Well over a decade ago, I started writing my first novel. My intention was not to publish it. It was just my way of exploring consciousness and having fun while doing so. At the time, I was just coming out of a decade’s worth of scepticism. The novel, Soul Surfer, was an attempt to reconcile my opposing belief systems. After having immersed myself in yoga, meditation and mysticism throughout my twenties, by the time I reached my thirties, I had become somewhat disenchanted. For the next decade, I devoted myself to my family and my work and put all that “nonsense” behind me.
Sometime around 1998, I had a revelation one day while I was out surfing. It was one of those rare days when I had perfect conditions all to myself. The sun was shining, the waves were good and I was all alone with my thoughts between waves. As I felt the rise and fall of a swell pass me by, I realized that those waves I was riding were not made of water: they were pure energy, generated by a storm thousands of miles away.
At the same time, I realized once again that I, too, was not a physical body. I was pure energy, as was all of creation. Time, space and matter were only relative truths that masked a far deeper reality. This hit me so hard, I had to do something about it, so I started writing a book.
I call Soul Surfer an allegorical fantasy. Paul Avalon is a former Australian surf god who has fallen from grace. Looking for redemption, he sets out on a surfing trip to a secret spot he had loved in his youth, but had not been to for many years. Along the way, he has an accident that results in his temporary death. He has a Near Death Experience that changes his life and, ultimately, the lives of many others.
Over the course of writing the book, I did a lot of research into Near Death Experiences (NDEs). I came to the conclusion that science has a much harder time explaining them away as figments of the imagination than it does accepting them for what those who experience them do; as glimpses of the afterlife. My research went a long way towards reconciling the opposites of scientific materialism and spirituality that were battling in my mind at the time.
Recently, I stumbled across a video clip from a popular Australian TV show. Titled, "Near Death Experiences: new research suggests they’re all in the mind", I gave it a look, thinking perhaps I would learn something from it. To my astonishment, the research cited had nothing to do with NDEs and the sceptic interviewed in the segment provided no scientific evidence whatsoever to back up his claim that NDEs were simply “wishful thinking.”
After watching the segment, my first thought was, “How can they be so dumb! Aren’t scientists supposed to be objective?” Looking for an explanation, I found a plausible one in a Time article. In this article, Dr. Sam Parnia, a more open-minded researcher into NDEs answers the question, "Why do you think there is such resistance to studies like yours?" with these words: "If you look back at the end of the 19th century, physicists at that time had been working with Newtonian laws of motion, and they really felt they had all the answers to everything that was out there in the universe."
Who knows, maybe NDEs are all in the mind. Even many people who have experienced them admit that we’ll never know for sure that there is an afterlife until we are dead. The evidence, though, is so compelling, no rational person can just dismiss it as a “figment of the imagination.” At the very least, even the most hardened sceptic has to admit that scepticism, too, is “all in the mind.” Just as there is no sense arguing with a fundamentalist, there is no sense arguing with sceptics who cling to their outmoded belief in Newtonian physics. If they feel more comfortable living in an illusory world of matter, that is their choice. Personally, I’d rather let my spirit soar.
The author has been studying consciousness throughout his conscious life, both theoretically and experientially. His website, A Cookbook of Consciousness is a compendium of his writings on the subject. He writes about everything from atheism to zen.