Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Proof of Heaven" - A Near Hopeful Experience

I recently finished reading the book, “Proof of Heaven,” by the neurosurgeon Eben Alexander. Eben fell into a life-threatening coma and miraculously survived but even more than that had a very revealing, profound, and conscious experience of higher realms in one of the more interesting NDE’s (near-death experiences) reported to date.

It doesn’t terribly much matter to me how true it is. No one but Eben can know that. But what interested me, for today’s purpose, was his statement that during his sojourn into heavenly realms he learned that although evil does certainly exist, it is a small portion or proportion of the good that exists.

Now in some ways this contradicts my (perhaps limited) understanding of the law duality wherein the play of opposites are equal and necessary to the appearance of substance in the drama of creation.

So his statement was pause for reflection (if not downright concern). In Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings, including as they have been expressed by his direct disciple and Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, evil is described as a “conscious force” flowing out from Spirit towards matter. As this force flows outward it does so in a continuum of consciousness whose direction is towards the affirmation of separation and the perpetuation of the creation.

Thus “evil” is relative in several ways. For today’s topic, what strikes me is that much of this continuum is “relatively” neutral and far from “evil” as we normally define or experience it. A tree is “evil” only in the sense that its very character hides from our sight its underlying spiritual essence both as energy (“vibration and Life Force”) AND as conscious, and divinely intelligent and self-aware.

So, too, therefore are most objects and most human thoughts, feelings, and actions: relatively neutral (relative to classically “evil” behavior). With this understanding, then, the creation is largely benign and in its “awesomeness,” beauty, and transparent intelligence and order, a reflection of Divine Love and Harmony.

In this view, evil, as an intentional and consciously harmful force and action, is “relatively” small portion of the cosmos in the realms of thought, emotions, feelings, electricities, atomic energies, and physical forms and actions.

In Sanaatan Dharma, the “eternal and universal precepts” of Vedanta, the outflowing force is more or less matched by the inflowing force. I say more or less because its real importance is in the realm of human consciousness. We don’t expect much from planets and stars, rocks, trees, plants or animals in the way of good or evil, except in relation to their harm or their benefit to us as humans.

A person can be dedicated to humanitarian causes but, being perhaps an atheist or agnostic, has no desire to seek God or higher states of inner communion with “the universe.” Only consciousness can desire to commune with Consciousness. There’s obviously nothing “evil” about being a dedicated humanitarian. Sympathies for the suffering of others manifesting as practical and self-sacrificing action is surely pleasing to God as all great spiritual teachers have averred. But only by conscious, intentional seeking can the individual approach the Godhead (by whatever name). Yes, we can have peak experiences of Oneness, but unless such an experience(s) changes our life forever in the direction seeking “more of That,” we return to ego consciousness and to our life’s work, karma and dharma.

But good works can reinforce pride and cause attachment to results which, when thwarted by other worldly forces, might cause disillusionment, discouragement, anger and, at last, giving up and in. I think of the image of a “peace protester” marching angrily and shouting slogans or inflicting harm on others or their property. An oxy-moron, in other words.

So, both are true: good and evil vie equally from the metaphysical standpoint of the outflowing energy towards matter and separateness and the inflowing force towards union. But, on the whole, the creation is also largely neutral or benign and only a small portion of its actually evil in the more limited and normal sense of that term.

Most people are basically good, even if, in truth, the main reason they are good is that they don’t possess enough energy and creative initiative to be bad!

Still, I find this reflection, inspired by Proof of Heaven, a happy and hopeful one! I “hope “ you agree!


Nayaswami Hriman