04/09/13 NDE Class Notes


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Previous Class Notes & Materials

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04/09/13 Class Notes
By David Sunfellow

This week’s class began with a few minutes of silence. Then I shared recent NDE-related news with the class.

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April Calendar

april-calendar

You can download a copy of our April calendar here (pdf).

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DVD Copies: Anita Moorjani & Becki Hawkins

DVD copies of the talks given by Anita Moorjani and Becki Hawkins are available on DVD. To get a DVD of one or both talks, drop me a line at david.sunfellow@gmail.com. DVDs of these talks are being made available primarily for people who do not have access to the internet and/or who want to share the talks with family, friends, and small groups.

To watch Anita’s talk online, go here. To view photos from Anita’s talk, go here. To find out more about Anita, go here.

To watch Becki’s talk online, go here. To find out more about Becki, go here.

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‘Resurrection’ Available Again Online

Ellen-Burstyn-Resurrection

“Resurrection” is one of the most thoughtful and inspiring movies ever made about near-death experiences. After being removed from YouTube, it is now available on NHNE Pulse. Click here to watch the movie online, order DVD copies, learn the movie’s back story, and find out how it touched the lives of NDE pioneers like Barbara Whitfield.

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New Book: ‘AFGEs: A Guide for Self-awareness and Change’

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Speaking of Barbara Whitfield, she recently co-authored a new book with Sharon Cormier called “AFGEs: A Guide for Self-awareness and Change.” Here’s how Amazon describes it:

“The concept of AFGEs is simple enough to be profound, and profound enough to be simple. Sharon’s expertise in yoga and Buddhism interweaves seamlessly with Barbara’s expertise in the psychology of surviving trauma. This book makes wisdom so down-to-earth; it will help a lot of folks discover who they are and give them the peace we are all searching for. There are many tools and techniques to help the reader transform the ordinary difficulties of life into moments of calm, clarity and, sometimes surprisingly, even the deepest joy. And the authors do it not only skillfully but with humor, too. This is a book to treasure — and to keep handy.”

Bruce Greyson, MD Director, Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia Health System adds this:

“AFGEs offers both wisdom and practicality from two near-death experiencers. But to attribute this wisdom solely to their NDEs would shortchange their incredible journeys since their NDEs –- Barbara’s through the psychology of trauma survivors and Sharon’s through yoga and Buddhist tradition. Combining these two paths, they show us how we can use AFGEs to move out of ignorance and into knowing who we really are. Barbara and Sharon help us through profoundly simple techniques to explore the fears behind our AFGEs and to emerge from these challenges healthy and grateful.”

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Raymond’s Story

This week we listened to a man named Raymond, now deceased, describe his near-death experience. His testimony was posted on YouTube by Raymond’s grandson. Raymond recorded his story on a tape recorder for others who might find it helpful. According to Raymond, in May of 1978, when he was 67 years old, he woke up with a severe backache. He was taken to a hospital where doctors and nurses tried, unsuccessfully at first, to figure out what was wrong. As the hours and days wore on, Raymond’s condition worsened to the point where he knew he was going to die. Sensing death was near, Raymond prayed, long and hard, for God to spare his life so he could care for his wife, who was struggling with cancer. Eventually, the illness took Raymond’s life and he passed over to the other side where he encountered a group of angels. At about 23:50 into the story, Raymond says one of the angles told him this:

“I’m going to tell you why you’ve been brought here… You have been praying and begging all night long for your life. This is the day you were supposed to die. This is your day to die. And you were supposed to die tonight. Now because of the fact that you have begged so hard, God told us to pick you up and bring you here and give you a glimpse of Heaven and then give you a choice. That’s something that very seldom happens. But we’re giving you a choice: If you want to, you’re here now, you can stay here, you’re in Heaven. And if you want to go back and take care of your wife like you’ve been begging for, we’ll take you back. You’ve got two minutes to make up your mind. That’s all…”

After returning to Earth, Raymond describes a conversation that he had with the doctor who saved his life. The doctor, according to Raymond, told him that it was a miracle that he was alive. Raymond says he knew it was, but didn’t tell the doctor what had happened.

While there are several things that make this story worth listening to, what really captures your attention is the way Raymond, a plain spoken, salt-of-the-earth man, shares this otherworldly, life-changing experience. We listened from 23:50 to 33:52.

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More About Seeing, Speaking and Living the Truth

This week we continued exploring the importance of seeing, speaking, and living the truth. We first discussed this topic in our March 5th class. In that class, we learned how people are radically transformed after encountering the truth, which often comes as a great surprise to them. They learn things about themselves, others, God, and life that often run contrary to what they had been taught as children or believed as rational adults.

How can we discover the laws that govern life and learn to live in harmony with those laws?

The first and most important thing we can do is to genuinely desire to know the truth.

Then we have to search for it.

And, finally, we have to apply what we learn in our lives, step-by-step, little-by-little, making constant adjustments as our understanding deepens.

Most people don’t want to spend the time and energy necessary to do this. It is easier go along with the status quo; to believe what we have been taught by our parents, our religions, our culture.

Many of us also think we can invent our own rules and live life anyway we want to without consequence.

Life, however, teaches us otherwise.

When our houses are built on truth, they withstand the storms of life. When they are built on lies, short cuts, and fabrications, the storms of life tear them down.

Take Yanagi Ryuken, for example — a remarkable story that Sam Harris popularized.

Master Ryuken believed himself to be a master of aikido. In the first video, Master Ryuken fights off a group of students with nothing more than waves of his hands.

While you and I may think there is something fishy, perhaps even comical and childish about the way Master Ryuken effortlessly beats all his students, Master Ryuken believed that he was invincible — so invincible, in fact, that he invited a martial artist from another school to test his powers.

After suffering such a humiliating defeat, Master Ryuken reportedly retired. While this is a sad story, it is also profoundly instructive.

If we follow paths of magical thinking, instant awakenings, of growth without effort, of pretending to be some thing and/or some one we are not, we will meet the same fate that Master Ryuken did. Some day, no matter how strongly we believe in our own delusions, or how many like-minded people we attract to support and reinforce us, life will make our true abilities — or lack thereof — unmistakably clear.

So it’s important to seek the truth, and do our best to embody it.

It’s also important to know that we are all mixtures of truth, partial truths, and lies. And this very much includes those among us (or within us) who are authentic masters of one kind or another.

Take the Dalai Lama, for example.

Many people view the Dalai Lama as an authentic and genuine spiritual master. I agree with that assessment. But only so far. It is well known, for example, that the Dalai Lama is a champion of inner practices that cultivate inner peace, love and compassion. That’s wonderful. Until you read the fine print. And the fine print in the Dalai Lama’s case means that if you want to be like him (and his monastic brethren), you need to avoid women and create a special and protective environment that supports concentrated mediative practices. Not only is this not practical — or possible — for most people, but it also flies in the face of the kind of earthy, balanced, fully engaged lives that near-death experiences tend to advocate.

Here’s a quote from a new book about the Dalai Lama called “The Wisdom of Compassion: Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insights“:

“Every morning for more than half a century, the Dalai Lama has woken up at three-thirty a.m. After a quick shower (he is not one to use excess water by taking a bath), he settles into a well-ordered routine of prayers and meditation that lasts for five hours. He uses some of this time to ‘shape his motivation’ for the rest of the day. He is grateful that he is alive, and he sees each moment as a precious opportunity to open his heart and to do everything within his power to be of service to others. And he reminds himself that he will hold only kind thoughts to all.

“For much of the morning, the Dalai Lama mediates on altruistic love and compassion, ‘to generate a sense of caring,’ he says, ‘to foster genuine concern for others’ difficulties and pain, and to develop close, warmhearted feelings for others. Not only for my family and close friends, but also for everyone. Enemies, too.’ “

On the surface, this sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? But let’s look a little deeper.

Last year, Piers Morgan interviewed the Dalai Lama. Among other things, he asked the Dalai Lama about celibacy, women, and intimate relationships. In class, we watched from 31:45 to 33:52.

Piers Morgan: As a monk, you obviously subscribe to a vow of celibacy. Is that hard?

Dalia Lama: No. If you just [focus on] the physical experience, then you sometimes you may find a certain desire. But then overall picture… on one occasion in London, a Buddhist monk, a European Buddhist monk, when you watch the people who have family, sometimes I notice my first visit another woman, another wife. Second visit, another woman, another wife. With previous wife, some children. Then, on another occasion, third wife… The children really suffer MUCH… when parent divorce. And the married people, their mental state, their emotional state, too much up and down. Compare that with [limiting] people to the mind — more steady. So in long run, we have some advantage.

Piers Morgan: Do you ever feel temptation when you see a woman?

Dalai Lama: Oh, yes, sometimes, oh, this is very nice. But then thinking… the real job, then feel too much of a problem, too much dirty things…”

Piers Morgan: Really?

Dalai Lama: Really!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwddg-Mh9S0

So what can we learn from all of this?

When it comes to the Dalai Lama (and others who can claim legitimate mastership of specific areas of their lives), we have to be careful to look at the whole picture. While extreme lifestyles (like forsaking intimate relationships and living in a monastery) can be good for developing certain states of consciousness, they can be counterproductive when it comes to developing other aspects of our natures. For example, spiritual paths that promote solitary journeys and focus primarily on connecting with the divine within, often overlook the shadowy, undeveloped, human sides of our natures. Indeed, these aspects of ourselves are often hidden from us until we get involved in intimate relationships with other human beings, especially with members of the opposite sex. Then they emerge with a passion. The point here is that we can believe ourselves to be more developed than we actually are by narrowing our focus and overlooking areas in ourselves that also require attention.

While it should be clear that cloistered environments that exclude half the human race should not be seen as wholesome, balanced, and healthy paths for most people, in the grand scheme of things, it is important to remember that everything has a place. Indeed, almost all of us (if not in this life, then in others) will probably be called to focus intensely on some areas of development while temporarily ignoring other aspects of our lives and personalities. That’s a normal, natural part of our journey through life.

The kind of mindful practices that the Dalai Lama recommends can also be incorporated into ordinary lives, with great benefit, without needing to embrace the rigorous, celibate lifestyle that the Dalai Lama personally lives. His emphasis on actively loving others, including our enemies, is also universally applicable and, it’s important to note, deeply aligned with the core truths presented by near-death experiences.

But when it comes to big pictures that include all people — men, women, and children; celibates and couples; inner work and outer work; eastern paths and western ones — it seems important to cast a wider net. And on this count, NDEs offer, I believe, a more full-blown and well-rounded path for those who are called to it. As Christophor Coppes writes in his new book, “The Essence of Religions”:

“…it is interesting to compare the essences of religions with the essences of NDEs. I did that for the five major religions [Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam]. My conclusion of this comparison is that the true essences of each of the five studied religions can be found in NDEs, but not the other way around. Not all essences of NDEs can be found in each religion. Therefore, NDEs seem to be more universal and more encompassing than each of the religions individually.”

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Kumare’ & Miracles for Sale

In the coming weeks, we’ll be examining, in greater detail, the deceptive nature of various religious/spiritual beliefs and practices. On April 16th, we’ll be watching a 2012 movie that takes an uncomfortable look at eastern spirituality. Then, on April 23rd, we’ll take an equally uncomfortable look at how the western world, via Evangelical Christianity, has deceived itself and its followers.

Please note that both our April 16th and April 23rd meetings will run two hours long — the first hour and a half will be spent watching movies, while the remaining 30 minutes will be set aside for discussion.

On April 16th we’ll be watching Kumare’. You can find out more about that movie here.

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Future Classes

Our next NDE class will take place on Tuesday, April 16th from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM at St. Andrew’s (see below for directions).

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A Newly Emerging Spiritual Path

“Unlike spiritual paths that arose from the ideas and inner experiences of lone, isolated human beings, the path presented by near-death experiences is emerging as a direct, grassroots revelation that millions of people from all over the world are receiving and sharing. If we explore this newly emerging path deeply enough, we discover that all religions, philosophies, and cultures are honored; that science and spirituality are celebrated; that both the human and spiritual side of our natures are cherished and embraced. In short, near-death experiences present us with a universal, all-inclusive, perfectly integrated spiritual path that revolves around three core truths: 1. We are all one; 2. Love is the essence of life; 3. We are here, in this world, to become perfect embodiments of the divine.”

“The Formula”

“The Formula for Creating Heaven on Earth” or “The Formula” was introduced in David Sunfellow’s two-part YouTube presentation called “How Near-Death Experiences Are Changing The World.” The goal has been to identify the universal truths presented by near-death experiences and wrestle them into “a formula” that we can use to transform our lives. Verison 1.0 can be download here (pdf).

the-formula-chart-sunfellow-v1.0-500

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Donations & Discussions

The materials created for this class are available, free of charge, to whomever is interested. If you would like to support this work, you can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here. If you would like to participate in conversations with other people who share an interest in this work, we encourage you to join The Mustard Seed Venture Network. This ongoing, evolving, cutting-edge work is co-sponsored by NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE) and The Mustard Seed Venture.

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St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
100 Arroyo Pinon Drive
Sedona, AZ 86336
(928) 282-4457

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2 Responses to “04/09/13 NDE Class Notes”


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