Through my own recent encounter with death, I came across many stories of people from diverse cultures and of different religious backgrounds, who temporarily left their bodies and appeared to observers to be dead. They reported seeing a “being of light,” which was totally loving and compassionate. Could this “being of light” be the basis on which the concept of God has been created?
No, not at all. This experience is authentic. It happens sometimes to people who have almost died—not completely, but almost. They see a luminous being. It is their own being, it is not God. In meditation you will encounter the same luminous being without dying.
Meditation is a kind of death. You are separated from the body, you are separated from the mind—that’s what death does. You are separated from the body; you are separated from the mind. Suddenly you become aware of a luminous being, which you think is separate from you because you have never seen such an experience before. If you have been a meditator, you would have recognized—“This is me.”
You are a light, luminous body inside this body—a flame, an eternal flame of light. But those who have almost died and come back to life, because they don’t have any experience of meditation, they think they have seen something, a luminous being. They remember it vaguely, faintly; a faraway echo, but they remember it. They have seen something luminous. Naturally they cannot conceive that they have seen themselves.
God is not based on the experience of people who were almost dead and have come back again to life. But meditation knows exactly what has been happening to these people—they have encountered themselves. But because the encounter was for the first time, and so quick … just like a flash it came and went away, and they were back to life. Naturally they think they have seen some object, some person standing there with a radiant, luminous body, because they have known only objects in their lives. They have never known the subject.
A meditator will not commit such a mistake. A meditator will recognize immediately—whether alive or dead—that he is the luminous eternal light.
From I Celebrate Myself, Chapter Two
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