Velvety Dark Stillness

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My childhood was plagued by teeth problems, necessitating several extractions under gas. At age 26 the dentist advised me to have the remaining teeth removed, four at a time. The first session was uneventful, just the familiar gas induced chaotic dreams. The second session was something else! It was a revelation that changed my life. It was a timeless state, so I don’t know how long I had been unconscious before I realized that I had left my body on the couch and was looking down at it through the ceiling. It meant no more to me than an old coat that I had discarded. There was no fear or confusion, just a wonderful weightlessness and freedom.

I was aware of having a form of some kind that was not physical, but felt perfectly natural. I turned my attention away from the scene below, which seemed to be receding and getting smaller, and found myself in a velvety, dark stillness. I wanted to move through it but couldn’t. I was blocked. Then I felt a protective yet powerful presence and words came to me in a voice that was not a voice. I have no way to describe it; telepathy is as close as I can get. It said, "It’s not your time. You must go back." I didn’t want to, even though at that time I had everything to live for. I was newly engaged, buying a house and my career was taking off.

I began asking questions about life, death, heaven and the universe, such things that I had never given a moment’s thought about before. (I was not at all religious.) The answers came immediately. Volumes of information were conveyed in just two to six words, and this is where it becomes impossible to explain because the answers were only clear at a level of understanding at which the mind is out of its depth. Each reply ended with "You must go back" and finally "You must fight to go back." There was a brief vision of a shimmering grid of pulsating light, and then I was back, stunned and surrounded by oxygen cylinders, a demented, swearing dentist and people panicking in white coats. I was kept in a recovery room for several hours.

For weeks afterward I functioned on automatic pilot, a stranger on the planet filled with a homesickness that has stayed with me for 45 years and is powerful enough to have me in tears at times. It runs like an undercurrent just beneath the surface of my life.

When I returned to the surgery to ask what had happened that day the dentist refused to see me. The receptionist said, rather nervously and obviously uneasy that, I had been taken off their register and the work should be completed at a dental hospital. When I pressed her further she told me there had been a problem with the second tooth, which was still intact, but before she could say more the dentist called her away.

Throughout the experience I felt that I was in my natural element with an expansion of consciousness unachievable while in the body, and it began decades of research toward a deeper understanding. The result: Gratitude for this life and this magnificently engineered body, utter reverence for creation, and daily joy in being an eternal and infinite part of it. (I have never attributed the experience to the gas. OBEs and NDEs were being reported long before anesthetics came on the scene.)

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