By Dr. Mark Pitstick
I was a respiratory therapist as I worked my way through pre-med and theology school. During those years, I was around many people as they suffered greatly: dying after struggling to breathe because of chronic lung diseases; paralyzed from the waist or neck down from auto accidents or sports injuries; raped, stabbed and left for dead; in vegetative comas after head trauma; shot by a drunken husband or a fearful wife; children abused to death; suicides. I’ve seen it all.
Seeing so many people—especially little children—suffer and die motivated me to discover “the truth,” the most accurate answers to life’s existential questions. You know the list: “Who am I? Why am I here? What happens after I die? Is there a God? Why is there so much suffering?” And so on.
During 30 years of searching, I discovered a vast and varied amount of evidence that—ultimately—life is a totally safe and magnificent adventure amidst eternity. I was greatly impressed by ancient cross-cultural wisdom, especially:
- Identical reports surfacing literally across the world from each other.
- Input that correlates with contemporary findings and research.
Here are a few examples.
The Aramaic language was commonly spoken in the Middle East at the time when Judaism, Christianity, and Islam surfaced. The word shmaya meant, in part, heaven as a vibrational reality that exists when one recognizes the Oneness that comprises all life. This view described the universe as simultaneously operating in two modes:
1. A vibrating, wave-like reality in which we are all connected (shemayim).
2. An individual or particle reality in which it appears that you and I and the chair are solid, separate, and perishable objects.
The Buddha said that a human incarnation is like the froth that momentarily sprays into the air when a wave crests. For a moment, the water droplets are separate from the ocean, but then drop back into the whole. Similarly, your earth-experience is very fleeting and illusory if you believe you are distant from the Source.
Hindu teachings posited that the “most real” description of life is that God is breathing. When the Divine breathes in, there appears to be nothingness and formlessness. When Creative Energy exhales, formed beings and universes seem to manifest. In actuality, both occur at the same time—a big hint to optimally enjoying your time on earth.
Now, fast forward a few thousand years to 20th century input from quantum physicists. The most absolute understanding of reality, they say, is that life occurs on the cusp of energy and particles. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.
When the five major religions and cutting-edge science agree, I think we’re barking up the tree of knowledge.
Native Americans have so much to contribute to an enlightened worldview. For example, they had no word for the concept of fear. What could we ever fear, they said, since every day is a walk in the woods with Great Spirit? We are always watched over and loved, so what could possibly be truly bad?
One Native American custom was to wear “a mystery bag,” a small leather pouch around the neck. When some event in life didn’t make sense, they would symbolically put it in the mystery bag. After several months, they would reconsider the event and often realize the blessings or reasons why it happened.
These original inhabitants of North America also knew that we each have a special “give away,” a unique gift to share at the right time and in the right way. That gift could be experiencing a severe injury or even sacrificing one’s life if that would help others learn important lessons. Perhaps one purpose for the suffering described above was so I would search deeply for sensible answers and share them with others.
Ancient Hebrew meanings of heaven and hell were not indicative of a lasting place of paradise or punishment. Rather, these words described levels of closeness to or separation from God/enlightenment. You experience heaven when you know that you are an integral part of Infinite Intelligence. Conversely, you suffer when you believe that your real self can die, is alone, and can ultimately fail.
A Hebrew word for ‘death’ (mawet) did not mean the end or finish of something. It meant a passageway into some other reality that might involve a period of confusion and sorting out.
This meaning sounds very much like the life review that most near-death experiencers (NDEs) report. During the life-review, you see and feel the good or bad ripples of your thoughts, words, and deeds while on earth. As such, your life-review can feel heavenly when your life was mostly good—no one is perfect. Or, it can seem like hell—for a while—as you review suboptimal events in your life. (This does not occur when a dastardly life was purposely designed to help others via a contrast incarnation . . . but that’s another article for another day.) The good news is that any hell is temporary, self-induced, and subsides as you forgive yourself, make amends, and commit to doing better.
Again, the similarities between ancient language meanings and contemporary NDE reports lend additional credence that we are dealing with more accurate understandings of reality.
Finally, ancient Chinese and Egyptian languages recognized that “crisis” and “opportunity” are two sides of the same coin. That is, what seems “bad” or tragic is replete with exciting possibilities for growth and service when one remains awakened. When asked why there is suffering, the Buddha is reported to have said “opportunities for growth and service.” When asked the same question, Ramakrishna answered, “To thicken the plot.”
These teachers and ancient languages knew that this earth-experience is a daring adventure that makes sense when viewed from a spiritual perspective. So, when suffering strikes, stay alert for the blessings that are waiting just around the bend. Take hope in sayings such as, “There is a silver lining to every cloud” and, “When one door closes, another always opens.” Or, as W. Clement Stone put it, “Every adversity contains the seeds of an equal or even greater benefit.”
Over the years, many of my suffering patients have found great peace and clarity in these cross-cultural wisdom sources. You may want to save and reread this article if you are currently experiencing difficulties or just want to prepare for future ones. As always, let me know if I can assist you in any way so your earth-journey is happy, healthy, vibrant and fulfilling.
Mark Pitstick, MA, DC is an author, radio show host, frequent media guest, chiropractic physician, clinical psychologist, and workshop leader who helps others know and show their magnificence in body, mind, and spirit. In January-March, 2015, he will facilitate classes at Florida churches and holistically/spiritually oriented stores. To schedule an event or find ones in your area, contact him at: email@example.com 740-775-2189 or online at www.soulproof.com.