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Judaism Religion

Virginia Rivers’ Near-Death Experience

In 1986, Virginia Rivers had a near-death experience that was brought on by a near-fatal bout with pneumonia. At that time, she was extremely weak with a high fever, felt intense pressure in her ears, and had difficulty breathing. She remembers crying out inwardly, “Please, where is everybody? I must be dying.” At that point, she lost consciousness, and her journey to the center of the universe and to the Source of All began. Her NDE comes from Dr. Kenneth Ring‘s excellent book, Lesson From The Light, which, in my opinion, is the best book on the NDE to date. What follows is Virginia’s NDE testimony.


There was total peace; I was surrounded on all sides by a black void. I was no longer frightened. I was comfortable and content to be where I was. No fear … no pain … just peace and comfort and amazingly undaunted curiosity. Immediately the blackness began to erupt into a myriad of stars and I felt as if I were at the center of the universe with a complete panoramic view in all directions.

The next instant I began to feel a forward surge of movement. The stars seemed to fly past me so rapidly that they formed a tunnel around me. I began to sense awareness, knowledge. The farther forward I was propelled the more knowledge I received. My mind felt like a sponge, growing and expanding in size with each addition. The knowledge came in single words and in whole idea blocks. I just seemed to be able to understand everything as it was being soaked up or absorbed. I could feel my mind expanding and absorbing and each new piece of information somehow seemed to belong. It was as if I had known already but forgotten or mislaid it, as if it were waiting here for me to pick it up on my way by. I kept growing with knowledge, evolving, expanding and thirsting for more. It was amazing, like being a child again and experiencing something brand new and beautiful, a wonderful new playground. As each second passed, there was more to learn, answers to questions, meanings and definitions, philosophies and reasons, histories, mysteries, and so much more, all pouring into my mind. I remember thinking:

“I knew that, I know I did. Where has it all been?”

The stars began to change shapes before my eyes. They began to dance and deliberately draw themselves into intricate designs and colors which I had never seen before. They moved and swayed to a kind of rhythm or music with a quality and beauty I had never heard and yet … remembered. A melody that humans could not possibly have composed, yet was so totally familiar and in complete harmony with the very core of my being. As if it were the rhythm of my existence, the reason for my being. The extravagance of imagery and coloration pulsed in splendid unison with the magnificent ensemble.

I felt completely at peace, tranquilized by the vision and the melodic drone. I could have stayed in this place for eternity with this pulse of love and beauty beating throughout my soul. The love poured into me from all corners of the universe. I was still being propelled forward at what seemed great speed. Yet I was able to observe all that I passed as if I were standing still. Each passing second I was absorbing more and more knowledge. No one spoke to me, nor did I hear voices in my head. The knowledge just seemed to “BE” and with each new awareness came a familiarity. A tiny pin point of light appeared far in front of me at the other end of my kaleidoscopic tunnel. The light grew larger and larger as I was soaring closer and closer to it, until finally I had arrived at my destination.

At once there was total and absolute awareness. There was not a question I could ask for which I did not already have the answer. I looked over to the presence I knew would be there and thought, “God, it was so simple, why didn’t I know that?” I could not see God as I can see you. Yet I knew it was him. A light, a beauty emitting from within, infinitely in all directions to touch every atom of being. The harmony of coloration, design and melody originated here with the light. It was God, his love, his light, his very essence, the force of creation emanating to the ends of all eternity … reaching out as a pulsing beacon of love to bring me “home.”

There was a time of exchange, in one moment or one eon, complete and absolute knowing and approval of me and what I had become. In that instant or millennium, I knew he had seen my entire life and he loved me still. Pure unadulterated, unselfish, ever-flowing, unconditional love. God had seen my life and still loved me endlessly, eternally for myself, for my existence. He never spoke to me in words that I could hear with my ears, yet I heard his thoughts as clearly as words. The quality of his word, his thought, his voice in my head, was magnificent, enchanting, compelling without demand, gentle and kind and filled with more love than is possible to describe. To be in his presence was more inspiring, more inviting, than any kind of love or harmony ever discovered in this reality. No experience, no closeness has ever been so complete.

I was on what appeared to be a ledge of a huge mountain. The front side where we stood was flattened, possibly like a half butte. I stood, floated, maybe hovered by his side and I vaguely remember an altar built of golden shining light in front of me and slightly to the right. I was not aware or unaware of having a body. I was there and that was the most important thing I could imagine. He told me many things of which I have little or no recollection. I only remember that we spoke, or rather, he inspired and I learned. It seemed then that the exchange lasted for hours or eons and now it seems that eons passed in only moments. I remember only two things from that exchange. First, God told me there were only two things that we could bring back with us when we died … LOVE and KNOWLEDGE … So I was to learn as much about both as possible. Second, God told me that I had to return, I could not stay, there was something I had yet to accomplish. I remember knowing at that moment what it was. I have no recollection now.

I remember pain. Great emotional sorrow, not physical pain. I think my soul cried. I begged not to leave. I plead. I told him how no one would miss me. My children would be better off without me. My mother and father and brother would take better care of them than I. My heart ached as if it were physically crushed. Again he told me there was something I must accomplish and his love began to soothe my tears and sorrow. I understood and he knew from the bottom of my soul that I wanted to be with him as soon as I did what was to be done.

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Judaism Religion

Dr. Rene Turner’s Near-Death Experience

Dr. Rene Turner was involved in a horrible car accident that left her with severe damage to her head. While she was severely injured, she had a remarkable near-death experience. As a result of her accident and NDE, she founded the Head Injury Society of New Zealand to help others with severe head injuries. Her NDE is featured in Kevin Williams’ book, Nothing Better Than Death.

In February 1982, in Newcastle, Australia, Rene Turner left her optical instrument repair firm to go home. She was driving along the highway and slowed to stop at lights where a road crosses the highway. Here, her memory ends. Reports her partner who was riding with her:

“As we approached the lights, they changed to green. As we went into the crossing, the car aquaplaned and hit a large power pole just after the intersection. Stuart, who was laying on the mattress in the back of the panel van, was thrown forward into the back of Rene’s head, driving her into the steering wheel.”

At the hospital, the professor of neurosurgery reported Rene’s death to her parents and said they should be grateful as she would have been a vegetable had she survived. During this conversation, a young frightened nurse came rushing into the office and blurted out, “She is alive! She sat up and spoke!”

The professor chastised her for interrupting them and lectured her about how “dead bodies” can move and make noises.

But the nurse was emphatic, “She sat up and said, ‘Don’t give me any more drugs!'”

At this point, Rene’s mother took the professor by one elbow, Rene’s father by his and marched them down the corridor to see for themselves. They found Rene in a back corridor where she had apparently been placed so the nurse could remove equipment prior to her transfer to the morgue. She was found in a deep coma and breathing – remaining that way for a further ten days.

The following is Rene Turner’s NDE in her own words:


I don’t know when in the above events my experience took place. I have no memory of the process of dying or leaving my body. I was moving head first through a dark maelstrom of what looked like black boiling clouds, feeling that I was being beckoned to the sides, which frightened me. Ahead was a tiny dot of bright light which steadily grew and brightened as I drew nearer. I became aware that I must be dead and was concerned for Mum and Dad and my sister, and somewhat upset with myself as I thought, “They will soon get over it,” like it was, in passing, just a fleeting thought as I rushed greedily forward towards this light.

I arrived in an explosion of glorious light into a room with insubstantial walls, standing before a man about in his thirties, about six feet tall, reddish brown shoulder length hair and an incredibly neat, short beard and mustache. He wore a simple white robe. Light seemed to emanate from him and I felt he had great age and wisdom. He welcomed me with great love, tranquility, and peace (indescribable) – no words. I felt, “I can sit at your feet forever and be content,” which struck me as a strange thing to think/say/feel. I became fascinated by the fabric of his robe, trying to figure out how light could be woven!

He stood beside me and directed me to look to my left, where I was replaying my life’s less complementary moments. I relived those moments and felt not only what I had done but also the hurt I had caused. Some of the things I would have never imagined could have caused pain. I was surprised that some things I may have worried about, like shoplifting a chocolate as a child, were not there, whilst casual remarks which caused hurt unknown to me at the time were counted. When I became burdened with guilt, I was directed to other events which gave joy to others, although I felt unworthy. It seemed the balance was in my favor. I received great love.

I was led further into the room, which became a hall. There coming towards me was my grandfather. He looked younger than I remembered and was without his hare lip or cleft pallet, but undoubtedly my grandfather. We hugged. He spoke to me and welcomed me. I was moved to forgive him for dying when I was 14 and making me break my promise to become a doctor and find a cure for his heart condition. Until that moment, I had not realized I had been angry at him!

Granddad told me that grandma was coming soon and he was looking forward to her arrival. I inquired why she was coming soon as she had been traveling from her home in Manchester to New Zealand to Miami for continual summer for a number of years! Granddad told me she had cancer of the bowel and was coming soon. Granddad seemed to have no grasp of time when I pressed for how soon.

[Grandma was diagnosed three months later and died in August. I had upset my mother by telling her about it when I regained consciousness.]

After Granddad and I had talked a while, he took me further into the room which became a hall again. We approached a group of people whom I started to recognize.

The Person who first welcomed me came and placed his hand on my shoulder and turned me towards him.

He said, “You must return. You have a task to perform.”

I wanted to argue. I wanted to stay. I glanced back at Granddad and was propelled quickly towards the entrance. At the threshold, all became blackness, nothing, no awareness.

I awoke from my coma slowly, over several days, half dreamed memories of familiar voices and glimpses of faces. The clearest moments were several occasions where I would awake from deep sleep to find a nurse with a syringe and refuse any drugs. I had no idea why! I had three lots of surgery to repair my face, skull, eye socket. I left the hospital with pain, double vision, anosmia, and damage to the eighth cranial nerve. It left me with nausea and a disturbed balance. I was for two years angry at G-d for sending me back in such torment with a task to do with no clues or instructions – only one thing: a clear message I have no idea how to pass on, which is:

“It is time to live according to your beliefs, whatever they may be – to put your house in order – for the end times are upon us!”

This can’t be my task. There was no booming voice or any way I knew the message got there. I am also unsure of the identity of the gatekeeper – no name tag – no introduction!

It took me five years as a zombie before I was able to rehabilitate myself. I have gainful employment, formed the Head Injury Society of New Zealand in 1987, and am paraded as the example of how well it is possible to recover from acquired brain damage. I still don’t know my task – still have pain, anosmia, diplopia, etc.

The memory of the NDE is more real than what I did yesterday. Salom… Rene Turner

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Judaism Religion

Peter Sellers’ Near-Death Experience

The near-death experiences of the rich and famous are particularly interesting. They earn a lot of money. They’re known all over the world. They’re often very beautiful, very articulate, and very talented in what they do. With this in mind, why would such a person reveal to the world that they died and came back from the dead? What would be their motive? Money? They’re already have that. Fame? They’re already famous. In fact, by telling the world they rose from the dead, don’t they risk losing their fame and fortune – not to mention their reputation. People who reveal such things about themselves are frequently thought to be crazy. So why would a rich and famous person subject themselves to such possible negative press when they have so much to lose? The only rational reason is that they are telling the truth. It really did happen to them. Just like near-death experiencers who are not rich and famous, they are imbued with a “mission” to share with the world an important message: we are eternal souls having a human experience; and love is the answer to everything. The following is Peter Seller’s near-death experience as documented in Jean Ritchie’s excellent book, Death’s Door.

Peter Sellers (1925–1980) was the comic genius of a generation of actors. He brought brilliant characterizations to numerous films, including The Mouse That Roared (1959), Dr. Strangelove (1964), The Pink Panther (1964), and Being There (1979). He was known for his enthusiastic way of totally absorbing himself in his characters, even carrying roles offstage. He also suffered from sad moods between films. While he knew his characters thoroughly, he said that he really did not know who he was. Then Peter Sellers, the brilliant, confused actor, had a near-death experience.

Seated in a Hollywood mockup of a limousine’s back seat while shooting his last great film, “Being There”, he told Shirley MacLaine about his NDE, astonished that she did not consider him “bonkers.” In 1964, during the first of a rapid series of eight heart attacks, when his heart stopped and he was clinically dead, he had an out-of-body experience and saw the bright, loving light. In her book, Out on a Limb, Shirley MacLaine recounts Sellers’ experience:

“Well, I felt myself leave my body. I just floated out of my physical form and I saw them cart my body away to the hospital. I went with it … I wasn’t frightened or anything like that because I was fine; and it was my body that was in trouble.”

The doctor saw that Sellers was dead and massaged his heart vigorously. Meanwhile:

“I looked around myself and I saw an incredibly beautiful bright loving white light above me. I wanted to go to that white light more than anything. I’ve never wanted anything more. I know there was love, real love, on the other side of the light which was attracting me so much. It was kind and loving and I remember thinking ‘That’s God'”

Peter’s out-of-body soul tried to elevate itself toward the light, but he fell short:

“Then I saw a hand reach through the light. I tried to touch it, to grab onto it, to clasp it so it could sweep me up and pull me through it.”

But just then Sellers’ heart began beating again, and at that instant the hand’s voice said:

It’s not time. Go back and finish. It’s not time.”

As the hand receded he felt himself floating back down to his body, waking up bitterly disappointed.

What effect did his near-death experience have on Sellers? In the book Peter Sellers: The Authorized Biography by Alexander Walker, the author states:

“The repeated act of ‘dying’ became for Peter Sellers the most important experience of his life. Sellers said of death, ‘I’ll never fear it again.’ Family and friends found him more spiritual and reflective than before. He began to trust spiritualists over all others. Most (if not all) decisions were based on advice received from Maurice Woodruff, his clairvoyant and astrologer. The experience of resurrection intensified Sellers’ spiritual concern and friends discerned the start of a new introspectiveness, a sense of his not ‘being there’ in spirit, though present in body.”

His wife Britt Ekland found it unnerving that her previously restless husband had now become so quiet. He was now “sitting still over lengthy periods, saying nothing, but staring at her with his thoughts turned inward.” He returned to England for an extended convalescence, but soon reverted to old habits and bought his 84th car, an expensive Ferrari.

According to Walker, a couple of years before the NDE, Peter had played an earnest priest in “Heavens Above“, and developed a serious interest in Christianity (although he was born Jewish). During this time, following his father’s death in 1962, Sellers was drawn to long, serious discussions about life’s meaning with a neighboring vicar in London, the Rev. John Hester, “to try to reconcile the world of plenty he inhabited with the emptiness of soul that oppressed him.” After his NDE, he deepened his quest for spiritual truth, continuing his discussions with Rev. Hester, coming close to joining the church. In later years he practiced yoga, saying once that “Yoga has given me a tranquility I wouldn’t have thought possible.” The NDE strengthened Sellers’ conviction that he was a reincarnated soul whose power of mimicry sprang from memories of past lives. But in his current incarnation, at least, he felt lost. He did not know who he was and why he was on this earth. He explained to Shirley MacLaine:

“I know I have lived many times before … that experience confirmed it to me, because in this lifetime I felt what it was for my soul to actually be out of my body. But ever since I came back, I don’t know why I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do, or what I came back for.”

According to Walker, spirituality gave Sellers some peace, but did not still his restless drift. In 1977 he complained that his yoga practice did not stop his heart disease:

“After all, what did it do for me? I obeyed all the instructions. I said my prayers regularly. I did all the exercises for peace, tranquility, and happiness. And all that happened was that I got steadily worse.”

Although Sellers’ NDE awakened him to a deepened spirituality, it did not usher in a major, lasting change in his soul’s makeup. The brilliant actor still felt lost. On July 24, 1980, at the young age of 54, Sellers collapsed from a final heart attack – only this time, it was his time to go.

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Judaism Religion

An Orthodox Jew’s Near-Death Experience

An evening for Orthodox Jewish women was arranged locally on the virtues of modesty for the Jewish woman. The main speaker was a woman who said that she had had an NDE 15 years ago. The following is basically the story that she presented.

Table of Contents

  1. E. L.’s Near-Death Experience
  2. Kevin Williams’ Analysis of E. L.’s NDE
  1. E. L.’s Near-Death Experience

A week before the NDE, her brother had a dream in which their grandmother, who had died years before, said that the woman, E.L., was going to have a tragedy befall her. E.L., on hearing this alarming news, proceeded to do intense soul searching in an attempt to discover the reason that she was to be summoned to the “World of Truth”. She decided that there were certain matters pertaining to modesty that she needed to correct and started working on fixing the matter. (Modesty for the Jewish woman is considered to be one of the highest virtues and many stringencies are observed in this area.)

On Friday afternoon, a short while before the beginning of the Sabbath, E.L. began to feel unwell. She tried to get a hold of a doctor unsuccessfully. She didn’t feel like going to the emergency room, but stayed home even though she felt that this was her last day on Earth. Her twin sister came to help her with the children which she fed, bathed and dressed in pajamas. E.L.’s husband only came home on Friday night after the Sabbath prayers in the synagogue. She told him that she wasn’t feeling well and to please put the children to bed, which he did. They then proceeded with the traditional Sabbath rituals which include making a blessing over wine to sanctify the Sabbath and washing hands for the bread.

E.L. said that she felt that the Angel of Death was present in the room, but couldn’t touch her because of the holiness that permeated the room. Nevertheless, she told her husband that she wanted to lie down in her room. As she walked to her room, she suddenly fainted and lost consciousness. Her husband picked her up and put her on the bed at which point he became aware that she was breathing her last breaths.

E.L. then described that she felt the Angel of Death drag her soul out of her and that she was surrounded by black tormenting angels who began to beat her mercilessly. She was brought to a point where she was greeted by her grandmother and other many righteous people who were associated with her while they were alive. She said that she was aware of the Divine Presence crying over her because she was being beaten so badly. She heard unbearable screams of another soul who had been sentenced to Gehinom (hell) for a breach in modesty.

E.L. begged that she should be allowed to return to this world as she had small children to raise for the service of God. She said that the merit of all the righteous people who were standing there should be enough to allow her to return. She was told it was good that she had all of these righteous people on her side, but it wasn’t enough and only if she had a righteous person in this world who would beseech on her behalf would she be given merit. She mentioned the name of a righteous Hassidic Rebbe with whom she was associated.

The Rebbe at that moment was surrounded by his followers as is usual on Friday nights. His soul, however, made an appearance in the spiritual world in order to benefit E.L. She was told that there were 3 conditions for her to return. One was to continue in the repentance process she had begun. Two, she was to write a letter of thanks to the Rebbe telling him that his merit is what saved her. The third one, she wouldn’t tell us about.

She then returned to her body and woke up covered with black wounds and pain from which she suffered two months and she says she is weak to this day.

2. Kevin Williams’ Analysis of E. L.’s NDE

This NDE is interesting in that the woman sees the soul of a living person (her Rabbi). This is not an unusual aspect to NDEs and there are similar documented cases of NDErs seeing living people in the spirit realm. One of the best cases I know of that deals with this phenomenon is the NDE of Dr. Dianne Morrissey. During her NDE, she sees all three of her bodies (physical, soul and spirit bodies). While out of her body, she spends a great deal of time around her dead body and even saw that her soul body is attached to her physical body by a silver cord. Later on in her NDE, she saw her spirit body laying on a “heavenly bed”. At that moment, she wondered how she could be three places at the same time.

NDEs such as Morrissey’s show how a living person has a physical body that operates in the physical dimension, a soul (astral) body operating in the soul (astral) dimension, and a spirit body operating in the spirit dimension. This phenomenon explains how NDErs can see living people during their NDE. They are actually in contact with the soul of the living person.

Another example can be found in the NDE of Lynnclaire Dennis. Here is an excerpt that describes her experience:

“With my eyes closed, as if in a vision within a vision, I saw my mother. I could not understand why she was there. As far as I knew, my mom was very much alive. Wasn’t this “the other side”? I knew I was no longer alive and felt that I was in a space between the worlds… ” (Lynnclaire Dennis)

There are other examples of NDEs that involve seeing living people on the other side. But, the more common examples of this kind of phenomenon can be found in dreams where living people meet other living people in the dream (soul and spirit) world.

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Judaism Religion

The Mystical Vision of Kabbalah

Kabbalah (literally “receiving” in Hebrew) is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought. Its definition varied according to the tradition from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, and occult adaptions. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between the unchanging, mysterious eternal God and the finite universe of God’s creation. Kabbalah seeks to define (1) the nature of the universe and the human being, (2) the nature and purpose of existence, and (3) various other ontological questions. Kabbalah presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization.

Table of Contents

  1. A Brief Introduction to Kabbalah
  2. An Overview of the Kabbalah
  3. The History of Jewish Mysticism
  4. Hasidic Judaism
  5. The Concealed and Revealed God
  6. Sephirot and the Divine Feminine of Shekhinah
  7. The Ten Sefirot as the Process of Creation
  8. Descending Spiritual Worlds
  9. The History of Reincarnation in Judiasm
  10. Important Kabbalah Links

1. A Brief Introduction to Kabbalah

Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought and kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are thus held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature, their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

Traditional practitioners believe its earliest origins pre-date world religions, forming the primordial blueprint for Creation’s philosophies, religions, sciences, arts and political systems. Historically, Kabbalah emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, becoming reinterpreted in the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine. It was popularized in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th century onwards. 20th-century interest in Kabbalah has inspired cross-denominational Jewish renewal and contributed to wider non-Jewish contemporary spirituality, as well as engaging its flourishing emergence and historical re-emphasis through newly established academic investigation.

2. An Overview of the Kabbalah

Kabbalah is considered by its adherants as a necessary part of the study of Torah and as an inherent duty of observant Jews to follow. Kabbalah teaches doctrines which are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.

After Biblical Hebrew prophecy, the first documented schools of mysticism in Judaism are found in the 1st and 2nd centuries as described in the earliest book on Jewish mysticism called the Sefer Yetzirah. Their method for mystical experiences is known as “Merkabah mysticism” (i.e., contemplation of the Ezekiel‘s divine “chariot”) which lasted until the 10th century, where it was incorporated into the medieval emergence of the Kabbalah in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its teachings as embodied in the Zohar (a foundational text for kabbalistic thought) and became the foundation of later Jewish mysticism. Modern academic study of Jewish mysticism refers to the term “Kabbalah” as being the particular doctrines which emerged fully expressed in the Middle Ages, as distinct from the earlier Merkabah mystical concepts and methods. The “ecstatic tradition” of Jewish meditation strives to achieve a mystical union with God.

3. The History of Jewish Mysticism

According to the traditional understanding, Kabbalah dates to the days of Adam and Eve. It came down from a remote past as a revelation to elect righteous people and was preserved only by a privileged few. Talmudic Judaism records its view of the proper method for teaching Kabbalah wisdom. Ezekiel and Isaiah had prophetic visions of an angelic chariot and divine throne which later Kabbalah writings incorporated into to the Four Worlds. According to Kabbalists, the Kabbalah’s origin began with secrets which God revealed to Adam. According to the rabbinic Midrash, God created the universe through the Ten Sefirot. When read by later generations of Kabbalists, the Torah’s description of the creation in the Book of Genesis reveals mysteries about the godhead itself, the true nature of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life, as well as the interaction of these supernal entities with the Serpent which leads to disaster when they eat the forbidden fruit, as recorded in Genesis 3. The Bible provides ample room for mystical interpretations: the prophet Ezekiel’s visions, Isaiah’s vision of the Temple in Isaiah (Chapter 6), Jacob’s vision of the ladder to heaven and Moses’ encounters with the Burning bush and God on Mount Sinai are evidence of mystical events in the Tanakh that form the origin of Jewish mystical beliefs.

Talmudic doctrine forbade the public teaching of esoteric doctrines and warned of their dangers. In the Mishnah (Hagigah 2:1), rabbis were warned to teach the mystical creation doctrines only to one student at a time. To highlight the danger, one Jewish legend called “The Four Who Entered Paradise” describes the outcome of four prominent rabbis of the Mishnaic period (1st century A.D.) who had visions of paradise: one rabbi looked and died, another rabbi looked and went insane, another rabbi destroyed his plants, and the last rabbi found peace and was fit to handle the study of mystical doctrines.

The mystical doctrines of Hekhalot (heavenly “chambers”) and Merkabah texts lasted from the 1st century B.C, through to the 10th century A.D. before giving way to the emergence of the Kabbalah. Initiates were said to “descend the chariot” – a possibly reference to meditating on the heavenly journey through the spiritual realms. Their goal was to arrive before the transcendent awe of God rather than entering into the divinity. From the 8th through the 11th centuries, Sefer Yetzirah and Hekhalot texts made their way into European Jewish circles. The Kabbalah’s medieval beginnings originated from mystical circles in 12th century France and 13th century Spain. Also in the 13th century a classic Rabbinic figure named Nachmanides helped Kabbalah gain mainstream acceptance through his Torah commentary. There were also certain elder sages of mystical Judaism who are known to have been experts in Kabbalah. One of them was Isaac the Blind (1160-1235) who is widely argued to have written the first work of classic Kabbalah, the Sefer Bahir, which laid the groundwork for the creation of the Sefer Zohar, written by Moses de Leon and his mystical circle at the end of the 13th century. One of the best known experts in Kabbalah was Nachmanides (1194-1270), a student of Isaac the Blind, and whose Torah commentary is considered to be based on the Kabbalah. Another expert was Bahya ben Asher (died 1340) who also combined Torah commentary and Kabbalah.

The Zohar was the first popular work of Kabbalah and the most influential. From the 13th century onward, Kabbalah began to be widely disseminated and branched out as extensive literature. In the 19th century, the historian Heinrich Graetz argued the emergence of Jewish esotericism at this time coincided with the rising influence of the philosophy of Maimonides. Scholars have argued that the impact of Maimonides can be seen in the change from orality to writing in the 13th century when Kabbalists began writing down many of their oral traditions in part as a response to the attempt of Maimonides to explain older esoteric subjects philosophically. However, many Orthodox Jews reject this idea of Kabbalah undergoing significant historical change. After the Zohar was published for public consumption in the 13th century, the term “Kabbalah” began to refer more specifically to teachings related to the Zohar. At an even later time, the term “Kabbalah” began to generally be applied to Zoharic teachings as elaborated upon by Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572 A.D.). Historians generally date the start of Kabbalah as a major influence in Jewish thought and practice with the publication of the Zohar and climaxing with the spread of the Luria’s teachings. Luria’s disciples, Rabbi Hayim Vital and Rabbi Israel Sarug, both published Luria’s teachings which gained widespread popularity. Luria’s teachings came to rival the influence of the Zohar itself. Along with Moses de Leon, Rabbi Luria stands as the most influential mystic in Jewish history. In the 20th century, Yehuda Ashlag (1885-1954) of Palestine, was a leading esoteric kabbalist in the traditional mode, who translated the Zohar into Hebrew with a new approach in Lurianic kabbalah.

4. Hasidic Judaism

Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer Baal Shem Tov (1698–1760) was the founder of Hasidism whose teachings were based on Lurianic kabbalah. The ecstatic fervour of early Hasidism developed from historical influences of Jewish mysticism, but sought a communal revival by centering Judaism around the central principle of “devekut” (i.e., mystically cleaving to God). For the first time, this new approach transformed kabbalistic theories for the elite into a popular social and mystical movement complete with its own doctrines, texts, teachings and customs. Rabbi Baal Shem Tov developed schools of Hasidic Judaism, each with different approaches and thought. Hasidism instituted a new concept of leadership in Jewish mysticism, where the elite scholars of mystical texts now took on a social role as embodiments and intercessors of divinity for the masses. With the 19th century consolidation of the movement, leadership became dynastic.

5. The Concealed and Revealed God

The nature of divinity prompted kabbalists to envision two aspects of God: (1) God in essence is absolutely transcendent, unknowable, limitless divine simplicity, and (2) God in manifestation – the revealed persona of God through which He creates and sustains and relates to humanity. Kabbalists believe these two aspects are not contradictory but complement one another. They are emanations revealing the concealed mystery from within the Godhead. The structure of these emanations of God have been characterized in various ways: Sefirot (Divine attributes) and Partzufim (Divine “faces”), Ohr (spiritual light and flow), Names of God and the supernal Torah, Olamot (Spiritual Worlds), a Divine Tree and Archetypal Man, Angelic Chariot and Palaces, male and female, enclothed layers of reality, inwardly holy vitality and external Kelipot shells, 613 channels (“limbs” of the King) and the Divine souls in man. Kabbalists see all aspects as unified through their absolute dependence on their source in the Infinte/Endless.

6. Sephirot and the Divine Feminine of Shekhinah

The Sefirot of Kabbalah

The Zohar elaborates upon the Sephirot – the ten emanations of God sustaining the universe – from its concealment from humanity to its revelation. These emanations are described as one light being poured into ten vessels. These Sephirot emanations are described metaphorically as manifestating in the form of the “Tree of Life and Knowledge” and its corresponding form: humanity as exemplified as Adam Kadmon. This metaphor allows humans to understand the Sephirot as corresponding to their soul’s psychological faculties and corresponding to the masculine and feminine aspects of God. As Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Corresponding to the last “sefirah” in Creation is the indwelling “shekhinah” (Feminine Divine Presence). The downward flow of divine Light in Creation forms the supernal Four Worlds: (1) Atziluth, (2) Beri’ah, (3) Yetzirah and (4) Assiah. The acts of human beings unite or divide the manifestation of these heavenly masculine and feminine aspects of the Sephirot. But once these manifestations become harmonized, God’s creation is complete. As the spiritual foundation of all Creation, the Sephirot corresponds to the Names of God in Judaism and the particular nature of any being.

7. The Ten Sefirot as the Process of Creation

According to Kabbalah cosmology, the Sefirot corresponds to various levels of creation. The ten Sefirot exists “fractally” within each of the Four Worlds. There are four worlds existing within each of the larger Four Worlds, each containing ten Sefirot which themselves and each containing ten Sefirot, to an infinite number of levels. The Sefirot are considered revelations of the Creator’s will and they should not be understood as ten different “gods” but as ten different ways the one God reveals his will through these levels. So it is not God who changes; it is our perception of God which changes.

Altogether, eleven Sefirot are named. However Keter and Da’at are unconscious and conscious dimensions of one principle; thereby conserving ten forces. The names of the Sefirot in descending order are:

  1. Keter – the supernal crown representing above-conscious will
  2. Chochmah – the highest potential of thought
  3. Binah – the understanding of the potential
  4. Da’at – the intellect of knowledge
  5. Chesed – sometimes referred to as Gedolah-greatness and loving-kindness
  6. Gevurah – sometimes referred to as Din-justice or Pachad-fear (severity/strength)
  7. Rachamim also known as Tiferet (mercy)
  8. Netzach – victory/eternity
  9. Hod – glory/splendor
  10. Yesod – foundation
  11. Malkuth – kingdom

8. Descending Spiritual Worlds

Medieval Kabbalists believed all things are linked to God through these emanations; thereby, making all levels in creation part of one great, gradually descending chain of being. Through these levels any lower creation reflects its particular characteristics in Supernal Divinity. Hasidic thought extends the Divine immanence of Kabbalah by believing God is the only thing that really exists – defined philosophically as monistic panentheism. Among problems considered in the Hebrew Kabbalah is the universal religious issue of the nature and origin of evil. In the views of some Kabbalists this conceives “evil” as a “quality of God,” asserting that negativity enters into the essence of the Absolute. In this view it is conceived that the Absolute needs evil to exist.

The Kabbalah describes the human soul as having three elements: (1) The nephesh: the lower “animal” part of the soul which is linked to instincts and bodily cravings. The nefesh is found in all humans, entering the physical body at birth. It is the source of one’s physical and psychological nature. (2) The ruach: the middle soul (or the “spirit”) which contains the moral virtues and the ability to distinguish between good and evil. (3) The neshama: the higher soul or super-soul which separates man from all other life-forms. The neshamah is related to the intellect and allows humans to enjoy and benefit from the afterlife. It allows one to have some awareness of the existence and presence of God. The (2) ruach and (3) the neshama are not implanted at birth, but can be developed over time. Their development depends on the actions and beliefs of the individual and are said to only fully exist in people awakened spiritually. The Zohar also describes fourth and fifth parts of the human soul – the chayyah and the yehidah. The chayyah is the part of the soul which allows one to have an awareness of the divine life force. The yehidah is the highest plane of the soul where one can achieve the fullest union with God as is possible. The chayyah and the yehidah do not enter into the body like the other three which is why they receive less attention than in other sections of the Zohar.

The Kabbalistic concept of reincarnation is called gilgul – a Hebrew word meaning “cycle.” Souls are seen to “cycle” through “lives” or “incarnations” becoming attached to different human bodies over time. Which body they associate with depends on their particular task in the physical world, spiritual levels of the bodies of predecessors and so on. Gilgul relates to a broader historical process in Kabbalah involving Cosmic Tikkun (Messianic rectification) and the historical dynamic of ascending Lights and descending Vessels from generation to generation. The esoteric explanations of gilgul were articulated in Jewish mysticism by Rabbi Isaac Luria in the 16th century, as part of the metaphysical purpose of Creation.

9. The History of Reincarnation in Judaism

The notion of reincarnation, while held as a mystical belief by some, is not an essential tenet of traditional Judaism. The books of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism both teach gilgul – a universal tenet in Hasidic Judaism which regards the Kabbalah as sacred and authoritative. Rabbis who believed in reincarnation include: (1) the mystical leaders Nahmanides (the Ramban) and Rabbenu Bahya ben Asher; (2) Levi ibn Habib (the Ralbah) from the 16th-century, and from the mystical school of Safed Shelomoh Alkabez, (3) Isaac Luria (the Ari) and his exponent (4) Hayyim Vital; and (5) the founder of Hasidism Yisrael Baal Shem Tov of the 18th-century, later (6) Hasidic Masters, and (7) the Lithuanian Jewish Orthodox leader and Kabbalist the Vilna Gaon. Rabbbi Isaac Luria taught new explanations of the process of gilgul and identified the reincarnations of historic Jewish figures. The idea of gilgul became popular in Jewish folklore and is found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews.

The main Kabbalistic text dealing with gilgul is called Shaar HaGilgulim or “The Gate of Reincarnations” which is based on the work of Rabbi Isaac Luria. It describes the deep, complex laws of reincarnation which includes the concept of gilgul being paralleled physically through pregnancy. The Kabbalistic view of gilgul is similar to the Eastern view of reincarnation in that they are an expression of divine compassion. Gilgul differs from Eastern views in that gilgul is not automatic and is neither a punishment of sin nor a reward of virtue. Gilgul is concerned with the process of the soul’s individual Tikkun (rectification). Each Jewish soul is reincarnated enough times only in order to fulfill each of the 613 Mitzvot. The souls of righteous non-Jews may be assisted through gilgulim by fulfilling the Seven Laws of Noah. Gilgul is a divine agreement for the individual soul to reincarnate to perform good works toward the goal of becoming perfected. Gilgul is also tied to the Kabbalah’s doctrine of creation where a cosmic catastrophe occurred called the “shattering of the vessels” of the Sephirot in the “world of Tohu (chaos)”. The vessels of the Sephirot broke and fell down through the spiritual Worlds until they were embeded in our physical realm as “sparks of holiness” (Nitzotzot). All Mitzvot involve performing good works because they elevate each particular Spark of holiness associated with its related commandment. Once all the Sparks are redeemed to their spiritual source, the Messianic Era begins. This theology gives cosmic significance to every human being as each person has particular tasks which only they can fulfill. Each soul is assisted through gilgul toward the Cosmic plan of bringing about Utopia on Earth – a lower World where the purpose of creation is fulfilled.

10. Important Kabbalah Links

Kabbalah on Wikipedia – (wikipedia.org)
Category:Kabbalah on Wikipedia – (wikipedia.org)
List of Jewish Kabbalists – (wikipedia.org)
Primary Texts of the Kabbalah – (wikipedia.org)
Practical Kabbalah – (wikipedia.org)
Christian Kabbalah – (wikipedia.org)
Hermetic Qabalah – (wikipedia.org)
Cabala article at Jewish Encyclopedia – (jewishencyclopedia.com)
What is Kabbalah? – (chabad.org)
The Official Site of the Kabbalah Centre – (kabbalah.com)
The Official Site of Bnei Baruch – (kabbalah.info)
An Orthodox Kabbalah Reference Portal – (kabbalaonline.org)

Categories
Judaism Religion

Jeanie Dicus’ Near-Death Experience

Jeanie Dicus’ near-death experience was first published in P.M.H. Atwater’s book, “Beyond the Light” (1994). It is reprinted here by permission.

One evening in January of 1974, Jeanie Dicus of Sterling, Virginia, was lying on the sofa watching television. She remembers feeling strange, then waking up in an ambulance and being told she had had a seizure. Nothing like that had happened to her before, nor was there any family history of such a condition. This event was followed by a migraine headache and more seizures. Later, she, her husband, and her daughter drove to Baltimore where her father was a psychiatrist consultant at Johns Hopkins Hospital and where they were assured she would receive the finest care. Her case was given to the head of neurology and she was put on Dilantin and phenobarbital, normal medications for what appeared to be epilepsy. However, Dicus got much worse and was given yet another drug in addition to the two she was taking. Within three months she had become schizophrenic and was given Valium, as well. She steadily advanced into insanity, was straitjacketed, and confined to isolation in a mental ward.

Her medication was increased and Thorazine was added to the concoction she was forced to take. She became suicidal and lapsed into one seizure after another. More drugs. More compounding effects, until, by summer, she was engulfed in a catatonic coma that lasted two months. A ward doctor finally noticed what was going on, went to Dicus’ father and said, “All her symptoms are the result of the medications, not from mental illness. Stop the drugs.” The physician in charge was immediately pulled off the case and shock treatments were applied in an attempt to free Dicus from the coma. By the time this decision was reached, her hands and feet had atrophied and were twisted and paralyzed, her skin was covered with pimples. Electronic shocks did make a difference, but during the tenth treatment her heart went into fibrillation – a nurse had forgotten to give her a necessary shot of potassium – and she died. Her near-death experience is described below in her own words:


I was floating above my body. I saw green shower caps. The people in the room all wore those stupid caps. There were five or six caps and they were panicky. Their fear was so thick I could feel it. I kept thinking, ‘Hey, I’m okay, don’t worry,’ but they didn’t get my message. This was a little frustrating.

I found myself in the right-hand corner of the room. I lifted my arm and stretched. I had been immobile for so long. It felt like I had taken off a body girdle, and it was so delicious to get out of that cramped body. I felt a wonderful feeling wash over me – a sense of peace and power. I felt love and a sense of wonder as I realized that any question I could come up with would be answered.

There was Jesus. I was stunned and said, “I don’t believe in you.”

He smiled and said the etheric equivalent of, “Tough shit, here I am.”

Looking in his eyes, I asked, “You mean, you’ve been with me this whole time and I didn’t know?”

And his reply was, “Lo, I am with thee, always, even beyond the end of the world.”

Now, I wasn’t into ‘lo’ so I said, “Hey, man, this is the seventies and we don’t say lo. Come on.”

He kind of grinned, I guess I was amusing him, and answered, “You want to be reincarnated?”

“Hey, give me a break,” I yelled (only I made no sound). “I just died. Don’t I get a chance to rest?”

“Take it easy. It’s all right. You can change your mind at any time.”

I gasped, “I don’t even believe in you and now you want me to reincarnate? Help!”

Our conversation continued. He even asked me to kiss his feet. No way. I gave him a bear hug and kissed his cheek. I got the equivalent of a belly laugh. I was so happy with him that words were no longer necessary. We then communicated mind-to-mind.

Suddenly I was aware God was coming. I came to know that I had needed a human-looking Christ to relate to so I wouldn’t be scared. The Light came and I was given a choice – I could remain trapped on earth, seeing and hearing everything, but unable to help anyone, not even my daughter (I was told this was limbo), or I could stay with God. I chose God.

The White Light in front of me was sorta like a white light bulb only it was so strong. I remember thinking my eyes should be burning, but then I remembered that I didn’t have any eyes to burn. God was love and love was light, and it was warm and it permeated every molecule of me. This was so delicious, I was crying with torrents of tears that didn’t exist. It was so enormous. I was loved. I didn’t feel irrelevant. I felt humbled, awed, and amazed. For a long time after my near-death experience, I ended my prayers with, “You are soooooo big!”

It was my way of expressing appreciation.

Then I was instantly zapped to a domed room with square screens up and down the walls, on the ceiling-hundreds of television screens. On each screen was a home movie of one event in my life. The good, the bad, the secret, the ugly, the special. Everything was going on at once; nothing was chronological. All was silent. When you look at one screen, you focused in, and you could hear what was there. Not only words, but your thoughts, your feelings, everything; and when you looked at the other people or animals, you could hear their thoughts, their feelings, too. And you made the connection between these and the event which ensued. You were filled with, not guilt, but the strong sense of responsibility.

God said to me, “I gave you the precious gift of life. What did you do with this gift?”

I answered in a puny, wimpish voice, “I’m only twenty-three. I didn’t know I supposed to do anything. I have a two-year-old daughter. I spend my time and energy on her.”

It wasn’t a good answer, but it was the truth. I was the judge and I was satisfied. I guess that was what God wanted. But the next time this happens, I’m having a list ready. I now have a card on my fridge that says, ‘Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.’

I asked a lot of questions, about sin, murder, and such, and I got a lot of answers. I was told that before we’re born, we have to take an oath that we will pretend time and space are real so we can come here and advance our spirit. If you don’t promise, you can’t be born.

I understand that the reason I was ripped away from paradise was for my father. He could not have taken my death. He had a Jewish surname and a Jewish nose, lived in France, and was a doctor and captain in the French army during World War II. At that time, the French believed that Nazis were their allies. He was on a hill when he looked down and saw the German army invading France. He fled and just barely made it out alive. He wound up in New York, turned against any form of God or religion, and became a stanch Freudian psychoanalyst . He married a psychiatric nurse and had three daughters, of which I am the oldest. As I grew, I became an atheist just like my father and married another one, a freshman at Princeton who did not believe in God or anything-yet he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy so as a professor he could get paid for arguing about religion and still get six months paid vacation a year. When I revived, I had tubes all over me. Dad was sitting next to my bed humming French songs, and had been for weeks, which is a monumental feat considering that he is almost tone deaf. I hummed back. He shot up about three feet in the air, landed flat on top of me, gave a war whoop, and hugged me and cried. You have to remember he is a dignified psychoanalyst going on sixty, trained never to blink an eye — so much for promising him I wouldn’t tell.

I am psychic, whether I believe it or not. I’m a stay-at-home mother. I don’t have dynamic thoughts about the world of business or politics. Yet I feel an internal pressure, A NEED TO MOVE, to find a direction to be of more service. I’m still adjusting to the earth plane. It’s been twenty years and my experience is clearer to me than yesterday. Change that “twenty” to (almost) thirty, and that’s what happened. There are a few changes I’d make … by the time I went into the coma I was put on Dilantin, Phenobarbital, Valium, Stelazine and Thorazine. When I came out of the coma I was on 100 milligrams of Haldol. That stuff was the pits. And it was awful getting off.

Since then I’ve changed my direction from palm reading for God to quilting for him.

About Jeanie’s NDE, P.M.H. Atwater has this to say about it:

“I truly wish I had enough space in this book to carry all of Jeanie Dicus’ story. Certainly, it is filled with mind-numbing tragedies. But to hear her describe what happened, especially when she was talking to Jesus, well, it’s the funniest thing I have ever come across. Amazingly, she was able to hear what the medical personnel said when near her body during the time she was in coma.

“No one would accept Dicus’ near-death experience afterward, especially not her father or husband. Wheelchair bound, she was put on Haldol, a chemical lobotomy, and given a bleak prognosis. Over time she was allowed to go home. What she went through in the hospital and afterward is frightful. After several surgeries to repair some of the damage to her hands and feet, she decided on her own to decrease and finally stop all dosages of Haldol, and did so without its deadly side effects. Although she had two more children, life with her husband became impossible. He couldn’t handle her “newness” or her claim that the Light she had come to love so dearly had guided her to take up palm reading. He left. She later remarried, this time to a gentle man who supports her “strange” ideas even though he doesn’t understand them. They have a child, her fourth. A self-taught palmist, she continues to amaze people with her ability and the power of her love.”

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Judaism Religion

Don Morse’s Near-Death Experience

When he went out for a run one day in 1983, Donald R. Morse, DDS, PhD., a Temple University science professor, was like many of his scientific colleagues, not believing in anything beyond the material world. His views regarding a spiritual world and life after death began to change a few minutes into his workout when he had a near-death experience. At that time, Morse was absolutely certain he was going to die. But when his experience was over, he discovered that he was not actually near death at all. Yet his experience was so profound, it affected him for the rest of his life. In essence, he was reborn. His journey into the spirit realm is a good example of how extreme anxiety can trigger a person into having a near-death experience. It shows that one does not have to be “near death” to have an NDE. As a result of his experience and thorough search for the truth, Morse published his findings into a book entitled, Searching For Eternity: A Scientist’s Spiritual Journey to Overcome Death Anxiety. The following is Dr. Morse’s NDE testimony in his own words.

Table of Contents

  1. Don Morse’s Near-Death Experience
  2. More About Dr. Don Morse

I felt myself spinning around and around in ever widening circles. Then the sounds of the world became more and more quiet. Voices of people and songs of birds began to slow down. It seems that the faster I spun, the slower and less distinct the outside sounds became. Then I heard my heartbeat. First, it was very rapid and loud. Then, when it was beating so fast that I thought it would burst in my chest, it began to slow down. Slower and slower my heart pulsated, and then I could feel it no longer. I quickly fell to the ground, and my heart stopped beating. At least, I no longer heard it. Was I dead? I had no idea, but instead of seeing nothingness, I first saw pitch darkness and then an incredibly bright, white light. It enveloped me so that I could see nothing but this light. I was not afraid. I felt secure, warm, and serene. No one came to greet me but I felt a loving presence around me.

Then in rapid succession, I saw my whole life flash before me: the temper tantrums of my childhood, my winning a dart-throwing contest, my hospital bout with colitis, the asthma attacks, the family visits to Stamford, Connecticut, throwing an opposing player out at home plate, shooting a winning basket, crying when the New York Giants lost a baseball game, seeing my father die an agonizing death from lung cancer, getting married on a cloudy day in Brooklyn, honeymooning in Bermuda, seeing each one of my three children being born, watching a developing rainbow in Las Vegas with my wife and children, vacationing with my wife in Rome, doing a surgical procedure on the day John Kennedy was killed, watching my mother wither away from Alzheimer’s disease, getting the Temple University research award, falling out of a canoe and later contracting giardiasis, going out for a jog on the hospital grounds, spinning around, and falling to the ground.

Then my review abruptly ended, I left my body, flew above the clouds and arrived at the Mt. Eden Cemetery in Valhalla, New York – the same cemetery where my mother and father were buried. At this point, everything was vague. I knew I was being buried, but I couldn’t really see it. I just had the feeling it was happening. Just as quickly as I had arrived there, I was gone. Suddenly it was another day. I was reading the obituary column of the Philadelphia Inquirer. I could not discern what was written about me, but I was certain that I saw my name. Strangely, perceiving my funeral and reading my obituary were not frightening. Was it because I had been enveloped by that wonderful light and had felt a caring presence? I don’t know, because the next thing I knew, I was back inside the hospital, and felt the sharp pain of an injection.

The injection had revived me and brought me to life, so to speak. Had I experienced another realm or was it merely a hallucination? At the time I wasn’t sure. Subsequently, I found out that the experiences of observing my funeral and reading my obituary were different than other people’s NDEs. However, the darkness followed by the glorious light, the life review, the blissful feelings, and the loving presence surrounding me, were similar to many other NDEs. Most importantly, that NDE set the stage for my journey to overcome death anxiety.

After this incredible experience, it was important to find out whether or not I had conquered death anxiety. To do that, I had to continue the spiritual journey. There would be several paths on the journey and since I had an NDE of sorts myself, I decided that the first path to explore would be NDEs.

2. More About Dr. Don Morse

Dr. Don Morse is Professor Emeritus at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is a polymath having graduate degrees in dentistry, endodontology, microbiology, psychology and nutrition. Dr. Morse has been the principal investigator in many research projects involving hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, and brain wave synchronizers (BWS). Dr. Morse has written over 200 scientific articles and twelve books, including nine non-fiction books – seven of which are on stress and its management. Dr. Morse was President of the Philadelphia Society For Clinical Hypnosis for two years and was Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Psychosomatics for ten years. He is presently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Religion and Psychical Research. Dr. Morse has given courses in hypnosis, meditation, BWS, relaxation therapy, stress management, and dealing with death anxiety throughout the United States and in 28 other countries. Dr. Morse is also an avid life extensionalist who believes in maintaining proper exercise and diet. He won the Senior Grand Master title at the 2005 Natural USA Bodybuilding Championships of the Natural Physique Association. He also won the Grand Master Championships at the 2004 Musclemania Nation’s Capitol Bodybuilding Contest.

Categories
Judaism Religion

Beverly Brodsky’s Near-Death Experience

Beverly Brodsky was raised in a conservative Jewish family in a mostly Jewish neighborhood in Philadelphia. She went through her teens as an atheist. Since learning of the Holocaust at age eight, she had turned angrily against any early belief in God. How could God exist and permit such a thing to occur? In July 1970, her questions were answered when a motorcycle accident led to her near-death experience. Her NDE testimony comes from Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino and Kenneth Ring‘s book, Lessons From The Light, reprinted by permission. Ring described Beverly Brodsky’s NDE as “possibly the most moving in my entire collection.”

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Beverly Brodsky’s NDE
  2. Beverly Brodsky’s NDE Testimony
  1. Introduction to Beverly Brodsky’s NDE

Beverly Brodsky says this about her NDE:

“In 1970, I had a profound encounter in which I was taken into the heart of creation, and back to the moment before the Big Bang. My NDE taught me everything that mattered: who we are, why we are here, and the nature of reality itself. To share and ponder this mystery is my greatest honor and joy. Please contact me for insight, dialog, classes, in-service instruction, interviews, or to speak to your group.”

A Vassar graduate recently retired from 28 years of service for the Federal Government as a business and computer analyst, Beverly has started several spiritual businesses, including book editing. She is working on her own book, including research culled from 15 years of running groups in Philadelphia and San Diego associated with the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Beverly is fascinated by the connection between deathbed visions and near-death experiences, as well as their uncanny similarity to mystical states. An international media consultant and participant in numerous research studies, she has a lifelong fascination with the new science that confirms the possibility and power of transformative spiritual awakenings. Beverly was profiled in McCall’s, featured in a BBC documentary (The Human Body), gave the first NDE interview on Israeli public radio, and is included in the 2006 edition of Who’s Who in America.

Love and light,
Beverly Brodsky
Coordinator, San Diego IANDS
Inspirational speaker, writer, and editor
Thirty-five years back from the One Light that we are!
Email: bevbrodsky@gmail.com

2. Beverly Brodsky’s NDE Testimony

Somehow an unexpected peace descended upon me. I found myself floating on the ceiling over the bed looking down at my unconscious body. I barely had time to realize the glorious strangeness of the situation – that I was me but not in my body – when I was joined by a radiant being bathed in a shimmering white glow. Like myself, this being flew but had no wings. I felt a reverent awe when I turned to him; this was no ordinary angel or spirit, but he had been sent to deliver me. Such love and gentleness emanated from his being that I felt that I was in the presence of the Messiah.

Whoever he was, his presence deepened my serenity and awakened a feeling of joy as I recognized my companion. Gently he took my hand and we flew right through the window. I felt no surprise at my ability to do this. In this wondrous presence, everything was as it should be.

Beneath us lay the beautiful Pacific Ocean … But my attention was now directed upward, where there was a large opening leading to a circular path. Although it seemed to be deep and far to the end, a white light shone through and poured out into the gloom to the other side where the opening beckoned. It was the most brilliant light I had ever seen, although I didn’t realize how much of its glory was veiled from the outside. The path was angled upward, obliquely, to the right. Now still hand in hand with the angel, I was led into the opening of the small, dark passageway.

I then remember traveling a long distance upward toward the light. I believe that I was moving very fast, but this entire realm seemed to be outside of time. Finally, I reached my destination. It was only when I emerged from the other end that I realized that I was no longer accompanied by the being who had brought me there. But I wasn’t alone. There, before me, was the living presence of the light. Within it I sensed an all-pervading intelligence, wisdom, compassion, love, and truth. There was neither form nor sex to this perfect being. It, which I shall in the future call he, in keeping without our commonly accepted syntax, contained everything, as white light contains all the colors of a rainbow when penetrating a prism. And deep within me came an instant and wondrous recognition: I, even I, was facing God.

I immediately lashed out at him with all the questions I had ever wondered about; all the injustices I had seen in the physical world. I don’t know if I did this deliberately, but I discovered that God knows all your thoughts immediately and responds telepathically. My mind was naked; in fact, I became pure mind. The ethereal body which I had traveled in through the tunnel seemed to be no more; it was just my personal intelligence confronting that Universal Mind, which clothed itself in a glorious, living light that was more felt that seen, since no eye could absorb its splendor.

I don’t recall the exact content of our discussion; in the process of return, the insights that came so clearly and fully in Heaven were not brought back with me to Earth. I’m sure that I asked the question that had been plaguing me since childhood about the sufferings of my people. I do remember this: There was a reason for everything that happened, no matter how awful it appeared in the physical realm. And within myself, as I was given the answer, my own awakening mind now responded in the same manner:

“Of course,” I would think, “I already know that. How could I ever have forgotten!”

Indeed, it appears that all that happens is for a purpose, and that purpose is already known to our eternal self.

In time the questions ceased, because I suddenly was filled with all the Being’s wisdom. I was given more than just the answers to my questions; all knowledge unfolded to me, like the instant blossoming of an infinite number of flowers all at once. I was filled with God’s knowledge, and in that precious aspect of his Beingness, I was one with him. But my journey of discovery was just beginning.

Now I was treated to an extraordinary voyage through the universe. Instantly we traveled to the center of stars being born, supernovas exploding, and many other glorious celestial events for which I have no name. The impression I have now of this trip is that it felt like the universe is all one grand object woven from the same fabric. Space and time are illusions that hold us to our physical realm; out there all is present simultaneously. I was a passenger on a divine spaceship in which the Creator showed me the fullness and beauty of all of his Creation.

The last thing that I saw before all external vision ended was a glorious fire – the core and center of a marvelous star. Perhaps this was a symbol for the blessing that was now to come to me. Everything faded except for a richly full void in which That and I encompassed All that is. Here, I experienced, in ineffable magnificence, communion with the light being. Now I was filled with not just all knowledge, but also with all love. It was as if the light were poured in and through me. I was God’s object of adoration; and from his/our love I drew life and joy beyond imagining. My being was transformed; my delusions, sins, and guilt were forgiven and purged without asking; and now I was love, primal being, and bliss. And, in some sense, I remain there, for Eternity. Such a union cannot be broken. It always was, is, and shall be.

Suddenly, not knowing how or why, I returned to my broken body. But miraculously, I brought back the love and the joy. I was filled with an ecstasy beyond my wildest dreams. Here, in my body, the pain had all been removed. I was still enthralled by a boundless delight. For the next two months, I remained in this state, oblivious to any pain.

I felt now as if I had been made anew. I saw wondrous meanings everywhere; everything was alive and full of energy and intelligence.

Although it’s been 20 years since my heavenly voyage, I have never forgotten it. Nor have I, in the face of ridicule and disbelief, ever doubted its reality. Nothing that intense and life-changing could possibly have been a dream or hallucination. To the contrary, I consider the rest of my life to be a passing fantasy, a brief dream, that will end when I again awaken in the permanent presence of that giver of life and bliss.

Categories
Judaism Religion

A Brief Survey of Jewish Afterlife Beliefs

The core of Judaism is a covenant relationship – which is both a contractual agreement and a “marriage” of love – between Yahweh and his chosen people. Because Judaism is built around a relationship involving agreements and promises in this life, the afterlife is less essential for Judaism than for other world religions. It would, in fact, be relatively easy to imagine Judaism without any afterlife beliefs whatsoever. Because of the non-centrality of the afterlife for Judaism, this tradition has been able to entertain a wide variety of different afterlife notions throughout its history, more so than perhaps any other religion.

The ancient Hebrews emphasized the importance of the present life over the afterlife. As with both the ancient Greeks and Mesopotamians, the afterlife, if it was considered at all, was conceived of as a pale shadow of earthly life, much like the Greek Hades. Also similar to the Greek Hades, in the Hebrew afterlife no distinction was made between the treatment of the just and the unjust after death. Instead, rewards and punishments were meted out in the present life, and in the covenant “contract” Yahweh promised to do just that.

Reflection on the inequalities of this life and on the apparent failure of Yahweh to make good on his covenant promises led serious religious thinkers to consider the option of resurrection. The resurrection of ordinary human beings seems to have originated in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. As a result of several centuries of Persian control of the Middle East region, Jews were brought into contact with Zoroastrian religious ideas and the notion of resurrection. Zoroaster combined resurrection with the idea of a final judgment, in which the entire human race is resurrected and individuals rewarded or punished. This concept clearly appealed to Jewish religious thinkers of the time as an adequate way of coming to grips with the injustices that were so apparent in this life.

As implied in the Book of Daniel, the Jewish notion of resurrection in the Maccabeean period was tied to a notion of judgment, and even to separate realms for the judged. In rabbinical thought, the model for heaven was Eden. The rabbinic word for hell, “Gehenna“, is taken from the name of a valley of fire where children were said to be sacrificed as burnt offerings to Baal and Moloch (Semitic deities). Gehenna is a place of intense punishment and cleansing. This place is also known as “Sheol” and other names. This line of Jewish thought argues that after death the soul has to be purified before it can go on the rest of its journey. The amount of time needed for purification depends on how the soul dealt with life. One Jewish tradition states that a soul needs a maximum of 11 months for purification, which is why, when a parent dies, the kaddish (memorial prayer) is recited for 11 months. The concept of Gehenna as a place for temporary purification was the source for the orthodox Christian doctrine of “purgatory.”

The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus stated that the Pharisees, the Jewish sect that founded rabbinic Judaism to which Paul once belonged, believed in reincarnation. He writes that the Pharisees believed the souls of evil men are punished after death. The souls of good men are “removed into other bodies” and they will “have power to revive and live again.”

From time to time in Jewish history, there had been an insistent belief that their prophets were reborn. Reincarnation was part of the Jewish dogmas, being taught under the name of “resurrection”. Only the Sadducees, who believed that everything ended with death, did not accept the idea of reincarnation. Jewish ideas included the concept that people could live again without knowing exactly the manners by which this could happen.

Josephus records that the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls lived “the same kind of life” as the followers of Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher who taught reincarnation. According to Josephus, the Essenes believed that the soul is both immortal and pre-existent, necessary for tenets for belief in reincarnation.

The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Jewish mystical tradition of divine union went back to the first, perhaps even the third century B.C.E. Jewish mysticism has its origins in Greek mysticism, a system of belief which included reincarnation. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of the hymns found are similar to the Hekhaloth hymns of the Jewish mystics. One text of hymns gives us clear evidence of Jewish mysticism. The text is called “Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice.” Fragments of 1 Enoch, which is considered the oldest text of Jewish mysticism, were also found with the Scrolls. Since evidence shows Jewish mysticism existed in the third century B.C.E., as Enoch indicates, then it would certainly have existed in first-century Israel.

Reincarnation has been a belief for thousands of years for orthodox Jews. The Zohar is a book of great authority among Kabbalistic Jews. It states the following:

“All souls are subject to revolutions. Men do not know the way they have been judged in all time.” (Zohar II, 199b)

That is, in their “revolutions” they lose all memory of the actions that led to their being judged.

Another Kabbalistic book, the Kether Malkuth states:

“If she, the soul, be pure, then she shall obtain favor … but if she has been defiled, then she shall wander for a time in pain and despair … until the days of her purification.” (Kether Malkuth)

How can the soul be defiled before birth? Where does the soul wander if not on this or some other world until the days of her purification? The rabbis explained this verse to mean that the defiled soul wanders down from paradise through many births until the soul regained its purity.

In the Talmud, “gilgul neshamot” (i.e., reincarnation) is constantly mentioned. The term literally means “the judgment of the revolutions of the souls.” In this view, people who had committed extraordinary sins were given an opportunity to return to life in order to set things right. More particularly, they were reincarnated in circumstances similar to those of their previous incarnation. Thus, Moses and Jethro, for example, were supposed to be the gilgulim of Cain and Abel.

Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657), one of the most revered Rabbis in Israel, states in his book entitled Nishmat Hayyim:

“The belief or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible dogma accepted by the whole assemblage of our church with one accord, so that there is none to be found who would dare to deny it … Indeed, there is a great number of sages in Israel who hold firm to this doctrine so that they made it a dogma, a fundamental point of our religion. We are therefore in duty bound to obey and to accept this dogma with acclamation … as the truth of it has been incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar, and all books of the Kabalists.” (Nishmat Hayyim)

In contemporary Judaism, the traditional, mainstream view of resurrection is maintained by the orthodox, but generally not by the non-orthodox. Outside the orthodox fold, ordinary believers often accept the notion of an immortal soul, not unlike the notion held by most Christians. Many also accepted reincarnation. And many secular and Reform Jews continue to view themselves as part of the tradition of Judaism, without adhering to any sort of afterlife belief.

Categories
God Is With Us Religion

Selected Resources

By Dr. Ken R. Vincent

HomeChapter 7Chapter 16
DedicationChapter 8Chapter 17
ForewordChapter 9Appendix A
Chapter 1Chapter 10Appendix B
Chapter 2Chapter 11References
Chapter 3Chapter 12About Ken
Chapter 4Chapter 13Resources
Chapter 5Chapter 14Permissions
Chapter 6Chapter 15Acknowledge
God Is With Us Index

Table of Contents

  1. Websites on NDEs and other Spiritually Transformative Experiences
    a. The Alister Hardy Society Religious Experience Research Centre
    b. University of Virginia Medical School Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS)
    c. International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS)
    d. Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF)
    e. Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife
  2. Websites on Universalism
    a. Christian Universalist Association (CUA)
    b. The Universalist Herald
  3. Websites on Zoroaster
    a. Zoroaster (aka Zarathushtra)
    b. The Zoroastrian Connection with Judaism and Christianity
  4. Websites on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
    a. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (arabiannights.org)
    b. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (theland.antgear.com)

1. Websites on NDEs and other Spiritually Transformative Experiences

a. The Alister Hardy Trust – (studyspiritualexperiences.org)

The function of the Religious Experience Research Centre is the study of contemporary spiritual and religious experience. The Research Centre was founded by Sir Alister Hardy in 1969 as the Religious Experience Research Unit at Manchester College, Oxford. It moved to Lampeter from its previous home at Westminster College, Oxford in July 2000. The Centre’s aim is to study, in a disciplined and as scientific a manner as possible, contemporary accounts of religious or spiritual experiences and to publish its findings.

b. University of Virginia Medical School Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) – (virginia.edu)

This is the premier facility for research into life after death. DOPS was founded as a research unit of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at UVA by Dr. Ian Stevenson in 1967. It is a unit of the Psychiatry and Neurobehavorial Sciences of the University of Virginia’s Health System headed by Dr. Bruce Greyson. Utilizing scientific methods, the researchers within DOPS investigate apparent paranormal phenomena, especially: (1) children who claim to remember previous lives (reincarnation), (2) near-death experiences, (3) out-of-body experiences, (4) apparitions and after-death communications, (5) deathbed visions, (6) psychophysiological studies of altered states of consciousness and psi, and (7) EEG Imaging Lab: experimental research of psi effects and altered states of consciousness.

c. International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) – (iands.org)

IANDS focuses most of its resources into providing the highest quality information available about NDE-related subjects. It is the only such membership group in the world. In addition to maintaining this information-rich website, IANDS publishes a peer-reviewed scholarly journal and a member newsletter, sponsors conferences and other programs, works with the media, and encourages the formation of regional discussion and support groups. IANDS’ purpose is to promote responsible, multi-disciplinary exploration of near-death and similar experiences, their effects on people’s lives, and their implications for beliefs about life, death, and human purpose.

d. Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) – (nderf.org)

Dr. Jeffrey Long is a radiation oncologist in Tacoma, Washington and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS). Dr. Long is actively involved in NDE research and recently published the a New York Times bestseller Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences. His wife, Jody Long is also a researcher and was on the Board of Directors for Seattle Friends of IANDS group. Jody is also the webmaster of this site. The Long’s also have other research sites relating to the NDE including: The Out-of-Body Experience Research Foundation (OBERF) and the After-Death Communication Research Foundation (ADCRF).

e. Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife – (near-death.com)

Webmaster Kevin Williams maintains his website devoted to near-death experiences and the afterlife. NDE-related phenomena is also presented such as (1) NDE articles by the Webmaster, P.M.H. Atwater and an online book by Dr. Ken R. Vincent; (2) NDE archives; (3) profiles of NDE experts; (4) triggers of NDEs; (5) NDE skeptical arguments; (6) Religious NDEs; (7) Biblical support for NDEs; (8) Christian Universalism (universal salvation) (9) evidence of life after death; (10) out-of-body experiences; (11) reincarnation; (12) the paranormal; (13) after-death communications; (14) the Edgar Cayce revelations; (15) and other resources. This website also hosts the Survival After Death Information website.

  1. Websites on Universalism

a. Christian Universalist Association (CUA) – (christianuniversalist.org)

The CUA is an ecumenical organization uniting people and churches around the world with a vision of God’s all-inclusive love. They are active in evangelism and outreach to the public, spreading the Good News of God’s victorious plan of salvation for all people. They educate and ordain ministers, hold conferences, encourage networking and church planting by believers, and create new resources to deepen and reform Christianity and bring people together from various denominations and traditions in a shared discovery of truth. The CUA affirms in their Statement of Faith (1) the Golden Rule, (2) divine justice and life after death, (3) universal salvation, (4) human nature and destiny, (5) the mystery of faith, (6) divine revelation and the pursuit of truth.

b. The Universalist Herald – (universalist-herald.org)

The Universalist Herald is the oldest continuously published liberal religious periodical in North America. It is devoted to a living religion and vital faith that motivates individual responsibility and positive action. Their Universalist doctrine is about love, their sacrament is the quest for Truth, their prayer is service, to dwell together in peace, to seek knowledge in freedom, to serve humanity in fellowship, and to the end that all souls shall grow into harmony with the Divine, to covenant with each other and with God. They provide (1) biographies and interviews of notable Universalists; (2) book reviews and editorials on Universalism; (3) articles on Universalism, Universalist theology, mysticism, social justice, the history of Universalism, (4) articles to reflect upon, the holidays, and Universalist hymns.

  1. Websites on Zoroaster

a. Zoroaster (aka Zarathushtra) – (zarathushtra.com)

This website is dedicated to promoting the Spiritual Philosophy of Zarathushtra and Zoroastrianism. They provide (1) information about Zarathushtra; (2) articles and books for sale about Zarathushtra and Zoroastrianism; (3) various translations of the Gathas; (4) an online book entitled “Homage Unto Ahura Mazda”; (5) a Zoroastrian cyber-temple; (6) discussion group archives; (7) a picture gallery; and (8) a links page to other Zoroastrian resources.

b. The Zoroastrian Connection with Judaism and Christianity – (fezana.org)

This is a book available through the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA) website. For more information about this book please contact Roshan Rivetna (email address). Donations for costs of printing and postage can be made. FEZANA serves as the coordinating body for 27 Zoroastrian Associations in the United States and Canada. Other resources include: (1) the FEZANA Journal and Journal archives; (2) administration and activities; (3) a Zoroastrian Youth of North America (ZYNA) website; (4) Bulletin archives; (5) an events calendar; (6) important messages from the FEZANA President; (7) and a links page to other resources.

  1. Websites on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

a. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam _ (omarkhayyamnederland.com)

Edward Henry Whinfield (1836-1922) (see Wikipedia article) published an initial series of 253 quatrains in 1882, as “The Quatrains of Omar Khayyám.” One year later 500 quatrains were published in a bilingual edition: a Persian text with the English translation. This time eight collections of quatrains were used. A selection of 267 quatrains were selected from this edition, for a new edition, in 1893, with the English text only. In 1901 the collection of 1883 was corrected and enlarged in a second edition in 1901, to which eight quatrains were added. The final version can be downloaded as a PDF file. On this website you can search their library and English e-library; search the Rubaiyat; read their articles; and bibliography. And much more.

b. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – (gutenberg.org)

The Project Gutenberg website offers over 58,000 free eBooks. Browse their Catalog for free ebooks. Here you will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. You can access a variety of versions of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: read the book online; download the EPUB with images; download the EPUB with no images; download the Kindle ebook with images; download the Kindle ebook with no images, download a plain text file version; and more.