Vital Signs

Psychotherapy From A Near-Death Perspective

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Relationships, Love, and Sex

Knowing that we will feel the effects on others of our thoughts, words, and deeds can have a profound effect on the way we relate to each other. Relationships are one of life’s greatest mirrors, in which our reactions towards others show us much about what we carry inside ourselves. Research on the life review and on suicide-NDEs suggests that we escape nothing (the six personal NDE accounts in Dr. Moody’s Life after Life video; also Dannion Brinkley, Saved by the Light]. Living with bitterness towards a person is unfinished business. If it is not healed and forgiven by the time you leave this earth, you, according to many accounts, will have to come back and complete the lesson as part of your education in the school of life. Many NDErs have seen from their life review that they chose to be with certain people or to have certain difficult relationships because they had not learned how to forgive and let go of resentments. So they are in remedial school, so to speak, reexperiencing similar situations and feelings until they learn to reopen their hearts, learn and move on from the past, forgive and let go. Many a bitter divorcee, blocked from moving on with life because of a resentful heart, will exclaim at the thought of going through the same experience over again in this or another lifetime, “Oh God, no! Anything but that! What do I need to do right now to start learning how to heal and forgive this?” And indeed they do.

This broader NDE perspective helps them to forgive because it can show them that often we come together with people who either trigger or represent aspects of ourselves that we need to work out. When we turn from blaming the other person to understanding what is the lesson we can learn from the relationship, we have set our feet in the right direction for healing. Then we can begin to see that what bothers us most in the other person may reflect something that we don’t like in ourselves. Once we have learned this lesson, and have cleared this aspect in ourselves, we become much more able to let go and forgive the other. When our life gets better because we have done that, we may even find ourselves appreciating how we may have attracted that person into our life as a teacher, to help us learn that lesson. We can become grateful for what has come from the challenging experience. In the end, as we free up energy we had been using to hold onto our resentments from the past, we realize that what matters is not what others have done to us, but how we have responded.

In almost every account of the near-death experience, the person returned saying that what mattered most was love, the kind of love that expects nothing in return, the kind of love that is good for all (Barbara Rommer, MD, Blessing in Disguise, pages 129, 177-181; Kenneth Ring, PhD, Lessons from the Light, pages 187-198). Many have said that it was small acts of kindness—the smile to the postal clerk, a friendly offer of help, the loving word or touch to one’s child, sibling or mate, or any way of spreading goodwill and respect for life— that were featured in their life review. The experiencer not only felt the loving-kindness they’d given to the other person, but also the ripple effect as that person spread the goodwill they had received onward to others (Dannion Brinkley, At Peace in the Light). This principle implies that love is the surest basis for making choices. That which comes out of caring and love is good; that which does not come from love hurts ourselves, hurts others, and hurts life. From this perspective, our orientation switches from trying to get from the world to being a blessing to the world.

And what does the NDE have to say about sex in this regard? It is interesting that not too much is ever said about sex in most accounts. It seems that God really isn’t too interested in our sex life, but is very interested in our love life. By that I mean that we have to ask ourselves if our sexual behavior is based on love, and is it given as an expression of our caring for another, or is it just for our own sensory gratification or to boost a lonely or deflated ego. In addition, several gay people who have had NDEs write that, although they felt or were made to feel shame on Earth for their sexual orientation, having a homosexual orientation was not a major issue on the other side (Liz Dale, PhD, Crossing Over & Coming Home). Again, what was more important was where they were coming from in the relationship—was the other person a sexual object, or a person and human being that they loved and cared about? Whatever our sexual orientation, this greater understanding about love is indeed needed in our modern culture, which has often forgotten that love is caring.

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