Here’s a conversation about NDEs we haven’t had before—and doesn’t it seem odd there’s anything left we haven’t discussed? The topic comes once again from Nemo (Steve Weber), the source of so many interesting and worthwhile thoughts. Confusingly, there is another Steve Weber who also had an NDE, but that Steve lives in Florida and has a book about his NDE, titled The Place between Here and There. Nemo (Steve) lives in California and has a couple of walk-ins in my book.
It is Nemo (Steve) who writes to me introducing so many intriguing discoveries. Well into the pandemic, and more than a year after I had posted anything here, there were still bits of conversation happening occasionally online around the comments. In one of those lingering exchanges, he wrote:
One thing I’ve come to realize, regarding my current spiritual reality, on my path, is that it is virtually diametrically opposed to my “spiritual reality” of 50 years ago. I’ve wondered more than once what it would be like to time travel back to 1970 and present my current view to that new “Jesus Freak.” I wonder how the old “me” would respond to such apparent heresy. I mention this because I find it prudent to be mindful of this reality when conversing with others lest I become dogmatic and even find myself pontificating (Lord help us!). I’ve often despaired at attempting to convey my “truth”/reality to others, concluding that one’s truth/knowing isn’t transferable– after all, the “me” of much of the last 50 years likely couldn’t identify with it. The realizations that I’ve had regarding my Void NDE therefore have remained largely ineffable– I’ve attempted to convey them, but realize that one really can’t get it unless they’ve been there.
During the holed-up Year of Covid, I had spent my entire time, months on end of twelve-hour and fourteen-hour days, grappling with the story of my NDE and how I got from there to here. But oddly, it seems now, although the year was full of recollections about that earlier self, I had never thought to go back and have a conversation with her. What would we have to say to each other, with such different outlooks and understandings?
Time travel strangeness
In a preface to Beyond the Postmodern Mind, Huston Smith quotes Gai Eaton in The King of the Castle: “If, by some strange device, a man of our century could step backwards in time and mix with the people of a distant age, he would have good cause to doubt their sanity or his own.” The self of my today is a decade more than a half-century removed from the self of my NDE, which does not sound like “a distant age,” but the differences in thinking clearly mark the pivotal character of the years between. All of us who have memories from the 1960s and beyond have been living a sea change.
We surely knew there was chaos all around, but what most of us did not realize consciously was that so much of it was the crumbling of the Modern epoch. Our understanding of the world, and our certainties and expectations would go with it. Huston Smith continues:
[T]he stages peoples’ outlooks pass through on the temporal continuum have led the West to one that has come to be called “Postmodern” to distinguish it from the Modernity that began in the seventeenth century and ended around the middle of the last century. The Modern Mind took its cues from the new worldview that science introduced, but twenty-first century science has abandoned not just that worldview but worldviews generally. From Aristotle to Dante, the world was pictured as a series of concentric spheres. Newton replaced that with his clockwork universe, but quantum mechanics gives us, not a new picture of the world, but no picture at all. And philosophy has followed suit. Metaphysics died around the time that God died, Langton Gilkey has observed, tying its death to the “death of God” movement that Nietzsche announced, but which took a half-century to come to public notice.
The “no picture at all” of our quantumized Now is the “You are not real” of my NDE, My earlier self was securely Modern; the current version is recognizably Postmodern, though in contention with the aggressively “woke.” No wonder it has taken such struggle to integrate that hard-edged NDE, which was forcing a leap to a sociological, philosophical, and spiritual developmental stage for which I was not ready. And how interesting that, looking at it from this perspective, it sounds so obvious and not all that hard!
About that conversation with my younger self: it occurs to me that my best option would be simply to give her a copy of Reckoning.
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Asking a favor:
If you have read Reckoning—and especially if you enjoyed it (or at least found it interesting)—please add your Like to whatever review page you use. The book has been out more than a month and still has only three Likes and a single comment on Amazon. It is reassuring that all three have five stars and the comment is beyond gratifying, but in publishing, having only three stars is a body blow to the book’s reputation!
Your participation will make a difference. I suspect that some readers may find the changes outlined in the book hard to take in (which I certainly understand!), and your comments can help others make their way through. If you can’t bring yourself to write even a quick review, at least give it some stars! Five would be lovely, but honesty is important.
Thank you for helping!