The first secret of heaven
The first Secret of Heaven is sensational awareness.
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‘You are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience.’ Anon
I was about seventeen years old when I first really heard the words above. I had, of course, heard them many times from my mother and in the numerous spiritualist meetings I attended, but they were just words. I didn’t start trying to make sense of what they truly meant, however, until my teenage years.
A school friend of mine had recently lost her father due to a surprise heart attack and she was devastated. I wanted to say something to her that would help ease her pain. I couldn’t bear seeing her hurting so much but I struggled to find the right words. I remember sitting beside her in silence and a part of me, I’m ashamed to admit, longing to escape the claustrophobic and intense atmosphere of grief. I fought that feeling and begged for heaven to give me some words and then, before I knew it, I told her that her father was alive in spirit because we are spiritual beings having a human experience and not the other way around. For a brief moment – and it was truly brief – I saw her face shift from twisted torment into cautious hope. It was just a flicker of joy, and the moment soon passed, but I have never forgotten it because it felt like a message from heaven that I was on the right track. I was telling her what her heart and spirit needed to hear. It was telling her that we don’t die.
Put simply, the reason NDE stories blow our minds and fill us with a sense of hope and wonder is because they illustrate the very same message, of life being eternal. When we die, we leave our bodies behind and discover that our physical lives were never what defined us or who we really are. Our body was simply the clothing for our spirit or soul. Our spirit survives death and continues a new life on the other side. In this respect, heaven is our true home and earth a place we travelled to for a visit. The first secret of heaven, therefore, instantly reveals itself with astonishing clarity that the end of our physical lives is a gateway to our true home – heaven, for we don’t die. We are eternal.
‘After you die, you wear what you are.’ St Teresa of Avila
The moment you truly believe in your eternal spirit, in the reality of heaven, is the moment your entire perspective on life changes. Most of us have flashes or moments of divine illumination in our earthly lives but they are rarely sustained. For example, we may sense the presence of a departed loved one or grasp a moment of transcendence when we gaze in awe at a beautiful view, or lose ourselves in glorious and timeless happiness when we fall in love. All these blissful experiences give us tantalising glimpses of heaven on earth, but then the routines, responsibilities and questions of earthly life take over and we lose sight of our eternal existence. Once we cross over to heaven, however, that peak or transcendent feeling never fades because we know with absolute certainty that life is a continuum. We realise that consciousness survives, and death is simply a transition to another form of existence. We realise that we still exist – we sense and feel and think as we did before but we are operating on another level of existence.
Understanding our life as an eternal state has tremendous consequences and the so-called ‘life review’, when your entire life is played back to you in heaven, that many NDE stories mention, underlines this. The concept of life as a continuum jolts us into an awareness that every thought we have, action we make or word we say really, really matters. Everything matters. Nothing in this life or the next can be trivialised. There is always that famous saying, ‘You only live once’, which we quote to encourage us to live life to the full – and I applaud that – but sometimes we use it as an excuse to do unkind or selfish things. Perhaps it would be better for us to reflect instead on the eternal meaning of our lives.
One enlightening way to fully comprehend how the concept of eternal life changes us is to become conscious of the fact that everything you do will be taken note of and reviewed in heaven. Think of your every word and your every action as reviewable. How would your interactions with others, even the person who serves you coffee, change? Try it for a day, starting from tomorrow, and you will know that believing in heaven changes everything in your life for the better.
The illusion of time
In heaven we understand that life never ends. We also learn that the concept of time as we comprehend it simply does not exist. Time is not real. Time is a creation, an illusion. There is no time as we experience it when we are alive. Our souls exist beyond and outside of time.
Einstein suggested that time only exists to stop everything happening at once. What he meant was that the concept of linear time (things happening one after the other) is a concept created by our minds to allow things to happen in an orderly manner. Without a system of measuring time there would be chaos. His theory of relativity showed that time is not constant or linear but can be changed or altered by the speed and direction of a moving object.
The awareness of time as being fluid, of operating differently outside of consensus reality, can have a tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. The realisation that, from the perspective of heaven, our life on earth could be over in the flash of a second, and that events may be happening at blinding speed or occurring simultaneously (but be slowed down and ordered in our minds, as we live in a physical rather than a spiritual universe) helps us to understand that a ninety-year lifespan on earth may take place in the blink of an eye in spirit. So perhaps the reason some of us don’t receive any sign, or feel a strong sense of connection with departed loved ones, is because the departed feel they have only been gone a few moments, or have not left at all, and they know you will be together with them again in the blink of an eye.
Life is death
We fear death because we think it is the end of everything but this couldn’t be further from the truth. NDE stories show that death is not an end but a part of life. If you think about it, you are dying every single moment of your life in that you leave behind moments that you can never revisit physically. The years fall behind you just as autumn leaves fall off a tree. The process of growing older is not something we typically fear but learn to accept, embrace even, and I hope awareness of your eternal life in spirit will remove any fear of death you have and replace it with calm and loving acceptance.
Only by losing your fear of death can you live life with true passion and commitment. Living your life anxious that your days are numbered will numb any passion for life you have, but when you understand that you are an eternal spiritual being suddenly you will feel more alive than ever before. Losing fear of death is, of course, easier said than done but perhaps this little visualisation exercise might help.
Think about yourself as a child. Now think of yourself as a teenager or the person you were ten or twenty years ago. Now think of who you are today. The child isn’t the person you are now, so where has that child gone? That child was you with a different body and mind, but now that body and mind have, in essence, passed away or ‘died’ and been replaced by who you are now. This process happens at every age and stage of our lives, even each day and from moment to moment. So which ‘you’ is going to go to heaven? The self that was you as a child or the person you were aged twenty or the ‘you’ that lived yesterday or the person you are today?
What I’m trying to say is that your mind is constantly being reborn with thoughts and feelings as you age and your body is constantly changing and renewing itself. This doesn’t stop you – your essence – from going on, from continuing, though. Every single second you are dying and recreating yourself. What I’d like you to do here is see yourself without being attached to any age or moment in your life. I’m trying to get you to observe yourself independent of your body and mind – to acknowledge the spirit in you that has always been constant, regardless of your age. This is the part of you that lives forever. This is the part of you that goes to heaven.
You are not your body. So when you eventually die it will not be your soul leaving your body but your body being left by your soul – much as it has been doing all your life. Your soul is just moving forward into a new level of existence, as it has always done, and once you know you are eternal and unchanged in spirit then you have absolutely no reason to fear death or to doubt that you will see your loved ones again in spirit.
Death is life
Although I have never been to heaven, from what I have researched death very much seems like growing into a new form in a different place in space and time. (Some people talk about seeing their life flash before their eyes with complete understanding of each choice ever made before this transition to spirit occurs, but this is not the case for every NDE.)
Awareness that you are a spiritual being having a human experience, and that in the midst of life we are already in death, conquers all fear of death as an ending or void of nothingness. It will help you confront your own mortality. If you are ever in the privileged position to spend time with a dying person who is anxious and afraid, you can in gentle ways reassure, comfort and support that person with your new-found understanding. You could talk to them about their life and what filled them with feelings of pride and joy. You could encourage them to discuss any regrets they may have, and by so doing help them let go of those regrets. You could ask them how they feel about moving to another level of existence and tell them there is no need for sorrow and that they deserve to find peace. You could encourage them to become consciously aware of what is happening to them rather than diminish any physical life they have left with fear, guilt and denial.
Of course, talking about death is always going to bring up feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, because death is the great unknown, but if you can connect yourself and others to an awareness that death is a natural part of your life, and life is a natural part of your death, and the eternal ‘you’ will remain unchanged by death, then you will have discovered the first secret of heaven – the foundation stone of the afterlife.
‘I’m not asking you to believe anything. I’m simply telling you what I believe. And I have no idea what the next life will be like. Whatever I saw was only from the doorway, so to speak. But it was enough to convince me totally … that our consciousness does not cease with physical death; that it becomes, in fact, keener and more aware than ever’ NDExperiencer George
Thank you for reading this extracted from my book Ten Secrets of Heaven (Simon and Schuster) Sending an angel to watch over you. Love, Theresa x