“Delusion is a Divine curse that makes someone envious, conceited, malicious,
so that he doesn’t know the evil he does will strike him back.
If he could see his nothingness and his deadly, festering wound,
pain would arise from looking within,
and that pain would save him.”[i]
The first time I read these words by the great Sufi poet Rumi I cried with tears from deep within my heart. The words hit me directly where my near-death experience had taken me years before. This poem was a precise description of the negative life-review that I went through. In it, I had looked into my nothingness, my deadly festering wound, and this pain of looking within had saved me.
In meeting the light outside my body I experienced truth—absolute truth. There is Truth even though we choose not to believe so. If we have rejected truth in life, we will have to face it in death. There is no running away and nothing to hide behind, because life does not end. Raymond Moody explains that there is “no possibility whatsoever either of misunderstanding or lying to the light,”[ii] and an account tells us that, “You cannot lie; you cannot cheat. Not there you can’t.”[iii] This is the point, even though we can try to reject it—there is Truth.
I was an atheist and I did not believe that there was truth in the universe. But I was wrong. When I left my body and met the light, I experienced the full power of this truth. This left me in total and all-overpowering awe: I did not know—it is all love! Not having known this truth, I realized that I had gone against the true nature of reality—I had gone against the nature of love. My essence was unlimited love, and in going against this nature I had gone against my own true nature. The pain of this separation, the separation from my-self, made me look back at the actions I had done against the nature of love.
I believe that it was my shock of realizing that I had been separated from truth that caused me to have a life-review. In my life-review, I was forced to look at all the pain that I had caused through my negative actions. This review was a flashback, like a movie, playing out all the scenes in my life when I had caused suffering to others. I saw myself being angry and hurting my mother.
Then there was a flashback of hurting an ex-girlfriend. I saw myself teasing a younger classmate so ruthlessly she was scarred for the rest of her life. All my negative actions played out right in front of my eyes, only this time I saw and felt the full effect these actions had on the people I had hurt.
My life-review showed me the effects of my anger, selfishness, and cruelty, everything that I had been ignorant about before. In the review, I was forced to experience the pain that I had given to others. The pain of recognizing my culpability was indescribable, and I was totally overpowered by deep regret and remorse.
In his book Saved by the Light, Dannion Brinkley writes about the same experience of the negative life-review. He tells us how our perspective changes as we are on the receiving end, and forced to experience the pain of the other person and the effect this pain has. He writes that,
The depth of emotion I experienced during this life-review was astonishing. Not only could I feel the way both I and the other person had felt when an incident took place, I could also feel the feelings of the next person they reacted to.[iv]
Moody reports the same experience and describes how feelings are connected to the life-review: “Even the emotions and feelings associated with the images may be re-experienced as one is viewing them.”[v] He also explains how seeing selfish actions leads people to feel repentant: “In this state of heightened awareness, when people saw any selfish acts which they had done they felt extremely repentant.”[vi]
In this heightened state of awareness that is experienced outside the body, seeing negative actions is extremely painful. As we saw in the last chapter, when we leave the body we enter into a powerful light of unlimited love beyond comprehension. Coming out of Plato’s cave, we see everything in its true light. Outside the cave, the sun is shining brightly with peace and love. This is the true nature of existence that before was hidden to us, and we realize that this is our true nature, too. After realizing this, when we then become aware of the fact that we have caused pain and suffering to others, we feel repentant.
The pain of awakening to this is extremely powerful. The sensation is truly out of this dimension, and therefore beyond our comprehension. For me, the only way that I can try to describe the sensation is through the pull of gravity in free fall. When I was younger, I tried bungee jumping, and I remember the feeling of the pull of gravity while I was falling. This pull of gravity, for me, does have some resemblance to the sensation in the out-of-dimension state.
Try to imagine the powerful pull of gravity in free fall. You are falling in empty space. Now imagine that this overpowering force is the pain of knowing that you were ignorant about the true nature of existence. And that you therefore hurt other people, especially people you loved. You had the chance to love, but this chance was lost, and therefore love was lost. Knowing that your true nature is love, you now also realize that you have been lost. All this time, gravity is pulling on you with an overpowering sensation that you have never experienced before.
[i] Helminski, Rumi Daylight, 160.
[ii] Moody, Life After Life, 60.
[iii] Phipps, Death, Rebirth, and Everything in Between, What Is Enlightenment? Vol. 32, March-May 2006, 79.
[iv] Brinkley, Saved by the Light, 17.
[v] Moody, Life After Life, 65.
[vi] Moody, Reflections on Life After Life, 37.