience (apparent ‘things’) = life itself.

Q.2. Did anything change about you, your personality, character, temperament, disposition or otherwise after this realization?

This is difficult to say but as there has been a fundamental shift in the way functioning appears to happen ‘here’ there must have been some significant changes with regard to certain personality traits. The way life is approached now is totally different – there is a ‘responding to life’ as it naturally unfolds rather than deciding ‘what I want’ and trying to make that happen. As a consequence, there is a natural relaxation and peace underlying experiences that it would seem to have had inevitable consequences on the remaining ‘personality’.

Q. 3. How long did it take you to integrate this or for others around you?

The integration of what has been realised and the commitment to that recognition is ongoing so I don’t see it as ‘finite’ but in experiential terms, more of a process of continuous evolution. As regards the others around me, I cannot speak for others; all I can know is the experience ‘here’ – however, people that have known me for a long time seem to indicate to me that I seem noticeably much more peaceful and content.

Q 4. What about likes and dislikes, did this change at all?

The main thing that appears to have changed is my diet. I seem to have moved away from eating a largely meat based diet to a more plant based one. I still eat meat (at the moment) but consumption is greatly reduced and there also appears to be a natural tendency to avoid red meat. This has not been a conscious choice but rather something that is happening all by itself.

There is a sense of an intelligence guiding all action / decisions and as such there seems to be a natural moving away from doing things that could be considered harmful to the body and that seem to be out of harmony with the ‘whole’. Alcohol consumption has also been reduced to virtually zero. I have also noticed an inclination to be quiet and so there has been a moving away from noisy social events choosing more relaxed, peaceful and solitary environments instead.

I still love many of the things that I enjoyed ‘before’: music, travel, walking in nature, being with friends -although now it seems as if there is even greater enjoyment in these simple things. The moment is always enough – there is no ‘looking for something better’ outside of the current experience. This means that the peace that is naturally here is more experientially obvious – seeming in effect, to permeate through everyday experiences with an ever increasing brightness. This appears to make even the most ordinary of moments extraordinarily ordinary, full of aliveness and awe.

Q 5. Did you practice meditation of any kind before this realization? Do you still meditate and what are your thoughts on this as a path or method to realization?

Prior to the realisation I engaged periodically in guided visualisations / relaxation techniques, but no ‘formal’ meditation practices.

What prompts the revealing of one’s true nature is a mystery; therefore I couldn’t advocate any one path in favour of another – or deny any path. However, what was realised experientially ‘here’ is that you can’t get to where you already are by any path and that a step on a path is (effectively) a step away. However, all paths are valid until they are seen as futile, so from that perspective they serve an ‘apparent’ purpose and are ‘valid’ and ‘meaningful’ from that perspective.

In relation to ‘practices’ it is important is to understand the possible effects that any practice can have – that being the potential to keep thought identification active. The very nature of this risk is a probable barrier to actually seeing beyond thought identification. So any practice that is undertaken with a hope of getting somewhere or achieving some end result can potentially create an apparent paradox – the practice can actually serve as an invisible barrier to realisation and not actually reveal ones natural state – which is the practice’s apparent ‘aim’.

In respect of meditation practice, I see true meditation as mindfulness – complete awareness of experience (sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch) – in the presence of a relaxed body and a quiet, alert mind (which incidentally is also part of ‘experiencing’).

‘Mindfulness’ could also be said to be a natural consequence of realising what you are and surrendering fully to that recognition. In addition, one could engage in mindfulness as a ‘practice’ until it is no longer a practice as such, becoming a more natural way of functioning – so in effect there is an apparent merging with the primordial way of ‘Being’.

Sitting in silence is another practice that could be considered useful as far as the integration or embodiment during the post awakening journey. This ‘practice’ of sitting in silence enables the natural silence to be more prevalent throughout all experiences. Both mindfulness and sitting in silence are regularly practiced ‘here’, being mindful throughout the waking state and also completely surrendering to silence most nights before sleep – there has been on occasions, also been full ‘awareness’ during the experience of ‘sleep’.

I think what is paramount in respect of any practice taken as a pathway to awakening, is knowledge of the limitations the practice may by nature potentially impose. When seen in context, no practice is a problem and can subsequently not only create a ‘space’ for what is always present to be revealed, but also aid experiential embodiment post awakening.

Q. 6. Did you read advaita scripture of any kind before this shift from any traditional sources. Vedanta, Buddhism, Sufism and so on. or was it mostly contemporary books.

As I wasn’t an active ‘spiritual’ seeker before the awakening experience, in relation to ‘realisation’ I hadn’t read extensively from any source – traditional or otherwise. In my early teens I had a fascination with near death experiences and spiritual psychology, reading books like ‘The Light Beyond’ by Raymond Moody and ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by M. Scott Peck. From the age of sixteen I was enjoying Khalil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ and a number of years later I had someone who recommended to me a book called the ‘Tao Te Ching’. The Tao was a book I loved to read and reread periodically, I had a deep fascination with the text for some reason, it really spoke to me and there was a really beautiful quality, likened to poetry that seemed to emanate from the words. These books were simply enjoyed for what I thought they were – just beautiful and poetic writings. There was no real understanding at all of what the words could have been pointing to.

After the awakening experience, my fascination with the Tao Te Ching made perfect sense and I could at last understand experientially the recognition that words were actually inviting. Due to the nature of the illness that was being experienced prior to, during and after the awakening experience reading pages of text is problematic. However, an interest naturally arose as to one’s ability to communicate the incommunicable and, as a result I started collecting books of a mainly traditional orientation.

One of the books that seemed to ‘find me’ quite early on after the awakening experience came to me while I was on a meditation course. It was a book called ‘A Garland of Guru’s sayings’ by Sri Murgunar. What attracted me to the book was one of the faces on the cover – a man I now know to be Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great sage of India. The poetry contained within the pages resonated deeply and lead to several visits to the ashram at the foot of Arunachala, Tiruvannamali, South India – the place where Ramana Maharshi lived from the age of 16 until his death in 1950. I have yet to read any of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings in detail, to this day I have only reading short passages but feel a strong resonance with what the message points to, the experiential recognition of one’s true nature. Ramana’s physical form in the images of recorded photographs can evoke strong emotions to arise of deep love and gratitude. His image seems to symbolise everything that I have come to understand as true – that is not to say there is devotion to him, but to what his physical image seems to represent – the true nature of what we ARE – that beyond form or description.

Other books that became of interest that I have collected include: The Dhamappada, poetry by Hafiz and Rumi, The Gospel of Thomas, The Upanishads, Zen flesh, Zen bones by Paul Reps, The Bhagavad Gita, The Seven Valleys of Baha ‘u’ Lah, The Ashtavakra Gita, Padamalai by Muruganar, The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in his own words by Arthur Osbourne, Be as You Are by David Godman, Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine, Song of the Adadhut by S. Abhayananda, The Yoga Sutra’s of Patangali by Alistair Shearer and The teachings of Huang Po. None of these have been studied extensively, rather a few pages savoured over a cup of tea during quiet moments. Books by modern teachers that I have dipped into are mainly by Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti – Adya’s teachings seem to resonate the most strongly of all the modern teachers that I have encountered so far.

Q 7. What do you talk about in these Satsangs that you do? Is it mostly Q and A? What is the format?

As sharing publicly is a fairly new occurrence that has only been undertaken following recent invitations, I am in the process of discovering what happens each time the experience unfolds. So far the pattern that seems most common to meetings is a period of silence followed by a short discourse lasting between 20 and 40 minutes before inviting questions.

In relation to what is discussed at these meetings, the discourse / pointers arise around a central message – the unchanging source of life. Questions and answers flow around this core topic and discussions relating to suffering, awakening – the experiential recognition of one’s true nature – the integration / embodiment of this understanding beyond words or intellect commonly arise.

Q. 8. Do you call yourself a teacher or do you use some other term for this and would you consider yourself to be more traditional or what Dennis Waite refers to as neo advaita?

I don’t call myself anything, I am simply myself. Sometimes a label such as ‘teacher’ maybe used, but I don’t see myself as a teacher at all. I am just the same as everybody else, only there seems to have been an experiential recognition of what has always been the case in this instance. As this recognition has revealed deep peace and has had a fundamental effect on how life is experienced as a result, there has been a natural inclination to want to ‘share’ this discovery with ‘others’. This however is a somewhat paradoxical statement as upon this experiential recognition the ‘I’ that it appeared to happen to disappeared – so to say it happened to somebody is misleading – it was also realised simultaneously there are no ‘others’ – only life.

However, from this direct experience of human-ness, recognition means that life is seen in its true context and so is experienced differently due to a self evident natural clarity. It is challenging to say how life is different – as nothing in terms of circumstance may have changed at all – but seeking (conscious or otherwise) ends and an allowance of the innate peace that was seemingly hidden by conditioned tendencies becomes increasingly experientially obvious.

Awakening is not the end – far from it. If anything, it can be likened to a beginning-less beginning of true experiencing – life seemingly offering a deeper opportunity to experientially surrender to what has been recognised and abide with increasing conviction as that.

Q. 9. Do you also do private consultations of any kind? What method do you use?

I do conduct private consultations. The method I use if it can be described like that is meeting the moment as it is / meeting someone where they are. I offer what I consider to be a holistic approach that is unique each time – based on what it seems is needed for each person that contacts me.

Generally, I like to find out a little bit about the person speaking to me, to see how they view themselves and ‘world’ around them. Depending on what it is sensed about what the person is ready for, several approaches maybe then adopted and a line of reflective questions offered according to what seems to be required. For example beliefs / perceptions / ‘conditioning’ and conditioned responses maybe explored that are specific to the individual, clear pointers to what ‘is’ offered and the direct experience investigated. In addition, exercises or practices may be suggested and discussions that relate directly to the experiential integration / embodiment of what has been recognised can all arise as part of the process too.

The aim (if there is one) is to create a quiet space that potentially promotes the simple, natural experiential recognition of one’s true nature and to assist the individual as necessary into a clear and autonomous way of ‘being’ in the world.

Q. 10. What about a book, are you writing one?

I am writing a book. The inspiration for this book was really ignited from the perspective of the experience here – ‘waking up’ without a teacher due to intense suffering, without any ‘active’ seeking / initial interest in advaita or other traditions. I aim to address – in a modern way, many aspects of this pathless path but in easy to understand language that would appeal to the ‘ordinary’ person. It will hopefully be a book that family, friends and acquaintances would be able to understand, that is ‘current’ and yet weaves in with that modern perspective the relevant aspects of the more ‘traditional’ approach.

The book will be a ‘live’ text taking the reader on a journey of self discovery – pausing at key points to investigate the direct experience with questions and exercises. The text will aim to address in a logical sequence many of the main point’s surrounding the ‘awakening experience’ from suffering through to recognition and the subsequent integration.

Karen Richards

In February 2008 at the age of thirty-three, Karen experienced a sudden and radical awakening. Prior to this realisation, no teachings or practices were followed – in fact at that time the terms non-duality and awakening were completely unfamiliar. This spontaneous realisation presented itself during a period of intense emotional suffering and when demands in life exceeded Karen’s physical capability.

Karen attempted to persevere in the face of these challenges, the consequence being a severely debilitating illness that affected physical functioning on every level. Although the illness had a devastating effect on life as it was then known, it seemed to create a space for a deeper reality to be recognised.

As her state of health was so poor, Karen was unable to return to work – meaning that she spent a significant amount of time confined to her home. The effect of this period of solitude was profound surrender, allowing the realisation to become deeply integrated into daily living. Two and a half years after the initial recognition, someone Karen didn’t know approached her for guidance, which really was the beginning of sharing in a more active way. Karen now shares openly with all those who wish to enquire into the true nature of reality.

Karen grew up in a small town in the heart of England and was born into a non-religious family. After a somewhat turbulent childhood and unsettled early adult life, she trained as a nurse in 1993. After qualification in 1996, Karen went onto practice nursing in the NHS full time for twelve years, gaining experience in many specialities including general surgery, urology and medicine before specialising in intensive care. In the years prior to the realisation, Karen has experienced challenges and disappointments that seem common to many. She is also a certified life coach and that, coupled with her nursing career has given her considerable experience of working with people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. This has endowed her with the ability to empathise and understand life as it is to commonly experienced, making her easy to communicate with.

Following the realisation, Karen’s experience of illness – coupled with her extensive experience of healthcare, enabled dis-ease / illness to be seen from a different perspective. Misperception of what we are and the stress that can ensue in direct relation to that misperception, means that we are often in a state of persistent resistance to life as it is. This negative state of functioning is the foundation for many of our health challenges. The rediscovery of who we are is fundamental for the transformation of the human life experience. It means that the peace that is already here is recognised and experienced directly, having potentially profound healing effect on the mind and body.

Realisation – from a human perspective – means that the unity beyond apparent diversity is remembered. Life can then be embraced fully and authentically – without contamination from the lens of the conditioned mind, bringing relief from all psychological suffering. An inevitable consequence of this recognition is the arising of compassion, love and respect for life in all of its appearances – having an ever deepening impact on the human experience. This has the direct consequence of transforming the world we see literally before our eyes, having a powerful healing effect on the planet as a whole.

‘May you rediscover who you truly are, for in that knowing lies liberation, peace and wisdom. You are THAT for which you have been seeking’

Much love, Karen Richards
Posted by Karen Richards

Karen Richards – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

The Ten Bridges of Transformation: Spiritual Guidance for Radically New Life by Marianne Williamson

Make a radical shift toward a more peaceful, powerful, purposeful life!

In The Ten Bridges of Transformation, world-renowned spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson addresses 10 universal human challenges that act as gulfs, separating us from all the things we most want and need in life. When they rear their head – as they quite frequently do – we are rendered paralyzed by them, powerless and incapable of true movement.

In response, Marianne offers 10 radical new ways of encountering these inevitable challenges. These “bridges” will enable you to recognize the challenges and transitions of life as incredible opportunities for growth and enlightenment. Each one will carry you instantly from a specific challenging circumstance – anxiety, living in the past and future, focusing on guilt, negative thinking, and many more – to its positive alternative.

The 10 bridges are an eternal compass that guides us along the path to spiritual wholeness. Anytime you are lost, confused, frustrated, doubtful, fearful, even hopeless, you can use these 10 active principles to immediately reorient yourself toward love, peace, and fulfillment.

The Ten Bridges of Transformation includes several live segments, recorded at Marianne’s renowned workshops. These segments will infuse and ignite you with the incredible energy and enthusiasm of Marianne’s live events. As anyone who has heard or witnessed Marianne Williamson live can tell you, there’s nothing quite like it.

Without question, Marianne Williamson is one of the most profound, insightful, globally important spiritual teachers of our time. People who hear Marianne are invariably stunned by her incredible energy, but most of all by the absolute illusion-shattering truth of what she says.

The Ten Bridges of Transformation is absolutely essential listening for every Marianne Williamson fan, and anyone who wants to discover how to transform life’s changes, challenges, and hardships into miraculous opportunities for growth.

Marianne Williamson is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Return to Love, A Woman’s Worth, Healing the Soul of America, Enchanted Love, and Illuminata. Her books have been translated into more than 20 languages and have inspired spiritual seekers the world over.

Contents:

disc 1. Bridge #1: from forgetting who we are to remembering who we are —
disc 2. Bridge #2: from negative thinking to positive thinking —
Bridge #3: from anxiety to atonement —
disc 3. Bridge #4: from asking God to change the world to asking God that He change us —
Bridge #5: from living in the past and future to living in the present —
disc 4. Bridge #6: from focus on guilt to focus on innocence —
Bridge #7: from separation to relationship —
disc 5. from spiritual death to rebirth —
disc 6. Bridge #9: from your plan to God’s plan —
disc 7. Bridge #10: from who we were to who we are —
disc 8. Walking the bridges: forgiveness and service.

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