Mindful Musings: Dec 25th

“A Parable of Spiritual Rebirth”

church interior view

By: Forrest Rivers

One day, a well-known televangelist with a bad temper and a penchant for stoking division gave a sermon to an overflowing audience of around 500 people. The preacher, who was adorned in a golden silk robe, ran a hand through his slicked-back hair and excited his fundamentalist following with one of his infamous hate-filled speeches:

“Today, we gather as a proud community of worshipers who are under attack by all the Devil’s servants. Make no mistake about it, gay people are one of our greatest enemies. Their lifestyle is an abomination and an affront to the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. We can not sit idly by and watch them threaten our way of life.”

The crowd started wildly cheering as the preacher paused for dramatic effect, and then continued in a menacing tone:

“But gay people are not our only enemy. The Muslim religion wants to destroy our God and our great nation. Mark my words, before long, we’ll make those radical Muslims stand and kneel before our flag and Bible!”

The congregation roared with approval as the multi-millionaire charlatan pounded his fist on the lectern and continued on his tirade:

“Let us be clear that all those border-hoppers, hippie degenerates and homeless vagabonds are also our great enemies, and will be swiftly dealt with in whatever manner our Father wants us to. He will see to that. As will the forces of law and order who are on our side!”

An unexpected visitor

Jesus Christ statue

The applause from the audience was deafening as yells of “Amen!” were heard from many in the congregation. Once more, the rabid preacher paused for dramatics.

But just as he did so, a strange man suddenly appeared in the center aisle of the megachurch and interrupted the preacher’s hate-filled sermon. The tanned-faced man was dressed in a tethered plain white robe. He wore sandals on his feet and had a long beard and hair down to his shoulders.

The audience turned towards the man and gasped, as the wicked televangelist turned red in the face with anger and exclaimed in a frightening tone:

“Who dares to interrupt my sermon?!”

The strange man’s eyes beamed with a brilliant radiance of unconditional love and humble acceptance. He smiled at the irate preacher and replied:

“My brother, allow me to apologize for my tardiness and disrespect. You see, I’ve had a very eventful morning. I began the day early and basked in the glorious love of two wonderful men who asked me to marry them. My heart was overfilled with joy to honor their request and bless their beautiful union together.

“After marrying these two devout lovers, I then spent the middle part of the morning praying with both my Muslim and Christian brethren under the same house of worship. And, let me tell you, the two traditions are really just like different paths up one mountain to the same peak of God.

“Following morning prayer, I continued my work to secure a safe passage across this country’s border for some of my Hispanic brothers and sisters who are simply fleeing the horrors of war in their homelands. I then spent the remainder of my morning picking up trash at a cleanup organized by those very ‘hippie degenerates’ you speak ill of.

“Finally, in the moments just before I arrived here, I followed a calling from the Divine to feed, clothe and wash the feet of the homeless at a local shelter, only one block from this very church. I’ve come here to share a message from our Creator that I fear you and this congregation aren’t yet grasping … the word of God is truly the spirit of unity and love, not separation and hate.”

The preacher’s face turned an even brighter shade of red, as he glared at the strange man standing before him and sarcastically said:

“Now that you’re finished speaking, allow us to show you our appreciation!”

The 8-foot stake

White dove

Within seconds, three large men from the congregation seized the man by the arms and pushed him out the door of the church, into a hidden meadow behind the parking lot. The three men then tied him to an 8-foot stake as the entire congregation gathered around them.

The preacher approached the tied-up man with one big stone in each hand, and one more on the ground between his feet. He said:

“Any words you wish to say, before I unleash God’s fire and fury upon you?”

The unknown man on the stake replied:

“Yes. There is indeed one thing I wish to say. The fire and fury you speak of doesn’t belong to my Father in Heaven. Boundless compassion and infinite wisdom are the only two qualities that can be attributed to the God you claim to speak of.  My only wish for you and this entire congregation is that you learn to be and to love.”

The man on the stake then closed his eyes and fell into a trance like state, as he began repeating his last words: to be and to love. With his supporters gathered around, the violent preacher stepped within about 9 feet of the man, and threw the first of the three stones at his face.

The man cried out in excruciating pain, as blood instantly ran like a river down his cheek. The crowd cheered as the preacher devilishly grinned and hurled the second stone even harder at his victim’s head. But to everyone’s shock, including the preacher’s, the stone passed straight through his body without leaving so much as a mark. Just as incredibly, the man’s inflicted wound from the first stone miraculously healed and then vanished before everyone’s eyes.

All but two of the false preacher’s flock dropped to their knees and bowed their heads in reverence to the divine being on the stake. The two who didn’t do so charged at the preacher to prevent him from throwing the last of the three stones. But before they could get to him, he managed to throw the final stone with all his might.

What happened next became the stuff of extraordinary legend. Just a split second before the third stone was about to hit the sage’s head, it instantly transformed into seven glorious doves that took flight into the heavens above. The foolish preacher turned in horror and exclaimed:

“Impossible! It can’t possibly be you!”

He ran immediately into the hills above the church, and was never heard from again. The three men who’d tied the holy man to the stake hurried over to bow and untie him, with tears in their eyes. 

All gathered and rejoiced with the God incarnate that now stood before them, wearing nothing but a look of pure forgiveness on his unblemished face. It has been said that on that day, the living spirit was reintroduced into an old and storied tradition that had just simply forgotten how to be and to love.

Mindful Musings: 12/12

THE TALE OF MOUNTAIN GROVE: A restoration of democracy

Forrest Rivers

There was once a great village called Mountain Grove. And in that village, people from all walks of life lived and worked together in peace. A spirit of compassion and love was at the root of the village’s century-long tradition of harmonious cohabitation. Consequently, all the villagers shared an unwavering faith in their fellow man/woman and a commitment to follow what was best for everyone in the community.

This age of tranquillity went on, until one day, a village-wide vote was called to address an unprecedented crop failure that was the result of a devastating drought. As was the custom in the community, all males and females 18 years of age or older gathered in the town square for three days and two nights to discuss, debate and deliberate what should be done to respond to the crop failure.

Due to the severity of the crisis, tensions ran high. As the deliberations evolved, it became apparent that the community had hopelessly split into two groups. The first camp adopted a more conservative approach, and put forth an immediate rationing plan to avoid depleting the community’s emergency reserve before the next year’s harvest.

Meanwhile, the second camp took a more laissez-faire approach to the crisis and opposed the rationing plan. Instead, they proposed that the village should tap the reserves and increase trade with neighboring communities to make up for the shortage.

After much passionate debate, the time finally arrived for the village to cast their votes. As was also the custom, each man and woman came forward and placed their stone into the bucket of their choosing. Consistent with tradition, each one of the five members of the revered council of elders (who themselves did not vote) monitored the integrity of the process and counted the stones to verify the result.

When the final votes were tallied, the plan to implement a rationing system passed by a thin margin of 444 in favor and 398 against… not an overwhelming majority, but a legitimate one, nonetheless.

Benjamin King fans the flames of resentment

Man lecturing group of people

In the days following the vote, tensions boiled over in the village, as many people on the losing side continued to peacefully vent their frustrations with the rationing plan that would soon go into effect. One man by the name of Benjamin King fanned the flames of resentment against the decision. And quickly, he became the leader of a growing post-vote rebellion.

Only two weeks before the rationing plan was to start, King started delivering a series of fiery speeches in the village square, denouncing the vote and accusing the council of elders of “fixing” it. Despite having no evidence to support his claims, this self-serving narcissist began to draw a steady following. Within one week, he’d captured the support of around 75 percent of those who’d originally voted against the plan.

At his twice-a-day rallies, Benjamin King repeated his completely unfounded claims of voting fraud, and accused the council of elders and his opposition of nefariously trying to silence him. Only five days before the implementation of the food crisis management plan (as it came to be called), the firebrand speaker’s audiences grew to overwhelm the small minority of anti-rationing voters who had come to accept the results of the vote and urged respect for the time-tested traditions of their democracy.

Meanwhile, the council of elders and others within the victorious block looked on nervously, as the revolt continued to grow in numbers. But the wise group of esteemed and compassionate elders encouraged supporters of the rationing plan to remain calm. The council of five expected that faith in the legitimacy of the vote, as well as the villagers’ deep-rooted respect for one another, would ultimately prevail in the end.

A secret plan

With each passing day, Benjamin King’s rallies grew more outlandish, and his audiences swelled to encompass nearly 90 percent of those who had voted against the plan. Finally, only three days before the rationing program was to begin, some of his most militant supporters decided it was time to act. These violent agitators organized a secret plan to kidnap the council of elders, and kill them if they refused to publicly admit to the village that they had rigged the vote. 

As tensions reached a feverish pitch in the community, word began to quietly spread, among those in the ranks of the revolt, that the day of forceful action was ahead. On the day before the start of rationing, the conflict reached its climax when a contingent of about 180 of Benjamin King’s supporters converged on the village square, armed with rifles, and readied themselves to march to the house of elders.

In an absurd scene fitting of a shameless demagogue, King stood to the side of the militia, shouting incomprehensible words into a megaphone while his supporters prepared to fight his illusionary battle for him.  The foolish but heavily armed militia marched, unopposed, straight through the village and toward their destination.

The village was eerily silent, as if a mass exodus had just taken place. But when the militia arrived at the humble residence of the council of elders, they were taken aback by what they saw.

Nearly 500 unarmed men, women and children stood directly in front of the entrance to the house, blocking access to the elders. Word had gotten out about the raid, and the village had joined to protect their beloved wise men and women.

The militia members surveyed the scene of their own peaceful brothers and sisters who were willing to lay their lives on the line for what was right. The angry and ignorant mob then aimed their guns, as Benjamin King excitedly yelled, “Stand down or be shot!” into his comically oversized megaphone.  The defenders of tradition stood defiantly, as the militia prepared to pull their triggers.

A thick and mysterious blue mist

Holy woman walking through blue mist

But in the split-second just before the first shot could be fired, a thick and mysterious blue mist suddenly enveloped the militia, and an old woman appeared in front of them. The strange mist then lifted, and the violent rebels were shocked to discover that they were no longer holding their rifles. Their arms had disappeared into thin air!

Each of the protectors of decency and all of the militia members fell instantly to their knees in homage, as the old woman took three steps forward in the direction of the only person still standing… Benjamin King. The old woman stared straight into the tyrant’s eyes and spoke:

“It’s a great affront to the wisdom of your ancestors and traditions to act in the disgraceful manner that you have. But it’s an even greater affront to the spirit of your creator that you’d be willing to harm your own brethren to fulfill your sick desire for control and power. “

The old mystic woman placed her right hand on her heart, and through an unseen but profoundly felt power, finally brought the leader of the would-be massacre to his knees. She then spoke once more:

“May your soul find the healing that it so desperately needs, and may your dark desire to inflict harm on others give way to the light of spirit, truth and righteousness.”

The old woman vanished as fast as she had first appeared. The dazzled villagers stood, with tears in their eyes, and looked off in the direction of the village farm with disbelief. The fields were bursting with fresh vegetables and grain, as far as their eyes could see! A season of crisis had miraculously transformed into a season of abundance and gratitude. Partisans on both sides rejoiced, as the village unified, even stronger together than before.

Following the day of “many miracles,” as this sequence of events became known, the entire village unanimously voted to banish Benjamin King into the forest for the duration of a year. With ample provisions provided, the divisive and egotistical leader submitted to his fate, and left for the forest to mend his heart and set his soul right.

Mindful Musings

An eagle, a lion, a wolf, a deer and a bear sat around the campfire for their weekly respite from work. This week, their conversation focused on the foils of humanity.As the embodiment of freedom and the first messenger of the Creator, the Eagle was the first to speak:

“My brothers and sisters, the humans, seem to be deluded into thinking they’re free. They seem to think that one can achieve freedom through the mind’s subjugation of nature. Why, that’s preposterous! Is it not, dear friends?”

All nodded in emphatic agreement, as the Eagle continued to speak:

“Through severing itself from the sacredness of the wild, humanity has only enslaved itself. For all beings draw their physical and spiritual sustenance from the Earth. She is our direct access point to the Creator. No being can fully connect with the Supreme Consciousness without communing with the Earth.”

The Eagle paused for a moment and continued:

“So, humans can go on exploiting and desecrating the land with their towers of hubris, talking wires and toxic chemicals, but none of it will satisfy their desperate thirst for freedom.

“Man speaks much about God, but rare is the human who knows that the Great Spirit dwells within the forests, mountains, oceans, rivers and deserts. Sadly, with the exception of their wise native brethren, it seems that humans are destined to follow down their own self-inflicted paths of suffering.”

For several moments, the group grew silent as they nodded their heads in agreement with the wise and venerable Eagle. Finally, the courageous Lion rose to speak:

African lion's face

“It appears to me that freedom is not the only thing that humans are misled about. Humankind is under the mistaken assumption that true courage is to conquer through might, which by way of the Universal law, isn’t morally right.

“True courage isn’t sending young people to fight for the money and power of tyrants. Nor is it courage, to commission expeditions to far-flung corners of the world in pursuit of precious resources and minerals that should never have been dug up from the ground.

“True courage is to look within to the hallowed guides of our being for divine instruction and inspiration: The sun and the moon, the cycle of the seasons, the whispering chorus of the wind, and the ebb and flow of water’s epic journey to the ONE.”

The Lion paused briefly to clear its throat, before proceeding:

“True courage is to stand behind the divine principles of creation and to be shining examples of IT’s perfect heart in form and in spirit—even in cases in which our own moral uncertainty is present.”

Once again, all in the circle grew silent, until it was the loyal Wolf’s turn to speak:

“My brothers and sisters, it’s not just freedom and courage that humans lack. They seem not to comprehend the meaning of loyalty. Loyalty has little to do with one’s peaceful assimilation to conformist rules and structures. Nor does it have anything to do with the jealous guardianship of one’s dogmatic beliefs and lifestyle choices. True loyalty has everything to do with one’s dedication to spirited self-reflection and genuine service to others.”

The Wolf paused for dramatic effect, before completing its thought:

“In our wolf packs, we’re loyal to one another through thick and thin. We’re loyal to one another for precisely this purpose: we’re all on this same journey through the wisdom of form. As far as I can see, humans have yet to learn the depths of this kind of loyalty.”

Wolf pack in the snow

All stared adoringly at the Wolf for a few moments, until the compassionate Deer assumed the mantle of inspiration:

“Friends, it’s quite apparent to me that the two-leggeds don’t appear to have an adequate understanding of compassion, either. One can’t live freely, be courageous or extend loyalty to others if they’re unable to open their hearts.

“Why, whenever we deer are forced to bury our kin in the ground, owing to another murderous sport hunter, I cry out in vain to the Creator and ask if man has a soul. For how can one kill their earthly brethren for entertainment? “

The Deer wiped a tear from its eye and continued:

“And it’s not just the murder of its own kind! Humans plunder one another in their petty contests for power and domination. How sad and senseless, indeed! The humans fail to understand that compassion extends both inwards and outwards in all directions from the heart, and washes over all beings without exception. True compassion, then, is to see the peace within oneself reflected in all creatures.”

To a jubilant chorus of “Amen,” the majestic Deer bowed to its beloved friends in the circle before sitting back down. At last, it was the faithful Bear’s turn to speak:

“My children and fellow teachers, I have sat here in a most grateful silence and listened to all your lamentations about modern man. I must say that I think your comments are wise and accurate.

“However, I would like to add that our lost human friends are lacking a fifth quality that fully explains why their conceptions of freedom, courage, loyalty and compassion are so sorely lacking. That missing quality is faith, and without it, they can’t understand what it means to be free, courageous, loyal or compassionate. “

The Bear paused for a moment to take a puff of sacred herb from his pipe. He then passed the instrument counter-clockwise and continued:

“Faith is at the root of our being. Think of the faith that bears must have each winter! For months at a time, we go into hibernation. We have tremendous faith that the wisdom of the universe will enable us to pull through the winter and experience the bounty of another springtime in bloom.

“Though mankind may lack a similar faith in themselves, it doesn’t imply that they won’t one day find it. We must not lose faith in humans and turn a blind eye to their suffering. For, as we know all too well, the ill-fated actions of man have an impact on our own quality of life.  It’s up to us, the animals, to show them how to live. We must inspire them all to look within themselves.”

At the exact moment that the Bear finished speaking, the group heard a rustling in the forest. All turned in amazement as two human teenagers walked through the woods, with big smiles on their faces.

Two teenagers smiling in woods

To the joy of all those gathered, the boy and girl proceeded to sit down in the Lotus position, next to a large stone. Hidden from plain view, the animals watched in delighted silence as the humans recited a moving prayer to the Earth:

“Great Spirit. Mover of the Cosmos. Lover of Morning and Night. We offer you, Mother Earth, our blessings and pray that you enlighten our souls with your compassion, peace and wisdom.

“You’re the essence of beauty and the source of all clarity.  Your life-sustaining rain washes over us with all its soulful purity. Your mountain peaks make us humble and reflect the vastness of your inner presence. And in your sacred forests, we feel the truth near and have nothing to fear.

“Earth Goddess: We pray for your protection and for the illumination of our human family. Peace. Peace. Peace.”

Mindful Musings

        *****Originally published on themindfulword.org
Like any other night, Colin Gordan went through his usual per-bedtime routine. The 74-year-old former-reality-TV-star-turned-dictator-of-a-nation admired his Botox-injected face in the mirror, and then pounded his chest with pride. He removed and cleaned his dentures, and took a seat at his laptop to fire off his (customary) angry midnight social media rants at his political enemies.Chancellor Gordan, as he was known to the nation, then climbed into bed and called for two of his assistants to tuck him snugly under the covers. With his aides still present, the dictator turned over on his side, and within only a few moments, suffered a heart attack. As his servants screamed for help from the palace’s doctors, Gordan went unconscious and found himself beyond the void of form.Hovering over his body, Colin could see the palace doctors desperately trying to revive him. Confused, he tried to speak, but no words came out. Suddenly, Colin found himself in a swirling cosmic tunnel and felt the overwhelming presence of a white light envelop him. Nothing in his day-to-day life or beliefs had prepared him for the reality he was now experiencing: life after death.Repulsed by the pull and the feeling of this “white light,” Colin quickly maneuvered into an emerging reddish-orange light. As soon as he made that choice, horrific visions from what appeared to be his “life review” flashed before his eyes.
The dictator saw images of his wealthy father verbally abusing him for his displays of cowardice at a family retreat, with other “high-class” families in attendance. He then relived past scenes of himself in both prep school and college, during which he failed to find meaning in a life that transcended his own ego and inflated sense of self-importance.

Colin then watched in horror as scenes replayed from his three failed marriages and tumultuous divorces. He also relived scenes involving the many women whom he’d sexually exploited in his relentless pursuit of power and fame.

Next, he saw haunting images of all the poor tenants he’d evicted from his sprawling real estate empire, homeless and begging on the streets for food. Finally, Colin revisited the one excruciating and painful moment he’d tried to bury deep within himself over the years… the death of his father.

Now, covered in a cold sweat, he recalled standing by his father’s bedside and uttering the words “I love you,” for the first and only time, to any human being. The dictator, in spirit form, also relived the soul-crushing final words his dying father spoke before dropping his body:

“I’m ashamed of you. Had your younger brother not died in childhood, I would’ve left the keys of the family business to him.”

Colin felt the reddish-orange light grow hotter and stronger, as he began to revisit the horrid scenes following his father’s death. He saw his continued sexual exploitation of women; his meteoric rise to mega-stardom with the success of his reality show; and finally, his unexpected rise to power and the consolidation of it through brutal aggression and deceit.

The images he saw grew darker at this point. Colin began to feel, for the first time, the immense suffering he’d inflicted—not only his nation, but on the world as well.

He saw his political critics being tortured in jail, the bodies of journalists who’d opposed him in mass graves that he’d ordered, refugee children separated from their mothers in government detention camps, and his own heartless response in allowing thousands of poor and elderly people to die from starvation amid a financial collapse.

Colin closed his eyes, and for the first time in his life, he felt waves of regret and compassion pulse through his body. Tears began to flow down his face, as the white light that he’d pushed away returned. This time, Colin made the choice to merge with it. The light seemed to have the radiance of 10 suns, yet it didn’t feel too blinding.

For the first time ever, Colin felt like he was “home.”

A being emerges

Jesus Christ in clouds

Suddenly, as Colin acknowledged this feeling, a being emerged from the light to greet him. As this being drew closer, Colin began to recognize his dark and saintly features. It was none other than Jesus Christ!

The bearded, long-haired sage approached him, but didn’t move his mouth to speak. Instead, Colin heard a voice emerge within his mind, and it became clear that Jesus was initiating telepathic communication with him. With this, Jesus spoke:

“My child, you make frequent references to my name down in the Earth Realm, to win the adoration of supporters. However, has it occurred to you that in so doing, you show that you neither understand nor follow my teachings?”

Still immersed in the white light, Colin looked shamefully down at the ground, as he uttered what would be the most honest assessment of his life up until that point:

“I’ve been given the blessed opportunity to lead 100 million people, but I’ve squandered this chance through vanity, fear, aggression and intolerance. Truly and regrettably, I’ve tarnished your good name by using it to justify horrific actions that you’d never condone.”

Colin then began to sob uncontrollably, as he added:

“Oh, great Prince of Love, I’m truly sorry for all the suffering I’ve inflicted upon the Earth and humanity. Now, I can only watch as my body dies. Yet, I stand before you as alive as I’ve ever been. Tell me, how can this be? Is it true that one survives death, even after the physical body perishes? Is the “I” that exists really in the form of spirit, rather than flesh and bone? And, what about forgiveness? Can I possibly be forgiven for all the harm I’ve caused through my hellish obsession with inconsequential worldly things, like money, power and fame?”

Jesus beamed a warm and loving smile, and slowly nodded his head before replying telepathically:

“My child, you’ve already been forgiven by me and the universal spirit of creation that I am one with and the two of us are part of. Soon, you too shall experience the bliss of inner communion with the One that is the many. In fact, in this moment, you’re getting a taste of its eternally rich and sublime power.

“This white light you’re now being bathed in is none other than the ONE, though you may feel more comfortable calling it God. However, know that any words you ascribe to this transcendent reality cannot do it justice here. For IT defies all descriptions or conceptions of it. IT can only be experienced as you and I are doing right now—beyond the folds of time and space.”

Jesus took a long, deep breath before continuing:

“Now, as for your other questions. Yes, it’s indeed true that the real you survived the death of the body. My Hindu friends back in India, where I spent that period of my life that your supporters refer to as the “lost years,” call this real you the “Self.” The Taoists would call it “energy” or “life force.” Your scientific mystics call it “consciousness,” I know it as the soul. Again, what you call it doesn’t matter one bit in this realm of spirit that you’re presently visiting, but in reality, never left.

“You ask, how and why did this mystical interplay between the form and formless come to be? If I were to reveal this secret to you now, without you finding out for yourself through direct experience, then I’d be doing you a great disservice and interfering with the cosmic rules of karma and destiny.

“I’ll say this to you, though… you’re a young soul. Meaning, you’ve not yet taken many births in human form on Earth. So, while you’ve caused incredible destruction on the physical plane through your ego and selfishness, you can be forgiven for your transactions. It wouldn’t even be possible for an older and more evolved soul to carry out the kind of callous behavior that you’ve shown in your most recent incarnation.”

Colin took a long moment to process Jesus’s words, before asking one final question:

“So, it’s true that there’s a part of us that transcends death and takes birth again in a human body, through an eternal cycle? I now understand that. And you say that it’s also up to me to realize why this all came to be. I suppose that once I’ve realized that, I’ll have also stumbled upon the purpose of taking form in the first place. Right now, I can’t understand why any soul would consciously choose to leave this heavenly realm. I’ve never felt so at home.

“This all leads me to my final question. If, as you say, I’m a young soul, why was I elevated into such a position of power and influence? Clearly, my soul wasn’t yet mature enough to be trusted with such a role of leadership and responsibility.”

Jesus flashed another loving smile at Colin and took two steps forward in his direction. Now, standing only inches from Colin’s face, he looked him dead in the eyes and said:

“You’ll soon find out why, as a less evolved soul, you were put in such a position to begin with. The story of your soul’s evolution is not yet fully written, nor is your higher purpose yet realized. You see, your suffering in childhood was destined. So was your ego and your sense of entitlement. Your rise to and misuse of power were also destined, as was your heart attack and this encounter with me.

“As I said before, this is all the interplay of your karma and your destiny. Put another way, your choices or ‘free will’ from your past incarnations create your cosmic patterns, known as your karma, and in turn, your karma creates your destiny. Viewed from this spiritual plane, your free will and destiny are one and the same. Now is not your time to die. It’s your karma to return to your body and carry out your destiny. And, you’ll know soon enough just what that destiny is.”

A new path for the Chancellor

Older man sitting on luxurious deck

At the exact moment that Jesus stopped speaking, Colin found himself in the same swirling cosmic black tunnel he’d passed through before. On through the tunnel he went at a blazing speed, until he found himself inside his body once again. Now, united with his physical being, Colin opened his eyes as a group of doctors and nurses gathered around in wonder.

“We thought we lost you,” said one doctor, in a high-pitched voice.

“You were clinically dead for at least five minutes,” said another doctor, with a look that expressed total bewilderment.

Colin looked around the stolid hospital room, with its beige walls, dim lighting and sanitized medical equipment. He shuddered, deep within himself. Where was the dazzling white light that he’d at first denied, but had then fallen in love with? And where was Jesus, that venerable sage, saint of Compassion and God incarnate?

At that moment, he felt Jesus’s presence, and Colin instantly knew what he must do, the moment he was well enough to leave the hospital.

To the utter amazement of the hospital’s medical team, the 74-year old Chancellor was deemed healthy enough to be released, only two days after suffering a heart attack that brought him to death and back.

Back home, Colin spent his first evening reliving his experience beyond the void. The next morning, as news spread of his recovery, Colin called over his own doctors and thanked them for saving his life. He then did something they’d never seen him do before… smile and hug them! Colin also asked his PR representative to arrange for a major televised address to the nation later in the day.

In mid-afternoon, Colin Gordan appeared before the cameras to address the nation as Chancellor, for the very last time. With millions of his fellow countrymen (no longer subjects in his mind) watching, the same leader who’d dragged his people into a life of misery was now about to surprise everyone with a message of hope and peace. Colin took a deep breath and delivered the most authentic and inspiring speech of his life:

“My fellow countrymen. My brothers and sisters. I stand before you a changed man, a more compassionate man, and hopefully, a humbler man. You see, I’ve seen the light. No, really, I’ve seen the light! Three days ago, I suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead on the operating table. But now I stand before you, having gone where all souls will one day travel.

“I had a near-death experience and it taught me so much. I learned that when we die, it’s only our body that dies and who we truly are is eternal. I learned that not only are saints real, but they really care about our fate! I also learned that love is the strongest form of energy in the Universe, and that every being is always extended the gift of redemption. Finally, I learned that each one of us has a destiny and that the Universe conspires for us to achieve it.

“My brethren, during my time beyond the void, I was also made to relive all the horror and suffering that I’ve inflicted upon you. I silenced you. I imprisoned you. I even had some of your loved ones executed for opposing my tyrannical rule. I now realize that I’ve committed unspeakable acts, whose impact can never be undone. I can’t even begin to express, through words, how much sadness and regret I feel for so thoroughly breaking your trust.

“It’s with a very heavy heart that I now beg for your forgiveness. However, I know it’s not enough to ask for your forgiveness, but rather, I must earn it through my actions. So, effective immediately, I resign from my chancellorship and dissolve the entire executive branch of government. This invests you, the people, with the power to determine your own democracy.

“Effective immediately, all 586 of my propertied estates will be converted into homeless shelters and centers for refugees fleeing from war-torn nations. Effective immediately, I’ll invest 90 percent of my $17 billion fortune into a massive fund for the needs of the poor, and for the preservation of our sacred lands and wildlife. I will then contribute the remaining 10 percent of my wealth to a special compensation fund for the families of those who were victims during my long and abusive reign.

“You have my word that I’ll do everything to ensure that each of these orders is implemented immediately. Once I’m confident that they have been, I plan to head east to India for a year of uninterrupted meditation in the Himalayas, as this will help me become the perfect servant to you. After that period, I vow to return to my homeland and assist in the anti-poverty and wilderness preservation programs in any capacity I can. In addition, upon my return, I won’t work for money, and will only receive my allowances for food through alms.

“Finally, I wish to extend a special promise to the victims of my regime: If, after one year following my return from India, you still deem me worthy of death, I’ll willingly give up my life to you. I want all of you to know how sorry I  am for all the suffering I’ve caused you. I love you. Blessings and Peace through eternity. Signing off. Your friend and fellow countryman, Colin.”

With the cameras now off him, Colin took another deep breath; then, he turned and walked away from the Chancellor’s podium for the last time, with Jesus’s words still ringing in his head: “ Now is not your time to die. It’s your karma to return to your body and carry out your destiny.”

Colin smiled. For the first time in his life, he knew what his destiny was: to serve others with unbounded love and compassion.


Mindful Musings

“An Encounter With the Spirit of Death”

By: Forrest Rivers(originally published on the mindfulword.org)

Two seekers of wisdom spent all day climbing a formidable mountain. After many hours of walking, the duo finally arrived at the summit, where they were greeted by an old mountain goat.

The two startled humans stared uneasily at the mighty being before them, and nervously shuffled backward. In turn, the mountain goat stared back at the pair with a look of amused bewilderment. The seekers grew exceedingly frightened and turned to run away. But before they could move, the mountain goat gently spoke to them through telepathy:

“Why do you have fear?”

The mountain goat conveyed feelings of great compassion through its inner voice, as it awaited a response from the still-terrified humans. After a few moments of stunned silence, the first seeker gathered up the courage to speak:

“Illustrious master, we feared for our lives. Your form is both wild and intimidating.”

The mountain goat warmly replied:

“But why did you fear for your lives at this very moment? Did you not just encounter the spirit of death all along your pilgrimage up to this hallowed peak? And did you not unknowingly stroll past a den of hungry bears and circumvent perilous cliffs on your way to this summit? Why did you not cower in fear then? One step closer to the den and you would’ve met the wrath of an imposing mama bear. One misstep along the rugged trail to the pinnacle and you would’ve plummeted to your death!”

The first seeker thought for a lengthy moment and then responded:

“I suppose we didn’t have fear in either case, because death didn’t seem imminent. We didn’t come face to face with a bear as we did with you. Nor did we fear the treacherous road up to this point because we’re seasoned climbers.”

The mountain goat pondered the first seeker’s words, and again replied:

“I see. But you still haven’t answered my initial question. Why do you have fear?”

A look of mild exasperation swept across the face of the first seeker, as they retorted:

“I think I answered that question already. We felt fear because we believed our lives were in immediate danger.”

The wise mountain goat looked firmly at the first seeker and said:

“You must learn not to fear death—imminent or not. No matter how hard you try to push your fear of it away, you’ll encounter it. “

The mountain goat paused for dramatic effect and then continued:

“I call your attention to a famous inscription on an old tombstone that reads: ‘Dear friend, please know as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am now so you will be. Prepare yourself to follow me. ‘

What this inscription teaches is that rather than live in fear, it’s infinitely wiser to embrace death as part of the natural cycle—or way—of being. The degree to which you can consciously come to terms with this existential inevitability also determines the depth to which you live this life. “

The second seeker, who’d been silent, finally chimed in:

“Oh, venerable seer, my soul knows the truth in your wise words. But my mind is frightened at what lies beyond the end of the body. Please tell me, what is death and what’s in store for us beyond it?”

The mountain goat carefully gathered its thoughts before explaining:

“Death is, and death is not. Death is taking off the tight shoe. Death is the entrance into a world without beginning or end. Death is the continuance of a sacred cycle in which the soul drops the body and continues its quest to enlightenment. Death is the survival of pure awareness beyond the contours of the flesh. And death is the inner realm by which the soul reflects the light of its own luminous essence.

“Death is to reunite with the eternal Brahman and the one within all. Death is the entrance into the deepest realms of consciousness and where one goes interminably in preparation for rebirth in a new body. Death is a karmic bridge between the memories of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow. Death is to be fully present and clear of illusion. Death is to merge in complete union with the Eternal One—who alone is true.”

Monk and layman walking across bridge

The second seeker looked in awe at the mighty being before them, and asked:

“If death is all this, wise master, and elemental to the way of being, why are people in my own culture taught to fear it?”

The mountain goat fixed an emphatic gaze on both seekers and said:

“Delusion! People in your culture live in Delusion! Well maybe not all the people of … but surely those with any measure of influence and power. Your teachers and celebrities contribute to the cloud of delusion surrounding death. Your media spokesmen and politicians, too. And even your very parents … those inspiring souls who raised you with tender love through your innocent youth.

“However, none keep you more blind to death’s true nature than your high priests, rabbis and preachers. You see, here in the West, there’s a peculiar and arrogant tendency among your religious figures to attach their own fears and insecurities about death to their sermons and interpretations of scripture.”

The second seeker grew silent as they digested the sheer honesty of the mountain goat’s words. Finally, after a few moments of reflection, the first seeker spoke once again:

“Oh Noble One, how may we learn not to fear death?”

Before the mountain goat could reply, the second seeker quickly added:

“And how shall we, oh Illumined Being, come to accept death as part of the way?

The mountain goat stared lovingly at both seekers of wisdom and replied:

“What’s required now is for both of you to find the courage to prepare for the inevitability of your own deaths. Only through such preparation will you discover the truth of how to live right now. Be brave, learn how to sit still and meditate upon death. Make meditation a daily practice and come to study the sacred cycles of life and death in nature.

“Stroll through the woods in all four seasons and observe the unique qualities of each. Note the innocence of spring, the vitality of summer, the crispness of autumn and the stillness of winter. You’ll come to feel that each are beautiful, each are transcendent and each are interrelated. Finally, come to experience death not as an end but as a return to your purest essence.”

The wise seekers raised their heads up and looked reverently at their great teacher. The mountain goat bowed its head to both its disciples and suddenly transformed into a soaring eagle.

Both humbled aspirants burst into tears as they watched God’s first messenger fly above the enchanted blue mountain range and into the heavens. As the eagle flew out of sight, the last words that this soulful duo heard were:

Look within. Be free. Fear not the inevitable approach of death.”