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A Child Sees the Unseen
We’ve all had things happen to us that we cannot easily explain to ourselves, much less to others. It may have been a flashing feeling that we can’t put into words, something that we find ourselves describing as strange or eerie, a feeling that there is something more that’s not tangible out there, something that would be fulfilling but lies just beyond our grasp. Gradually, the feeling may fade as we keep ourselves busy doing all sorts of everyday things. Still, sometimes we may be moved to think that there must be something more out there.
The story of my experiencing what’s “out there” begins when I was ten years old. The happenings may seem beyond strange or even threatening to some people, yet others may be open to taking the story at its word. I had an otherworldly, transcendent experience. I took a step beyond the material level in which we all exist, but I wasn’t frightened because I felt safe. Forty years later, I felt the same sense of safety when I took a much larger step. I was transported by a sublime force to a higher place, beyond this material plane to the light of heaven. While I was being transported, my intuitions and my intellectual selves were able to help me 2 understand more fully what I was experiencing: that death is a continuation of life, not its ending.
I understand that misrepresenting my transcendent experiences will have dire consequences for my everlasting soul. I shared my transcendent experiences with Gregory D. Alles, a former chairman of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Western Maryland College (McDaniel College since 2002). I also shared my experiences with Sister Margaret McKenna, who is an international speaker on non-violence with a PhD in divinity from the University of Pennsylvania. After considering all aspects of my descriptions, both found my experiences credible. The sister called me a “modern day prophet,” and as a result of Gregory Alles’s review, my experiences were featured in the “Transcendence” section of the Philadelphia Inquirer in an article called “Shedding Light on Visions of the Divine Light.”
I didn’t think of myself as being some sort of prophet. Yet prophet or not, I decided to share my experiences with others, which as I explained in the introduction, loosely follow the structure of a hero’s journey. Our journey begins.
I grew up just outside the city of Philadelphia in a middle-class family of Russian and Polish descent. Like many folks, my parents didn’t see eye-to-eye on every issue but managed to resolve their differences good naturedly. I admired and loved both my father, Maurice, who worked for the Bell Telephone Company, and my mother, Rose, a homemaker and devotee of interpretive dance, who on occasion was not averse to proclaiming herself a leaf in autumn. Those in attendance at such times would respectfully watch the “leaf” make its rhythmic descent to the ground, or as would often be the case, to the carpet on the living room floor. My family included my sister Ruth, six years my senior, and sixteen aunts and uncles.
Dinner at family gatherings with the six to eight regulars was unforgettable. Everyone had stories to tell and strong opinions about almost everything. Their exchanges grew louder and more heated with each volley until the outcome seemed a matter of life and death. When mayhem seemed imminent, someone inevitably made a comical remark about the most impassioned, vulnerable combatant, which was followed by laughter. “This is nothing to make jokes about!” the wounded party would wail. It was the perfect spark. A riot of hilarity erupted. Some, doubling over with laughter, gasped for breath, and some shed tears. At those times, I felt as if I were in the eye of a storm, and I still felt safe. I knew these crazy, wild moments reflected the love that bound us together as a family.
Nothing in my otherwise ordinary but happy, sports-oriented childhood can account for what happened one evening when I was ten years old. My family 4 was staunchly agnostic. “This place is all there is,” my father often declared with conviction. “Dead is dead!”
That night, I finished my homework, kissed my parents goodnight, and went up to my bedroom planning to poke around before going to sleep. When I turned on the light in the room, the venetian blinds on the window caught my attention. They appeared as they always did, but as I looked at them that night, I heard these words distinctly register in my mind: The places on either side of the blinds are very different from each other.
What could that mean? I wondered. Peering through the blinds before closing them for the night, I looked into the night sky, and I saw the emptiness that extended beyond the stars. The sight shook me to the core. I realized that the empty darkness had no walls, no boundaries. It was never-ending. I knew that I was looking into infinity! At the same instant, I felt embraced by an all-powerful force. I was awestruck as the power pulled me into the never-ending vastness, but I was not afraid. I sensed that this force was infinitely stronger than my parents and that it was watching over me.
The meaning of the words I heard then became clear. The place inside the room was enclosed and limited, while the space outside the blinds was unrestrictedly open. In the next second, I was back in my room, still standing at my window. I looked across the street and saw a glowing haze that resembled fog, but I sensed it was something more. The glow surrounded and clung to the people on 5 the street. I realized the fog was the aura of the life force in each of them. In a trance, I crossed the room, lay down on my bed, and immediately felt myself rise. I floated to the ceiling and looked down to see my physical body on the bed. I then returned to my body, and in the next second everything in the room beyond my bed—the floor, walls, furniture, and ceiling—was divided into narrow, rectangular sections like the slats of venetian blinds. The slats began to rotate. As they opened, I could see what existed between the long rectangular sections was empty space. When the slats reached a full quarter-turn, the thin edges disappeared. I lay suspended in sparkling gray, empty space, supported only by my bed. I knew I was in a domain beyond the earthly world but felt at peace because this place welcomed me; it was uncompromisingly blissful. I sensed that this otherworldly place was a natural extension of my familiar world.
A few minutes later, my ordinary surroundings reappeared, looking just as they had been before. I knew that I had not physically left my room, yet somehow my conscious self had been taken to a realm far beyond it. Each night for the next several weeks, I would lie in bed, hoping the vision would return. It did not, but the experience was always fresh in my mind. I didn’t tell anyone about it, feeling that the experience was not to 6 be shared. Nonetheless, I believed that I had received firsthand knowledge of a dimension that certainly extended beyond this world. This event made me feel, even as a child, a need to hold myself to a high standard of behavior. At quiet moments when I could feel the presence of the higher realm, I saw myself from afar with an objective perspective. I developed a strong sense of responsibility and empathy; I felt keenly the pain of a student who was bullied and the joy of my classmates when they were praised.
Adulthood arrived. I married and had a daughter. I became a pharmacist and operated a pharmacy that was voted “Best in Philadelphia” in a newspaper poll. In 2000, I received the Philadelphia Hero Award for my service to the HIV/AIDS community. The real heroes, though, were the folks living with HIV/AIDS. One of those heroes said to me, “If life presents you with lemons, make lemonade.” In spite of my childhood experience of being transported to a higher world in a vision state, it had never occurred to me that I might someday be another kind of hero, one who journeys to reveal the truth about the ultimate questions of life.
Forty years had passed since my otherworldly experience of childhood. At that point in my life, I was again transported, but this time to a place extraordinarily more sublime, the higher place that many dream about.
“Right Down the Line,” by Gerry Rafferty
Into the Light
At age fifty, about an hour before bed one night, I became aware that the lyrics of a Gerry Rafferty song (not one of my top five hundred songs, to place it in context) were running through my mind again and again: “Right down the line, right down the line.” The urgency of the repetition was unnerving. I couldn’t focus on anything else or find any particular meaning in the lyrics. But I felt fairly certain that this matter would be resolved in a dream state.
To initiate the process, I silently repeated the phrase when I lay down for the night. In the next second, it seemed, I was taken to another place and time. I was standing on a barren prairie next to a single set of railroad tracks. Looking “right down the line,” I saw a small shack beside the tracks about halfway to the horizon. When I looked directly at the shack, I was instantly there, standing next to it. This all felt natural and not in the least bit surprising.
I gazed down the railroad line, all the way to the horizon and next felt myself traveling down the tracks, thrust forward by an unknown force with one foot on each rail. Seconds later, I reached the place I had seen as the “horizon,” at which point the tracks left the railroad bed, changing into lines of force (or force lines) that carried me into space. I soared into the unknown.
In a flash, I understood that this uncharted realm was beyond the material world and free of material forces, even the force of gravity. Material existence here was replaced by a higher, more sublime order of existence that was boundless. I was astonished at and beholden to this higher order of existence that included my conscious, personal self.
Carried forward by an ethereal force, I believed that I could fly off in any direction I chose just by sweeping my arms about. But something of greater importance overrode any willful thoughts. I trusted in the force that radiated through me. I felt sublime joy and the exhilarating rush of freedom.
I was also freed from my physical body. My conscious self was translucent and emitting a soft light. I was in what Campbell calls the “zone unknown.” I understood that this was a condition of my traveling in this domain. I was alone in a luminous gray void, propelled forward on the glowing force lines that functioned like energized skis. I felt that I was traveling at great speed, although I had no sensation of motion. I saw that the background shade of steely gray in the realm in which I was traveling was changing, becoming ever-so-brighter. A profound peace engulfed me. More than that, I understood that I was experiencing my death, yet it all seemed so natural. I felt invigorated, stronger, and more vibrant than I had ever felt before, with a heightened awareness by all of my senses. I was spellbound and eager to see what lay ahead.
As I raced through this dimension, my self-perception continued to fundamentally change. I now thought of myself mostly as an energetic presence. For a moment, I felt uneasy about losing my physical identity, but as I realized that consciousness exists independently of the physical body, my unease faded. I was aware that my consciousness had greatly sharpened and expanded. I felt more in harmony, more sensitive to the coursing force that was taking me onward.
A sound somewhat like music but ranging well beyond tonal composition came from the vast emptiness. The chords in perfect resonance with my deepest sense of self set me at peace. Still, soon I became concerned. Why didn’t I see others who had died crossing over with me? I looked around but saw no one. I searched deeply into the endlessness and eventually saw a spirit-form like me far in the distance also riding on force lines. I turned, looking, and saw another traveler, then a third, and still more all traveling in the same direction. Although their force lines appeared parallel to mine, I could see that our paths were gradually converging. I looked ahead, trying to gauge where they would meet, and realized that was the place to which we were being taken. I felt like a child anticipating a special gift. Time, which had been marking the progression of events, slowed and deepened and then began to expand, intensifying my experiences yet further.
Looking out into the endlessness, I saw a pinpoint of light ahead in the far distance, growing larger as I and the others converged toward it. As I drew nearer, the number of travelers racing toward the light greatly increased, and in the next tick of time our force lines began to intersect. Each time this happened, I experienced the special beauty of another person’s life force just as that person experienced mine.
As we neared the light, the number of souls I touched grew dizzyingly. Our touching was in no way sexual. Although I had at first assumed the other travelers were either male or female, that was not the case. I realized that we were all, to varying degrees, gradually transforming into an encompassing gender state. The process of sexual unification had begun. I felt each being’s unique life force as we rushed toward the whiteness, merging at the point of entry.
Time dramatically slowed even more as I approached the light. The light filled my entire view. Limits became meaningless as I was pulled into the light; I was magnificently consumed, and the light overwhelmed me. The light was alive! It welcomed and embraced me with a love that was pure, perfect, and unconditional. I felt that I was being loved by all the souls in heaven. I became one with the incandescence. My exaltation spiked to a level beyond human experience or endurance.
Fearing that I would explode into nothingness, I pulled away from the light as if I had touched a hot electrical line. Even though it’s been over thirty years since that night, the glorious, expansive fullness of the love that I experienced that is carried by the light still amazes me.
In the next instant, I lay in my bed, trembling. My first thought was to review the information the light had imparted while it was fresh in my mind. The instructions were clear: I would receive nearly unparalleled freedom upon my death but not before I reconsidered my core identity, who I truly was. I needed to think of myself not primarily as a physical being but as a spirit essence whose consciousness was everlastingly linked to the higher force. I knew that if I denied the role of my restless ego and allowed this change in self-perception to take place, a boundless heaven awaited when I died.
Still trembling, I pledged to acknowledge those conditions without reservation. I understood that my relationship with the light depended on the extent to which I cast off the negative, begrudging part of myself, the part based on fear and insecurity. Although I understood that life in this world is filled with questions both big and small, I believed that I could help in resolving the big questions. In this way, I could fulfill my vision quest, complete my journey, and bring this boon to a world that sorely needs it. Only if I gave my very best in these avenues of life would the covenant be fulfilled.
Lying on my bed, I felt the indescribably fulfilling love of the spirit entities that I had touched. I felt humbled by the experience of entering the light, yet more than anything else, I longed to return there for an extended time. I felt sure that this would happen. Although I understood that I was the one who had pulled away from the light, it still didn’t stand to reason that something or some entity would have drawn me to the light only to experience it for a moment.
For the next few weeks, I believed that each night would be the night when, upon going to bed, I would fully enter the light, but that event did not take place. Still, I remained hopeful, trusting that only by my remaining open and receptive would my expectation be met.
A few days later, my wish was granted. On going to bed and closing my eyes one night, I was transported, and I entered the light. I felt like I had become a radiating sun. I experienced the fathomless love of the creating force, and my beloved father, idealized and glistening, stood in front of me. We reached out and held each other, tears streaming.
My family members who had passed on were circled all around me. I embraced my aunts, uncles, and grandparents and came to know their most loving selves. The same was true with their parents and their parents’ parents. Shedding tears, we expressed our love for each other.
The circle widened as the progression continued back over many dozens of generations. My ancestors numbered in the many hundreds, and they were dancing with joy as they hugged me. I felt their individual and profound collective love, which was unlike any love I had ever known.
The light seemed to set no limitations on me. Through the power of thought, whatever I could imagine became my reality. If I wished to be a Nobel laureate receiving the Peace Prize, I would be honored at a glittering ceremony in Oslo. At the same time, I understood if I were to be granted the gift of creative imagination, I had to earn it by helping others on the earthly plane. The gift is not achieved through grace alone but through selfless actions.
I was stunned when I grasped a fundamental condition of heaven: time as I had experienced it on Earth did not exist here. On earth, consecutive ticking seconds comprise our existence. Here, I would live forever! I wondered, If I am immortal, then am I some form of god? That’s ridiculous! It can’t be true, I declared, berating myself for considering such a possibility. I understood, though, that heavenly time proceeds in relation to the achievement of divinely designed goals, such as spiritual growth and the gaining of incomparable knowledge. I realized that the immortality of the spirit is but one of the joys we are destined to experience at this higher level. All people who have ever lived, are living now, or will live in the future have been given the birthright of immortality.
As I continued in the light, a desire for knowledge overwhelmed me. I wanted to learn more about the earthly dimension, and that very thought brought me to a thrilling discovery: All the information I sought was here for me in the light and would be streamed to me in a form that allowed my consciousness to absorb and retain it forever.
I would see the creation of the universe at the Big Bang in slowed time, frame by frame, and the same condition would apply to the emergence of subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules, which in time formed giant cosmic dust clouds that gave rise to our galaxy and solar system: the sun, Earth, and other planets. I would see simple life forms coming into existence in the primeval oceans. I would see the first group of Homo sapiens emerge and receive a full view of human history, followed by knowledge of other star systems and galaxies.
As my vision in the light continued, I realized that I would be able to divide my conscious awareness to enjoy multiple experiences simultaneously, each independent of the others. My consciousness was centered, much like a wheel hub is the center from which its spokes radiate. But here in the light, each “spoke” represented a separate experience. In the same moment of awareness, I could be with any number of people, soaring through constellations filled with blazing stars, while at the same time watching life forms leave the ocean shallows and crawl onto land on stubby limbs. Hundreds, even thousands of people could simultaneously converse with Einstein and feel his genius, and Einstein could be not only with his audience but also with many others, perhaps Sir Isaac Newton or Copernicus, and have such experiences wherever else he chose.
But I also understood that being in the company of esteemed figures such as Einstein, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, or Mohammed, was a privilege that had to be earned. Much that we will experience in heaven depends on the ethical quality of the life we lead on earth. However, when we are in heaven, if the privilege of meeting such figures is denied us at first, we will have the opportunity to grow spiritually until we can realize that wish. This growth will happen through self-reflection, mentored by spirit entities more highly evolved than we are. This spiritual growth could be of relatively short duration, but for those who made others suffer greatly, it will be long and painful.
I sensed that my experience was coming to an end, but before I left the light, I grasped another truth: beyond heaven is another realm, a place even more beatific. I understood that in this higher place, I would be even closer to the creating force and gain spiritual knowledge of a yet more extraordinary quality. However, I was in no rush to learn more about this higher level; my earlier driving sense of urgency was gone. I was exceedingly grateful to be right where I was in the white light of heaven.
For several weeks, I lived as if on a cloud, seeing the everyday world from a distance. Gradually, however, my orientation shifted, and I returned to my daily routine with a greater sense of humanness. I was filled with the wonder of life in all its forms, viewing people as magical life expressions.
As I had decided when I was ten, I recounted my journey to no one. I believed it was not the proper time.
Over the following several years, I thought a great deal about what I had witnessed on the other side. Eventually I began to doubt the veracity of my experiences. It was so far separated from day-to-day existence. The need to focus on everyday realities made me wonder if my heaven had been an invention, no more than wish-fulfilling dreams spurred by unconscious yearnings. Yet at times I visualized the higher dimension of heaven, the place I believed I had experienced, and the memory was as clear and vivid as if it had all happened the day before. In terms of the hero’s journey, this is known as the “refusal of the call.”
After considering both possibilities, I made a series of observations about my conflicted thoughts. What I experienced both at age ten and at fifty was completely unexpected; the happenings gave me no warning or hint to their origin. The content of the visions did not reflect anything I had been doing or contemplating at the time or previously.
What seemed especially significant was that I knew for certain that the place that I first entered at age fifty, from which I traveled to the eternal light on the force lines, was but a facet of the otherworldly level I had entered at age ten.
Considering these conditions, I reasoned that these happenings must have been initiated by a force that operates beyond normal human experience. The exceptional realness and content of these experiences, and the progressive, interrelated series of events that led me to experience the higher level, encouraged me to believe that my experiences were singular and extraordinary.
For an unknown reason, that force or some aspect of that force had sought me out. Both the message about the venetian blinds and the repeated phrase “right down the line” four decades later appeared to be part of an integrated design that implies intention. I believe the other side intended me to experience infinity at age ten and enter the white light of heaven forty years later.
Experiencing the awe-inspiring, never-ending quality of infinity was significant for a number of reasons. The primary one is that the experience releases the mind from its accustomed constraints, allowing it to realize the conditions of endlessness and its association with the connected oneness of holism and symmetry on an unrestricted scale.
This knowledge is critical to understanding the dual nature of the constants of the universe—time and light—and to realizing that we also are of a fundamental dual nature. I realized that this knowledge of infinity I gleaned in my experiences had helped me understand transcendent issues, such as the origin of consciousness and of our relationship with the creating force, the details of which will be described in later chapters.
After I had returned from the light, my belief in the hereafter was unshakable. My interactions with other people became more nurturing than before. I often anticipated their needs, providing the emotional support they sought.
Five years passed without incident. Then in 1988, by chance, I read an article by Gregg Easterbrook in The Atlantic, “Are We Alone?” The article’s focus was the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. Easterbrook declared that if we made contact with an extraterrestrial civilization that had met God and was willing to tell us what it had learned, “human society would shake to its foundations.”
Easterbrook’s declaration affected me on a deeply personal level, which at first was puzzling. Then I realized that I could provide part of the knowledge people were seeking. While I had not met God, my journey into the white light had taken me closer to the creative, causative force than most individuals were fortunate enough to experience in life. This understanding encouraged me to begin writing about my transcendent experiences. My first effort, a poem in blank verse, describes a dialogue between villagers stargazing in a field and alien beings who descend from the sky. The townsfolk bade the space travelers, “Tell us of your God.”
Although years have gone by since my experience in the light, its impact grows ever-stronger, and the knowledge I gain increasingly directs me when seeking to comprehend transcendent and metaphysical matters. (This knowledge is like the mentor included in many hero’s journey narratives.) The past several years have been especially rewarding. When I contemplate existential matters (matters that involve our existence), my mind travels to a higher level. Although it may take hours or days, I usually receive a thread of the knowledge woven into the fabric of the higher realm. I see the information in my mind in an illuminating flash. The higher place seems like a cosmic library from which I am able to glean the information I seek.
For example, as I was writing this book, I was living and working in McConnellsburg, a picture-postcard town of about 1,100 residents deep in the mountains of western Pennsylvania. I was considering the question: If we are bodiless, how will we perceive individuals in heaven? I knew that resolving this matter would involve realizing more clearly the very nature of heaven. I was blocked and knew I needed a fresh perspective.
I walked out of town on one of my free days, tossing the problem around in my mind, hoping for inspiration. On that bright summer morning, I followed a country road that wound between mountains and deep valleys. My pace slowed. I took in the open sky. I was held spellbound by blooming meadows of wildflowers with red and blue tasseled bonnets tilting in the breeze. I watched black-and-white-patched cows grazing passively on grassy fields, and I saw dense stands of trees nearby, unshakable sentinels of the land. I lingered in each magical moment. As I was returning late that afternoon and passed the first several houses that marked the town, a light sparked within me. I was taken into the light and in that instant received the insight that I was seeking. In Chapter Thirty-Six, I will describe how we can distinguish individuals in heaven.
A second incident had occurred several years previously. One evening as I entered my kitchen, I was mulling the nature of the dimensions that follow heaven, wondering, What would it ever be like there? At that second, a brilliant light flashed from the ceiling of the room. The flash illuminated the dimension that is beyond heaven. I could see that this dimension provided fulfillment that was more otherworldly and of greater depth than heaven. I was even more in harmony with the force of creation and the source of knowledge.
In this transcendent moment, the vision revealed that heaven is a transitional stage in which we will greatly expand our knowledge and spiritual growth. I understood that after a great while, there will come a point in heaven when we will experience everything around us changing as we ourselves are changing. We will undergo an exquisite compression and expansion as we are carried toward something even more joyful and rhapsodic. Separating from the white light, we will move from the whiteness to another softer and even more brilliant light that brings us a more profound rapture. We will experience a wonderful unfolding as we are drawn closer to something beyond that which our deepest yearnings can conceive. The exaltation of that experience still makes my spirit glow.
In the chapters that follow, we will set out on our hero’s journey together, but along the way we will take some detours and roundabout paths, with each foray or challenge providing new information or a new way of looking at things. I will call this information a “plank of understanding.” The planks will form the foundation from which we will reach out in the final battle to understand the ultimate mystery of mysteries. That will bring the hero’s journey to an end, which will include a life-enhancing return. Some of the transcendent mysteries I describe include the following:
Why eternal existence is our birthright;
What happens when we die;
The nature of heaven and what we will likely experience there;
Experiencing heaven’s celestial time;
How and why consciousness emerges from the mind;
A resolution of the mind-body problem;
How and why we, time, and light are cosmic dualities;
The nature of the place the universe is expanding into, namely, the otherworld void;
Visiting the realm of creation and witnessing universes being born;
The nature of our relationship with the infinite creator; and
Resolving the mystery of mysteries.
Now, let us begin to build the foundation.
Awakening the Angel
Just beyond the coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea, along the slope of Mount Parnassus in lower central Greece, stand the haunting ruins of sun-bleached marble columns that mark the Temple of Delphi, a mythic religious sanctuary. According to Greek legend, the temple was erected in the sixth century BCE at the center of the world, the place where heaven and earth meet. The Delphic temple honored the god Apollo, son of Zeus, who embodied spiritual purity, truth, and prophecy, along with other attributes. Inscribed over the temple’s entrance is the adage, “Know thyself, and thou wilt know the universe and the gods.”
You may believe that you have a fairly good sense of who you are. When you pass by a mirror you may neaten your hair a touch and continue with your day. That’s nothing unusual; I can relate to that, you might think. But if you see only the image of your self-reflection on those occasions, then you have been missing something truly significant. You have not seen yourself in your entirety. To be more direct, we have an unalienable right to know who and what we are, to know about the unseen better half, the magical part that enables us to function as conscious, thinking individuals with free will. The journey of self-discovery we are on involves a process of awakening to recollect the knowledge that lies slumbering in the corners of the mind. If you allow yourself to enter a quiet state, you might feel the stirrings of the knowledge of who we are, of our sublime heritage.
This book will attempt to reunite you with this knowledge. It will involve your partaking in mind journeys the likes of which you may never have contemplated. The journeys involve seeing yourself from afar and perceiving the universe through a much wider lens, which may at first be intimidating. But if you stretch your mind to envision what I will be offering here, you will be awakened and experience the accompanying rush of joy it provides. While my interpretation of science may become somewhat dated as time progresses or may be lacking in some areas, that will not detract from the truth that we are sustained and caused by an infinite force that I will describe as magical.
I will describe how the infinite force gives rise to the universal forces and is responsible for the underlying symmetry, the harmony, and the equivalence, that keeps the universal forces in balance with each other.
The Limitless Promise of Symmetry and Causation
Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post asked George Smoot, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, whether he thought our most basic questions about the universe would ever be answered. Smoot replied, “It depends on how I’m feeling on any particular day. But every day I go to work, I’m making a bet that the universe is simple, symmetric, and aesthetically pleasing, a universe that we humans, with our limited perspective, will someday understand.”
I was thrilled to find that a well-known scientist who has spent his life investigating the material basis of life held out hope that we could understand our universe and, more important, that symmetry is one of its cornerstones. From my more inclusive, holistic perspective, I can advance our understanding of the causal origin of the universe and explain why it is not fundamentally self-sufficient. This may seem unwarranted because we appear to be functioning fairly well here on our own. However, that observation needs to be placed into perspective. I ask that you give me an opportunity to substantiate the claim about our dependency on a divine, causal entity, which involves seeing ourselves within a much broader framework than we usually employ.
When we use the word “causation,” we generally tend to associate it with our causing something to take place, such as starting the car or making breakfast. On second thought, we realize that we are not directly involved in causation because that would violate the universe’s conservation laws, which are the most fundamental principles of material reality. These include that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed to another form.
In our everyday activities, we are not creating or being causal in a pure sense, but the emergence of the universe from the Big Bang is a different thing entirely because the appearance of the universe at the big bang was a violation of the conservation laws: the universe’s matter and energy emerged from a void. Because all things require a causal agent, the same condition would apply to the universe as a whole.
Reason tells us that because of the restrictions described by the conservation laws, the universe is incapable of causing itself from nothingness. These observations are building to a rarely realized truth: We can understand that because the universe is not self-creative, the universe’s matter and energy must have originated from a place beyond it, a place that is causal, an otherworldly, creative realm. The question of whether the universe might belong to a multiverse or some cosmic variation of it will be discussed later.
Materialists may object to my claim that the universe cannot be self-creative by suggesting that the universe could have causal properties that have yet to be discovered. Advances in science we have witnessed over the past decade have been startling beyond our expectations. Who’s to say that in the near future we won’t discover higher neural networking systems, hidden material dimensions, or laws that relate to materiality that can bring about causation?
Although science continues to make impressive leaps forward in illuminating the workings of the material universe, we need to recognize that even if those neural networking systems, dimensions, or laws were to exist, they would still be subject to the unchallengeable restrictions imposed by the conservation laws. We must also understand that the tools of science are incapable of finding and determining what I will refer to as the “first cause.” It’s beyond the reach of science. Science can break matter and energy down into tinier and tinier components and energetic variables, but as I will contest, the life essence and consciousness cannot be reduced, isolated, or examined under a microscope because they are not material.
Perhaps, if we acknowledge this, we can use the inborn mental tool we possess, our rational intuition, to realize that life and consciousness, if not derived from here within the universe as we know it, are in effect magical, as is the emergence of the universe at the Big Bang.
Taking this reasoning further, we could assume that, due to the restrictions that apply to the universe according to the conservation laws and the seemingly magical activities happening here second by second (which will be described in later chapters), the universe needs to be continuously sustained, just like a computer requires a constant flow of energy to function.
For those who take issue with the comparison between us and computers, let us take an alternative approach. It is a fact that we are alive because we are made up largely of organic matter (unlike computers). However, I would point out that the term “organic matter” merely describes carbon-based compounds that are capable of supporting life; it’s nothing more. Organic matter is not inherently alive. Inanimate graphite, consisting mainly of carbonized plant matter, is an example of an organic compound, a composite of organic molecules that is not alive.
After we give this some thought, a light may spark in our minds. We can see the distinction between organic matter and life itself. We realize that organic matter is in a way fundamentally similar to diamonds. Diamonds sparkle because they reflect trapped light: no light, no sparkle. Organic material (such as the stuff that comprises our bodies) will be alive only when it is inspirited with the animating light of otherworldly energy.
Genetic information vital to our functioning is an example of a biological reality that is magical or otherworldly and therefore beyond the limits of the conservation laws. Other examples include information itself, life energy, and consciousness as they form visual images in the mind so we can experience first-person awareness and conceive ideas.
These mental events, as we may be starting to realize, are not built into matter and energy. With this understanding, we can presume that their source is a higher and creative realm of reality altogether, one that operates beyond the universe, a place I’ll refer to as the “supracosmos” or as being “supracosmic.”
I acknowledge that while on one level my claim about the presence of a creative realm might be intriguing and even logically compelling, on another level it might be personally unsettling because it runs counter to how we have been taught to see ourselves and our world since we were children.
The Further “Awakening” Facing Down the Myth of Materiality: The Grand Illusion
Astronaut, physicist, and author Willis Harman observes in Global Mind Change (1998), “We are literally hypnotized from infancy to perceive the world the way our culture perceives it.”
The claims that the universe needs to be continuously sustained by a force that operates beyond it relates to us personally. The animating activities that we may have thought were built into our material bodies were but “the grand illusion.” (I will describe the limits of material biological energy.) This statement may potentially be shocking because it dramatically changes the way we view ourselves.
Take a moment to let this information settle in, and then realize that the material cloak (in other words, the matter and energy that comprise the body) is not the invincible all-providing, initiating source we had believed it to be. That could be emotionally dispiriting because we are likely to believe that life itself and correspondingly, conscious awareness, the “soul” of who one is, is somehow inexplicably packaged with the matter and energy of the body.
Giving thought to what has been presented, we may consider that consciousness, the scintillating living moment of awareness we experience, might not be a product or byproduct of a material process, as materialists insist. Instead, consciousness and life itself are expressions of the magic derived from the otherworldly, causal realm.
To realize why and how we and the material universe function flawlessly (for the most part), we must continuously clear away the fog of illusion regarding materiality that clouds our eyes and minds unlike a computer, the mind has no reset key. Longtime habits of thinking tend to resist change. The fog represents the illusion that can be fixed in consciousness that materiality is the extent of reality and is capable of causing itself at the Big Bang. If we are to embrace the knowledge of our ultimate origin, our true heritage, we must shatter bit by bit the timeworn myth that materiality has mystical powers and is preeminent.
The information presented in this book may change the way you see and relate to yourself. Self-knowledge is empowering and does not lose its luster; it deepens, always providing wisdom. Empowerment flows from knowing what and who we are, where we come from, and where we are going at life’s end.
Expanding Our Perception of Energy
A goal of our hero’s journey is to gain knowledge of what we are at the core, our true nature. Einstein says that on a fundamental level, we are not made of energy. We are energy.
But what exactly is energy? Richard Feynman, physicist and Nobel laureate responds to this question with the following:
It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount. It is not that way.
On considering Feynman’s observation, we may find it evident that gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of energy is key to solving a number of burning questions about our existence as living beings, such as where we come from and what happens to us at death. What I am offering may be a new way of thinking about energy, the stuff that ultimately comprises us and the stuff that scientists acknowledge is the universe’s fundamental driving force. This section describing energy is one of the guideposts mentioned in the preface.
We understand that in whatever form it takes, energy is what starts the car, powers computers and cell phones, and keeps us alive and functioning. We generally think of energy as a force that can be felt and experienced. For example, we can see and measure the effect of the electromagnetic force when we run an electric current through a filament in a light bulb: It produces light. We can feel the effect of gravity and inertia when we lift an object.
Do you remember the scene in the movie Frankenstein (1931) in which the cadaver with two bolts in its neck and strapped to an operating table was pulsed with fearsome surges of crackling electricity that coursed through it repeatedly? When I first watched it in my early teens, it was gripping. I was transfixed when the monster moved his eyes, broke the shackles, and tremulously arose from the table. While I felt a rush of fear and amazement, all of us in the theater recognized that this was just a Hollywood production and did not relate to real life. We understood that electrical energy could shock a heart that was failing into working again and could possibly start a heart that was in cardiac arrest, but we also understood that once a person is dead, even massive amounts of electrical energy, along with “all the King’s horses and all the King’s men,” could not bring the person back to life again.
This revelation is profound: The energy that gives us life is clearly of a different order from natural electrical energy or biological energy. This calls attention to the limitations of the natural forces and natural energy. What we take from this truth, although we may have never thought about ourselves in this light, is that we are a duality composed of both natural biological energy and energy of a higher realm, the undetectable animating energy that leaves our eyes at death.
Logically, the undetectable energy from the higher realm that animates us would well exceed the limits imposed by the universe’s conservation laws governing the four universal forces that give form and functionality to the matter and energy within the time and space of our universe. These are electromagnetic force, strong force, weak force, and gravity. Remember, the conservation laws of energy and mass state that the total amount of energy remains constant in an isolated system. A key point to recognize is that the universe when taken as a whole is an isolated system. Energy and mass can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another. Note that from now on, instead of using the words “matter” and “energy” to describe the stuff of what we are, for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to it as “matter-energy.”
Using reason, we understand more profoundly that the undetectable life energy is not native to this material level but instead derives from a higher causative realm beyond the time and space of the universe. Because every effect requires at the minimum a comparable cause, it follows that this higher causative realm would also give rise to the four temporal universal forces and be the ultimate source of the biological energy that maintains us, such as neural, electrical, and cellular energy. These temporal aspects of energy are measurable, as opposed to the energy from the higher infinite realm.
The Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, support this view of the causative force directly or through logical reasoning. They hold that God is an all-powerful and ever-present force that gives us life, which necessarily means that God, the infinite force spirit, is everywhere. Expectedly, this indivisibility and union with the infinite energy-force would also hold true for fundamental matter such as photons and quarks. By extension, the material matter-energy of which we are comprised is also of a dual nature, with a measurable, temporal component as well as an immeasurable, otherworldly, and supracosmic component. This reinforces the notion that we ourselves are fundamentally an energetic duality. Part of each of us is a temporal expression; the better half of us is literally otherworldly.
Although we are identifiable as material beings, if we could look deeply into ourselves beyond the matter-energy, we would find that we are comprised at the core of otherworldly energy from an infinite source. This energy is our sparking, animating aspect.
Einstein was markedly aware of an otherworldly presence. His belief in a transcendent presence became evident in numerous writings and conversations, including one with former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel. The following three quotes regarding Einstein’s conception of a spirit force-energy are drawn from Max Jammer’s book Einstein and Religion (1999).
“Every scientist becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men.”
“The divine reveals itself in the physical world.”
“There must be something behind the energy.”