ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2010 PROCEEDINGS

EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN EXPERIENCES AS INDICATORS OF IMMORTALITY

Rev. Louis Richard Batzler, Ph.D.


Abstract: Anyone who is aware of current scientific and religious thought and action knows that we are at an axial point in human history. The amazing achievements in science and technology, and the paradoxical situation of polerization and interfaith cooperation within religion are creating crises and opportunities. One of the greatest challenges in this time of global transitions is self-understanding. We cannot adequately cope with the many crises or seize the opportunities until we know who and why are are. Essential to this understanding are two of our deepest concerns and anxieties concerning the meaning and purpose of life and our mortality. The Exceptional Human Experience (EHE)and Immortality can be catalysts in this effort for self-understanding. This paper describes and evaluates EHEs and Immortality and their relationship. and notes how both provide the possibilities and potentialities of persons for greater self-understanding and a more meaningful life now. and in the afterlife.

EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN EXPERIENCES

Exceptional Human Experiences (EHEs) are spontaneous, anomalous experiences that can take many forms. They appear to be intuitive, empathic forms of communication and knowledge that have the capability to relate the individual to self, to others and to distant times and places in an immediate way that fosters direction, creativity, communion and transformation. What makes EHE$ exceptional is that for a moment or brief period of time, each in its own way provides an awareness., of a reality that is unlike an ordinary experience and transcends it in some way; the usual barriers of time, space, personality, species, and even death seem to have vanished.

The exceptional experience can be set off by almost any life situation, but commonly cited triggers are exposures to scenes of natural beauty, imminent or actual danger or death of self or others, or visiting sacred places such as shrines, cathedrals, mosques, temples; watching performing artists and athletes; or attending to music, art and reading. They are also associated with meaningful long-term repetitive activities -running, walking, meditation, yoga, sports, etc.

The EHE also provides a sense of connection. The living are connected to the dead; the present is connected to the future; one is connected inwardly to other persons, animals, plants or even to the planet as a whole. (White,1994,I27).

The Exceptional Human Experience Network, founded by Dr. Rhea White, is an educational, research and information resource organization that has listed 200 types of EHEs typically considered anomalous, improbable or even unbelievable within the current Euro-American (Western) Worldview and accepted scientific principles. These types of EHEs are grouped into five broad classes.

  1. MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES: Varied experiences, whose core consists of greater connection, sometimes amounting to union with the divine, or other people, life-forms, objects, and one's surroundings, up to and including the universe itself.

  1. PSYCHICAL EXPERIENCES: Varied experiences whose core consists of a sense of personal interaction with other people, life-forms, objects and environments in ways that cannot be explained by known sensory, perceptual or mechanical means, or by rational inference.

  2. ENCOUNTER EXPERIENCES: Experiences whose core consists of sensing, perceiving, or otherwise "knowing" that an unusual or unexpected being, object or place that is not supposed to exist is nonetheless in your immediate proximity, perceived either with the physical eye or a form of "inner seeing", or a combination of the two.


4. DEATH-RELATED EXPERIENCES: The common denominator of these experiences is death and includes encounters with persons or animals known to be dead, one verifiable, some not; near-death experiences (NDE), death-bed visions, and various forms of apparent communication with the dead.

5. ENHANCED EXPERIENCES: Contains a variety of experiences whose core consists of those that are at the very limits of what Euro-American culture considers "normal". Often they take the form of "personal bests" that extend the known limits of mental and physical abilities and emotional depths and heights. Examples include encounters with a holy person, holy places and extending the boundaries of wondrous feats, thereby potentiating the entire human species, e.g., walking on the moon(White,1997 ,41-5).


In 1993 Dr. White composed a preliminary list of 10 characteristics which she indicated seem to describe most types of EHEs
.

1. All EHEs, including those induced by drugs or hypnosis, occur spontaneously, at least initially. They happen to one, one can't make them happen.

2, Each type in one way or another is an experience of transcendence (i.e., to rise above, surpass, excel). In out-of-body, near-death, and post-death experiences, one seems to transcend the boundary between life and death. I n clairvoyance and telepathy, one seems to transcend space; and in precognition one transcends time.

3, Each one represents a new experience of the self, of who or what we are. They tell us we are more than we thought we were.

4. All are experiences of connection, first to ourselves, but also to others, to other forms of life, to the planet, to the universe and to the sacred.

5. Each is an experience of opening to a reality we were taught could not be true. This opening occur directly. We don't have to think about it or question it during the experience, we are there. They also open us inwardly, thus disposing us to have further experiences.

6. Although EHEs are experiences of opening, connecting and transcending, the fact that there is no sense of separation applies both within and without the person. There is no separation felt between mind and body, so that one responds with one's whole self. One is in a heightened state physiologically, psychologically and spiritually.

7. Although some scholars and scientists are willing to grant that EH& merit investigation, they have done so using the methods of Western science and analysis. This has led them to treat EHEs as static events, one-time occurrences which, once they are over, are considered done with. We need to pay attention to these,experiences, to try to glimpse what they are telling us, to discern where they may be leading us, to trust the vision they reveal to us and to incorporate them into our lives.

8. It appears that each EHE is potentially life-changing in its significance, Each one offers the experiencer a window with a new view and provides an opportunity to choose between belief or doubt, to provisionally trust the experience, explain it away, or dismiss it

9. What we need is a story that will unite science and spirituality, self and the world. But first it must occur at the individual level. Each of us needs a story that charges our daily lives with meaning and puts us in touch with the sacred. EHEs are those gifts that life provides us that are meant to spearhead our lives. They can pull us out of boredom, disconnection and anomie into a world of meaning and connection and catapult us into a new paradigm.

10. Creating one's story is not simply something one can do alone. Working out the meaning of one's life involves living it out in some way (i.e., Acting on it), which involves telling others. By sharing our EHEs, the other person(s) validates the experience even if he or she reacts negatively (White, 1994, I38-40).

One of the major affirmations of those who research and work with EHEs is that the common denominata in all of them is their potential to transform ~or serve the person in a way that would not have been realized if the event had never occurred. The external event becomes internalized and serves as a catalyst forthe creation of a new way of visualizing selfand the world.

There is a rich anecdotal history for this transformative proress, often marking turning points in history, scientific discovery, invention, psychotherapy and new forms of art and literature. Popular examples include Archimedes' "Eureka" of discovery to measure the volume of water; Bohr's dream of a snake uroborus to model the molecular structure of Benzine; Heming's serendipitous discovery of penicillin; and E. Howe's dream to perfect the sewing machine needle design which led to textile mass production. Dreams are especially significant in initiating transformation. Many of the events surrounding the birth and early years of Jesus' were announced in dreams. Mohammed received his divine mission in a dream and much of the Koran was revealed to him in his dreams over a period of years. A number of scientists have gotten into science because of a mystical experience they had when they were children, looking at the sky, a worm or something else -going back to one primal moment of wonder.

EHEs in the Bible are numerous. The following are examples of the various types.

1. AngelicAppearances and Activity: Gen 22:9-19; Exod 3:1-6; Judg 6:19-24; Isa 6: 1-3

2 Clairaudience: Exod 24:9-18; I Sam 3:1-21; Mt3:13-17; In 20: 11-18; Acts 9:5-13

3. Distant Healing: Mt 8:5-13

4. Transfiguration and Vision: Mt 17:1-9

5. Vanishing (dematerialization): 2Kg 2: 11; Lk 24: 13-35; Acts 8:26-40

6. Rising from the Dead: In 20: 11-18

7. Ascension (levitation): Acts 1:6-11

8. Vision: Acts 10:1-16

9. Mediumship: 1 Sam 28:1-19

From a scientific viewpoint EH& are classified as anomalies or aberrations because they do not fit within the prevailing worldview or mechanistic paradigm. When scientists have paid any heed to EHEs at all, they have tended to think of them as a single event – a "static existent"when in fact they have "duration, flux and growth". Science (including much of parapsychology) has tried to pin them down and gain control of them. EHE adherents believe the opposite, that is, one should not seek to control these experiences, but to be guided by them. Instead of ends in themselves they should be seen as signs guiding us to the entrance to a path, not an unhazardous one, and one that may well last a lifetime. And the direction in which the path leads is not without but within (White,IW4,I03).

Thus EHEers do not view these experiences as events that happened in the course of a few seconds or minutes and then were over, but as potential seeds of personal and spiritual growth and transformation. They have a cumulative effect in which the experiencer sees self and the whole world in a different way, one in which everything is one and all things are interconnected. EHEs can take us to a place that logic, rationality and empiricism cannot.

Although the content of an ERE may be highly emotional and exciting, it is the impact on the percipient that is important Carl Jung notes that such experiences "break through the monotony of daily life with salutary effects,... shaking our certitudes and lending wings to the imagination"; and they "make us feel the overpowering presence of a mystery" – approach to the numinous (See White,I994, IO-II).

Raymond Moody proposes that we let go of the artificial requirements that a study of a purpoted psi experience must have as its aim to prove or disprove the reality of the experiences. He notes that by so doing one can approach them in a more balanced fashion and comfortably explore their meaning (Moody ,1987,132-33).

Psychologist Fowler Jones, as a result of a survey of Near Death Expediences (NDEs), and Out-of -Body experiences (OBEs, speculated that at least some of the experiences are a form of initiation leading to higher spiritual levels (Jones,1982, 32).

Accoridng to E. Servadio, EHEs confirm the true nature of Being and reveal its universal identity (Servadio, 1983, 143). Rhea White indicates that EHEs can be starting points of a secular form of religion in which the sacred is not only embodied in one's living, but serves as both the guide and end of the process we call life (White, 1994,77).

Dr. James Hillman proposes that on the level of human events no matter how unwilled, irrational, incredulous, and intensely personal psi happenings may be, they yet follow a law: necessity. They are necessary, and our task then might be to ask questions in terms of the spirit: if necessary, then what do they mean (Hillman, 1997,I86).

Dr. Peter Ford notes that psi as a metamodaIity may actually be a fusion or synthesis of all other human sensations. It seems to operate as a complex receptor system that provides the individual with the ability to perceive and differentiate between nearly every form and intensity of human and divine stimuli: of being loved or unloved; of being filled or unfulfilled; of being accepted or rejected. It is also the facet that most probably provides us with an inner sensitivity that contributes to our Understanding of ourselves and others. It is this same mechanism that gives us much of our capacity to become aware of our relationship to God (Ford,1971,124).

Dr. Kenneth Ring, in his study of ND&, relieves that the key to their meaning lies in their aftereffect He sees the NDE as a seed experience. As NDEers "mature" following their experience, the nature of that seed experience- its meaning, becomes manifest (Ring,I984, 27-8) -an intimation of immortality.

These observations and comments by professionals from various disciplines related to human development and behavior indicate that generally those who have had EHE appear to have their lives enriched, especially if they have paid attention and followed up on the experience. They tend to have increased empathy for others and for the species and the planet as a whole. EHE are not static one-time occurrences that in the past were looked upon as ends in themselves. Rather they seem to re invitations to enter upon a process of life change, a rite of passage. They serve as stepping stones which, if you trust, can move into a process that involves transcendence of boundaries formerly thought to be stationary. EHEs offer glimpses of a larger self, a new identity.

Slowly individual and social perspectives regarding EHEs are beginning to change. There has been increasing demand for credible information regarding anomalous experiences and the people who have them. The explosion of the information age has made it possible to share and learn more about those types of experiences through all forms of media. More people are finding that they are not alone and that others are having a wide variety of unusual and inexplicable events in their lives.

Although reassuring, the media continually to typically approach experiencers as bizarre, sensational or gifted or to pit them against scientific "experts" demanding proof. The media have gone a long way in publicizing these phenomena, but overall, they continue to follow our prevailing cultural mind-set that highlights anomaly, exclusion, separation and rationalization.

Because NDEs are largely spontaneous events, they are best measured by their aftereffects. As long as Society labels them as "anomalies" and discounts them, the tremendous potential to humanize them and extend personal, cultural and even mass consciousness lies dormant. Yet, it is that very strangeness and the provocative nature inherent within ~ that has the potential to wake us out of our comfortable slumber, prompting us to ask different questions. By living and working from within the Experimental Paradigm we reconstruct a "new" reality and hope for greater understanding ourselves and our world. EHEers are showing and reminding us of this, our forgotten path and lost world. As researchers, counselors, educators, and practitioners in spirituality and paranormal studies, it is our responsibility to continue the quest for this truth as it relates to the human situtation at all levels (Brown, 1m, 21-5).

IMMORT ALITY

Immortality is the belief that the soul or some other aspect of one's life survives death and continues to live in this or another world. Its specific meaning in various religions, philosophies and cultures is based on the world view, ethos and nature of the soul.

Immortality may be conceived as continued existence after death by means of resurrection from the dead, or as the existence of a disembodied soul somewhere, or as reincarnation, the rebirth of the soul and its reappearance after death in another and different bodily form.

One concept of immortality, often called figurative, spurious or symbolic immortality, views the on-going life indirectly. This concept includes biological immortality in which the deceased live on in their progeny; social immortality, in which persons live on through public memories of their deeds, creative ideas and social influence; and impersonal immortality, seen in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, which believes that while individual person-hood is lost, everyone is absorbed into the all-inclusive Reality or God. Objective immortality notes that there is the preservation of one's individual experiences in God, not just the memories of persons, or not lost by being absorbed in countless other experiences. This view ensures the preservation of one's past in God. Subjective immortality, the belief most commonly held in the West, affirms the perpetuation of the personality beyond bodily death. Views vary as to whether the personality persists as a whole or in fragments, and whether survival is for a limited time or forever. Also, there is no consensus as to growth and activity in the afterdeath state.

Personal immortality is often related to resurrection, which refers to the divine recreation or reconstitution of a body of soul after death. Early Christians and some today believe in immortality of the soul in combination with resurrection, but immortality, in this case exists by GOD's will rather than naturally (Anderson,1984,103-20).

Although the term immortality is seldom used in the Bible, words that suggest the ideas of immortality are numerous e.g., everlasting, .forever, evermore, eternal, enduring, unfading, Imperishable, incorruptible -words that Indicate permanence, continuance and the steadfastness of God and divine creativity and human existence in some form after death (Batzler,2008,41).

The belief in life beyond death is one of the oldest, strongest and most insistent wishes of humankind. Although religion is a product of the earliest attempt of the human mind to achieve a sense of security in the world and life after death, it is not clear when immortality became a formulated belief, even though ancient artifacts (dating back as far as 100,000 years) found in grave sites indicate some belief in survival, though there may have been no conception of the survival of a nonphysical spiritual entity.

In the earliest cultures, life after death is (not) regarded as a matter of speculation, conjecture, hope or fear, but as a practical "certainty". Much of this certainty arises from .the primitive's observations of nature -the waxing and waning of the the moon, animals shedding skins, caterpillar and butterfly, the seasons. In observing the life-death cycles of nature and seeing oneself as a part of nature, one thereby simply concludes that he or she also will undergo such a process. Early folklore reinforces this belief by telling of spirits of the deceased haunting landscapes, special places and animals.

These early views of life after death do not seem to be inspired by ethical, moral or religious motives, but rather were an idealization of present conditions. One's lot after death was not determined by reward or retribution, not by natural forces or processes

.The oldest clearly formulated beliefs in the afterlife appear in Egyptian civilization (c.2000-1600 BC) where preoccupation with the afterlife is seen in texts and tombs. Pharaohs are often identified with mythical gods who, by entering into cosmic cycles, do not experience decay. The afterlife is one of hope and death is a passage to rebirth, cyclical but unending. The various beliefs are difficult to arrange logically and there is no unanimity about the history of the soul in the other world. Judgment, retribution, immortality and reincarnation are a part of Egyptian eschatology.

Belief in life after death in Indo-Iranian civilizations has taken shape in many forms and stages. In Eastern thought, life is not restricted in its meaning to the span of life between birth and death. Life is a process that goes on beyond the moment of death and a key purpose of life in the present is liberation from suffering. Life before, life now and life to come are inseparably related and how this relationship is spelled out is seen in the law of karma and in the belief in an indefinite series of rebirths (Batzler,I983,I56-57).

In Hinduism the individua1(atman), or self, is the same as atman in general, and atman is identical with Brahman. Buddhism denies there is a self, but holds that a finite persona1ity structure, multifaceted and laden with karma, passes through a series of births and deaths. For Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism the phenomenal world is ultimately empty, but sentient beings are tied to it in a round of rebirths or samsara. The search for escape from samsara is directed toward liberation -moksa in Hinduism and Jainism and nirvana in Buddhism. This escape implies the termination of individual existence. Salvation comes in the discovery and identification with Brahman, the basis of all reality. Eastern soteriology is not so much concerned with the whole man as we conceive him (body, mind, soul), but with his immortal component (Crim, I~I, 339).

In the Iranian religious experience the conception of eschatology comes into prominence, Zoroastrianism, the main exponent of Iranian religion, emphasises the importance of the ethical life here and the fact that a future life is needed for the fulfillment of honor and virtue, The cardinal moral principle is that each person's soul is the seat of a war between good and evil. Later Iranian reliefs stress resurrection and judgment and allude to immortality. One is set free when evil is overcome (Noss, 1956,443).

Early Greek beliefs spoke of Hades as a common abode of the departed without regard to moral distinctions. The soul is a shade with no consciousness or will. In Homeric poems, the soul is a relic of a ghostly double with no element of value to look forward to. The idea of a future life was largely inoperative. Emphasis was on this world now.

The main principle of the Olympian religions, the popular faith of Greece, was the gulf between humans and the gods. However, the Orphic brotherhoods and mystery religions emphasized the mystical union with the gods so that life beyond becomes a continuing communion with God. Gradually the relief includes the reward and punishment dynamic and an intermediate state after death.

Plato spoke of the primacy and the divine origin of the soul which is one's real self. Man's chief concern is to care for his soul. The destiny of souls vary, but the following are common elements in Platonic thought judgment after death, intermediate state of rewards, purificatory punishment and return of souls to earth in human or animal form. The soul~es eternal by partaking of eternal truths (ideas).

Islamic eschatology has been described as gross, crude and vivid The central theme is the Day of Judgment, Heaven and hell are material and the attainment of either of these states or places is preceded by resurrection and judgment All non-Moslems are destined to hell which has seven regions. There is an elaborate angelology and the afterlife reflects the high moral and ethical content of the present life which includes prayer, pilgrimage, alms giving and fasting.

Like other religions, Judaism shows the development of a progressive relief in life after death, from non~existence to SheoI, communion with GOD and then resurrection. Sheo1 is a negative replica of the earthly existence where function rather than form or location is stressed. Most Old Testament passages do not speak of a moral order in Sheol and the distinctive mark of the dwellers in Sheol is weakness.

In Christianity, life after death is a central concern because of the resurrection of Jesus and his promise to his followers that they shall live on through faith in him. Although there are variations in Jesus' teachings about life beyond this, he does consistently speak of the fact that we reap what we sow, that there is some continuity in identity, an integrity of self that goes beyond the grave, and that he is the means by which one continues to live on. Jesus was concerned with the future life primarily as it had meaning for one's life now (Batzler,I~, 157-59).

In the more complex systems about the afterlife, images are usually more exotic, differing dramatically from the known life and often requiring radical, if involuntary, adjustments on the part of the dead. Most often in these complicated systems, the afterlife journey is reported as taking the dead toward a goal or even many different goals. Some examples of goals of the journey are: 

1) a goal of reunion with loved ones, described in the near-death experience

2) a goal of reunion with GOD, as in Christianity 

3) a goal of being rewarded with endless pleasures of heaven, as in Islam

4) a goal of escaping the burdens of this life, as in Hinduism

5) a goal of achieving a form of Nirvana -blissful integration with the whole -if not in this life then in death 

6) a goal of returning to life in a higher, more comfortable caste or station, held by Hindus not yet close to escaping the Wheel of Life 

7) a goal of learning from one's mistakes in order to return to a high level of consciousness, as in Baha'i religion and different forms of esotericism (Miller, 1997, 63-64).

As might be expected, the question of immortality, like other afterlife reliefs (resurrection, salvation, eternal life, apocalypse) has been subject to rigorous examination and debate. Philosophical reasons for and against provide insights that can help persons form a basis for their beliefs. The main arguments for the likelihood of immortality are:

  1. Universality of belief The fact that most people and cultures believe in life after death constitutes a case for survival

  2.  2) Pragmatic. Belief in future life promotes public morals and responsiblity, makes hope real and puts a brake on opportunistic living in which exploitation often exists

  3.  3) Teleological. Life ever moves towards fulfillment of purpose. Since perfection is not fully attained in this life, it must have another life to do this. Man's incompleteness "here" points to a completion "there" 

  4. 4)Analogical. Just as nature dies and lives again (the analogy of metamorphosis), so do humans who are a partof nature 

  5. 5)Moral. The aim of life is the furthering of holiness by conformity to moral law. This aim becomes the postulate for infinite progress -well beyond the grave 

  6. 6) Righteousness and justice. Virtue must be rewarded and sin punished. Since both are imperfectly realized here, another sphere of life is required

  7.  7)Ontological. Spirit, from which the soul derives, is eternal, Therefore, the soul, made in the image of Creator Spirit, never dies 

  8. 8)Religious. The witness of the Scriptures and the faith of major religions and spiritual leaders in human history attest to the reality of immortality.

  9.  9) Phenomenological Resurrection accounts plus the array of psychical phenomena point to continuance of life beyond death.

  10.  10) Conservation of energy. (BatzIer,I9&3, 159-00).

The views of those who do not believe are often based on rationalism, scientism, materialism and what may be termed ridiculous egotism of believers. Skeptics maintain that belief in life after death diminishes the concern to live life fully as an authentic human being or that such belief encourages indifference to mal ills. A most obvious objection to lit after death is that when the body dies there is no sign of life, a belief based on a materialists view of human life. Others note that belief in the afterlife is a perpetuation of infanticide desires and idealistic, wishful thinking, fear of the unknown, or simply because such a existence is unknowable. Skepticism about the reality of a heaven or a hell also adds to disbelief, as does the fact that everything that has a beginning must have an ending (Batzler 2008, 26).

Whatever one believes about immortality, the question will always be present for consciously or unconsciously, it deals with virtually every aspect of our lives.

EHEs AS INDICATORS OF IMMORT ALITY

Philosophy, anthropology, archeology, mythology and religion are important disciplines that seek to explain the reality and dynamics of immortality. Another important discipline is parapsychology. It is the premise of this paper that Exceptional Human Experience (unusual paranormal happenings) are important phenomena in the quest to understand. Immortality.

In 1997 Rhea White and Suzanne Brown prepared an alphabetical list of 200 potential EHEs. Some of these terms are synonymous or closely overlap. Many of these EHEs can be considered as indicators or signs that point to survival after physical death. Some of the more important and more relevant to immortality include; angelic experience, bilocation clairaudience, clairsentience, clairvoyance, electronic visual phenomena, electronic voice phenomena, haunting, materialization, mediumistic phenomena/communication, near-death experience, out-of -the body experience, postmortem voices, visions, photography and painting

(White, 1997, 41-43).

Although no single type of EHE can give us the full picture, it is the accumulation of them, plus the views from other disciplines, that add weight to belief in and acceptance of immortality; and it is this belief and acceptance that impact our lives here and now -which is probably the most important contribution of EHE.

Rhea White notes that perhaps parapsychologists would learn more about reality if the: investigated the meaning of immortality to humans rather than whether immortality is "real", and if they studied the impact of psi experiences on the percipient -regardless of whether or not they had a "real" psi experience. If it works (if it changes lives), has one not already established that it has a reality of sorts? There is also the possibility that those who relieve in immortality are providing a basis in fact for that belief. In a survey of basic attitudes to life and death among OBE experients as contrasted with non-experients, H.J Irwin found that experiencing life-threatening OBE was associated with positive views of an afterlife (Irwin,l988, 237). As we have seen, there are numerous studies that affinn th positive correlation between EH&, immortality and one's enhanced life (e.g.,Jung, Moody Ring, White).

Every EHE offers a glimpse of a larger self, a new identity that transcends previously seen boundaries. One must decide whether to accept that identity or not -whether to begin to view one's life from that transcendent self or to continue to identify with a self for whom such experiences are inconceivable, and therefore unacceptable, delusional, illusional or pathological. This is not easy. When a person has an EHE, he or she must undergo a rite of passage. An EHE initiates one into a new paradigm, a new world view which means to make. that passage involves breaking away from the old view, enter a transitional state in which although anything may be possible, nothing is graspable, so it is a chaotic region of nothingness or everythingness, i.e., one has given up one's old identity but has not yet found a new one. The person must build a new identity around his or her EHE, which act: as a window with a different view from the old one. Then, to consolidate the new sense of self, one must center one's life in the EHE(s) and learn how to live from it and elaborate further from it (White,l994, 52). EHEs move each life forward -the little miracle, the fortunate concatenation of circumstances when you are in the right place at the right time the intimations of immortality, the sense of communion with others and with GOD that is palpable, even though our bodily senses are not involved, and also those moments when our bodies and minds mesh so perfectly that our very actions are small miracles of being. The gospels in the New Testament recreate the EHEs in the life of Jesus. The same is true of the founders of all the world's religions. If you read the biographies, and especially in the autobiographies, the "high" moments in a life are EREs. Each such experience bear within it the seeds of further growth, which, as we heed, feed and live it, give rise to circumstances that produce other EHEs, and so it goes until death, when we may have the most exceptional human experience of all. It is our EHEs, not only our life experiences, that help us to know who and what we are (White, l994, 126).

One important insight is that EHEs are indications the entire universe is sacred. This does not mean that all EHEs are holy occasions, nor a hotline to heaven, nor an occasion for self-inflation. They are not seen as contrary to nature, but as graced moments that attune us to the sacred all of life. This insight can help us form a new view of human nature, a new way of being in the world, and a whole new culture that has its base in immortality, though its many forms have their locus in time and space. Immortality is not just in the future approaching us through the days and years. It is about us, within us and is attained the moment we turn to it. EHEs provide us with a taste of immortality. They are moments ofgrace. And a moment of grace is not a reward for what we already are but a hint, a promise of what we may become by living henceforth from the vision revealed in that moment in such a way that we come to live from that higher consciousness of the sacredness of all life (White,1994.118),

There is nothing that we need more than that we come to see ourselves, others and all humanity as ultimately united with that which surpasses human understanding. But although at this stage it may be beyond the grasp of our rational faculties, it is not beyond the human heart; for the heart has reasons that the reason knows not of. The knowledge of the EHE is not rational knowledge our society privileges. It is a secret knowledge of the feelings, which it is important to share (White,1994,,116 ).

If we knew we were not bound by time, space, personality, death, our culture, our species or even our skin, we would live in a wholly different way, and in an entirely different world. Instead of planning our lives step by step, making sure we know the "right" people and make all of the right contacts, we would go within to discern where we are in any given situation, that is, that Self that is More -the Immortal Self. This is what EHEs help us to do(White,1994,118).

Paul, the great Jewish apostle to the Gentiles and author of most of the New Testament epistles and letters, had his life-changing experience through an EHE (Acts 9:1-9; 22:6-16 26: 12-18). His conversion was one of moving from the persecution of Christians to proselytizing for them. In a letter to the Corinthians he wrote, "For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then till saying that is written will be fulfilled: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' 'Where,O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?' (1 Cor 15:53-5).

The actual exceptional experience so changed Paul's life that immortality became; reality that enabled him to spread abroad the good news that life goes on beyond the grave and proclaim those words of hope, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9).

EHEs are indicators of immortality and windows to this mystery of God's intentions.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Rev. Louis Richard Batzler, Ph. D. is a former president of the Academy of Religion and, Psychical Research and Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship International. He has served as pastor in churches in several states and abroad, taught in five colleges, authored six books and numerous articles dealing with spirituality, holistic healing and death and dving, and worked as chaplain in hospital and hospice ministries.

917 Colington Dr., Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948 252-441-4926 dickbatzlcr@aol.com