What if?

Image: Keith.

What if I told you I had been somewhere beyond this life and this physical universe where I could perceive any part of it and perceive that our entire universe existed as but one dimension amongst an infinite number of others?

What if our five senses which are so vital to our physical existence on this physical Earth, which we are entirely dependent on to survive, and which we mostly take for granted, were entirely unnecessary in this other existence beyond this one? I had no eyes with which to see or nose to smell, no ears to hear or senses of taste or touch and no brain at all, which is so limited in its ability to know and understand anything. I could know simply by perceiving, simply by directing my attention.

I didn’t get very far in, but I observed all my physical and bodily requirements falling away, unneeded and unnecessary in the place I was moving towards and in coming back, they were all returned to me for my extended time on Earth, yet in that other place, time did not exist any more than linear existence. We’re used to watching movies which are a linear flow of complex images and sound and our lives are exactly like that, art merely mimicking life, established in the flow of time. The place I was going to was nothing like that, I suspect that I could have directed my attention on any date and time and witnessed it, but not affect it, because it was no longer my place or purpose to affect anything within the dimensions of time and physical existence.

I did not even question what I was perceiving because I was perceiving only what is real, whereas our minds are given to so much conjecture it is hard to know what is real. In fact, as mystics tell us, to perceive reality we need to quieten our minds. In our plane of existence, mystics and spiritual seekers talk about enlightenment, because for most of us, in our mundane existence, we are not enlightened and we bumble along, more concerned with the stuff of this life, which is pressing if we want to stay alive. Like every creature in nature, we must secure the stuff of life to survive in this physical life, and what comes after our life here is shrouded from us by a curtain at the end of our physical existence which we call death.

It is a matter of conjecture if there is anything after death. Nothing I can say here can prove anything, so conjecture remains, but I can talk about a truly remarkable experience, whether anyone believes me or not is none of my business and nothing to do with me. And yet… I do desire to express it because it presses on me and it has changed how I perceive this life and what I want to do in it and with it.

To all outward appearances I continue just as I did before, it’s a paradox expressed in the Zen Koan, ‘before enlightenment, chop wood carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water’ [1]. I make no claim to enlightenment or a life free of ego, which before enlightenment sees chopping wood and carrying water as necessary burdens, oft resented and even hated, yet after enlightenment as wonderful and joyous, even miraculous. I have clearly not done the work in this life to achieve such enlightenment, but I have been somewhere else which has dramatically changed my internal world and to which I am having to make some necessary adjustments. Truth to tell, I am now given to frustration and anger and explosions of rage at the frustrations and clumsiness of this physical life, which can be triggered by something as banal as dropping a tea bag, so enlightened I ain’t, but yelling, “Fuck you!” at a tea bag does, thankfully, lead to laughing at my ridiculous self. Till the next bloody time.

Coming back was achieved through the darkness of unconsciousness, to awaken as if from sleep, yet to a joy (something I had never experienced before) so deep and so vast as to probably seem bonkers to those around me who had worked so diligently to save my life. It was put down to drugs by some, but it was a whole lot more than that and I am continuing to live with the consequences of having been to a reality entirely separate from this life.

I am, in particular, captivated by nature, from which we are indivisible other than through a lack of awareness or consciousness, but which is entirely responsible for the gift and substance of life, in which we, and all life, have our beginnings in the stuff of stars. But it goes deeper than that, there is a level of consciousness in nature that exists at a far deeper level than our own. Deeper even than the immutable laws of nature which govern everything we know, are and do. Nature has an unseen power that is ever present and yet is utterly and gently unassuming, but which makes itself felt and welcomes us if we turn to it and allow it in.

Here’s an odd thing. I have lived here in Somerset for 20 years or so and I was out in the garden recently and discovered that several species of mushroom had suddenly appeared in my garden. I was surprised by joy at their appearance, knowing something beautiful had occurred. I have no explanation for that joy, but I greeted them and quietly thanked them for their gift of being here. I have since discovered that without fungi there would be no life on Earth [2]. I had no idea. What a gift of wonder nature has given me. The mysteries of nature go deep, very deep and communing with nature is intensely real and wonderful. Many gardeners, and others, know this, I did not, spending time in nature is naturally healing. Part of our problem is, as Tolkien observed through Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings, we’re too hasty and nature quietly encourages us to slow down and learn to just be. The wonders of nature and the universe do not reveal themselves quickly or hastily.

But here’s a thing, if you read or watch the many reports of near death experiences, you’ll discover that each one is unique to the individual, though there are common traits, and the deeper you go into nature, the more you discover richness and diversity and the only word I can find to express this, and what’s grown and continues to grow inside me, is love, a deep, abiding and active, fruitful, love. To be honest, I am still clunky around it, it’s huge and I am not well practised in it, but love, right where I am, unique and individual and underpinning the entire universe. I am certain that wherever there is sentient life in the universe, love will be there too.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron. 20 January 2022.

[1] https://www.sloww.co/enlightenment-chop-wood-carry-water/

[2] https://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/features/fungi-are-responsible-for-life-on-land-as-we-know-it

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