How our cultural myths prevent us from experiencing heaven on earth, by Anita Moorjani (a summary by Pat Evert)
Introduction I believed that life happens to us and that I was a victim, so I was always reacting to my life circumstances instead of creating them. Of course I was a victim of my circumstances, or so I thought—until I died. A major reason why I chose to return to this life during my NDE was because I understood that heaven is a state and not a place, and I wanted to experience, firsthand, the heaven that this life could actually be. It seemed I was always choosing between fitting in or creating heaven. Whenever I was alone, I would still my thoughts and take myself back to the state I had experienced during my NDE, the state of being pure consciousness and realizing that we are all connected. “And that is all you need to do or be. Nothing more. Just love yourself unconditionally, always, and be who you are.”
Remember, your only work is to love yourself, value yourself, and embody this truth of self-worth and self-love so that you can be love in action. That is true service, to yourself and to those who surround you. Realizing how loved and valued you are is what healed your cancer. This same knowledge is what will help you to create a life of heaven here on earth. You are serving no one when you get lost in the problems of the world. So the only question you need to ask yourself when you are feeling defeated or lost is, Where am I not loving myself? How can I value myself more?” How easy it is for us to lose focus on our true purpose and to get caught up in the web of dramas we weave in order to justify our existence. We have been buying into myths that have prevented us from fully living our lives simply because they have been the dominant beliefs in our surrounding culture.
Chapter 1: Myth: You Get What You Deserve I soon started to believe that I truly was a failure and wasn’t as good as everyone else. I was so hurt by the way she turned against me that her betrayal felt much worse than the bullying. This, more than anything else, made me feel truly unworthy as a person. I hated team sports because I knew I would be the last to be picked to join a team. I also disliked working in groups because I knew no one wanted me in theirs. Fundamentally, I felt unlovable, flawed, ugly, repulsive, and worthless. I didn’t want to go to social events and then feel left out. I much preferred to go home after school and either spend time with my family or be by myself, listening to music or reading. I spent the early years of my life actually expecting to be rejected. My behavior in allowing this to continue merely reflected my own feelings about myself—feelings that persisted for many, many years to come. But possibly the biggest effect the bullying had was that whenever people did give me positive attention, I would feel undeserving and unworthy of their praise, and then I would either reject the attention or I’d be overly grateful for it. Consequently, I’d end up going out of my way to prove to them that I was indeed worthy of their positive attention—sometimes to the point of making myself a doormat. In short, bullying stripped me of my sense of self-worth. You can imagine, then, my utter amazement during my NDE at finding that not only was I worthy of being unconditionally loved just for being me, but that I was also truly a beautiful, magnificent, and powerful creation of the universe—unique, special, and valued in every way. I didn’t have to do anything to be worthy of this gift. I didn’t have to sow any special seeds in order to reap the deep, abiding love the universe felt for me. I didn’t need to prove anything, accomplish anything, or become anything. When others put you down in any way, realize their actions are direct projections of their own state of pain and confusion. Likewise, remember that opening your heart and having compassion for them in their pain (which does not at all mean condoning their behavior) benefits you as well as them. What would it take for me to accept that I am worthy of the universe’s unconditional love?
Chapter 2: Myth: Loving Yourself Is Selfish How my childhood experience of being teased and ostracized had set me up to believe that I was inferior and flawed. I also know now that operating out of my underlying feelings of inferiority, as well as feeling unworthy and undeserving, were the root causes of my cancer. It’s always much easier for us to blame others for our failures, our frustrations, and our dissatisfactions than it is to see we have something within our own selves that needs to be healed. Loving ourselves is actually the most important thing we can do, and that it’s the key to living a blissful life. Realizing that none of your beliefs, values, judgments, opinions, insecurities, doubts, and fears are actually you, that none of those things have anything to do with who you truly are.
I saw myself through the eyes of God, and I realized that far from being unloved and unlovable, I was actually a beautiful child of the universe who was loved unconditionally, simply because I exist. I saw that I was supremely and exquisitely magnificent, perfect in every conceivable way, and created from the divine substance of the very foundation of all that is. I understood that I was truly a being of light. I was absolutely essential to the whole. We have to love ourselves first, and then our lives change—not the other way around! How well does ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ work if you don’t even love yourself?” The amount of love, kindness, and patience I have for others—is in direct proportion to how much love I have for myself.
I’d in fact spent most of my life being driven by fear, not love. Whatever I said or did from that point on would need to come from a place of love instead of fear. It’s about loving the real you, the human you—the person who has feet of clay, who comes undone under criticism, who sometimes fails and disappoints others. It’s about making a commitment to yourself that you will stick by yourself—even if no one else does! Not loving ourselves would be the same as saying that God/ Universal Energy/ Creation is not worth loving. Retrain our mind to notice our positive qualities instead of our negative ones. In the mirror say out loud, “I love you. I will never let you down, forsake you, or treat you like a doormat. I will always be your best friend!”
Chapter 3: Myth: Real Love Means Anything Goes Unconditional love is a state of being, not an emotion. That means it has no opposite. An opposite emotion, such as fear or hate, balances it out. But unconditional love just is. It’s not one side of the coin—it’s the whole coin!” True unconditional love starts with the self. This is why I keep harping on the importance of self-love. When you love yourself, you will never allow anyone to use you or abuse you! Love means wanting for others what they want for themselves, regardless of whether it goes against what we want for ourselves in the relationship. Does this relationship support freedom, or does it feel like bondage? Give each other the respect we deserve, and we celebrate our differences. We also learn a lot from each other.
- We agreed never to give each other the silent treatment.
- We also agreed never to go to bed angry at each other.
- Accept each other and agree not to judge each other.
I found that the more I accepted myself, the less I judged myself—and as a result, the less judgmental I was of Danny. We laugh a lot. And I really mean a lot! We laugh with each other, and we are very quick to laugh at ourselves. We never criticize each other. Never. We also deliberately and consciously tell each other what we appreciate about the other, and we do this constantly.
One kind of service comes from the head, not from the heart. It comes from a feeling of obligation or a sense of duty, and it can drain our energy. On the other hand, heart service stops being a heavy burden. It feels light and fun, and it then becomes a joy that uplifts us as well as the people who benefit. The most spiritual act possible is to be yourself, to love yourself, and to love your life. The best way to do that is to have fun and laugh! Relationships based on unconditional love are freeing because those couples choose to be together rather than stay together because they feel trapped by fear, obligation, or manipulation.
Chapter 4: Myth: I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay I had forgotten that all I ever have to do is listen to my own body. the worst thing anyone could do for me would be to suggest I spend the rest of my life continuing to work on keeping cancer at bay. Focusing like that has the exact opposite effect because it just keeps me stuck in the “fear of cancer” paradigm.
I have since learned that the healthiest thing I could do was to focus on what brings me joy, to follow my passion, and to make my choices from a place of love, not fear. I always know when I’m hearing truth from my inner guidance because all the fear disappears and it’s replaced with a feeling of joy and lightness. And that’s exactly how I felt at that moment. One of the vital differences between a good healer and a great healer is that a great healer guides you back to your own innate ability to heal and ultimately encourages your independence. But a great healer’s goal is to empower you by creating a channel for you to tap into your own natural healing abilities. Constantly being focused on my health just keeps me trapped in the belief that something is wrong.
We are already everything that we are trying to become. Get in the habit of looking at your challenges as blessings, instead of getting angry and frustrated when something isn’t going the way you would like. A question to ask myself, Do I give my power away to others by believing that everyone else has the answers I need?
Chapter 5: Myth: Health Care Cares for Our Health I also wanted Vera’s mother to know that she had the power to heal already within her. I didn’t want her to think that she needed me in order to heal.
Health Care—or Illness (s)care?
Illness is our body’s way of communicating with us and showing us a better path. A judgmental, unfair attitude is just the opposite of the love, support, and understanding that anyone going through such an event needs. Instead of gaining clarity from them, I’d felt overwhelmed and afraid because so much of the information was conflicting. It would serve you much better to feel empowered.
Right now, it’s about you and no one else. However, I’m willing to guide you as you go inward to see how these options feel to you so you can start to make some choices. “Just as when people go on a food fast where they don’t eat anything for 24 to 48 hours, an information fast involves not taking in any new information from the outside world for at least a day or two—longer if possible,” I responded. “When I stop overwhelming my mind, I can start to hear my inner guidance system speaking to me.” It’s actually not relevant who your guides are because they’re all connected to us as one, presenting themselves in our mind’s eye in whatever form we feel most comfortable with. I know this might sound strange, but I feel guided whenever I tune in and remember not to give my power away to all the external noise. I cannot un-know any of the information I already have, of course, so I just let it be without specifically focusing on any of it. “Okay, Anita, it’s time to reclaim my happiness. It’s time to spend some time on myself, loving myself, being gentle and kind to myself, and taking care of myself by doing something fun and interesting.” How can I love myself more? Celebrate my life every day? Fear does tremendous damage to our immune system, leaving us vulnerable to disease. Go with the choices that make me feel the most empowered, the most hopeful, the happiest. And I wouldn’t worry whether my choices would offend those who are supporting me. I’m constantly in a position of having to choose to either fit in with everyone else or live my truth and be an outsider. I can’t usually have it both ways! I, too, used to be such a people pleaser.
Illness is a teacher—and often a wake-up call—that shows us a better path. It’s not an evil that must be destroyed, the consequence of bad karma, or the result of negative thinking. Even death itself is not our enemy. If you or a loved one develop an illness that continues to progress, resist any temptation to believe the sick person did something wrong to cause the disease or did not do enough to fight it off. Recognize these thoughts for what they are—unfair and harmful judgments. Instead, surround yourself or your loved one with support, understanding, and love.
Chapter 6: Myth: It’s Just a Coincidence When I was in the NDE state, not only was I without my physical body, but I was also without my gender, my race, my culture, my religion, my beliefs, and my ego. Yet without all these earthly elements, I wasn’t a reduced version of myself—I was actually something far, far greater! Without these narrow boundaries, I was limitless. I was part of—and one with—everything.
We can perceive something only in contrast with something else. We call this duality. Those qualities we perceive as opposites are really not in opposition. They work in tandem. Someone whom I hated and felt utter contempt for in physical life—I would have felt nothing but total understanding and compassion for them in that expanded state.
For me, a synchronicity is when a connection is made between myself and someone else that is so utterly beyond chance, so stunningly transparent and unlikely, that the idea of simple coincidence is way too far-fetched even to consider. Each night before I go to sleep, as I lie in bed reviewing my day, I send love to every single person on the planet, no matter who they are. The antidote to hatred and violence is never more hatred and violence. The antidote is love.
We are part of one big, cosmic whole, intricately connected in ways we can’t see and can’t even imagine in the physical realm. If we are all connected, then whatever harms another also harms us, and whatever helps another also helps us. If we could see this physical world from that connected state of non-duality, we would see that everything that happens is perfect just as it is, even if it doesn’t seem that way from our more limited earthly perspective. Learn to follow your hunches when you feel guided to go somewhere or do or say something. Practice becoming more compassionate with someone you judge only slightly; as you become comfortable opening your heart and being more accepting of that person or their actions, extend your compassion to someone else who you have judged more harshly than the first person. Each time you become comfortable extending compassion at one level, work toward the next—and keep going.
Chapter 7: Myth: We Pay for Our Sins at Death For many whose entire purpose revolved around a loved one who is now gone, life as they knew it no longer exists. I don’t believe anyone really goes before their time. “Some people may have at some point what they call a ‘life review’ where they evaluate their own life, but in the end all that remains is unconditional love. A person has to be in a lot of pain to choose to leave this life—they’re not going to get more punishment than that in the next! There’s only unconditional love and compassion for her where she is. I remember wondering why we were never taught about how unconditionally loved we are, how pure we are, and how amazing and powerful and magnificent we are. Why are we never taught that there’s no judgment, or that the most important thing we can focus on is love, not fear of retribution?
Chapter 8: Myth: Spiritual People Don’t Have Egos The ego gives us our sense of identity, our individuality. But, what if the ego is actually not the enemy? What if it’s the belief that the ego is to be avoided and suppressed that is actually the culprit?
In the spirit world, we are all pure love, pure consciousness, and we are all of the same substance. I was totally in sync with everyone and everything in that state. I had complete empathy—I didn’t know where I ended and others began. Without an ego, we would be back to the state of non-duality, the state of oneness, of pure consciousness.
Soon we start absorbing everyone else’s fears as they misguidedly teach us how to survive and succeed in the ‘real world.’ In other words, we start to turn down the volume of our conscious awareness. We need allow ourselves to be who we are, instead of trying to pretend we are something or someone we are not. I was the personification of this truth—one of the myriad ways divinity becomes manifest in this life. Even if I remind myself of this fact 100 times a day, it cannot be too much. I honestly think that it’s extremely difficult to live in this realm without an ego. And then we are opening ourselves up to being abused by others. This is why it’s important to love our self—and to have an ego! But how to keep ego in balance with our awareness that we are truly all connected, part of one whole.
We choose to come into the physical realm to experience separation and duality with all the rich, contrasting qualities that make up reality here; without the ego, this experience would be impossible. The more we love ourselves and embrace our ego, the easier it becomes for us to see ourselves beyond our ego and to become aware of our infinite selves. Begin to discern where on the scale you have tuned both your awareness knob and your ego knob. Each time you feel anxiety, fear, or even anger remind yourself that nothing (and no one) can deprive you of the God-force that lives within you, and that feeding that God-force with self-love and self-care instead of feeding your fears and negative emotions will help you connect with your true God-nature more readily. Collaborate with others instead of compete. I know I am in balance, operating with both my ego knob and my awareness knob turned full-on, when . . .
- I have compassion and empathy for others without taking on the heavy mantle of everyone’s pain as if all of it were my own.
- I don’t judge others (including spiritual teachers) for not having transcended their egos.
- I understand that when others have hurt me, they’ve done so because of their own ignorance or suffering.
- I show up as my fully realized, joyful self (instead of projecting a fearful, needy, or dysfunctional version of myself), knowing that this not only empowers me, but also everyone I come in contact with.
Chapter 9: Myth: Women Are the Weaker Sex “So it wasn’t until I was outside my physical body—as well as outside of my earthly persona—that I could recognize that everything in my life that had made me feel less than, smaller than, or weaker than another was simply not true!” To become the healthiest society possible, we need to think in terms of liberation for everyone, whether man, woman, transgendered, gay, straight—irrespective of a person’s race or socioeconomic level. Neither gender is superior to or inferior to the other—each has important qualities that are needed to make a complete and balanced whole. That whole is not only much greater than the sum of its individual parts, but much grander than we can possibly comprehend. In what subtle ways might I have automatically bought into society’s views about women being inferior, possibly without even being aware of it?
Chapter 10: Myth: We Must Always Be Positive I’ve always taught that thinking that way (positive thinking) prevents us from truly allowing our authenticity to shine through. Believing that we have to be positive at all times also sends ourselves the message that who we are is not good enough, so we have to cover our true selves with a veneer of positivity. Who am I really? Who would I be if I disappointed people? Am I still as valuable to this world? Fear of disappointing others is one of the ways we lose ourselves and our authenticity.
I truly believed that the cancer was progressing because I was “not getting it.” I was convinced that my beliefs weren’t strong enough or that my thoughts weren’t positive enough—or both. No matter how much assurance I give that everything is actually perfect in the grand scheme of things—while we are here in this life, the feelings of pain, shame, disappointment, fear, suffering, and so on are still very real? Truly acknowledging and honoring that person’s pain right where they are in that moment, allowing them to feel whatever they are feeling without judgment. We then often feel ashamed of our pain, thinking we brought it on ourselves with our lack of spirituality. Likewise, when others are suffering, we don’t honor the space for them to express their pain, instead offering platitudes and advice.
I’ve learned that the best way out of pain is to go through it. That’s where the real gold lies. This means first recognizing that the pain’s there, and then accepting it. You acknowledge its presence and allow yourself to truly feel it. You own it. Pain is never without gifts. Above all else, pain gives us the empathy to better understand others who are also going through loss, grief, and suffering. These experiences actually make us more human—and more divine.
My negative thoughts weren’t what caused the cancer. My lack of self-love was responsible. But in the NDE, I realized that the key wasn’t being positive, it was being myself! I would have realized that my thoughts are part of who I am. My core teaching is about the importance of being authentic above everything else. So when I am focused on trying to give the audience what I think they want, I end up doing the opposite of what I’m encouraging them to do. We can easily become trapped into making sure that we always show only our “best self” in public and come across as being “spiritually knowledgeable” and a spiritual authority. As a result, we can completely lose ourselves in trying to please or impress others. We must stop trying to feel or think a certain way and embrace all of our emotions, including all our disappointment, frustration, pain, sorrow, and grief—without judgment. If you are having difficulty getting to a place of joy, start with acceptance for where you are right now. After acceptance, reach for finding peace with your current situation. From peace, it becomes easier to step into a place of gratitude, and from gratitude you can more easily get to joy.
Afterward “When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what’s inside.” Wayne Dyer
So my biggest message (inspired by both my NDE and the life and teachings of my dear friend) is to live your life as an exercise in creativity, as if every discovery, every artistic exploration, matters in the cosmic tapestry of life—because it does. The only thing that matters is that you allow yourself to be all of who you are! It’s that simple! Just be yourself—your true self! Be the love that you are. Shine your light as brightly as you can. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy the ride and have fun—lots of fun!