A Lucky Man Who Made the Grade
Let's finish up with Father Rose's account of the afterlife. Much of what he says will no doubt provoke the Jesus Willies in some readers, so I will take the liberty of translighting it into plain coonglish, in a manner he would no doubt disapprove of. As always, the Sons of Toots have no place to rest their heads. The folks we like don't like us, and the folks we don't like do. Oh well. That's why we have each other.
Father Rose notes that one way to distinguish contemporary near-death experiences from actual experiences of heaven, is that in the case of the latter, "the soul is always conducted to heaven by an angel or angels, and never 'wanders' into it or goes of its own motive power," like you can into a White House state dinner.
Similarly, in the near-death literature, one is often said to have the choice of movin' on up or "returning" to earth. But in real life -- or death -- this is apparently not the case. Rather, "the genuine experience of heaven occurs not by the choice of man but only at the command of God, fulfilled by his angels." In contrast, the typical out-of-body experience does not involve angels, being that it really "takes place right here, in the air above us, still in this world."
It reminds me of all the strange experiences available to a fellow who ingests a bit of psilocybin. To paraphrase Terence McKenna, there are whole parallel worlds teeming with activity, just a few chemical microns away from this one. But these are just subtle, or less material, aspects of this world, similar to the unconscious. All kinds of crazy stuff goes on down there -- see the dream above -- but that doesn't make it "heaven." These alternate worldspaces are still very much a part of this world.
Father Rose did say that there seems to be an increase in the occurrence of occult experiences these days. Why is this? In fact, Schuon made the same point, and felt it had to do with the law of "cosmic compensation" that -- and I'm paraphrasing here from memory -- makes up for the general spiritual deterioration of our culture with a very focused infusion of grace for the sincere seeker.
Thus, truly, it is the best/worst of times, an irony of which I am constantly aware. That is, never before in human history has the perennial wisdom been so readily available, and yet, never before has it been so devalued or just ignored by the masses. True, there is in a sense "more for the rest of us," the living remnant, so we got that going for us. Nevertheless, no sane person enjoys peacefully sitting in Upper Tonga while watching the world go to hell in a handbasket.
For Father Rose, "the marked increase in 'other-worldly' experiences is doubtless one of the signs of the approaching end of this world." This kind of statement is easy to misinterpret, but when he says "end of the world," I take it to mean something similar to what has happened in the past, when one world violently ended in order to give birth to another.
This has occurred on many occasions, and it is always a wrenching experience -- say, the end of the Roman Empire, or the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy. People casually talk about the "information revolution," as if they know what it is. But we may have only seen the tip of a world-historical iceberg with extremely far-reaching and fundamentally unpredictable consequences -- as unpredictable, say, as the acquisition of literacy among the masses instead of just a handful of elites at the top.
We don't yet understand the consequences of the internet, and of "every man his own journalist," so to speak. FDR was the first president to capitalize on the new medium of radio, while JFK was the first to exploit television. We haven't yet reached the tipping point at which information becomes completely decentralized with the eventual death of the MSM -- which clearly does not provide useful "information," but a kind of top-down stability, a common mythology for the under- and overeducated. No one has any idea what will emerge from the complex and a non-linear system that results from the extinction of the state-controlled media.
When a system enters a chaotic phase, I think heaven (and hell!) is "closer," so to speak. Father Rose says that "as the present world approaches its end, the world of eternity looms nearer.... The end of the world merges with the beginning of eternal life."
This makes perfect sense if you apply the principle to your own life. Think of death, for example. When a loved one dies, you are plunged into a very different space; or, it is as if this one is infused with, or interpenetrated by, another. It's the same with psychoanalytic therapy, which facilitates a "willed breakdown," so to speak, so that a new consciousness will spontaneously emerge from the rubble. But it is an intrinsically dangerous process, because one really doesn't know what will emerge. Any therapist who promises outcome X is simply fooling you and fooling himself, because complex and non-linear systems just don't work that way.
Which, of course, speaks to one of the root fallacies of the left, the belief that you can tinker with one aspect of a complex system in order to arrive at the preferred outcome. Have you ever wondered why the very same people who believe in state control of the economy also believe in the pseudo-science of climate change? This is the reason why. Their minds are pre-programmed to believe that the world is as linear and predictable as their models of it, and that it is possible for the human mind to master the literally infinite amount of information in a system as complex as the economy or climate.
Back to the seeming closeness of heaven and earth in these troubled times. Father Rose writes that "never before has mankind been given such striking and clear proofs -- or at least 'hints' -- that there is another world, that life does not end with the death of the body, that there is a soul that survives death and is indeed more conscious and alive after death." But what do people do with it? Most seem to simply become more confused. It reminds me of the gift of literacy. What do most people do with it? Basically just waste it on garbage and trivia.
Now some intriguing details. Father Rose says that "the dying person's spiritual vision often begins even before death," apparently because the two worlds are drawing closer together, so to speak. It is as if the other world penetrates and infuses this one with a peculiar but distinct energy, something most people can experience when in the presence of the dying loved one.
Since premature death was so much more commonplace in the past, I wonder if people were much more aware of this space, or even lived in it most of the time? For them, the security we take for granted was an extreme rarity, if it occurred at all. People were not secure in their person, their health, their food supply, nothing. Thus, perhaps it was much easier for them to acknowledge the one true source of security in the Absolute.
This again speaks to the historical irony of contemporary man, whose increased security causes him to hold on that much more tightly to those very things that moth and rust doth corrupt, except a bit more slowly. Again, for this reason, spiritual progress is simultaneously easier and more difficult than ever before. Nevertheless, I give myself a B+.