Inventing church anew

ChangeIf you could attend the church of your dreams built from scratch through your imagination, what would your church be like? What would you create?

I’m not talking about architecture here, although that me play a role in your vision. Rather, I am talking about inventing a church that you would find most inspirational to attend.

In my case, church services have often been uninspired — and uninspiring.. They have been way too canned, processed and sanitized. So for me, my new church would be a place that was totally authentic. You could come as you are and be who you are. You would not have to put on your “church face” for the occasion.

Church would be more of a gathering place where people share from the heart. It would be less of a place to pack people in to hear someone pontificate.

Church would involve intimate interaction like a support group. It would provide a vortex of unconditional love from within which people learn, grow, solve problems, and care for one another.

REAL LIFE SPOKEN HERE

It would be a place where real people could share their real selves, which includes the ugly parts as well as the mighty and lofty. That is, it would be a place of healing. People could say, “I feel empty. I feel bewildered. I feel lost. I feel overwhelmed. I feel angry. I feel repulsed.” Whatever it is they could come showing their true feelings and place them and themselves in the love vortex.

You could also “come as you are” to church if you were in a delicious state of bliss and wanted to share your good cheer with others. Church can be joyful. Laughter is allowed. The bright lights help others walk through the thick gray fog.

Or it would be a place where you could just come to be and not feel as if you had to do anything. You would not be forced or coerced to participate.  You could just soak it in, contemplate, and heal.

At the same time, church would also provide a stimulating and encouraging atmosphere for stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Church would be a place where you could accept the challenge of working through fears that keep people stuck in their ruts. Life often overwhelms us because we feel so alone, and this would be a place where one could feel included and supported in taking steps to create a stronger, more potent lifestyle.

I have heard the expression “thank you God” spoken a lot at churches. Sometimes that expression still triggers the idea that someone is instructing me to thank an entity who dwells outside of myself. (I grew up learning that God is a judgmental being, a loving yet demanding personality.) I want a church where I know that I thank God by all that I do there, whether it is meditating, gazing into someone’s eyes, hugging, singing, chanting, listening attentively, sharing from my experiences, whatever else.

I feel that we are each a droplet of the ocean that is God. I want a church where I enact “thank you God” by moving among people and interacting with them, by being love, by being light. As such, my church would not be a religion with a set of beliefs and a claim to any truth. Rather, it would be a place to walk the talk of love.

TALKING IN THE OPEN

I want a church where people can discuss things openly and honestly. That includes a bunch of real world problems and experiences.

  • Did you just lose someone important to you and are dealing with grief?
  • Are you bored in your marriage and are contemplating an affair or divorce or are already in the clutches of a new lust?
  • Are you searching for more meaning in your relationship — because there should be more than this?
  • Are you single and filled with the ache of loneliness or starved for human touch and intimate companionship?
  • Have you had a paranormal experience, such as a near-death experience, seen a vision, heard a voice, been visited by a spirit entity, and want some clarity?
  • Are you ill and are afraid of death or dealing with isolation or rejection?
  • Are you down on your luck or mired in depression? Are you plagued by a stalker or an arch-rival?
  • Are you having problems justifying the unethical things your employer wants you to do?
  • Is guilt from something you did (and maybe didn’t get caught doing) eating you alive?
  • Are you unsure how to find and identify the voice of God (that others feel so confident they’re hearing?)

Whatever it is, I would like to see church (or by extension the spiritual community that radiates from the church) be a place where I could find answers and contribute to others finding answers to life’s challenges. I would like church to be like the campfire where the tribe could gather around and help each other work through life issues through sharing and, listening.

EARTH SCHOOL

My personal spiritual beliefs hold that this is Earth School. We come here life after life to learn things. As such, we’re always being thrown curves and a few bean balls by some professor-in-spirit. Just when you think you have a handle on your life, something new happens to test your wisdom and flexibility. Church could provide a wonderful forum for helping us negotiate our lessons.

To that end, I would like to see church having a fluid structure. The use of church time could move as it had to move, not as some timed, predetermined flow chart dictated. People could come and go as they needed. Seating would be circular to facilitate more of a feeling of community.

If the flow triggered some “heavy stuff,” such as someone was working through a desperate situation, the structure could be fluid enough to assist healing. If the flow moved into “lightness of being,” people could surf the waves of delight without clock-watching.

In my church, there would be plenty of hugging and music and dance and other energy-enhancing activities that celebrate the spirit.

Church would facilitate love thy neighbor with inclusive, welcoming love. This would not be a polite yet shallow façade; it would be real. This kind of love welcomes diversity of all types. The spiritual community would be a safe harbor as well as a means to generate love; it would be a love power plant. It would be a place to blast through pain. It would be a place to share joy in all its forms.

None of what I have presented above is far from the mark of little highlights I have experienced in different venues over the years. I would like to make it less of a highlight and more of a norm.

Dying and not dying

I don’t mean to take anything away from this beautiful film (22:21 minutes and closing in on ten million YouTube views) about the late Zach Sobiech. It’s a sweet video (have your hankies ready) and Zach is an inspiring presence, to be sure.

Yet I woke up this morning wondering why we as a society don’t produce (and demand to be produced via our viewing habits) more films like this that are not so cast in the subtext of the tragic flaw. In other words, how many Zachs of both genders are out there who are bright lights for society and for their loved ones — and who are not dying?

If Zach were not dead, would people care as much? Would people be curious about his life? Would as many people watch his video? Is it the story of his death we’re hung up on? Is it our fear of death we’re hung up on?

Let’s celebrate the lives of people making a difference, even if it is a quiet, behind-the-scenes difference. (I would nominate Zach’s girlfriend for starters.) We get far too many stories about the bullies and the thugs and far too few about those who make this a better world.

THE NEXT PLATEAU

For me, the next interesting phase of the Zach Sobiech story would be where is Zach now?

Generally speaking, media doesn’t cover that. Media says, “Zach is gone.” Medical science says, “Zach is gone.” Religion says, “Zach is gone to heaven and we don’t disturb the dead.”

After hearing so many near-death experience stories, I would think that Zach might want to say hello from heaven to a few of those ten million YouTube viewers and especially to the people he loved so much. How would it change the story for the world if Zach broke through the sound barrier between the two planes?

“Made it safely. What a ride! In the words of Steve Jobs, ‘Oh, wow, oh wow.'”

A DIFFERENT FLAVOR

If we ever reached the stage in our socio-emotional growth where we openly ponder what happens after death, videos like Zach’s might assume a different spin. In my own experience, the more I surrounded myself in person, in videos, in books, and in podcasts with people who’d had NDEs, the more I saw death as a transition not a termination. We die and go somewhere else. We may physically return to dust but we still consciously exist.

The average person gets bombarded much more by mortality consciousness and the fear-mongering that goes with it. Many don’t bother to investigate an afterlife because it sounds too weird, unbelievable, and hopeful. Ironically, even some religions pooh-pooh studying this topic up close and personal.

Yet there is a huge cache of media treasures available for anyone who wants to check out stories of people’s encounters with the next life.

I would be most enthralled to hear about Zach’s life now — the true inside story of his transition as told by the spirit Zach. What if his story as currently displayed in the media were not the end but just the beginning?

YEAH, BUT

Anecdotal evidence for soul survival grows fruitful and multiplies, but we’re still stuck in a death-obsessed society that worships a good fear-mongering. If you’re interested in a visit outside this box, may I suggest you read The Last Frontier by Julia Assante, PhD. Or you can visit her website and be sure to check out her blog posts. She’s unique in that she is both an academic researcher and a practicing medium.

The point of Zach’s video was to glorify life and make each moment count because the clock is always ticking. It showed how he lived life to the fullest. He let his creativity flow. He let his love flow.

The video and the news about him also made a big deal about this being his end game, and maybe it wasn’t. I think that’s worth a look.

Martin Manley checks in then checks out

Martin Manley at 44

Martin Manley at 44

I didn’t know Martin Manley until after he’d died. Never heard of him when he was alive.

On August 16 I read in a Facebook group about a guy in Kansas who’d taken his life and left behind what amounted to a huge suicide note in the form of a website. Apparently he had been experiencing some serious memory issues and in looking at his future decided that he would rather end his life on his 60th birthday than degenerate. He chose to get out while the gettin’ out was good.

In his website he meticulously outlined his decision-making process about selecting his end game. It’s a fascinating read, not for any sensational reason, but because in it he discusses at length a topic that rarely gets discussed at all, which is controlling our own destiny about death. Can someone choose when to die?

As I was reading it I wondered why Martin had to present his story as he did — sneaking it onto the web just before he pulled the trigger. It meant, of course, that he deliberated his destiny alone. (I read that he’d worked on his site for a year before going live with it.) Why couldn’t he gather with a few folks in a  church or support group and discuss his thought process about ending his life?

The answer I came up with is that some well-meaning but in my opinion misguided person would have had him committed as a suicide risk. Then he likely would have been drugged. We’re not allowed to discuss topics like this — seriously contemplating our suicide — without someone judging us as already looney tunes.

I’m definitely not advocating suicide, and Martin wasn’t either, even though he took that route. However, I think we should be much more free about discussing life-and-death issues. Ultimately, conversations about suicide segue into a plethora of quality of life issues. For Martin, part of his apparently strong desire to die now was that he had no trust in or respect for the health care industry for seniors. He felt too alone and too vulnerable, as I read it. The frank discussion of his fears opens up many issues about how we mistreat and demoralize people through some of our social paradigms.

COME ONE, COME ALL

A friend of mine is in her early 60s and her husband is in his early 80s. She sometimes fantasizes about life without him and life for herself when she reaches his age. A few months ago we discussed whether or not society would ever become more supportive of voluntary choose-your-death options. She made the point that the Baby Boomers are entering retirement and by sheer numbers could eventually overwhelm the resources of the medical establishment.

Despite some well-entrenched social ideas — suicide is a ticket to hell, modern medicine creates miracle cures (despite the crippling costs it charges), life is precious and should be prolonged no matter what — my friend believes that bunches of people won’t want to tough it out in a lifestyle where they’re glued to walkers or bed or medical machinery.

Living into old age no matter what may not be some people’s idea of time well spent. This is especially true for those who have no family left or who don’t have a support community. The burden on society will be unprecedented. She believes that this situation may fuel a new look at end-of-life options, but that’s years off.

IRONIES

Way back in my twenties I had two ideas for works of literature. The first is eerily like Martin Manley’s website. I wanted to write a novel in which my main character explained his frustrations with a world devoted to hate, war-mongering, materialism, and highly conditional love. It would ultimately be a suicide note in book form. This was during a phase of my young writer’s life when I still felt — as do so many artists today — that we eventually get to what’s right by exposing all that’s wrong, often to the point of overkill. It was also before I understood that what I wrote affected my mood and outlook on life!

The other idea was a novel called Suicylum System. It was about a radical psychologist who created an assisted-suicide facility. They would guarantee to help put someone into a gentle death, but before that happened, the clients were required to participate in a support group program. During that time they were treated to unusual high amounts of pleasure of all kinds, a process intended to re-shape their outlook on life and change their minds about aborting their lives. For me this stemmed from my belief that many people who are suicidal do not fully know their options and would benefit from a radical shift of thinking.

Suicylum System was a positive telling of the book-length suicide note project. In the latter case, society was stepping up to the plate to deal with social unrest in a positive way.

LIFE (AND DEATH) CHOICES

I am exposed to many culturally unusual sources of input. For example, I like to attend local IANDS meetings where people gather who have had or who are interested in learning about near-death experiences. A ubiquitous belief among these people is that death is only physical. Consciousness is eternal. Our body dies, and we go on. Mainstream science has not pursued very seriously if this is true or not. Yet if it were ever proven so be so, I believe that it would have a profound impact on our cultural beliefs about choosing when to die.

As it is now, suicide is something like those back room abortions from decades ago. You cannot check into a clinic and have a nice death. If you want to leave physical life, you have to find another way to do it, which is usually illegal and often messy. If we had a clear scientific idea that consciousness survived death, would we be more willing to let people go peacefully instead of how Martin went?

Among some of the books and speakers I have heard on after-death communication, there appears to be an emerging view that suicide is not universally or necessarily the fast pass ticket to hell as it is often portrayed. Circumstances vary widely, of course. Those who intent to inflict pain on those they leave behind (from suicide bombers to suicidal revenge) or to escape a life catastrophe they created (like the warden in Shawshank Redemption) fare worse than those who have health issues like depression, mental illness, or terminal diseases.

Spirits (as channeled through mediums) appear to have a much different perspective on suicide than flesh humans do. Even those who took their (physical) lives say that. For example, a spirit might witness a human “take their own life” in a manner that may not legally be considered suicide here, like through alcohol, drugs, smoking, malnutrition, ignoring physical health issues, voluntary violence, etc.

Meanwhile, an interesting possibility that some mystics discuss is a woo-woo form of life-termination. Here people through meditation could voluntarily separate from their bodies while in trance. While this may strike the rational mind as spiritual tall tale fodder, it does still bring up the philosophical question about if it could be done, would it legally be suicide?

I may have missed it, but I did not see any mention from Martin that he considered the possibility that he might have blown himself into another dimension — that he could kill his body but he couldn’t kill his consciousness.

FALLOUT

The response to Martin Manley’s end-of-life scenario, especially as expressed in various comments printed along with articles and blog posts, struck me as judgmental and short-sighted. Words like selfish, narcissistic, vile appeared frequently. People seemed to get juice out of ridiculing or condemning him.

Others judged him as not truly Christan. A “true Christian,” the logic goes, would trust more in God/Jesus to fix a life gone sour. A true Christian would not insult the deities by trashing life via suicide. What I saw in many posts was the sentiment, “I’m not going to be a bad ass like him because my faith in Jesus makes me superior.”

Others lamented what a sad, lonely man he must have been, often tacking on their own posthumous advice on what he should have done to wake up from his moral demise. I was saddened by the lack of compassion offered him in so many venues.

YAHOO CONTROVERSY

Martin Manley apparently contracted with Yahoo to have his site up for 5 years, the maximum a person could buy ahead. The day after Martin took his life and the day after his site went live, Yahoo apparently pulled the plug saying that it violated their terms of service, with no other details provided. By then, other mirror sites had been set up by other parties so the site has a life (and more publicity from some people’s disgust with Yahoo.)

Some people have applauded Yahoo’s decision to kill the site. They considered Manley a narcissist and felt that the site might encourage copycat suicides. They also felt it might be too painful for people to read — people who have either had a close brush with suicide or people suffering from depression.

I would prefer that we start facing what’s going on in our world and addressing why so many want to leave it.

Where do ideas come from?

thinkerHave you ever wondered where ideas come from?

You notice them wandering around inside your brain, but have you considered what happens to cause them? Is your brain the actual idea generator as we are all taught, as science assumes?

OK, sure, far-fetched sounding, but some people who think of these things postulate that our beloved brains may be more like cosmic hunters and gatherers than actual idea generators. The mind may actually exist outside the body. The brain may be more like a sensual receiver for our physical world and somehow merges data from cosmic consciousness.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Science has been fascinated following rivers to their source. Same thing here. Let’s do a reality check on reality.

We’re accustomed to taking credit for our brilliant ideas without really investigating the source. A whole legal system is set up around copyrights and trademarks and ownership of intellectual property. We do this all assuming that people create ideas inside their heads as if their physical brains do all the work.

Yet mystics tell us that we already know everything, or have access to all the answers. What is access? Spiritualists often talk about the cosmic library system known as the akasic records. To get there you have to leave your bodies while in meditation/astral travel. This to me sounds like the physical brain reeling in input from consciousness that dwells outside the brain.

I suspect it would be quite a paradigm shift if we ever proved that brains receive brilliance more than generate it. It would surely have an impact on competition as it points to the notion that good ideas are gifts. You didn’t make it up. You found great ideas in the cosmic glurp.

Meanwhile, if the mind resides outside the body, it may not even require the akasic records. The mind could be an aspect of the soul communing with other souls. It’s also said that when we sleep, we leave the body. We could be attending all sorts of parties we never know about!

LIVING IN THE GOOGLED UNIVERSE

These days it’s much easier to think that you’re birthing a brilliant and original idea, only to discover that someone else has already been there, thought that.

In the old days, when you “created” an original idea, it would take great amounts of legwork and research to find out if it had actually been produced, published, or legally claimed. These days we have Google or Bing or numerous others.  When I come up with what I think is an original idea, I immediately check it out in a search engine.

On one hand, it’s shocking to find out how many times my “original” ideas or slogans or phrases have already been thought and used. On the other hand, I have come to worry less about being the first person to think of something. It’s romantic and ego-pleasing to believe that I discovered somethng pristine in the wilderness of consciousness, but technology shows us that other great minds are out there spewing out similar if not identical concepts.

Naturally, I am not condoning or encouraging plagiarism, idea theft, or trademark infringement, especially for commercial enterprises. However, I am suggesting not to worry so much if you want to write an article or play with a slogan that, while original to you, may turn out to have already been used by someone else.

If, on the other hand, it matters greatly that you are original, do use a search engine for quick insight on what has been created and if your glorious new idea is old hat.

MY CREATIVE EXPERIENCE

Within my own head, it does not impact my pleasure one bit to consider that ideas that occur to me come from somewhere other than the hardware of my brain. It’s actually more fun for me to wonder where the idea came from.

Was it something I did or thought or felt in some other lifetime? Was it a cosmic whisper from one of my spirit guides or backup singing angels? Am I just tuning into the cosmos like a radio telescope and by chance overheard a conversation voiced by someone somewhere in deep space?

Lots of times I cannot trace the origin of my ideas in my physical history. It is as they came from somewhere else. One time in my early adult creative life I came up with a novel idea about an afterlife. People would leave a physical life and appear at one end of a world that was ten thousand miles long and a few miles across. They had spiritual bodies that felt real but did not need to sustain them with food or drink. They felt no pain. Their task was simply to walk the length of the planet to the other side. The journey would take as long as it would on Earth.

Presumably, the time they took to walk the planet would help them debrief from their life just lived. At the far end, they encountered a cliff, and which point they were told to jump off. Taking the leap was an act of trust and faith. Logic would have told them that if they survived the transition to the long, skinny planet, jumping off it would not be suicide. It would be just another transition, and they would end up where they were supposed to go.

When I first conceived this idea, I had not heard anything about the astral plane. I knew very little about reincarnation. Then I stumbled upon medium Ruth Montgomery’s new book A World Beyond. I was astonished. She described in her book so much of what I had imagined life was like for the residents of my long, skinny planet.

Had my brain conceived this or received this?

PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS

Remember in childhood when school teachers would make a ritual of having kids put on their thinking caps? It’s easy to see in that ritual the metaphor of a thinking antenna that beams in ideas from the collective consciousness outside of human bodies. Brains then receive and process this data, being like a fine tuner of cosmic voices.

This may appear to degrade the role of the brain from sage to idea processor. I don’t think of it like that at all. The brain is phenomenal, and part of that may turn out to be how it blends inspirational input with its duties as shepherds of our physical destiny. Consciousness may be brain data mixed with out-of-body input.

Scientists are still trying to figure out how brains manufacture near-death experience phonomena. From what I can tell, science doesn’t recognize that ideas originate from outside the brain and that the mind exists, or can exist, outside the body. But the idea that the brain processes the out-of-body mind intrigues whatever it is I think with.

Sexual dry spells

Dry-spellWhen I wrote a blog post about uninvited celibacy, it became freshly pressed and opened the floodgates on comments from men and women in similar situations.

A great time to think about the meaning of sex turns out to be when you aren’t distracted by having any! Whether celibacy is by choice or is a situational dry spell like the one I’m in, being sexually dormant offers an unusual window into what it means to be sexually engaged.

At least that’s what I tell myself. My dry spell is two years-old. After the death of my mother in 2011, I joined my elderly father 650 miles away from my house. My love life (and the rest of my life) has been in limbo ever since. I have intimate friendships but nothing physical. I suspect it’s like being an athlete sidelined by an injury. You want to get back into the game, but your situation is that you’re required to rest, so you spend hours thinking about your sport.

I’ve made some observations about sex during my dry spell:

MALE SEXUALITY’S GUTTER IMAGE

Male sexuality has taken a huge drubbing in our culture over the last few decades. It’s slumped in the gutter. Men are often depicted as jerks and losers whose primary interest is getting off. Sex is often portrayed as a mechanical romp without feeling or intimacy. It’s all about — and just about — bodies. Yawn.

There’s a serious shortage of truly interesting male lovers depicted in the media. Seriously. I can think of few examples of men who impress me as fabulously inspired lovers. Not just a hunky babe magnet, but someone who brings heightened consciousness to bed. A true love god. Men in porn are like bottom feeders. I cannot remember seeing one and thinking, “Wow, he’d make a great friend.”

As a man, I carry the legacy of my gender brothers. Being loverless ironically reminds me how lame the social blueprint of sex is. Our sexual standards are very low. Sex gets seriously dumbed down. We get just  a comic book version of its potential. I have heard women say something like, “When it comes to sex, men are like dogs.” When I look at how sex is portrayed in the media, I have to agree. Woof. That’s not the kind of sex I want.

Men have little sexual self-respect because it’s not something taught or nurtured in the culture. Men end up with very little pride in their contribution to making sexual magic. If men are perpetually depicted as using women for sex, that’s what men aspire to be unless through some personal miracle they learn a different way. Lacking positive male role models for sex, young men become robots. Dog robots.

REAL MEN HAVE REAL SEX

Real sex is so much more than, well, sex. It ‘s more than pornographic body play. It is a mixture of great treats for the mind and heart with sensual arousal. Great lovers know this instinctively. They know that it is all about connection, and they make love with ideas as much as they make love with kisses and caresses. They make mental and emotional connection with their mate. They are mindful more than habitual.

We’re taught in society to treat each other more as toys than as co-creators of a fabulous journey. This tendency we have to treat each other as roles and objects goes far beyond sex, of course, but in my world, lovemaking is one route out of being superficial. It is a gateway into the deep pool of intimacy. Sex puts me in touch with deep feelings, which makes it spiritually profound. A statement such as that sometimes brings up chuckles or a sarcastic retort, which I translate as another sign that we have trashed sex with our demeaning representations of it.

Many of us are taught to think that “I want you” really means “I want access to your flesh.” Many of us are not taught that it could mean, “I want to embrace your soul as you embrace mine.”

ENERGIZE

You don’t often hear it expressed this way, but I think that making love is about energy exchange. Thoughts and intentions you have express themselves in whatever you do physically. They flavor it like ingredients used in cooking. If you’re upset, stressed, resentful, or something like that, your lovemaking will feel much different than if you are happy, loving, giving, and truly excited.

You won’t truly understand “energy” until you are sensitized to feeling it for yourself. The only place I recall seeing this presented in any mainstream movie was in the 1997 film Bliss. The movie showed a maverick sex therapist who taught the bliss value of energy exchange over the habitual physical orgasm production that most of us are taught.

I have been fortunate enough to experience energy flow first hand. An overall feel-good sensation fills me. Moods swing up with heightened energy. Satisfaction pervades the spirit. With heightened energy, sensuous touch feels hotter and better leading to that swept-away feeling.

Grasping energy exchange changes everything. Even cuddling by itself can be surprisingly exquisite. The body feels incredible and the mind fills with juicy deliciousness. Sometimes I’ve experienced the energy pop being so intensely blissful that traditional sex paled by contrast. How is this so? Energy! Consciousness! I’ve never seen this described or depicted anywhere outside of my own life.

LETTING GO

Under the right conditions, sex provides the perfect climate for letting go emotionally like a wild wind storm. The freedom is incredible. When I am sexually free and spiritually naked, my mind fills with wonders — visions, memories, feelings, fantasies, the energy buzz. I can man up or boy down. I can make rational sense or with permission zone out into a creative wilderness.

Since I know how important this space is for me, I do everything I can to make sure my partner has the emotional freedom to let go, too. That could entail encouragement. It also includes not judging or criticizing, especially her fantasy life and turn-ons.

Giving good head is more than oral sex. Giving safe mind play is precious. More damage is done when the opposite happens, yet we’re taught in thousands of ways to keep people locked in boxes of controlled conformity, especially when it comes to sexual behavior.

THE GIFT OF GIVING

Having no lover reminds me how much I treasure giving intimate pleasure to someone special. Pleasure is a two-way street. I receive so much energy and joy from giving energy and joy. It is a palpable, primal connection when it happens naturally. Perhaps it is simply that I was raised to be a pleaser and support person, but I feel less fulfilled as a human when I cannot pursue this craving. I feel like a honey bee transported from a lush garden to a vast desert with no blooms in sight for miles.

My romanticizing is not about materialism — wining and dining, buying affection with gifts, artificially pumping up egos, seducing and deceiving. It is much more about spiritual romance, the God-rendered magic of mate attraction, natural (no drugs needed) ecstasy, and the compelling drive to know and be known.

So here I am stuck again in the paradox of today’s sexual consciousness. I yearn to deeply please a partner body, mind, heart, and soul … in a world where sex has become so devalued it is beheld with grave suspicion. “Men are dirty dogs. Of course they want sex. Woof.”

When I am without a lover, I find myself especially empathic to women who suffer from sexual neglect. They often feel hopeless and damaged. Loneliness is painful. Of course they mirror for me my limbo life. I project upon them my cravings for harmony and intimacy. I fantasize that I could touch them in a way beyond what they know. Not me doing them, not me having all the answers, but us opening to each other in a journey of mutually-supported exploration.

DRY SPELLS

We tell ourselves stories to make sense of our worlds. With the dry spell I tell myself stories about why I don’t pursue love, what my family obligations are, why past relationships dissolved and what I could have done differently. I wonder if at age 64 I am too old for new love, too old to sexually attract anyone, or too young to be thinking insipid thoughts like that.

Creating heaven

HeavenWe are so used to watching or reading stories about people dying — oh, how sad, oh, how awful, oh, how tragic — that I thought it would be fun to explore what happens next. Why do stories about people stop when they die, particularly if death doesn’t truly kill us?

That’s what prompted me to begin writing a novel — still in progress — where the protagonist croaks in the first chapter, and we follow him into heaven. How does it feel? What does he find there?

That, of course, means that I have to invent a heaven for him to exist in. That’s where the fun is. I know that I am inventing a heaven for my fictional characters, but I also think that I am previewing my future.

I’ve read books on what it’s like in the afterlife. One of my favorites is Conversations with Jerry and Other People I thought Were Dead by Irene Kendig. Another favorite is Letters from the Light: An Afterlife Journal from the Self-Lighted World.

I have also read hundreds of accounts of near-death experiences where people discover that they’ve been liberated from their physical bodies and are free to explore new dimensions.

So I had a pool full of collected anecdotal knowledge from which to design heaven.

HEAVENLY HIGHLIGHTS

Heaven is a place where thoughts control your outer environment. You can think up your environment. If you want to go to the beach, you think yourself there. Zap. Waterfalls? Zap. Alpine meadow with stream? Zap. City street with posh shops? Zap.

People create their homes and their fashions and their favorite hang-outs through their thoughts. This is a fairly popular concept in metaphysical literature, but I also think it suffers from the limitations of language. Here on physical Earth the idea of dreaming up a steak cooked medium-rare with garlic mash on the side or a free-admission Disneyland to play in just by imagining them seems like quite a stretch. Many people in 3D Earth have trouble visualizing what color to paint their living room, let alone the intricacies of a spatial reality where you are truly and profoundly free to go wherever you please. Zap.

Nevertheless, the idea is pretty consistently expressed, so in my heaven I give it a test drive. For me, fiction writing is a proving ground. Playing in my daydream heaven lets me see how it might be to live in an environment where thoughts create things. Many people won’t even consider a strange concept unless it has been scientifically proven. As for me, I like to think if it were real, what would it feel like?

KNOW THYSELF

Another huge reality of heaven, assuming you remain conscious that you lived on Earth, is knowing for certain that there is no death. That becomes a new fact of life. Imagine what your life would be like here if you absolutely, positively knew that all the death you see on TV is based on crap thinking. What if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the war dead, the crash dead, the terminal disease dead, the suicide dead, the infant mortality and the old-age, natural causes really most sincerely dead only applied to a physical body? What if you knew that physical death was all that death was and that consciousness was eternal?

In the heaven I created for my novel, they all know this. They see physical life as Earth School. They view our life events, including things we call tragedies, as life lessons. They see where this is all going — where on Earth we’re so often taught to regret, feel ashamed, and expected to cower in a corner — and it’s likely that we also have to throw money at the problem.

NO SECRETS

One delicious feature of the heaven I’m creating is that people there can read minds. We cannot hide behind our secrets or cloaked identities there. I base this on frequent reports from near-death experiencers that when they were in the light, they felt they knew everything. Answers were everywhere. Ask a question, receive an instant answer.

This is also based on the idea that if “thoughts are things,” thoughts can be stored somewhere, and the akashic records are said to be that somewhere. This is like a beyond-massive Library of Congress for the whole planet. I’ve heard it’s possible to literally step into the lives of people as if to attain instant empathy in a kind of consciousness encyclopedia. Rather than just read about Abraham Lincoln, you could experience a multidimensional hologram of Abraham Lincoln and grok his thoughts and feelings — his consciousness. Talk about a freedom of information act.

On a less intense scale, if you died and could suddenly watch anybody in the flesh, you would quickly pick up huge amounts of embarrassing data through simple observation. In the case of my protagonist, he quickly learned shocking truths about the wife he left behind as preparation for becoming one of her spirit guides.

This creates an opportunity to explore what true transparency is like, something pretty unheard of here. (Imagine knowing what all of our elected leaders are really thinking!) Here, we can hide and always have the element of surprise. There, thoughts are open for scrutiny. If you want to see how interesting this plays out, just try imagining (writing works best for me) what it would be like to do anything in an environment where there was no such thing as mental privacy. Many religions teach that God knows everything, but I don’t know if we ever consider that somewhere life could be like that for us, too.

THE BIG PICTURE

My version of heaven does not portray it as a final destination. It, too, is a school, and once there we can choose different paths (or worlds) to explore. The “afterlife” becomes more of a “next life” because other options continue after that. That in turn means that Earth life could be an “afterlife” from some previous yet unremembered existence, not only of past lives on Earth but lives from other worlds.

Opening up the paradigm of the nature of life and death dramatically changes how spirits in heaven see events on Earth. Their perspective makes this book fun, and it also helps me as a human to view life on this planet from a different perspective. For example, spirits would see human pregnancy from an entirely different viewpoint. They would know the soul purpose or karma driving the embryo’s existence. I marvel at what life on Earth would be like if we had information like this for every baby that was born.

I like how this “reality” colors various social issues people face. For instance, same-sex marriage. Wouldn’t it make a huge difference to know that this was planned in advance for spiritual-learning purposes? And it’s made even more ironic to think that one of the main adversaries for gay people in many cases is organized religion.

What we do for a living could be more profound if we viewed it through the filter of soul survival and personal accountability. For example, my protagonist was in Earth terms a highly successful advertising copywriter. He made a fortune and got prestige. In heaven he was faced with confronting the karmic consequences of his career choice of becoming a paid professional liar.

DAYDREAM BELIEVER

Although it might sound like it, the afterlife that I have created is not about punishment. Nor is it about reward. It is a picture of a place where people arrive and simply have more access to truth. It’s something like a post-final exam debriefing where professors discuss the test of life and explain the questions. The exam is supposed to answer the ultimate question, “Did you achieve the purpose for which you were born?”

Of course, I wonder if my view of heaven is just an elaborate daydream, even though it was based a great deal on what others have written. So for me the next intriguing question is did I cook this up from scratch or am I channeling what it’s really like there?