Phoebe O's Experience
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In mid-September 2010, my friend Amanda from high school died at age 20 after a speeding drunk driver hit her while she was riding her bicycle; he hit her so hard that she flew 200 feet (~60.96 m). Upon hearing about her death, I was completely shocked. I could not pay attention in class. Time seemed to stand still. It was my junior year of college. My friends and professors did their best to comfort me. I received lots of hugs. Somehow, I managed to do my work and some early morning bird-watching in the next days.
I went to the funeral showing a few days later. One of the first people I saw was my old English teacher, who was leaving the funeral home as I was entering. We gave each other a long, gentle hug. I sensed that she was thankful I was alive, and I felt that way too. Then, I made my way toward the main part of the building. The experience felt totally surreal. There were so many emotions going through me that they seemed to cancel each other out. I didn’t know what to feel. I was simply numb, and at the same time alert, as strange as that might sound. Amanda’s boyfriend was in tears in a way I had never seen anyone in tears before. Upon seeing him when I entered, I immediately gave him a long hug, and then several more throughout the time I was there.
There were lots of people there—several of whom I knew—and most of us seemed upset or shaken beyond anything we could express. Many of us stayed silent. One of those people was Amanda’s friend Jake (name changed). He was also my old friend and ex-boyfriend. I had not seen him in years and had harbored a lot of anger against him. Upon seeing each other, we hugged. I immediately felt complete forgiveness toward him even though he had been quite insensitive, disrespectful, and a jerk to me at times.
It was an open casket funeral, and I felt uneasy about going near Amanda’s body at first. From a distance, it looked as if she could get up and say hi to everyone. But after a little while, I went up to casket. I did so several times during the few hours I was there that afternoon. Seeing this wonderful person who I had been good friends with in high school now dead was intense beyond words. They had put a lot of makeup on her. Up close, she looked very dead—nothing could cover that up. I looked at her very dead hands, and then at mine. There was an obvious difference between them— mine had life in them.
After some time, I wrote Amanda a farewell note. (Notecards were made available and the memories of Amanda people shared on them were being collected.) I wrote about many memories we shared in high school. I wrote about us being together in many classes and after- school activities—these included German, Social Studies, English/Humanities, AP Government, National Honor Society, Homecoming Float Building, and others. Since she worked for the school yearbook, she also took pictures of my artwork several times and reported on the Pride Alliance Club, the LGBTQ alliance group I helped start and for which I served as first president. (I did not mention every one of these in the note.) I wrote about the funny stories about our families and our Europe trips that we liked to share with each other. Although Amanda and I were not best friends in high school, we were good friends. I had a more meaningful relationship with her than with my best friends. I could tell her things that I did not feel comfortable sharing with my closer friends. Although I didn’t mention this on the note, she was one of the first people I came out to during junior year of high school. Her support was a welcome refreshing relief in a time when I felt highly vulnerable. I felt a closeness to her that I didn’t with most other people. She truly felt like family.
Creating that note calmed me; if there was one thing I didn’t feel before that point, it was calm. In the note, I mentioned that right before Amanda got hit, I knew that she must have sensed on a deep level what was about to happen. Around the text, I drew a rose and a candle. The drawing experience especially calmed and centered me. At one point when I was working on the note, the words came to me, 'Amanda, when I join you...'
I believe it was then that I found myself turning around. I didn’t look at anything. Instead, I suddenly felt her presence more strongly than ever before. Although I had been an agnostic and what actually happened did not register in my mind until two months later, she was there with me. This experience was happening at a level beyond the mind. I saw her face, except it wasn’t physical. In fact, I completely lost the sense that there was a physical world around me. We were together, and we were one and the same. Her presence was one of pure love and peace. There were clearly no differences between us even though I was still in a body and she wasn’t. She said, 'Phoebe, live your life to the absolute fullest while you’re still on Earth.' Her voice felt like it was being spoken through me rather than to me.
For roughly the next two days, I was in a state of total peace and bliss. Everything physical was unstable and subject to decay, and that was completely okay with me. I was at peace with the fact that I was going to die, and it truly didn’t matter to me when that would happen. I felt profound love and gratitude toward everyone in my life, everyone who was alive, and for everything I saw and experienced. It was clear to me that negativity of any kind had no power and was infinitely small compared with the vastness of life itself. Free of any baggage, I experienced my true nature, and life flowed beautifully.
When I went back to the college I was attending, I felt as if I had been dropped there from another planet. The life as a busy biology student that had been so familiar to me just a few days earlier now felt totally alien. I felt that my old sense of self had no foundation and was not at all solid as it had seemed before. My classmates appeared to be programmed study zombies. In my mind came the thought, 'Wow, I’m really awake!' But my mind had no idea what that meant. In my gut came a very strong intuitive feeling that this was it for me. Life would never be the same for this person called Phoebe. I could only describe that feeling by saying, 'I sense that I’ve reached my ‘peak oil.’'
Nothing in my life felt as heavy, serious, or important as I previously thought it to be. Things that would have horrified me before (like the possibilities of getting yelled at by professors or not making it through school, both of which ended up coming true) now seemed almost insignificant. I also realized that I had become highly sensitive to the energies of spaces and people. These began to overwhelm me frequently, and I had to take a lot of breaks to re-center myself between classes and activities in order to function.
For the first two weeks after the funeral, I experienced a lot of emotional shock and physical pain. Because I was so dis-identified from myself, it did not feel so heavy and personal. The lowest lows wanted to pull me into suicidal depression, but they didn’t succeed. When they came, so did a presence that I can now describe as a guardian angel or spirit guide. I was frequently hugged and soothed by this invisible being. After he/she came, I would feel at peace again. I swung between peace and near-suicidal depression a few times every day for those weeks.
Then, after a few weeks and a couple of emotional breakdowns that felt heavier, I became highly disoriented. By the end of October, I started to feel like I was going senile. I had a lot of trouble with long and short-term memory, with work and simple tasks, and with communicating. I might as well have been in prison, a prison that made me see the world as a lifeless bunch of meaningless and incomprehensible forms.
A few weeks after the funeral, I found myself with the ability to focus outside the realm of solid forms. I would focus on the empty space. I did this during the frequent breaks I took to re- center myself. When I did it in front of a mirror, the boundaries of my eyes, nose, mouth, and skin would fade and almost disappear from sight. I perceived many forms of subtle energy that are otherwise invisible. Looking in this way was relaxing. It has been a vital form of meditation for me many times.
Trapped in a dysfunctional body and mind and out of touch with life, I spent a few weeks pulling apart every thought, feeling, action, and reaction that got my attention. It was an urgent matter, and I invested so much energy into this process that my weight dropped from 121 pounds to 114 pounds (54.88 kg to 51.71 kg) within two weeks even though I ate a lot. I was seriously exhausted. But I had to keep going for the literal sake of my life. With all possible care and attention, I examined every thought, feeling, action, and reaction from a historical, cultural, animal behavior, human evolution, and spiritual perspective. I used basic knowledge about Christianity and Buddhism, and also the works of Eckhart Tolle and George Fox. (Fox was a great Christian mystic in 17th century England. He is considered to have been the first Quaker. I “happened” to be taking Quakerism that semester and reading The Journal of George Fox around the time Amanda died.) Some was previous knowledge, while some was gained around this time.
I did not think entirely in words and revisited many points multiple times throughout the months around fall 2010, often in greater and greater depth. I do not recall the exact words I thought in my mind or the exact time I visited each point, and I did not visit them in a linear fashion as they are described here. This intense examination and thought-rebuilding process, like other forms of evolution, happened in spirals; upon each insight/development, I took a step back to the previous experience before moving on to the next. Overall, instead of thoughts being added to my mind, they were removed. Tensions, feelings, and questions were addressed. My mind was cleared.
I read and reflected a lot on the dynamics of an individual human life, human history, and the evolution of forms, which parallel each other. (Michael Dowd’s book Thank God for Evolution was very helpful.) I could see cycles within larger cycles within even larger cycles: a day between waking and bedtime, a year between early spring and the next winter, a stage of development between its beginning and end, a lifetime between birth and death, an era between its beginning and end, and the life spans of planets, stars, and the cosmos.
I could see that in the evolution of life, life forms and living systems increase in complexity, cooperation, efficiency, intelligence, and awareness. Between conception and death, a typical human goes through being a single cell; a simple cluster of cells; an invertebrate with tissue differentiation; a primitive vertebrate; a mammal with a tail; an apelike primate; a baby human; a toddler; a child; a pubescent preteen; an adolescent; a young adult; a middle-aged adult; and a mature senior. There is much learning, growth, exploration, and experience; and also challenge, mistake-making, limitation, loss, and leaving old things behind that no longer serve. All of these are vital if one is to die expressing wisdom. Sadly, many—perhaps most of us—in the modern world reach old age with a selfish and narrow adolescent mentality. If we cooperate with our nature and life’s dynamics, then we can grow both old and wise. Many of us can know wisdom before old age.
Societies have evolved from small groups, to tribes, to villages, to city-states, to kingdoms and empires, to nations with increasingly democratic governments, to international relations and cooperation. Wars and personal conflicts, which are detrimental in many ways to all involved in them, have often happened before cooperation between different peoples. Human intelligence has allowed us to overcome many challenges by inventing solutions. We have learned how to survive in the wild, how to build fires, how to draw, and then how to write when we were primitive. Practices, arts, and technologies have become increasingly complex and refined. Our history has seen many discoveries, creative masterpieces, developmental milestones, and progressive movements, many times not without opposition and resistance by those attached to old ways. Everything, including our mistakes and misperceptions, has and continues to contribute to our understanding of life and how to best live it. Humanity as a whole can now be said to be in an adolescent phase. We are experiencing lots of pretense, materialism, and also enormous breakthroughs in awareness. Because our selfish ways are destroying life on the planet as we know it, we are literally in an evolve-or-die situation. A quantum leap can happen if we allow it. We must see this situation as a great opportunity. Light always follows darkness. Awareness always follows unconsciousness.
Likewise, all problems and setbacks in nature are opportunities for organisms to evolve adaptations that allow them to thrive in previously- unfavorable conditions. Competition is a common challenge. Like other challenges, it is stressful and energy-demanding and therefore not favorable for organisms to thrive. Major milestones and quantum leaps in the history of life on Earth include eukaryotic cells, aerobic respiration, photosynthesis, multicellularity, sexual reproduction, sight and other senses, organs and organ systems, bones, brains, lungs, internal fertilization, amniotic eggs, wings and flight, the ability to learn from experience, complex social and mating systems, eusociality (completely cooperative system such as that of most bees and ants), limbs that can grasp and manipulate objects, tool use, a brain capable of complex planning, symbolic communication, thought, recognition of beauty, inspiration, artistic expression, empathy, the ability to reflect, and, perhaps most importantly, awareness of being alive and conscious and of the nature of life. None of these could have been made manifest without challenges.
Nature does not judge anything good or bad in the way humans do, but rather unfolds, expresses, and adapts with creativity and ingenuity. For example, immune systems do not fear or hate pathogens; they get to know them and use that information for protection of the organism. Nature is not insecure or in denial; it is fully honest and allows everything to be as it is.
I continued to watch birds and reflect on them before the weather turned too cold. While bird watching in August of that year, I had felt that the birds were silently communicating with me, effectively saying, “You humans are insane. Why can’t you just be as you are? Why are you so afraid of both living and dying? Why do you carry so much draining mental and emotional baggage? You don’t need it. You can live your lives to the fullest as we do. You can be as you are meant to be, just as we are as we are meant to be. We all come from the same place, and you have forgotten. We live in harmony with the whole of life, and for us this means foraging, flying, establishing territories, singing, courting mates, building nests, laying eggs, and raising our chicks. We don’t deny any part of ourselves or our world. We don’t destroy that which supports us. That would be stupid and crazy.”
Soon, massive amounts of trapped energy were released from my brain and into the rest of my body and the confusion began to clear. There was less and less draining mental resistance to what is. The process became much easier when I could clearly feel my mind, body, and formless aliveness (spirit) and everything clearly began to converge into one picture of reality. There were wonderful “peace talks” happening between my mind and spirit that were bringing them into harmony. I was seeing deeper and deeper into the nature of things.
One realization that happened around this time was that spirit reincarnates, and that this process mirrors that of the physical elements cycling through the ecosystems. Everything and everyone goes where it is right and natural for them to go in the process of life, including consciousness in whatever state it is in. This realization was made at the depths of my being, and I instantly knew it was right. It also explained why there is fairness and justice in the world even though it appears extremely unfair and unjust from ordinary human awareness. The intelligence of life that is my essence and that of all other beings knows that who we are is not a body, mind, or any other form; these pass, while we are eternal.
At one point in mid-November, it hit me that I had actually seen Amanda in spirit. I found that I could easily “put myself in her shoes” and see things from the perspective of a newly-transitioned spirit searching for moments of open stillness in people with busy minds so that she could communicate with them. This realization brought a huge relief and greatly increased harmony in my being.
At another time, I reflected deeply on the fact that all living beings are one and the same as Jesus and the Buddha (something they saw very clearly and wanted us to see too), and that the divisions we perceive between them and us (ordinary people) are something we’re making up. I reflected on the fact that Einstein, Martin Luther King, and other highly intelligent people (and also people who are just perceived as highly intelligent or able) are frequently viewed much in the same divisive way by society. Instead of listening to where they are coming from and what they would want of us, we tend to dismiss them with labels such as “Son of God,” “Saint,” or “Genius,” labels that are not based on truth and perpetuate ego and ignorance when used in that way.
I reflected on the fact that I had been isolated from many of my classmates in high school—I graduated at the very top of my class—for similar reasons but on a much smaller, more local scale: I was smart, weird, and a brilliant artist (I started drawing at 18 months old and started creating realistic drawings and paintings at age 11) to them before I was a human being. This treatment had caused me much loneliness in the past. I also reflected on how we frequently view authority figures as separate from us, superior to us, unquestionable, selfish, not understanding or empathetic, not interested in us, and having complete power over us. Many of us view God, life, and/or fundamental human nature in this way, a way based on ignorance and ego.
I saw that the whole of reality cannot possibly be ashamed, need to protect or defend itself, or be divided against itself in the way most humans are. It cannot be in a mad rush for fulfillment. It also can't possibly be just dead and meaningless physical forms as many atheists claim; I am alive and conscious. (If reality was composed of just forms—if there was no spirit, then it would not be important if any form or body passed away randomly. Nothing would matter at all in life.) There is clearly a subjective “I” that is the experiencer, and that “I” is highly intelligent. That “I” is life itself. As I tried on the thoughts about life not being eternal and matter being virtually everything, I found that they produced much resistance and internal stress. The same was true for thoughts about darkness and evil being stronger than light and love. All darkness is stress, and stress is tension, resistance. Therefore, darkness in all forms is temporary because of its unstable nature.
I saw the nature of humans and other life forms. The selfishness that is pathological, dangerous, and unintelligent in adult humans can be described as an evolutionary remnant of the animal’s healthy drive to survive and reproduce. In humans, it is a form of resistance to life (stress) that frequently disguises itself as a force of good. It is sometimes called the ego and is made of identification with fleeting forms--thoughts, bodies, events, memories, actions, expectations, conceptual identities, wealth and possessions, social status and belonging, titles, roles, relationships, demographics, abilities, knowledge, beliefs, skills, routines, activities, local circumstances, judgments, conflicts, likes and dislikes, should and should nots, fears, emotions, etc. These forms are regarded as absolutely important, when in fact life is infinitely greater than they are and contains them all. The self is seen as limited to the realm of time. Often, the ego pretends to be God, all-knowing, or the center of the universe. It can be identified by its negative and fearful nature. The ego is a false self that can only dominate if it is unconscious—if there is a lack of awareness. It is not who we fundamentally are. It has no foundation in reality. Although some stages of healthy human development are ego-centered, the ego is ultimately an illusion of the mind.
The ego, which we in the modern world know as normal human consciousness, is inherently limited and biased. It cannot perceive beyond mind, thought, conceptual identity, form, past and future, and self-interest. It cannot see the difference between situations and its reactions and judgments. The mind- based self is incapable of knowing presence, true love, peace, compassion, joy, intuition, or creativity. These, along with death, wisdom, and spaciousness, are things the mind cannot possibly understand. It can be quite sad to see that so many people in this world only know themselves as egos. In other words, they are completely unconscious of life and do not know themselves at all.
The nature of life is one of peace, bliss, love, joy, creativity, spontaneity, fearlessness (because it cannot be destroyed), lightness, openness, acceptance, omniscience, omnipresence, infinity, and unity. It cannot be otherwise. Life is formless and eternal, while all manifestations are temporary no matter how we view them. Although I could not have said it this way at that time, ignorance is an illusion.
Either around this time or several weeks later, I reflected on belief systems and schools of thought. I saw that many seemingly-different religious and other belief systems do not actually contradict each other, but merely describe different perspectives or aspects of one life, one reality. Human thought splits the whole of life into parts that seem contradictory. For example, atheists and secularists are correct in saying that nothing created the universe; that the universe is billions of years old; and that there is only form, energy, and space in existence. Religious and spiritual people are correct too in saying that the Source of all existence is intelligent, living, and fully conscious. It is also correct to say that everything was created by God at once (or in a very short interval), but not in the way most religious people think; one must step outside of time and see that all time is simultaneous and very short from the perspective of eternity in order to say this accurately. Most people do not realize that the Source is both alive and formless. It does not occur to most that time is a relative truth that can be transcended. (It was many months later that was able to verbalize this.)
No one of the thousands of human belief systems and schools of thought has it right, while the others have it wrong. No system is the truth or has all the answers. Some only point to the nature of life and phenomena more effectively than others. In other words, some point to the understanding and wisdom that is within more effectively than others. Like biological forms and inventions in human history, these are forms that evolve through time. These particular forms serve the functions of pointing to and modeling greater truths. Each is like a map. Each serves a purpose in the unfolding of life no matter how “wrong” or incomplete it appears.
Few people pursue truth in full honesty—without bias toward or against any system; in full willingness to examine themselves for biases and impurities; and in full honesty about what they know and don’t know for themselves. Many more of us are capable of living in integrity than we tend to think. If we come to know purity, then it is easy to identify obstacles we might face. It is also easy to identify mistranslations, misinterpretations, and impurities that have come into our systems and worldviews —things that do not promote peace, integrity, wellbeing, wholeness, unity, wisdom, unconditional love, understanding, and living life to the fullest.
Many—perhaps most—people in the world today do not see beyond their culture and conditioned beliefs. The notion that God/reality does not have a preference as to which cultural, religious, or ideological group we are in is something they cannot conceive in their limited perspective. They cannot identify internalized biases and are therefore completely under their influence. They cannot tell ideology from fact, evidence from interpretation, or what they know for themselves from what they have been told to believe. They do not examine themselves or reflect on these matters. They dismiss other ways without even getting to know them, often in condemnation and with a sense of moral superiority. Underneath this tendency is not a desire for truth, but a desire to protect and defend a false sense of self, a pathological ego. It is a violent desire for survival, control, and dominance over life or others. There is lots of negativity in it. People with rigid belief systems— whether they are Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, progressives, conservatives, or others—not infrequently defend (and therefore perpetuate) ignorance, negativity, stress, darkness, suffering, sin, hell, and violence. They deny the possibility of living with awareness, at peace, to the fullest, and in the light. The fact is that none of us can possibly claim the truth for ourselves, and to imagine that we can is total pretense.
We all belong to one reality. It cannot be otherwise. The Source cannot be damaged by anyone thinking one way or another. It is both nothing and everything. It creates, contains, and manifests as all phenomena. Humans may be divided inside and out, but reality is perfectly whole.
Shortly after Thanksgiving Break [the last full week of November] ended, I got to know the Source of all existence. This great opening came right after several days of sensing deeply that everything I encountered— furniture, hair, paper, clothes, music, food, soap, bodies, minds, thoughts, reactions, plans, cities, cars, trees, clouds, and more—had an unspeakably complex history that was inseparable from the history of the whole universe and everything else in it. Everything simple looked magnificent in still observation. I saw that bed sheets, jeans, and wood floors were incredibly complex, and I felt that I was seeing many secrets of life that had been hidden in front of my eyes all along.
One evening, I was alone in my room listening to Lady Gaga, Weird Al Yankovik, and other music. There was a mirror in front of me. At one point, my attention shifted away from the movement of my body and mind, the sound of the music, and my physical environment. My focused relaxed deeply into the present moment. I saw that there was a vast life that was the Source of everything that was and ever will be. I was not seeing with my eyes, but with the core of my being. I saw our universe, all physical space, all other universes, and everything that changes as one tiny dark finite speck surrounded by an infinite sea of life and light. I saw even more clearly life’s nature of pure love, bliss, creativity, and wisdom. This sea of pure life is formless and spacious, and yet it is fully conscious and intelligent. It is the only true experiencer, the only true “I.” The Source is present everywhere and in every moment whether we are aware of it or not. As this great being showed Him/Herself to me, I could see that the pure divine life that is Him/Her is the same life that is the essence of every being through all space and time.
The formless gives birth to all forms. Every taste, opinion, personality, and experience grows out of pure divine life. Every set of what we humans perceive as opposites or differences is actually one: self and other, fate and free will, feminine and masculine, vaginal and phallic, yin and yang, dark and light, night and day, nothing and something, different and same, attractive and repulsive, beautiful and ugly, other life and humanity, the cosmos and the Earth, nature and culture, science and religion/spirituality, evolution and creation, real and imaginary, natural and artificial, smooth and rough, harmony and chaos, one and many, unity and division, cooperation and conflict, peace and war, health and disease, host and parasite, prey and predator, defeat and conquest, oppressed and oppressor, submission and dominance, fulfillment and hunger, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, like/infatuation (that which we call love) and hate, good and bad, safe and vulnerable, flexible and rigid, liberal and conservative, doubt and belief, opinion and apathy, strength and weakness, heaven and hell, ease and struggle, ability and disability, abundance and lack, rich and poor, right and left, top and bottom, sophistication and decadence, success and failure, stability and chaos, life and death, form and spirit, heaviness and lightness, sound and silence, movement and stillness, complexity and simplicity, diversity and sameness, inequality and equality, youthfulness and wisdom, child and parent, infancy and old age, dullness and sharpness, ignorance and intelligence, learning and teaching, skill and lack of skill, greatness and humility, awareness and unawareness, surrender and resistance, past and present and future, and Source and manifestation.
I absolutely knew without a doubt—or regardless of the doubts in my mind to which I was not giving attention at the moment and were therefore virtually nonexistent—that this is God. There is no pronoun in the English language that can even somewhat accurately reflect God; “it” is objective and “He” and “She” imply one gender. In fact, all language is completely inadequate here because the nature of language is to differentiate. Plus, language cannot even come close to capturing the magnificence of this reality we inhabit.
I realized that I myself knew nothing, could do nothing and was not special. I recognized this kind of not knowing as an honest one that all truly intelligent people perceive from. Realizing it can dissolve pretense and identification with thought. Then, space is created for open-mindedness, clarity of thought, genuine humility, natural curiosity, and stillness.
God showed me that S/he is creating, shaping, and evolving forms and worlds in much the way an artist creates masterpieces. God/spirit exists outside of time and does not need anything in order to be, and yet life expresses itself through form because of its creative nature. We are creative beings. There is no rush, mean force, competition, heaviness, or seriousness—these are all illusions. The formless life that God is and that we are is eternal. In other words, there is nothing you, me, or anyone can do to keep ourselves from existing literally forever and ever exactly as we are now. Actually, eternity is and will always be now. Time is an illusion created by life. Everything that exists or happens is in the present moment, including any models and memories of past and future. The forms evolve not because life makes them evolve in the way that we think we make things happen (with heavy personal will), but because life is experiencing itself through the forms and is moved to keep expressing. The universe exists so that life can experience and come to know itself through the illusion of form. We humans are one highly- evolved form in our universe through which life is capable of fully seeing its nature.
If we are to align ourselves with life, then we must understand that how we think, say, and act is primary. The content and details of what we think, say, and do is of secondary importance. It is more important, for example, that we have an open heart than if we have nice philosophies and ideologies; believe accurate facts, stories, or details; or have had intense spiritual experiences or a background in spiritual practice. Also, we can manifest an enlightened understanding of the universe and have little knowledge about its exact age and other specific details if we know the essence of its evolution, its nature, and its purpose very well. Likewise, we can understand a person well if we are able to see into his or her being. Knowing many details about that person’s background, story, interests, ideas, and life situation does not matter, though it can be helpful at times. Details and ideas can be important in some situations, but they cannot substitute for the vital foundation of deep, non-conceptual understanding that comes from the intelligence of life itself—the life that is who we really are.
Nothing is personal at all, even—actually, “especially” would be a much better word—those things we take most personally. Being right and winning is far less important than being honest and centered in Being (life). Self-images and personal/collective identities matter very little. They are merely passing thoughts in people’s minds about impermanent aspects of an ever-changing world. We are much truer to ourselves if we use them and everything other form creatively and playfully—if we do not lose ourselves in them and fear death upon facing the impermanence of those forms. Nothing in the universe is absolutely right, wrong, good, or bad. Everything is as it is and has its nature, including all attitudes, philosophies, movements, viewpoints, histories, hopes, and perspectives. Everything in existence plays a part in the evolution of life. To deny, fear, or hate anything in the universe is to deny a part of oneself, to be controlled by that part, and to divide oneself from something that God wisely allows to exist. We must be at peace with everything if we truly wish to manifest peace and create no further suffering.
Life creates experiences and everything in them: actors, objects, stages, scenery, and events. By the very nature of reality, every struggle, tragedy, mistake, and destructive event—absolutely no exceptions—is sooner or later turned into a greater strength and thus serves divine expression. (Just imagine what can come out of the current state of humanity!) Competition and division eventually become cooperation. The original state of unity becomes the experience of differentiation, and then the diversity produced by the differentiation serves as a great expression of the one life that is the Source. This movement is reflected in both biological evolution and human societies. The latter have evolved from total group identification, to individualism in some cultures, and increasing numbers are now returning to unity in greater awareness. The essence of every moment of beauty, integrity, openness, awakening, learning, and creative insight is never forgotten or lost, nor is the memory of every experience ever down to the finest details of the subatomic particles, energy waves, and quantum-level dynamics. [Phoebe could have tried to explain it, but could not have done so as well in this writing when she first saw this truth. She had virtually no knowledge of quantum physics. She explored that area later.]
Many of the greatest expressions of life involve unity in diversity under a common theme. The human body, which is composed of many diverse organs and cell types cooperating, is a great example of unity in diversity. There is also mammal diversity, bird diversity, frog diversity, fish diversity, invertebrate diversity, microbe diversity, soil diversity, fungus diversity, insect diversity, tree diversity, flower diversity, local biodiversity, climate region diversity, crop diversity, food diversity, artistic style diversity, music genre diversity, clothing diversity, tool diversity, architecture diversity, transportation diversity, job diversity, talent and ability diversity, human physical diversity, family diversity, cultural diversity, language diversity, religious and spiritual diversity, personality diversity, age diversity, story diversity, and much more on and beyond planet Earth. Diversity makes communities, ecosystems, and humanity strong. Each individual is a unique expression of consciousness, the One life. Each is beautiful and has strengths, yet each also has limitations. No individual can stand alone. When a diverse collective comes together, there is great strength. Attributes, abilities, functions, weaknesses, and flaws are balanced. There is harmony. The light of the Source shines through more strongly, for that is what unites all. Pure life is what everyone and everything in existence have in common regardless of how different they are on the surface.
God is both all images and roles and beyond all images and roles. God loves every soul, all creation, and every moment infinitely and unconditionally. It cannot be otherwise given that God is truly omniscient and omnipresent and that all judgment is rooted in ignorance. God is infinitely understanding and compassionate. There are absolutely no preferences or favorites—these are illusions. S/he is the spacious ground of being, the formless Source from which all are born and to which all return, absolutely no exceptions. Actually, we are all always one with God and only feel like we are not because of illusions we experience in the world. No one needs to create or identify exclusively with an artificial belonging system when in fact we all belong to reality in its magnificence.
Another way of pointing to this truth is to say that we are always one with nature even when we forget that we are. We are the trees, the flowers, the rocks, the soil, the insects, the mountains, the clouds, the birds, the ocean, the waves, the winds, the seasons, and the vast clear starry sky. We are the breath of Mother Nature. We are vast, spacious, and ancient like a universe of billions of galaxies of billions of suns each. Indeed, we as human beings are microcosms of ecosystems, worlds, galaxies, and universes. We are also macrocosms of molecules, cells, and organs. All are about equally spacious in composition. All are created and ordered organically by the intelligence of life. All experience birth, growth, decline, and death or change. “Nature” is often much easier to perceive as nonjudgmental and not identified with self-images, grandiosities, belief systems, and other thoughts than “God” is, although both forms of language can be used to point to the one Source of all phenomena.
When I saw God, we had an intimate moment during which I uttered the deepest words I have ever expressed. They came in a light and loving tone that echoed through my being: “You created us [humans] so you could see yourself.” In that moment, I smiled like a newborn baby. I felt that I was Transparent and infinite; my solidity seemed nonexistent as who I really am in essence emerged in the realm of experience. (Solidity is indeed an illusion.) I felt that I was truly seeing and being myself after having slept for ages. At the same time, I understood those “ages” and all difficulties to actually be tinier than miniscule in the realm of eternity, which is home. Without physically moving, I could perceive the Earth, outer space, and humanity from a spacious and indescribable “God’s eye view.” Viewing the myriads of human faces with an incredible, intimate, and profound love I could see that everything and everyone is Me. I also saw Myself as that which shines through fully in enlightened beings such as the Buddha. An image of a meditating Buddha came to me, and I knew that I was the spacious consciousness--the luminous light of presence--permeating the cosmos and coming through the Buddha.
I knew that anyone who pursued truth honestly would see the divine and know. God is always seeking union with us—ALL of us—and will reach anyone who is open. God is far (infinitely) greater than even the harshest and most divisive judgment any person’s mind could make, than the worst evil deed that it is possible to commit. Though, we can create whatever illusions we want in our minds for as long as we wish and act on them too. We have total free will in the realm of multiple possibilities. God is so powerful as to even allow for that. No two of our paths are the same, and no path to full knowing and experiencing of the Source is right or wrong. Some are shorter than others, and some are smoother than others, but none are judged as superior in the view of eternity. All possible paths lead to full realization of the Source and therefore the glorious experience of truly being home. This is true whether or not we are conscious of life and its dynamics and whether or not we cooperate with them during these lifetimes.
I was shown a vision of a possible future for humanity on Planet Earth. In this vision, I saw humans behaving very differently than how most of us are accustomed to seeing humans behave in this era. I saw humans of many different types and personalities. They were in a natural area with woods holding hands in a circle and freely celebrating life. Their faces and bodies radiated with love, purity, joy, bliss, peace, innocence, and wisdom, and so did other creatures around them. These people were fully in touch with life. They were not afraid of any part of themselves or the world, nor were they burdened by rigid beliefs or identities of any kind. They were fully evolved and perfectly content living simply and in the now. Though, because of their realized nature as one and the same as the Source and their freedom from identification with form, they had the ability to do and create whatever they wished. They were truly free. They cooperated like cells in a body, for they knew that they were cells in the body of God. They had no doubts that they (and all beings) would continue living after death. In fact, they had brought life and death—Earth and heaven—together, along with all other dualisms, creating a world of perfect wholeness. This is the New Earth. Upon seeing it, I understood that humanity’s fate is uncertain and that it is up to me and anyone else who sees this possibility to create it out of what we have at this time. I understood that it is also very possible that our species might not make it to maturity, and that that is also okay if it happens.
I understood that every failure is a success, for it contributes vitally to the unfolding and self-discovery of life. Even the biggest failures in existence are successes, for they, along with all other failures, are opportunities. Anything that fails or is destroyed prematurely, even on the largest cosmic scale possible, can be re-created if life/spacious consciousness wishes to continue evolving and expressing through it. Life can also create something very different and continue there or do anything else that it wishes.
Likewise, I understood that I as a person might not survive to maturity or fulfill my life purpose this time and that that would be okay if it happened. [There have been quite a few times since 2010 that, if they had gone another way that was not unlikely, I would not be here editing this journal in 2015.] God never loves anyone any less if they do not “make it.” Love is infinite, no matter how many times one “fails.” If we look upon death as a failure, then we must also see it as an opportunity. Death is a great blessing that allows an old form to be shed and its elements recycled. When death happens, a new form can be born, and/or there can be a return to the formless Source, to God, to Spirit.
I understood that those we tend to shun and call unfortunate—the disabled, the young, the old, the meek, the poor, the weak and challenged, the senile, the ugly, the awkward, the weird, those without status or of lower status, the humiliated and shamed, and the dying—are actually among the most fortunate if they remain open and able to feel the life that they are. These people are potentially much closer to the Source in their experience than those who are materially successful or of high status; the latter tend to have big selfish egos, identify strongly with what they have, and be cut off from what truly matters in life and who they really are. Little do many of them know, realizing their oneness with the Source is far greater than anything one could possibly have or do in the world. True satisfaction comes from knowing oneself within, not outside oneself in external conditions. No one who does not experience being home with God can ever attain total and lasting satisfaction.
The love expressed in these moments of nakedness was absolutely beyond anything words can describe. There was warmth, joy, peace, and a sense of truly being home. When I looked at my eyes in the mirror, they were shining radiantly in a way they had never done so before. There was so much life in them, they were almost glowing. My body felt vibrantly alive all over. I sensed the spirits of the Buddha and other enlightened beings throughout history welcoming me into knowing. This occasion was the first of a few in which I sensed their presence and support.
Around this time (actually, hole in time), another strong gut feeling came. This one told me that this current physical lifetime I was in would be my last, and this fact did not surprise me at all. I sensed that I had known it since before I was born and had merely forgotten temporarily. “My last” means last in the phase of evolution before self-realization. “Self-realization” means fully realizing the nature of life and existence, of oneness with all of life, and that life always is, and then living in the world in full awareness and without ego. Life is always free to be itself to the absolute fullest, can always do whatever it wishes, and is not required to carry any of the burdens and stresses of the survival game. It means realizing that nothing happens that life does not acknowledge and accept as possible, even if this fact is not yet known in the conscious minds of most humans living in this era.
These realizations did not happen in a neat sequential order as I have described here. Rather, they were experienced simultaneously, as if the understanding was all coming through me as a byproduct of experiencing my essence as the Source. It is impossible to describe how this opening to life “happened.” It did not strictly “happen,” except as a removal of manifested barriers in me that were blocking the seeing —as a removal of time. What was perceived is outside of time, though some parts were translated into words or experiences in time. I recall time in these days before and following Thanksgiving Break as if all insights that came through happened at once. Indeed, the nature of time is that all time is simultaneous. This is how it is perceived from eternity. (Plus, it is not important if there was more than one occasion during this time period when I was in front of the mirror and profound realizations came; there might have been. I do not recall all the details of time. What is important is that all of it is one.)
For about the next two weeks, I felt as if “Phoebe” was not who “I” was, but was someone who had died. “I” am being, pure life. Phoebe would often wake up in the morning feeling much more alive consciousness in her legs and feet than in her head. Spacious and aware, I saw the world and Phoebe's life situation from a perspective that was outside that old human self. During this time, classmates, professors, and Phoebe appeared as actors in a play. Phoebe did not talk much; she mostly listened and observed.
The sense of being the spacious presence behind and within all experience has never left me, though sometimes it is more in the foreground or background. At times, I have fallen asleep at night while remaining conscious of myself as the life in the background of the person falling asleep. I don't feel that any inner or outer experience is self, while other things are not. I can't believe in words, statements, or ideas in the way most people do.
During Winter Break [lasting from mid-December to early January], Phoebe sensed Amanda’s presence again. Amanda silently let her know that she could see what Phoebe was going through.
Little did Phoebe know, this unfolding that happened between September and December 2010 was just the beginning. There would be much adjusting to do, experiences to have, challenges to face, issues to resolve, and places and topics to explore. Often extremely disoriented and overwhelmed by hypersensitivity, she has literally done a lot of relearning how to use her mind and body and how to communicate with people. (The latter is something she has struggled with a lot, as there have been times when she has been unable to speak very effectively. This has been especially true with those who did not truly listen when she was in their presence.) She has deepened her understanding of this world and the universe. The old patterns of tension, division, and ego that ran much of her life before have been crumbling quickly. Although there have been a lot of moments of instant relief, this crumbling has often been rough. Deeply hidden tensions have been brought up and sometimes have needed to be felt fully before they could dissolve and make way for relief. When relief has happened, there has sometimes been so much energy in the body that it could do little other than run around the house, take a fast walk, or channel it through fast music and dance. This process has been happening to the mind and through the mind. It cannot be controlled by the mind or the separate personal self, which is a mind-made illusion. This is a healing and integration process.
There have been many hardships and challenges, including dropping out of school, disability (inability to function in the world for two years because of disorientation and hypersensitivity), homelessness, poverty, loss of friends and relationships, hostility and misunderstanding from others (including conventional health professionals and spiritual counselors/teachers), and lack of support most of the time. On the personal level, I have experienced loss of virtually all sense of belonging to any group and hope for humanity on its current trajectory.
There were times when wished I could leave the planet, escape to a faraway place, be rescued somehow by more advanced beings, or have this physical lifetime end. My loneliness and disillusionment have been felt very intensely at times. I have also wished for the collapse or transformation of civilization because its burdens sometimes felt extremely heavy. Plus, I have often feared persecution, for I am extremely sensitive to the societal dynamics of creating insiders, excluding outsiders, and dehumanizing people who do not identify with dominant norms/priorities. During my hardest times, I felt the presence of the spirit guide embracing and soothing me; he/she did not appear as any identity, only as pure spirit. Sometimes, he/she would gently knock on a blockage within my body and dislodge it.
Almost every day since early 2012, I have released trapped energy from my mind and body by focusing my free consciousness on blockages that were ready to dissolve. When they dissolved, they were experienced as a release of tension in one or more parts of the body (usually head, abdomen, and/or chest), and the energy flowing out through my Being. The energy is felt to be warm, like the heat from a fire that burns dead wood, but not hot in a way that burns. I sense that what is happening is a very similar process in that the dead, divisive, fear-based conditioning inside my system has been literally burning up with the help of my free consciousness. The more of it burns, the clearer and more integrated I become.
There have also been many more profound and beautiful experiences. I highlight three of them below. These have included deep insights into various aspects of life and death, spontaneous powerful visions of alternate scenarios of actual events, psychic abilities manifesting, past life and death memories (some of them traumatic, others beautiful), out-of-body experiences in which I would fly through walls around the house or in other dimensions, many moments of clear, awake consciousness in various situations, and more. I have experienced myself as one with the sky, with trees and plants, with animals, with other people, with formations, or with things in a deep and intimate way. Sometimes, profound experiences have spontaneously occurred in the middle of class or while out running errands.
On one occasion, while I was lying in bed awake during a very dark and chaotic period, the intelligence of planet Earth made itself known to me. Without words, the Earth’s spirit let me know that her name is Gaia. We merged for a few moments and shared a lot of love.
For much of one day in 2012, I perceived a deep, fresh, pristine, and alive quality all over my world more than I ever had before, especially in the trees. This seeing came after an intense dis-identification of the formless that I am from the form of Phoebe. I experienced myself as higher consciousness and understood that this is how the world actually is when we perceive it in its fullness. I have had many more similar experiences since then.
One day in late August 2013 while I was walking across a living room, my consciousness shifted outside the realm of manifestation. I again perceived the unspeakable power of pure life that underlies the universe, the greatest and only true power. Since then, such insights and perceptions have increased in frequency. In September and October 2013 and also in various instances since then, I spontaneously experienced myself as pure formless, timeless, limitless life—I have seen myself clearly beyond personal perception and mind—multiple times (actually, holes in time). Each “time,” I become less attached to the realm of time and more centered as I go about my life situation--I have sometimes experienced an intense feeling of bliss, clarity, and boundless freedom. Time feels less real and more like a beautiful illusion experienced within the eternal now. In every present moment, all possibilities and times exist simultaneously within, and inner space is one and the same as outer space. The time-bound human mind cannot grasp this truth.
Also, synchronicities have become frequent. They naturally do when life becomes conscious of its nature through its experience. When there is openness, it becomes much easier for life to cooperate with itself. I have been living by grace for the past few years now, and life has often given me no more than I needed in order to survive and continue integrating. I have often felt drawn to doing volunteer jobs and not paid jobs because I saw that the volunteer work was what the world really needed. Also, one of my greatest joys is meeting other people in the transcendent. There is a beauty and joy to that experience that is indescribable. I love giving others back to themselves, which really means giving Myself back to Myself, when I meet people who are ready and receptive. Such meetings are mutually beneficial. Sadly, I've met few such people.
These and other phenomena we often call mystical are not personal. They are natural to life. We all have it in us to have mystical experiences and profound insights. At the same time, it is frequently not best for us to have them. Each of us is experiencing exactly what we need to experience. Each of us is consciousness having this unique experience as this unique person/entity and at this unique point in the realm of time. There are no right, wrong, superior, or inferior experiences. All experiences are parts of the unfolding of life— the great circle of experience from the Source, to unconscious manifestation, to conscious manifestation, and back to the Source. It is natural and perfectly okay for us and other beings to be in very different places of awareness and expression. We can make the best of what we have, or we can resist what life has to show us, repeat the same challenges over and over, and make the path more difficult. Being conscious of the process we are in certainly makes it much easier.
There is nothing special about me or anyone else. To believe in specialness is to identify with external situations and thus to forget who we really are. I am where I am largely because past lifetimes have prepared me. Perhaps a greater reason, though, is a genuine willingness to know myself, to discover the depths of life, and to live in peace and integrity. This willingness in me has been stronger than the other forces in my life (i.e., the desires to succeed materially and fit into society). We all have it in us to express this willingness, just as we all have the seed of enlightenment. It is up to each of us to discover the depths of life and of ourselves, which are one and the same. It is up to each of us to realize that the ultimate fulfillment is not in the past or future, but in the now regardless of external circumstances. The space of now--life itself--transcends all phenomena, experiences, and circumstances. The light is infinitely greater and more powerful than all burdens, darkness, and suffering. God is all there is.
Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience? No
Was the kind of experience difficult to express in words? Yes
At the time of this experience, was there an associated life threatening event? No
What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience? More consciousness and alertness than normal
Was the experience dream like in any way? At times, visions and images that have come to me have been a bit dreamlike, while my state of consciousness has been extremely clear. I felt myself to be the pure consciousness beyond all forms and felt all forms to be illusory. The ADC wasn't dreamlike at all, and neither was the felt presence of other discarnate beings mentioned. I felt their presence directly and knew they were there.
Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body? Yes During the initial awakenings, I did not separate from my body in terms of physical distance, but I definitely felt myself to be beyond my body--dis-identified from it and in a higher, transcendent state.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? See experience description for details. During awakenings, emotions were profoundly blissful, peaceful, joyful, and vibrantly alive. I wouldn't call them emotions, as they came from the natural state of pure Being beyond the organism.
Did you hear any unusual sounds or noises? No.
LOCATION DESCRIPTION: Did you recognize any familiar locations or any locations from familiar religious teachings or encounter any locations inhabited by incredible or amazing creatures? Yes I was given a vision of the New Earth inhabited by enlightened humans.
Did you see a light? Yes I saw and experienced myself as one with the light of pure consciousness that is the Source of all existence and the ground of reality.
Did you meet or see any other beings? Yes My deceased friend, Gaia, the presence of the Buddha, and guide/angel that manifested as pure spirit without a specific individual identity. They communicated messages of love and supported me. They didn't meet me in another realm, but presented themselves through my experience on Earth.
Did you have any sense of altered space or time? Yes Time was felt to not be as real; Being was felt to create time and be beyond time. All time and possibilities were felt to be existing now.
Did you have a sense of knowing, special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose? Yes See experience description.
Did you become aware of future events? Yes See experience description of New Earth vision.
Were you involved in or aware of a decision regarding your return to the body? No
Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience that you did not have prior to the experience? Yes See last section of experience description.
Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience? Yes I was agnostic before and skeptical of life after death, though I was drawn to meditation and holistic living. After the experience, I definitely know that consciousness transcends death. My priorities have shifted further away from valuing money, status, or meeting social expectations and to valuing spiritual evolution, well-being, and awareness. Things are secondary to consciousness, even to the point where if I had to choose between physical death and living in identification with a material lifestyle, I'd choose the former. I am open to having money, but it would not be of primary importance like it is to most people in this world.
How has the experience affected your relationships? Daily life? Religious practices? Career choices? Drastically. Many relationships have dissolved. I quit school, then went back when I was able to function enough and finished my bachelor's degree. I didn't get it in biology, but in general liberal studies. I tried majoring in social work the second time I went to school, but I didn't fit into the department and ended up not working out. I have a hard time finding employment because as a young woman, I'm usually treated as if I don't know much and am expected to conform to the dominant (materialistic, ego-driven) setting and/or engage in practices that I sense to be harmful to life. I've meditated and taken part in numerous spiritual groups (including an online one for people who have had NDEs and other STEs), but none has really felt like a place where I could really express my awareness. Some groups had people who were outright degrading or harmful in how they went about. I still haven't found a niche in this world where I truly use my gifts to help others. My spiritual practice often involves listening to meditative talks and reading profound books and STE/NDE accounts.
Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes See other responses.
Have you shared this experience with others? Yes Diverse reactions. Many people have been scared, have treated me like I was insane, were hostile, and/or rejected me. Some have been somewhat supportive or supportive. Some people were initially supportive and later became less supportive or unsupportive. I feel that those I shared it with were influenced by it, even if they were disturbed. I don't feel that anyone I've shared it with really understood it deeply.
What emotions did you experience following your experience? See description.
What was the best and worst part of your experience? Best--being one with the light
Worst--going through difficult inner conditioned patterns and experiencing rejection and hostility from others
Is there anything else you would like to add concerning the experience? I couldn't have described the experiences like I did here at the time they happened. The description is an edited version of a journal I wrote about them between 2012 and 2014. It wasn't until then that I was able to write a narrative form of them like this.
Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience? Yes Too many to describe, and they seem to have happened independently of any medication or substance. I have never been drunk, high, or smoked anything ever in this lifetime. My normal state of consciousness has shifted to sensing the transcendent in everyday life and often having deep insights and experiences.
Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience? Uncertain I did my best to describe the experience, but it definitely can't be described in words.
Please offer any suggestions you may have to improve this questionnaire. Make some questions' responses optional for publishing. I'm okay with having most of this information published, but not all of it. [Info to not intended to be published has been omitted and does not appear here.] Also, create an option in the questionnaire for contributors to identify as transgender or a gender other than male or female. This is not an issue for me, but it would be for some people.