Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the near-Death Experience

By Kenneth Ring; Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino | Go to book overview

Chapter Fourteen
Lighting up the Earth

In the tradition of Zen Buddhism, there is a famous series of drawings called the Oxherding Pictures, which are meant to depict the various stages leading to enlightenment. In the original set of these paintings, the last one simply shows a white and empty circle symbolizing the realization of Oneness and the essential emptiness of all things. But a later Zen master extended the progression to those states beyond the experience of awakening, and chose to end the series with a drawing of a realized person coming down from the mountaintop and entering the village with "bliss-bestowing hands," to mix freely with ordinary people, inspiring them with his presence and radiating compassion to all persons regardless of their station in life.

In the same way, having at least vicariously attained a glimpse through the narratives of the last chapter of the sublime splendors of the NDE empyrean, we must find a way to bring that divine vision back into the world of everyday reality, where the real test of this NDE-based knowledge is to be found. Certainly, the journeys we have described to the Source of All Light have the power to enthrall us, but if they succeed only in uplifting us for a few moments, they will have failed to achieve the real goal of this book. And that is, of course, not just to inspire us, but to inspire us to action. We need to take the vision and insights that NDErs have brought back to share with us into ourselves and, if we are so disposed, use them as mortar in building our own spiritual life in our familiar daily round and in our relations to others.

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