08/14/12 NDE Class Notes

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• Previous Class Notes & Materials

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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. 

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Donations & Discussions

The materials you are about to read (and watch) 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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NHNE Founder & President, David Sunfellow

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Hello Everyone!

In the coming weeks, I will be publishing summaries of what takes place in our local NDE classes. This will allow folks in other parts of the world to benefit from our explorations and, if they feel so moved, to start sister groups that can study the same materials. These updates will also provide those who are interested easy access to the videos, events, articles, and other resources we share in our local classes. If you want to be notified via email when new summaries are available, click here to sign up.

The Sedona classes grew out of two presentations I gave in Sedona in January and March of 2012. Entitled “How Near-Death Experiences Are Changing The World,” these presentations were later reworked into a two-part YouTube video which is now available online. The purpose of this presentation was twofold: First, to provide a comprehensive overview of the history and growing global importance of near-death experiences; and second, to come to a deeper understanding of the core truths presented by NDEs and wrestle these understandings into daily practices that could transform the lives of those who practiced them. That’s what we are doing now in Sedona.

Our most recent class took place on Tuesday, August 14th, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. 14 people attended. Our NDE classes meet at St. Andrew’s the second and forth Tuesday of every month.

After a few minutes of silence, I began our August 14th class by summarizing the most important news and events I am aware of that has taken place in the NDE movement since last we met. Here is a quick summary of what I shared this past Tuesday…

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NDE News & Updates

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Dr. Melvin Morse Arrested For Waterboarding His 11-Year-Old Daughter

Noted NDE researcher and author Dr. Melvin Morse and his wife, Pauline, were arrested on reckless endangerment charges for allegedly waterboarding their 11-year-old daughter. Dr. Morse was accused of doing the waterboarding while his wife reportedly watched and made no attempt to prevent the incidents from taking place. I say “incidents” because the daughter claims her father held her face under running water at least four times since 2009. Along with speculation that Dr. Morse may have been waterboarding his daughter to produce a near-death experience, various accounts indicate that Dr. Morse has been struggling for many years with personal and financial problems. Court records indicated that he has wrestled with depression, substance abuse and even suicidal thoughts. On the other side of the fence, Dr. Morse’s 11-year old daughter was accused of bearing false witness against other family members in the past. This is obviously a very sad, disturbing, and messy situation. The International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) sent out a message to IANDS group leaders encouraging them to make “no comment” if contacted by the media. Others in the NDE movement have been urging people to wait until more information comes out before rushing to judgment and, in the meantime, to keep everyone involved in their prayers.  For more information, go here and here.

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The University of California, Riverside (UCR) Receives $5 million To Study The Afterlife

The University of California, Riverside (UCR) has received a $5 million grant to study the afterlife. The money will fund research into heaven, hell, purgatory, karma and other topics, according to the university’s web site. The three-year grant has specifically gone to John Martin Fischer, distinguished UCR professor of philosophy. Fischer will start The Immortality Project, which will organize two conferences and a website with resources and links to published research on issues of immortality. For more information, go here.

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NDEr Dr. Mary Neal

NDEr Dr. Mary Neal, a board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon, has been appearing on various mainstream media outlets discussing her near-death experience and promoting her new book, “To Heaven And Back.” I recently set up a page on the NDE Stories website to give those who are interested quick access to Dr. Neal’s book, websites, Facebook page, media appearances, and related information. That page is located here.

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Other Featured NDErs

Along with Dr. Mary Neal, several other NDErs have been featured on NHNE websites in recent weeks. The Recent Near-Death Experience Stories page on NHNE Pulse includes the stories of 11 NDErs, including Dr. Eben Alxander, Dr. Mary Neal, Nancy Evans Bush, Lawyer Jeffrey Tomson, Clark Brolly, and six stories from Bio Channel’s “I Survived…” NHNE Pulse also includes a new resource page featuring a Quick List of Prominent Near-Death Experiencers.

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Dr. Raymond Moody: The Most Important Development In The Last 30 Years Of NDE Research

Since the last time we met, I came across a great quote from Dr. Raymond Moody. It is excerpted from “Vital Signs”, the newsletter of the International Association for the Near-Death Studies, Inc. (IANDS), Spring 2012 Issue (Volume 31, Number 1)

Question: What’s the single most important thing that sticks with you from the last 30 years of NDE exploration?

Dr. Raymond Moody: That’s a big one… You know, I think of something recent that I see as very important. I’ve sensed in the last five years or so that the scoffers are on the defensive… They’ve been rattled when I see them in the debates… there’s not this abrasive aggressiveness you used to see. It’s rather more like they feel they don’t know where they are and all their old arguments have run out. I think there’s been a turnaround in where the scoffers are now… they are on the defensive. I saw Sanjay Gupta on CNN a few months ago talking about NDEs with a skeptic… the guy was definitely intimidated by the physicians who were standing there saying “Holy Mackerel, what IS this?” And, you know, they were the experts on neurophysiology, so the pseudo-skeptic couldn’t really come back. So, confronted with your question, that’s what immediately comes to mind. I think we’ve seen the turn-around, where the ball is in their court to come up with something.

For more information about this very important topic, see NDEs Absolutely, Positively NOT Caused By Malfunctioning Brains.

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How Near-Death Experiences Are Changing The World

To date, the first part of this two-part presentation has been viewed 6,811 times; the second part has been viewed 3,826 times. To watch both videos and browse through all the handouts and background materials that accompanied this presentation, go here.

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2012 IANDS Conference

This year’s IANDS conference is taking place in our backyard — in Scottsdale from August 30 to September 2, 2012. Speakers at this year’s event include such notables as Dr. Eben Alexander, Mellen-Thomas Benedict, David Bennett, Dannion Brinkley, Ellen Dye, and Jan Holden. For more information about this exciting, speaker-packed event, go here.

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2012-2013 Tucson IANDS Guest Speaker Series

Also down south, Tucson is home to one of the country’s most dynamic IANDS groups. This year, they are hosting a series of great NDE speakers, including Dr. Mary Neal, Jeff Olsen, and Dr. Eben Alexander. To find out when these speakers are coming to Arizona, download this flyer (pdf).

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This Week’s Class: The Life Review, Continued

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After I shared the news listed above, and before I jumped into the class, we had a quick discussion about how to conduct ourselves when members of the group shared something that was especially deep and meaningful. In the past, there were times when a deep sharing took place that was followed by an awkward silence. I would wait a little while and then, if no one spoke, I would move things along because I didn’t want the speaker to feel put on the spot or the group to feel uncomfortable. We decided that it would be better to let things be awkward for awhile in order to be sure whomever shared had said everything they wanted to say — and for others to have the time they needed to really listen and ask thoughtful followup questions. The group agreed to help me hold space for this kind of sharing, especially since this is exactly the kind of space we are trying to create together — a place where deep spiritual impulses can touch down and change lives.

Then the main part of the meeting began.

We’ve been studying two of the most transformative aspects of NDEs — The Light & The Life Review. After exploring how encounters with The Light cause radical transformations in the lives of those who experience It, we began studying the Life Review. As the study of this remarkable phenomena has progressed, it has divided itself into six major parts:

1. We see and experience the consequences of ALL of our thoughts and actions;

2. The little things are the big things (what we think is important in this world, isn’t; the simplest things often turn out to far more important than we realize);

3. We are our brothers and sisters, literally, and see and experience our thoughts and actions as they experienced them;

4. We are one with all life and see and experience our thoughts and actions from the perspective of the rest of life;

5. We are all born with a special purpose;

6. And finally, returning to the domain of The Light where every single thing we think and do is perfectly acceptable and wonderful. In other words, while steps 1. through 4. tend to emphasize the idea that some thoughts and actions are more desirable, aligned, and guided than others, step 5. lifts us back to Big Picture perspectives where time doesn’t existence, all experiences are happening right now, and every single thing we think and do — including what are viewed as failings, shortcomings, and mistakes in earlier steps — serve a greater purpose.

This week’s class began by discussing an exercise that had been introduced in the previous class, which was focused on Step 2:

1. Throughout the day, treat everyone you encounter as if they are you. If, for example, you are at the grocery store and the clerk is ringing you up, imagine that you are the clerk. Imagine that their thoughts, feelings, and actions are extensions of you. Do your best to treat them as you would like to be treated if you were actually meeting another you. In two weeks, report back your experience.

2. At the end of every day, write down your daily experiences. Were some people easier for you to treat as yourself than others? Were some more challenging? If so, why? What are you learning from this process?

The goal of this exercise was to help us see life through the eyes of the other human beings we affected. In our last class, we watched the two videos posted below to get an idea of what this meant:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS7A_3pHEIY

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Most of the people who attempted this exercise ran into problems. In my case, the troubles started when a spammer snuck into my Facebook account. When attempting to imagine myself as the spammer, I felt more like giving this “me” a good talking to rather than showering him/her with love and understanding. Shortly after dealing with the spammer, a couple other people emerged in my life who also created challenging situations for me to deal with. The first person needed a lot of emotional support, while the second was constantly creating problems with other people that required my intervention. I had trouble imagining myself thinking, feeling, or acting as either of these people, or genuinely understanding why they acted the way they did. What I discovered worked best for me was to stop trying to imagine that everyone I encountered was me, but, instead, imagine how God sees everyone. That helped a lot, and it gave me a more balanced perspective. “The Light & The Life Review” process we’ve been studying actually presents a beautifully balanced approach. The Light part of the process — the part where we feel God’s unconditional, wholehearted love for us — provides a rock solid foundation for dealing with the ups and downs of life. The Life Review part of the process, on the other hand, offers us the perspective that while we (and the rest of life) are unconditionally loved, we are also held accountable for our shortcomings. The challenge is love everyone and everything unconditionally while, at the same time, knowing how life is calling us to interact with these parts of ourselves in a truly helpful way.

While I ended up feeling that we needed to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better exercise, another member of the class, Alexandra, felt differently. She writes:

“I really appreciated doing this lesson because it challenged me to go beyond how I normally see people, into a more inclusive vision. I first applied it when someone cut me off while I was driving. Instead of having judgmental thoughts about the person, I tried to see him as a part of me. Then, I found myself making a kind of game out of it, ‘Oh, he’s the part of me that’s unaware when he drives.’ I started trying to see people that way whenever I remembered the lesson. ‘She’s, the part of me that has a lot of money.’ ‘That little one is the part of me that’s just learning how to walk.’ The result of this was, that I naturally felt more forgiving and more patient towards people that would normally frustrate me. I also felt more expanded, like I was part of something larger, not just the small me in the backdrop of a huge world. I felt comforted, in a deeper way. Not so alone.”

After we finished discussing how well we did with imagining ourselves to be the people we encountered, it was time to explore the third part of this Life Review process: how are our thoughts and actions affect not just humans, but the rest of life.

From the perspective on NDEs, the essence of life is relationships. Or, said another way, we are in relationship with all things, and all things are affected by our behavior whether we are conscious of this or not. I gave everyone a few examples:

That meat we bought in the grocery store. It came from an animal that someone killed, which means we are partially responsible for its death. Was this animal treated well — with kindness and compassion — or was it a victim of mindless, heartless, profit-driven factory farming where animals are brutalized in unimaginable ways. Knowing that eating animals leads “at least” to their death, and, “at worst” to caged, miserable lives of suffering, should we eat meat?

And what about the other food we are eating? Are we eating organic or commercially grown food?  If we are eating organic food, then we are actively supporting efforts to protect the earth, honor its creatures, and restore the earth’s biosystems. We are making a statement that we understand all life is connected and we want to grow food in a way that supports the natural order of things. If, on the other hand, we are buying and eating commercially grown food, then we are actively supporting farming practices that inject harmful, toxic chemicals into the soil, water, air, and into our own bodies — and the bodies of our children.

How about the clothes we wear? Are they natural or synthetic? The cosmetics, laundry products, and pharmaceuticals we use? Have they been tested on animals? Are they made of wholesome natural products, or toxic, gender-bending chemicals? How about the cars we drive? The computers we use? The couches we sit on? The carpets we walk on? The houses we live in? The plastics we surround ourselves with? The fuels we use? Who made them? How were they made? Where did they come from? What kind of ingredients do they contain? Was anyone, or any creature, hurt in the process? The list goes on and on.

The point here is that our actions affect others and someday we will experience those affects from the perspectives of the others who are affected by them.

After pointing out that many NDErs return with a heightened, sometimes paralyzing sensitivity to all kinds of things that are environmentally unhealthy, such as chemicals, perfumes, artificial ingredients, and electromagnetic fields, I read this quote from Justin U’s NDE:

“Many events in my life I experienced, but not from how I remembered it, but from the point of view… [of] how the people, animals, environment experienced it around me. I felt it as my own. The times I had made others happy, and sad, I felt it all as they did. It was very apparent that every single thought, word, and action affects everything around us and indeed the entire universe. Trees, plants, animals too. I have been a long-term vegetarian since about 18 years old and I know this was appreciated and is a good choice in life. Spiritually it seemed to show proof of respect for all life, and even seemed to balance some of the negative and wicked things I have done in my life…”

After the class, I ran across this quote from Amy C, another NDEr that fleshes this out further:

“Since that time, everything has changed for me. My health has returned. I get stronger and stronger each year. To my own surprise, I found the day after this event that I felt well, except that I could not eat any meat at all. Nor did I have any desire to. I’ve been a vegetarian since then. I eat a lot of raw organic foods. I don’t eat anything with chemical ingredients, and keep my food very pure. My children and husband eat mostly this way too now, and we are all feeling great.”

Next I asked for the class to share any stories they might have where they saw these ideas at work in their lives. Several very beautiful stories were shared. Here are two of them, the first from Jan O’Kelley and the second from Ken Froessel:

A ‘Woufff’ for Jan

“I enjoy solitary hiking here in the red rocks of Sedona, and now that the weather gets so hot during the day, I have been starting my hikes early, just as the sun is coming up over the ridges. I hardly ever see anyone on these trails, anytime of the day. I hike to pray, to be quiet of heart, and to experience my oneness with the plants, the trees, the light, the land, the wildlife. (Yes, I talk to plants and hug trees.) I have been delighted to find many more animals out and about at dawn: cottontails and jackrabbits, quail families, javelinas, deer, and choruses of songbirds. I have stood in silent communion for five or ten minutes with a grey fox who saw me while warming herself on a rock, then closed her eyes to continue her rest. The highlight of my early morning communications occurred when I saw a coyote cross my path about 30 yards ahead. My trail took a turn to the right, and a few minutes later we reconnected again: I spotted him hiding in plain sight behind the twigs of a dead bush, close by. I stopped, stood still, and we made eye contact. Then I remembered my coyote manners, so I lowered my gaze and continued on the trail. That’s when I heard his response to my benign intentions, a soft ‘Woufff.’ “

The Cows & The Flowers

“Back in the nineties, I was living on a ranch that consisted of three cottages and one main house, which were all occupied. We all enjoyed growing flowers around the borders of our homes because of their beauty. It was during this particular time that I decided to stop eating meat, especially beef, because I think I had been reading John Robbins’ “Diet for a New America”. It was also during this time that cattle were transported to our area because state lands surrounded us and the laws allowed the cattle to graze freely. The cattle were voracious eaters and before I knew it they were making their way to the tall grass near the creek that flowed through the ranch. I soon found out that my neighbors were complaining that the cows not only had a taste for grass but had eaten their flower gardens as well. Yet, I was surprised to find my flower garden spared by the roving herd of cows. As each day went by I expected to find my garden to have been finally discovered by the hungry cows but this was not the case. My flowers remained untouched. One day, I had an urge for hamburger that was so great I broke down and bought a “Quarter Pounder with Cheese” from McDonalds. Lo and behold, the very next day my flowers had all but disappeared with signature hoof prints taking their place. I still wonder today if this was more than a coincidence.”

A Grateful Forest

Another story that was shared involved a member of the group camping. While sitting in a tent, he saw a vision in which the roots of a nearby tree were smoldering. The vision was so compelling, that he got up and decided to see if anything was wrong. Upon checking, he discovered that a fire was, indeed, smoldering underground near the tree, burning the tree’s roots. He put the fire out, potentially saving the tree’s life and preventing the glowing embers from developing into a forest fire. The following day, while hiking, he saw a large forest of trees in the distance. While watching them, he experienced another vision. In this vision, the forest swayed back and forth, sending out waves of gratitude to him for saving one of their brothers. 

When everyone was finished sharing, I played the following video of Howard Storm. In this video Howard describes a vision he was shown during his NDE of the world “a couple hundred years from now” in which everything lived in perfect harmony together. I asked the class to listen to what Howard had to say, paying special attention to the kind of relationships human beings had not just with themselves, but with the rest of life…

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The kind of vibrant, healthy, deeply connected and mutually supportive world that Howard describes is, I suggested, the direction NDEs are encouraging us to move in — and, I pointed out, where everything is actually headed. Look around. There are now human rights, animal rights, and environmentally-focused groups that are emerging all over the world that want everyone, and everything, to be treated with kindness and respect. From the perspective of NDEs, we are all one. Connected. Inseparable. As we do to one another — including plants and animals — we do to ourselves.

In our next class, we will be examining the life review from two more perspectives: from the perspective that we all have special missions in life and from the big picture perspective, where everything, including all the mistakes we make and harm we cause to ourselves and others, is not only natural and expected, but perfectly wonderful. Which will bring us full circle and back to The Light which sees all, loves all, forgives all, and rejoices in all. I’ll have more to say about this in my next update…

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The next class is Tuesday, August 28, 7:00 – 8:30 PM, at St. Andrew’s. See you there!

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


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