prologueWhen I was a child I was a bit of a pyromaniac - at 11 I was with a younger friend in his father's garage, playing with matches trying to light a small bonfire on the concrete floor.. I had often watched my father get fires alight using paraffin(kerosene) and I had sometimes been allowed to help - I saw what looked to me like a container of paraffin in the garage, and poured some on the fire. It was petrol (gasoline). As I poured, flame shot up into the can and the can became like a flame-thrower - I dropped it in alarm and it landed on its side, flame jetting out against the wooden garage wall - my friend ran out into the garden in panic - I poked at the can with a stick trying to direct it away from the wall - it fell on its back and instantly petrol spread all over the floor, engulfing me in an inferno - I ran outside screaming and threw myself on the gravel - as my body lay there screaming, on the ground, my consciousness moved out of my body up above it and I could see my body lying down there screaming and writhing but I felt no pain at all - instead there was a blissful calm - I started experiencing whole events from my childhood - I re-lived the happiest times of my life to date, in complete detail, through all senses - for example I was walking along a quiet road on Islay with my grandfather, about 5 years old, eating a chocolate ice-lolly and watching little birds flying around us singing - I tasted the ice-lolly as I had then, and it tasted amazing, and everything was relived in every detail. I experienced a host of these incidents and then came out of it and back into my body when a neighbour arrived to put out the fire. As soon as I re-entered my body I stopped writhing and screaming and got up, and was immediately taken home, and in due course to hospital - I have a few minor physical scars from that experience - the mental scars were worse and lasted a few years during which I was terrified of fire. What amazed me about the experience was that I felt no physical pain at any point, and that instead I had re-lived my childhood in fabulous detail - hours of memories unfolded in what seemed like real time but only have been a minute or two of actual time. I realised that we forget nothing, and that experience of time is elastic. And also that my consciousness could leave my body, while awake.
backgroundAged 26 (early 1988), my first marriage fell apart and I took a sabbatical from work and moved to a remote cottage in the Scottish Borders and pursued a spiritual quest - my head was full of questions with very few answers. I started seeking earnestly for mystical experience. I became vegetarian, and moderated my habits, and had some shamanic-like experiences with magic mushrooms - I learned these opened fabulous doorways, but only allowed glimpses and gave a twisted slant on things, and took a heavy toll in recovery time and mental trauma - I soon realised that I had to work on myself to achieve a natural and prolonged state of spirituality, through clean living and meditation, and not drugs. I took up a macrobiotic diet and studied Taoism and Zen Buddhism. There was a small chapel just 200 yards along the road from my cottage, which was never locked - I started walking barefoot along the road most days, and would kneel in by the alter where there was an old stone set in the floor with a Celtic cross on it - this chapel commemorated a Celtic/Christian monastery that had been close by in the 1400's and the stone was from that monastery. I used to sit and gaze at the centre of the cross on the stone, and I would see vague visions in the stone. This was the beginnings of learning to meditate.
near death experience (1989)I went to bed one night, in my cottage, as normal, and fell asleep. Suddenly I was floating slowly diagonally up through a long white shining corridor towards a blinding white light. I arrived at the light and found myself in what seemed like a white mist in a place where everything was white - the ground was like a cloud seen from above in an aeroplane, and everything all around was also like cloud - standing in front of me a small distance away was an old man, nor ancient, but white haired, clothed in white, beckoning to me. His eyes shone and he was totally charismatic and magnetic - light seemed to radiate from him - I found myself right in front of him and we looked each other in the eyes. I realised that he was telling me things in my head, though there was no sound - it was telepathy. I realised that I had left my body and assumed I was in heaven - he made me understand that it was entirely up to me whether I returned to my body and continued my life, and I realised I had had many lives, that were not relevant to me right now, and that I could recollect events from my current life from a strange perspective, like I was someone else looking down on me from far above - I realised that I had not achieved my objectives, what I had taken this body to do, and that I still had much to do (though quite what was not clear, and still isn't...) - I also realised that up here I would not be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life on earth - in particular I was concerned at not being able to have another cup of tea! So I told him (by telepathy) that I was going back, and he nodded approvingly and smiled. I had also become aware that there were a few other people, old women, behind him to the right, also dressed in white, and they occasionally interrupted his telepathic words with one or two of their own - and they also approved of my decision. He gestured towards them with his arm, and I moved over in front of the one on the far right who seemed to be willing me in front of her. As I looked in her eyes I began to experience some real life events in detail, and they were all unpleasant - I soon realised that I was experiencing some of my own actions from the perspective of the people that had been affected by them - I was these other people one after the other, experiencing emotionally and mentally their reaction to my misdeeds - it shocked me that none of these actions were ones where I had realised at the time that I had done anything wrong. After a few of these experiences, each mercifully brief, the visions stopped and the old lady smiled and dismissed me and I was back with the old man. He ushered me around with one arm and pointed with the other, and as I looked I saw, as if from from above, planet Earth slowly turning. As I watched my vision zoomed in on the surface of the planet, and is saw tremendous upheavals - molten rock flowing in all directions, water and steam gushing around - this went on and on, earthquakes, volcanoes, the world transforming before my eyes - then I saw there were some people in rags running about on some of the mountainsides - I saw dinosaurs - and all the time rock moving and vegetation and water moving and changing - I realised I was seeing the history of Earth, in fast motion, like a film showing clips of one thing and jumping forward to the next - and I was able to zoom my vision of this out or in at will - then it settled down and suddenly I found myself in the garden in a small body, big head, feeling like a child, but I knew I was an adult, and I was with other people just like me, women and men, all like children and we were playing in the garden - the garden was unbelievably beautiful, beautiful flowers, sounds, scents, very bright vivid colours, bright sunshine, blue sky, gloriously coloured birds and animals around - a bit like being in a Disney cartoon, but better - we decided to go swimming - we said very little - it seemed to be more telepathy - our clothes just seemed to magically disappear and we were playing in the water - the water was frothy and turquoise and smelt amazing - and we laughed and splashed each other - then we got out, and magically we were dressed again - I don't know how - maybe the birds dressed us like in Disney.... the clothes just seemed to put themselves on - and we made our way happily through the gorgeous undergrowth, and - horror - I was awake and sitting up in my bed - and dumbfounded - I didn't know what to feel - elated at the fabulous experiences I had just had, or miserable at the harsh cold reality of my cottage bedroom and this life which contrasted so badly with where I had just been - I am sure I was grumpy for days at finding myself back here... The whole experience had been more 'real' than reality, and reality was grey and dismal and mundane afterwards...
Anyway - my first thought was: who was the old man in white? Not Jesus - I knew he wasn't Jesus, and for some reason I had expected him to be... he seemed like God but he didn't seem old enough and he seemed too human and real to be God - and for some reason I thought God would have a beard, and this man didn't .... He had seemed totally familiar - I had known him when I was with him, like he was my elder brother, I knew I had met him like this many many times, maybe in my dreams, maybe in previous lives (i knew now that I had had previous lives), but this was the first time I was conscious of meeting him.
And the old women and their horror scenes of my own unwitting bad behaviour - what was that about? It was clear to me that the things I had thought were bad mistakes in my life were not important (presumably because I had realised they were wrong, and had thus atoned for them), and the things that WERE bad were things I hadn't thought twice about, arrogant or thoughtless behaviour. I realised I had to 'pull my socks up', and learn to see things from a different and less selfish perspective.
And I couldn't stop thinking about swimming in that sunny pool in perfect child-like bliss with my perfect child-like friends, naked and completely unashamed, no self consciousness at all - a truly beautiful experience.
It was clear to me from the way I had been shown the history of the world ending up in this idyllic garden, that this was the Garden of Eden. It also seemed certain that I was being shown my future, not my past, and that time must be a loop, so the future WAS the past, and vice versa...
Soon it sank in - nothing to worry about, I am here for a reason and still have things to do in this body, and when I die it will be a blissful experience and i'll be going to paradise next birth! My life has never been the same since.
A few weeks later I had another equally vivid experience, in the same circumstances, sleeping in the same bed, I experienced myself vividly as a being radiating golden light from an orange egg-shaped transparent body... a soul in the soul world with other souls.. this was the most blissful and comforting experience I have ever had.... (see orange eggs and angels)
aftermathI didn't realise I had had a "near death experience" until about 12 years later I borrowed library books about near death experiences, and read many examples of people experiencing the tunnel, the light, the meeting with a spiritual master - Christians met Jesus and were temporarily reunited with dead friends and pets in heaven, Buddhists met Buddha, everyone had a similar very real and very lucid experience which seemed to validate their own beliefs. One book related psychological changes and strange behavioural patterns which tended to result from these experiences, and I related to every one of them! For example:
- losing all fear of death
- gaining absolute belief in reincarnation
- belief in karma
- believing absolutely in the divine
- believing that life on earth is an illusion, a game, and that what was experienced out of the body was reality.
- having trouble integrating with society afterwards, difficulty 'coming down' to the level of others
- sudden extreme distaste for artificial fibres and chemicals - for over a year I wouldn't even use soap, or anything from a chemist (drugstore), wouldn't wear man-made fibres - still don't like them, still don't take any type of pharmaceutical ever, even aspirin...
- desperate desire to find more information to validate the experience, and explain it further
My experience was different from the others in terms of who I met and what I was shown, but others had a wide variety of different experiences anyway, once they were in the light. The major difference with my experience is that everybody else had the experience triggered by a life-threatening accident or illness - most of them were clinically dead for a while... whereas I just went to sleep normally after an uneventful day.... This is why I hadn't realised it was a "near death experience".
After the experience, with my new lack of fear, I got into some crazy death-defying driving, until I realised that responsibility towards other people was part of the deal. I started living my life on the basis that nothing is chance and that everything is significant, and refusing to take a major decision without having a clear 'pointer' occur to show me the way, or else I simply toss a coin and follow it... I still live like that.
There were many holes in my new philosophy, many questions I had no answers for, so I searched and searched for explanations of my experience, reading up on religions, philosophy, psychology and the occult. I found lots of interesting stuff, but nothing that explained the old man, the old women, or the vision of the world. I felt I was meant to 'find my own way' and not resort to any religious grouping, or fall under any guru. As time went on and I made no headway, received no spiritual sustenance, I gradually lost my drive and relapsed into more conventional lifestyle, got married again, got lost in my computer work and rational thought, and gradually got more and more despondent...