“There is an ancient story in the East that tells that there was a wall of mystery. Whenever anyone tried to climb up the wall to look at the other side, he smiled and jumped over, and never came back again. So the people of that country became very curious to know what mystery was behind the wall. Once when someone was climbing up the wall to see what was on the other side, they put chains on his feet, and held him so that he would not go over. When he looked at the other side, he too was delighted with what he saw and smiled; and those standing at the foot of the wall; curious to know what he had to say, pulled him back. But to their great disappointment he had lost his speech.” (Excerpt taken from The Music of Life by Hazrat Inayat Khan)
Since the beginning of time, mystics have sought the answers to the many mysteries of life. Much of that time has been spent in endless speculation. But perhaps the greatest of all life’s mysteries is that of death.
Sometimes, while making dinner I would ask Christian, “Please read that story of the wall again!” I always liked it so well. Like children, we were always completely fascinated with each and every mystery beyond our reach. We spent many hours in discussions – wondering, speculating, interpreting and philosophizing about the things beyond the wall. What great mystery would we unravel next? Cracking the code was just part of our fun.
For perspective, we watched movies and documentaries relating to human existence. We read a variety of religious and spiritual books, and to us, it seemed there were as many perspectives as there were people. Seeking further light and knowledge, we prayed and meditated mindfully, in hopes of getting even the smallest glimpse of this magical knowledge. And when we did, we were truly ecstatic! Our imaginations ran wild as we investigated, explored and theorized even more.
The last time Christian read that story to me was no more than three weeks before his death. Besides being completely devastated with grief, over his death, quite frankly, I was a little “pissed off” that he “one-upped” me! Now he knew what was over that wall and I still didn’t!
After Christian’s death, I found that many of the great sounding conceptual theories we once discussed became much too painful to believe in the light and reality of my situation. Not that these concepts were bad in any way, but being concepts from the brain, they weren’t the most heart-felt comforting beliefs a grieving soul could have. For example, it’s one thing to have fantasies of losing that thing that has plagued you with pain all your life, the ego (individuality), which is to be broken down, absorbed and integrated into the whole. It is another thing to believe this is true, meaning… you will never again experience your loved one as the individual you did before. With my loss, this belief turned out to be even more painful.
Curious for answers and a mystic myself, I asked many people about their beliefs of life after death and the true nature of God. In return, I heard many different stories. Some people even believed that death was the end. To me, this was an especially painful perspective. Even though I don’t subscribe to this belief, I thought it to be cruel that we could love and bond so deeply to one another, if it doesn’t even matter in the end. I thought, “What’s the point if you can’t take it with you?”
I spent time with therapists, trying to get some relief from my pain, but no one was as insensitive to my emotional state as one psychiatrist. During my first session with him, when I was most fragile, he completely shattered one of my most sacred Christian beliefs, saying what he believed was true, that there is no Heaven and I would never again be reunited with my long lost deceased loved ones. This opinion of his fed into my deepest fears. Needless to say, with him unwilling to work within my belief system, I didn’t see him again.
To help ease the pain, I was put on a variety of anti-depressants. But to my dismay, none of them would work for me, even at the lightest dose. By the 2nd or 3rd day of taking them, I was unable to stand up because my head was spinning so fast, so I made the choice to quit medicating myself.
Early on, I even sought out a few psychics for comfort and to get the answers I needed. None of this worked the way I hoped it would. I patiently waited one whole month for one of my appointments. Only as a chuckle now, when she began, it seemed she was reading for another, since the reading was completely foreign to me. Repeatedly, she kept talking about a big black toenail, which I knew nothing about. Eventually, she told me that my deceased Father wanted me to use refillable water bottles. “What?” I thought. In light of my grief, I figured the session would be a little more geared to my actual situation.
It wasn’t until forty-five minutes into the call, that I had to break in to tell her that I had just lost someone to death that I was very close to and would she please address this issue? Needless to say, the information in the last fifteen minutes had nothing to do with him. And then it happened. She asked me if he had a big black toenail!!!
As I hung up the phone, I wondered why the call had been so entirely disastrous. I knew there were those people who were so extremely close to the veil, between this world and the next, yet why were these blatant lack of connections happening?
I was not only experiencing the deepest grief I’ve ever known thus far, but adding to the pain, I felt so lost and isolated too. I didn’t know which way to turn. What was the truth? I admit that my, then very open mind, put me in an extremely vulnerable position. What did I really believe at a time when it was so important to believe in something of comfort? I needed to find answers.
I read the books of many religions and spiritual practices in hopes of finding some peace. I watched every program, movie, documentary that had anything to do with getting the answers I needed to make sense of it all. I read scores of books on past lives, future lives, parallel lives, after-death communication and near-death experiences. Once again, I soon realized that there were as many stories and perspectives as there were people. It was all so confusing! In some contradictory near-death experiences, I read that some Christians saw Buddha, while others saw Christian figures. Some Atheists saw Jesus, and another saw aliens, or nothing at all. Some experienced a light or energy field, while others experienced God as spirit or God as flesh and bones. Then, there was Moses, Mohammad, Vishnu, and the many other religious figures in the world in their various combinations. But sometimes, it was just Grandpa Bill or Auntie Flo they would see over the wall, upon dying.
Some of these people experienced being in a beautiful garden full of brightly colored flowers, while some were at the pearly gates of Heaven. Some experienced being in “The Void” and called it good, while others called it bad. Some experienced the beauty and peacefulness of the universe, while others found themselves safely within the walls of a crystal city. Just in skimming the surface, there was no end to the variety of experiences people reported when returning to this realm. The more experiences I read and heard, the more I realized that, like the uniqueness of fingerprints, there are no two experiences beyond the wall that are exactly alike.
Having had many spiritual experiences throughout my life, some of them near-death experiences, I must say that my peeks over the wall have been interesting, to say the least. I too have seen the gates of Heaven, the crystal cities, the universe in all its glory, “The void” (the good one), the garden of brightly colored flowers, among many other landscapes. I have experienced a wide range of characters, including Jesus, Vishnu, Hanuman, Ganesh, Heavenly Mother and Father, deceased friends and family, God the Creator, the light and energy field.
So the question begs to be asked. Is there an ultimate reality or will we experience a view based on our individual perspective or perception? I come from a Christian background, yet why is Hinduism in my mix? I realized that although we may think that everyone would have the same story to tell, what’s more notable are the differences. Even reports from the “other side” of the wall don’t necessarily jive, as some people might think they would. I guess that’s why it’s called a mystery.
To find relief from my grief and devastation, I searched far and wide to find the answers, so much so, that I missed something very important. As you can understand by what I’ve written about my trials and tribulations, it took me quite a while to find peace and grounding. Today, I am at peace.
So, I started with the many spiritual experiences I’ve had in life that were my own. How could I believe another’s experience over my own precious ones? Also, I spent many hours within myself, asking questions and finding the answers that felt true and good to my heart and soul. Although it is extremely interesting to me to read and hear the truth of what other people experience with their glimpses over the wall, what’s more important to me, is the truth of what I experience. In this, I have found complete comfort and resolution.
In conclusion though, one might wonder, after all my efforts, what did I finally find over the wall?
I just smile, as I say, “It doesn’t matter what I found over the wall”, only to say this, “It is within each soul that the truest truths exist. You need only to look inside to see what’s over the wall.”