I did not encounter Jesus during my NDE, although that does not indicate that he or other religious figures were not there. Others who have experienced NDEs have sometimes reported seeing or meeting religious figures on the other side. In my case, I had amnesia for my life before coma, somewhat atypical in the NDE literature. This lack of memory for my earthly life allowed a very rich journey to unfold. However, as a result, it was not influenced by any prior religious beliefs or life experience.
What I did see, hear, experience and learn during my NDE encompasses a broader sense of spirit and “God” than any religion I’ve studied. The oneness and inter-connectedness of all souls, and the profound sense that unconditional love is not only an infinitely healing force, but also the fundamental creative force in the universe, were crucial lessons from my journey. Some have suggested the brilliant orb of light I encountered in the Core Realm, which impressed me as an interpreter or translator, might be the Christ Energy, there to facilitate my understanding of the messages from the infinitely healing power of the all-loving source, or God.
I have come to see that Jesus’ primary message was for us to live by his example of unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion. His original message is not necessarily the message selected as most important by church leaders in the following centuries, and codified through the assembly of the New Testament with its canonical gospels. Our embodiment of that unlimited love for ourselves and others would be the ultimate “walking the walk,” as opposed to just “talking the talk” of proclaiming to believe in Jesus, yet not fully living by his example. Far too many people today claim a belief in Jesus, as if that is enough to earn them admission to heaven, even as they fail to “walk the walk” and truly live a life of love and forgiveness. This provokes a separatist and conflict-ridden dynamic against people of other faiths, including those whose faith is that of scientific materialism.
Although Jesus is arguably the prophet who most perfectly presented this message of loving all of God’s creation, I also believe that the Buddha’s teaching of compassion and Muhammad’s teaching of an all-merciful God are similar to Jesus’ overall message. Many practitioners of the mystical traditions of all the great faiths (Christian Mysticism, Kabbalism, Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) contacted me after hearing my presentations or reading Proof of Heaven or The Map of Heaven to remark on the similarities between my journey and their ancient spiritual traditions. To the extent that any orthodox religion promotes commonality and oneness, with all of us bound together through love, they are in line with this broader interpretation of human experience led by the near-death experience community. To the extent that they promote separation and a hierarchical view of being better than the rest, or of a jealous and vengeful (i.e. dysfunctional human) god, I believe they are driving towards their own demise, given that this notion of separateness, conflict and intolerance is misaligned with the emerging sentiments of humanity about the nature of the sacred and the divine.
Other crucial understanding revealed through interpretation of my NDE compared with my prior conventional religious beliefs (generally acquired through growing up in a Methodist Church in North Carolina) involved a rejection of the concept of eternal hell and damnation, the notion of the trinity, and of only one incarnation. As to the trinity, I believe Jesus lived to model an example, not claiming during his life to be the only son of God. He was stating we are all the children of God.
The evolution of my understanding since my coma experience has involved a reworking of my notions of Christianity. While many people believe the Bible is the firsthand word of God, it became very apparent to me that the New Testament was assembled from among many available writings of Jesus’ contemporaries by patriarchal committees (eg. the Council of Nicea, Iraneus, Constantine, etc.) to achieve certain goals to avoid fragmentation and extinction of Christian beliefs in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE. I believe that the Gnostic Gospels, notably the Book of Thomas (written a century earlier than any of the four canonical gospels of the New Testament), supports a much richer Christianity than our current dogmatic version as presented in Biblical scripture.
That original Christianity is much more aligned, not only with my NDE, but with thousands of other NDEs over the last few thousand years around the world, largely independent of religious dogma. I encourage all spiritual seekers to learn about such topics for themselves in order to reconsider ingrained beliefs we were taught by well-meaning parents and churches. The choice to explore and to make a final determination is up to each of us.
My current views are that Jesus came here to reveal that we are all divinely connected to each other, all fellow beings, and to God. As such, we are all eternal spiritual beings. The unconditional love of God has infinite power to heal. The greatest value of true Christianity, from my perspective, is an absolute inclusiveness that acknowledges all beings as children of God. Thus ANY exclusivity suggested by dogmatic interpretations is against the original teachings of Loving Oneness taught so well by Jesus during his life. God loves Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, skeptics, etc. — in short, God loves ALL. I interpret “The only way to heaven is through me,” attributed to Jesus (at a time when very few people on earth knew of Jesus) as meaning “The only way to heaven is through believing in (and knowing) the infinitely loving God.”
Some use the former statement as a rallying cry, as in “only those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior go to Heaven,” which I see as a distortion of Jesus’ original teachings, very divisive and the exact opposite of his true message. It is up to us to use our free will to choose to know that God, but only when we have the personal evidence to do so — hence my work in helping people to achieve deep meditative states through centering prayer and sound-enhanced meditation as a way of coming to know that God personally, through their own experience.
We have spent over 2,000 years in conflict, suffering and warfare fomented by various religions on each other, in absolute contradiction and violation of the original message of Jesus and other prophets of loving Oneness, forgiveness, mercy and compassion. We are here to wage peace and engender love for all fellow beings, and MUST extinguish the petty divisiveness of separatist religious dogma. The core mystical traditions of all the great faiths (Christian mystics, Kabbalists [Jewish mystics], Sufis [Islamic mystics], Hindus, Buddhists) converge on this great spiritual power at the core of all existence, a power based absolutely in Love that is unlimited and all-encompassing.