Confronting Evil, Part II

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Just as people began responding to my blog on “Confronting Evil,” reports started coming in about the tragic deaths in Nice, France on July 14 – the killing of innocent people around the world continues to shock us daily. Yet again, we are confronted with unbelievable crimes against humanity, no matter what the cause, from mental instability to terrorism. If this is earth school, what are our lessons today? And more to the point, how does the force of pure love felt by so many who report near-death experiences play a role through all of us in healing?

After extending the deepest condolences and prayers of love and comfort for the victims and their families, we have a choice to make – to meet hatred with hatred or to bring love and compassion into the equation. Forgiveness may take some time, but is also key to shifting the dynamic of love in our world.  The one who benefits most from forgiveness is the forgiver.

Each of us individually has the free will to choose our response, and each of us is at a different level of awareness, learning, and spiritual growth.  It is not about being better than another, or always choosing wisely (because we do learn from mistakes), or even sharing a common belief system.  But it is, I think, about reaching closer to a mutual goal of unconditional love, at our own rate. After all, some may not yet realize that love is a worthwhile goal, and no amount of being told “this is what you should or must believe” will get them there.  We all learn and grow based on our own experience and understanding.
We know, from the sheer numbers of NDEs and the commonality of their reports, that the soul is not limited by the existence of the physical body, and is eternal. Yet, many people do not believe the soul is eternal, because they have not personally experienced an NDE or other spiritually-transformative experience (STE), nor read much about their evidential nature. They may not have had the opportunity to meditate, pray or experience the spiritual aspects in their lives — yet.  They have their own lessons to learn, as do we all.

My worldview has been shaped not only by my profound NDE deep within coma, but also by the confirmatory testimony from many souls I have met along the pathway of sharing my experience and its most positive message about humanity and our earthly existence. The underlying message is one of unity, Oneness, and the higher good of all being the goal. I believe that this focus on the primacy of love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness is at the core of all of the great faiths of the world, although it has often been twisted and distorted by those humans who take it on themselves to interpret and present to the masses an altered version of the original message of the prophets, often towards the goal of controlling others. This mode of control is completely at odds with the simpler and more profound message originating in those great teachers of love and compassion – Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad being prime examples.

This worldview is centered in the Oneness of all consciousness, and the source of that Oneness is the infinite healing power of unconditional love at its core. As always, a cardinal transgression at the heart of this worldview is the act of killing — the killer violates the miracle of life through killing, whether of self or others. From my journey, it is clear that suicide and homicide are wrong at the deepest levels. Homicide is justified only if it prevents the homicide of others. Peaceful solutions and avoidance of escalation of violence through retribution and revenge represent the ideal. But in our complex world, one must often support the actions of good police officers, who endeavor to protect all citizens without bias or prejudice, and of soldiers, who protect the innocent by defending against threats and violence. When the intent to value and protect life is central, such actions are manifestations of this same fundamental love and respect for the sanctity of life. The deep love of this universe is just, and honors not only life but the expression of free will by those who respect others. We are all co-creators of the world we wish into being from our loftiest dreams.

To clarify specific questions regarding the “life review” that a terrorist might have, my journey witnessed the broad mechanism of souls having their life review as a crucial part of the soul school aspect of existence, that we are all here to learn and teach as consciousness evolves.

The life review is not what an individual perceives simply from their own perspective, but rather it is an omnidirectional evaluation from everyone with whom we have interacted – we feel our words and actions through their eyes, and through their extended family and friends’ eyes and hearts, and through those who may read a news article about a public incident, etc. Crucially, we feel the emotional impact that our actions and thoughts have on others, from their perspective.

The perceived boundaries of our individual self turn out to be ephemeral, and the Oneness we share with all other beings becomes apparent. So, the murderer will feel the emotions, pain and sadness of the murder victim, and there is no escaping this. Magnify that by the number of people harmed or killed, and by the number of people around the world who are shocked around feelings for that murderer.  These are intense feelings that will likely be a personal hell for the one having such a “life review.” After he completes his review, in the brilliant healing light of the unconditional love of Source, he will come to better understand the crucial role of love.

Free will is available to all – it is not whether, but how it is used, that can assist one in evolving swiftly or slowly, or remaining stuck.  And, as far as the force of love at the source getting through to someone cast as “evil,” it depends on all of us, doesn’t it?  If such actions are countered with hatred, love will have a hard time being seen or felt. On the one hand, we could allow the terrorists’ agenda to trap us in fear and hatred of them and their actions, and to separate us from others.  If, on the other hand, enough people shift to love and pray for all, that some kindness can penetrate the wall of hate the terrorist has constructed, then we begin to chip away at those hardened beliefs that lead them to repeat their cycles of destruction. Of course we must try to contain their actions and protect others, but there is a fine line in our approach, our intent.

As a civilization, we have a responsibility to defend people from such violence, and how we go about it is another free will choice—one that benefits from many thoughtful people engaged in finding answers. Most people, including myself, would defend themselves or their families if they were personally threatened. But what do we do after the danger passes?  Do we forgive, do we pray, do we re-center ourselves in love?  How do we honor the fallen in this seemingly perpetual cycle of violence? Perhaps their extreme sacrifice can lead us to review our laws (internationally) about allowing guns in our communities, to reword our every message and action based in love, and to enter more publicly into dialog about our mutual journeys of soul that endeavor to bring down walls rather than build them higher. We are truly One, and the more we come to know and live this, the better off we all will be.

Confronting Evil

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True forgiveness is an essential choice that many successfully embrace in seemingly despicable circumstances. In my younger years, I sensed great truth in the saying “Tout comprendre, tout pardoner.” Translated, this oft-quoted phrase means “if you understand someone else completely, you can pardon all of their actions.”

This supposition hinges on the notion that humans react similarly to various specific challenges, and assumes that we all pursue rational solutions to our problems with others. Does this apply in the face of apparent evil, such as the spasm of terrorism and efforts at counter-terrorism that grip our modern world? Can we truly come to fully understand the life and motives of a terrorist, to the point of “pardoning” their actions? Doesn’t the rampant killing of innocents violate everything that a sane human being holds dear?

Our official response, as a culture and as a nation, is often to label the perpetrators as “evil,” and to base our actions on a standing principle of retaliation when wronged, and on a newer policy, at least in the USA, of destroying anything or anyone we label as “evil.”

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, then-President George W. Bush referred to the rogue states of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the “axis of evil,” which he claimed to be the main source of terrorism at that time. Since then the world has witnessed an expansion of institutional terrorism as well as a spike in “evil” activity by individual, disgruntled terrorists or malcontents across many countries and continents. The concept and consequences of “evil” are as old as time, but the choices we make about how to confront it or root it out in today’s world have more far reaching consequences than ever before.

Episcopal priest Steven Paulikas recently wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece in the New York Times (6/27/16) concerning the “fool’s errand” of trying to stamp out the evil expressed through terrorist acts. He highlighted the writings of philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who was orphaned when his father died as a soldier in the first World War, and who himself spent five years as a French prisoner-of-war held by the Germans. Ricoeur realized that evil exists not as a thing per se, but as a black hole of thought, making it a much tougher entity to simply “extinguish.” He stressed the importance of responding to evil appropriately, mainly in the form of addressing the suffering of the victims. This wisdom espoused by Ricoeur involved “an unwavering commitment to relieve and prevent suffering,” as Paulikas put it.

Ultimately, I believe any such eradication of evil will come from a deeper understanding of the experience, emotions and motives that drive all involved. As much as the National Rifle Association would urge us all to take up arms and take this fight to the level of Armageddon, I know that our ultimate solution will involve love, compassion and forgiveness. Otherwise, it all mires down into an endless cycle of repetitive violence, revenge, and misery for all concerned. The falsehood that one can destroy such “evil” through military might has been exposed and disproven time and again in the recent decades of escalation— the status quo is not leading towards a solution. And these cycles, when replicated on a micro-scale in our own neighborhoods and families, deliver no better results.

The way out? To express our free will in the face of this madness. To break the cycle of revenge and retribution will involve choosing a higher view, one that is broad enough to engage a win-win strategy and that includes all of us together on this journey. This view is no Pollyanna dream, but a potential goal strongly supported by emerging scientific notions of the nature of consciousness, and the ever-evolving evidence that we are all part of One Mind — thus to harm my neighbor (or my enemy) is to harm myself, in a very real sense. Combine this awareness with compelling evidence from the study of the mind-brain relationship: that the consciousness of which we are all a part is eternal, and that the rich literature on near-death experiences (NDEs) offers much evidence for a fundamental reality that is spiritual at heart – a reality that derives its essence from the power of unconditional love at the core of all creation. With clearer vision, one begins to glimpse a pathway out of this morass.

Having your life “flash before your eyes” is not just some recently discovered concept – the “life review” aspect of NDEs has been described across numerous cultures, belief systems and continents for millennia. The life review at the end of one’s physical life is the stage on which our higher souls (and soul groups) judge the various thoughts and actions of our lives that still have important lessons to offer. Given the strong purpose of justice and of learning that is inherent in one’s life review, it serves as a powerful corrective in one’s eternal soul journey, gently but firmly providing lessons that steer us more towards love, compassion and forgiveness. Each lesson helps us to integrate our individual desires with the Oneness so often and affectionately described by the millions who have been there as a result of an NDE or similar forms of spiritually-transformative experiences (or STEs).

The life review of someone who has killed others will be a hellish experience that involves feeling the pain and suffering not only of each of the victims, but also of all the other souls who felt pain when coming to know of their act of killing. This reality comes not from the dogmatic preaching of ideologues, but from the empirical evidence of human experience–from those who have been there, as revealed by the increasing number of stories of NDEs and similar STEs liberally annotated over the internet in recent decades. Much of the absolute tsunami of such evidence comes as a result of enhanced techniques of cardiac resuscitation available to physicians worldwide over the last half century or so. The world is populated with literally millions of souls alive today who have been to the other side and returned to share their experiences. And, the increased number of incidents and expanded reporting through books, media and the internet are not by accident or coincidence. Ignoring such evidence is a choice we should not make.

As the reality of the One Mind, of our interconnectedness, and of the core presence of love as a fundamental constituent of our evolving universe becomes more established and begins to alter our perceptions of ourselves and of our role in this evolution of consciousness, this reality will displace the false sense of separation so prevalent in our current materialistic world view. We will finally begin to mature as a sentient civilization, choosing to move towards the loftiest of realities of human potential—one based in peace, harmony, and a focus on the higher good. Even if only a small percentage of souls currently recognize this reality, it is nevertheless present in every soul’s fundamental essence, waiting to be turned on, to be expressed instead of repressed. On a practical level, we can exercise free will guided by oneness and love in matters of everyday experience as well as in those of international policy.

We are all, truly, in this together. But we have fooled ourselves into a false sense of separation, whether from secularist and deterministic Newtonian science or the competitive dogma spewed to the masses from religious zealots of diverse beliefs that run counter to the original unifying principles in the mystical traditions of all of the great faiths. The fundaments and birthright of this universe are based in love, compassion and forgiveness.

I believe we have reached a major juncture, from which we can choose either awakening to these eternal truths, or committing planetary suicide. The choice is ours. I, for one, am optimistic that our destiny is to choose awakening.