I have never doubted the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Decades ago I was moved by the experiences of Dr. George Ritchie and Raymond Moody. When I recently heard the neurosurgeon, Dr. Eben Alexander, talk about his NDE and read his book (Proof of Heaven, which I highly recommend), I was assured again of heaven’s accessibility for each and every one of us.
I had been taught in Sunday School about heaven as an end time, but now I was beginning to think of it as a present reality, as close to me as my breathing. How could I doubt the truth of heaven as a present reality? At age 23 I sat in a room with Edgar Cayce as he gave a reading. Hearing that quiet voice so in tune with some beautiful far-away source (I thought then), and listening to that message of hope and healing, I said to myself, Oh, dear God, I must be in heaven! The atmosphere here is so breathtakingly holy, God must be in this room!
Then I remembered another moment of God’s heavenly presence. I recalled the charged atmosphere I felt as I walked into the vault for the first time to file correspondence or a typed-up reading. As I entered that long dimly lit room in the addition built onto Edgar’s and Gertrude’s home on Arctic Circle and 14th Street, where Harmon and I worked with the Cayces and Gladys, I felt as though I was entering a cathedral. How many healings in those files? How many lives changed? How much hope given to people with none? How much love given by Edgar as he lay still on that couch? How much compassion as Gertrude stayed composed and focused, giving the instructions Edgar needed? How much earnest concern did Gladys show with her stenographic skills and her daily loving presence?
Then I remembered something else. When Harmon and I came to Virginia Beach in 1943, I had a full scholarship at the Chicago Musical College, studying with the most coveted piano teacher in the area and I had expected to teach in one of the best music schools in the country or become a concert pianist. I never dreamed that Edgar’s reading for me would say anything different. But it did. He said, "Do make the home the career for this is the greatest career there is in the earth, and those who shun same will have much yet to answer for. Then make thy home as a shadow of the heavenly home." (5070-1)
I yearned for the time when our home would be filled with a heavenly fragrance, but we moved every few years and there were always boxes to unpack, new schools to attend, new friends to be made, and much anxiety over being unsettled and often broke. It was hard to create a peaceful, heavenly environment amidst that turmoil. Edgar’s beautiful picture of the soul and its journey kept me sane and plugging on.
The prophet Isaiah’s image of the "peaceable Kingdom" was a picture of heaven on Earth. He said in essence that a time would come when the inhabitants of Earth "would not hurt or destroy on all God’s holy mountain, and the earth would be as full of the Lord as the waters covering the sea." Eben is a scientist who believed before his NDE that consciousness came entirely from the brain. After a short time of being seriously ill with a rare strain of meningitis, he was pronounced brain-dead for seven days, but his journey past death taught him that consciousness does not come from the human brain. Cayce said, "Thy brain is not thy mind, it is that which is used by thy mind!" (826-11)
After our nine months with the Cayces was done, Harmon and I felt that to sing with the world-famous St. Olaf College choir would be the only way to fully absorb that special experience. The founder of the choir, F. Melius Christensen, had once listened to a top his children were spinning and heard the loveliest sound he had ever heard—a beautiful, clear, balanced chord. He had decided then and there that he would direct a choir some day that would sing that chord perfectly in unison. It meant that his group of singers would have to become one with him and the other choir members. It was an ideal of oneness which matched the oneness with God that Cayce had talked about.
We don’t have to be struck down by a terrible accident or illness to experience the equivalent of a near-death experience. We can become still, and remember the heavenly bliss that exists inside of us and all around us.
Excerpt from June Bro's "The Art of Living" from the Apr-Jun 2013 issue of Venture Inward magazine available to A.R.E. members at Edgarcayce.org/members.