Link back to index.html
Leaving the World Behind
All the passages below are taken from Anita Moorjaniís book, ďDying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing.Ē It was published in 2012.
As I was being rushed to the hospital, the world around me started to appear surreal and dreamlike, and I could feel myself slip further and further away from consciousness. I arrived at the hospital in a coma, only to find that the doctors were bleak---≠if not hopeless---≠in their evaluation of my chances. This wasnít the same place where Iíd usually visited for my treatments throughout the duration of my illness. The facility Iíd been going to over the years was more like a large clinic than a full-blown hospital. It had been adequate for what my doctor prescribed in the past, but it wasnít equipped to deal with medical emergencies. It was my choice all along to be treated at the smaller neighborhood institution because it was less intimidating---≠and I absolutely hated hospitals. I feared them because of the two people Iíd lost. My best friend and Dannyís brother-in-law both died in large, cancer-specialist hospitals.
But when Danny called the clinic the morning I fell into a coma, my doctor told him to rush me to one of the largest and best-equipped hospitals in Hong Kong, where the doctor would have a team of specialists waiting for me. So this was the first time I was in this particular place and the first time I was being treated by this particular medical team.
The moment the oncologist saw me, her face visibly filled with shock.
ďYour wifeís heart may still be beating,Ē she told Danny, ďbut sheís not really in there. Itís too late to save her.Ē
Whoís the doctor talking about? I wondered. Iíve never felt better in my life! And why do Mum and Danny look so frightened and worried? Mum, please donít cry. Whatís wrong? Are you crying because of me? Donít cry! Iím fine---≠really, dear Mama, I am! I thought I was speaking these words aloud, but nothing came out. I had no voice.
I wanted to hug my mother, comfort her and tell her that I was fine; and I couldnít comprehend why I was unable to do so. Why was my physical body not cooperating? Why was I just lying there, limp, when all I wanted to do was to hug my beloved husband and mother, assuring them that I was fine and no longer in pain?
Because of the gravity of the situation, the doctor immediately called for another senior oncologist to back her up. In this near-death state, I was more acutely aware of all that was going on around me than Iíve ever been in a normal physical state. I wasnít using my five biological senses, yet I was keenly taking everything in, much more so than if Iíd been using my physical organs. It was as though another, completely different type of perception kicked in, and more than just perceive, I seemed to also encompass everything that was happening, as though I was slowly merging with it all.
The senior oncologist immediately ordered a medical team to wheel my gurney to the radiology lab so that they could do a full-body scan. I noticed that my head was still propped up at an angle with pillows, just as it had been at home the last few days. This was because, as I described earlier, my lungs were so filled with fluid that if my head lay flat, Iíd choke on my own fluids.
I was still connected to the portable oxygen tank, and when I reached the radiology lab, they removed the mask from my face, lifted me up, and put me in the MRI machine. Within a few seconds, I started choking, coughing, and sputtering.
ďPlease donít remove the oxygen---≠and she canít lie down flat! Please, sheís choking! She canít breathe! Sheís going to die if you do this!Ē I heard Danny cry out to the medical team.
"We really need to do this," explained one of the radiologists. "Please don't worry. We'll be as gentle as we can. She can handle about 30 seconds off the oxygen at a time."
So the radiologist slid me out of the MRI capsule every 30 or 40 seconds to put the oxygen mask over my face, then removed it and slid me back in again. As a result, the scan took a very long time to complete. After they finished, they wheeled me to the intensive care unit (ICU).
The medical team took what action they could, spurred on by my husband's insistence that they not give up on me. While the minutes ticked by, I lay in the ICU as the staff administered treatments by way of needles and tubes, and my helpless family looked on.
A thick curtain was then drawn all around my bed, separating me from the patients on either side of me. Danny and my mother were both on the outside of the cubicle created by the curtain.
I noticed that the nurses were still scurrying around, preparing to hook up my near-lifeless body to the hospitalís oxygen and other machinery to start an intravenous flow of fluids and glucose, since I was seriously malnourished. There was a monitor above my bed, and they started connecting me so that they could measure my blood pressure and heart rate. A food tube was inserted through my nose, down the back of my throat, and into my stomach so that I could be fed directly, and oxygen was being pumped through my nose via a respirator. They had trouble inserting the food tube and sliding it down my trachea, so they sprayed something down my throat to numb the muscles, and were then able to push the tube down more easily.
I knew when people came in to see me, who they were and what they were doing. Although my physical eyes were closed, I seemed to be acutely aware of every minute detail that was taking place around me and beyond. The sharpness of my perception was even more intense than if Iíd been awake and using my physical senses. I seemed to just know and understand everything---≠not only what was going on around me, but also what everyone was feeling, as though I were able to see and feel through each person. I was able to sense their fears, their hopelessness, and their resignation to my situation.
Danny and Mum look so sad and frightened. I wish they could know that Iím no longer in pain---≠I wish I could tell them. Mum, please donít cry! Iím fine! Iím right here. Iím with you now!
I was fully aware of what was going on around me. Although everything seemed to be happening at the same time, whatever I focused on would become clear in that moment.
ďI canít find her veins!Ē I heard one of the nurses saying frantically to the doctor on duty. There was fear in that voice. ďTheyíve completely retracted. Oh, just look at her limbs! Thereís no flesh on them. Her body hasnít been absorbing nutrition for a while.Ē I clearly recall that this was a male voice---≠a male nurse.
He sounds so hopeless, I thought. Heís ready to give up on me, and I donít blame him.
ďHer lungs are filled with liquid. Sheís drowning in her own fluid. Iíll have to tap it out of her lungs so that she can at least start to breath with more ease.Ē That was the senior oncologist speaking. I watched as they worked with great purpose over my motionless body≠---a form that seemed too small to contain how I was feeling about myself in that moment.
Although the medical team moved with great speed, and there was a sense of urgency in their actions, I also sensed an air of acceptance, as though theyíd come to terms with the fact that it was too late to change my fate. I was extremely aware of every detail, but I couldnít physically feel anything---≠anything, that is, except a release and a level of freedom Iíd never known before.
Wow, this is incredible! I feel so free and light! Whatís going on? Iíve never felt this good! There are no more tubes, no more wheelchair. I can move around freely now without any help! And my breathing is no longer labored---≠how amazing this is!
I felt no emotional attachment to my seemingly lifeless body as it lay there on the hospital bed. It didnít feel as though it were mine. It looked far too small and insignificant to have housed what I was experiencing. I felt free, liberated, and magnificent. Every pain, ache, sadness, and sorrow was gone! I felt completely unencumbered. I couldnít recall feeling this way before≠---not ever.
It was as though Iíd been a prisoner in my own body for the past four years as the cancer ravaged my physical form, and at last I was being released. I was tasting freedom for the first time! I began to feel weightless and to become aware that I was able to be anywhere at any time. . .and this didnít seem unusual. It felt normal, as though this were the real way to perceive things. I didnít even think it odd that I was aware of my husband and the doctor speaking to each other outside the ICU, some 40 feet down a hallway.
ďThereís nothing we can do for your wife, Mr. Moorjani. Her organs have already shut down. She has tumors the size of lemons throughout her lymphatic system, from the base of her skull to below her abdomen. Her brain is filled with fluid, as are her lungs. Her skin has developed lesions that are weeping with toxins. She wonít even make it through the night,Ē the man told Danny. This doctor was someone Iíd never seen before.
I watched as Dannyís face change to anguish, and wanted to cry out to him, Itís okay, darling-óIím okay! Please donít worry. Donít listen to the doctor. What they said isnít true! But I couldnít. Nothing came out. He couldnít hear me.
ďI donít want to lose her. I am not ready to lose her,Ē said Danny.
Although I wasnít filled with any attachment to my body, I felt a deep pull on my emotions to the drama that was unfolding around my inert form. More than anything, I wanted to relieve Danny of the deep despair he was experiencing at the thought of losing me.
Darling, can you hear me? Please listen! I want you to know that Iím okay!
As soon as I began to get emotionally attached to the drama taking place around me, I also felt myself being simultaneously pulled away, as though there were a bigger picture, a grander plan that was unfolding. I could feel my attachment recede as I began to know that everything was perfect and going according to plan.
As my emotions were being drawn away from my surroundings, I started to notice how I was continuing to expand to fill every space, until there was no separation between me and everything else. I encompassed≠---no, became---≠everything and everyone. I was fully aware of every word of the conversation that was taking place between my family and the doctors, although it was physically some distance away, outside my room. I knew the frightened expression on my husbandís face and could feel his fear. It was as though, in that instant, I became him.
Simultaneously, although I hadnít known of it previously, I became aware that my brother, Anoop, was thousands of miles away on an airplane, anxiously coming to see me. Upon seeing him and his worried look, I once again felt myself being drawn back into the emotional drama of the physical realm.
Oh wow, thereís Anoop! Heís on an airplane. Why does he seem so anxious? It looks as though heís coming to Hong Kong to see me!
I recall feeling his sense of urgency to reach me. I felt an intense rush of emotion toward him.
Oh, poor Anoop. Heís worried about me, and he wants to get here before I die. Donít worry, Anoop. Iíll be here for you. You donít have to hurry! Iím not in pain anymore, dear brother!
I wanted to reach out and give him a hug and assure him that I was okay, and I couldnít understand why I wasnít able to reach out to him.
Iím here, bro!
I recall knowing that I didnít want my physical body to be dead before he arrived. I was aware of how that would make him feel, and I didnít want him to go through that.
But yet again, as my affection for my brother started to take over and I was becoming overwhelmed with not wanting him to experience the pain of his little sister dying, I found myself being simultaneously drawn away. Each time my emotions took over the situation, I discovered myself starting to expand again, and I felt a release from all attachment. Once more, I was surrounded by the reassuring feeling of a greater tapestry unfolding, where everything was exactly as it should be in the grand scheme of things.
THE FURTHER OUTWARD I EXPANDED, THE LESS UNUSUAL it felt to be in this miraculous state---≠in fact, I had no awareness of it being out of the ordinary. It all seemed perfectly natural to me at the time. I continued to be fully aware of every detail of every procedure that was being administered to me, while to the outside world I appeared to be in a coma.
I continued to sense myself expanding further and further outward, drawing away from my physical surroundings. It was as though I were no longer restricted by the confines of space and time, and continued to spread myself out to occupy a greater expanse of consciousness. I felt a sense of freedom and liberation that Iíd never experienced in my physical life before. I can only describe this as the combination of a sense of joy mixed with a generous sprinkling of jubilation and happiness. It stemmed from being released from my sick and dying body, a feeling of jubilant emancipation from all the pain that my illness had caused me.
As I continued to plunge deeper into the other realm, expanding outward, becoming everyone and everything, I felt all my emotional attachments to my loved ones and my surroundings slowly fall away. What I can only describe as superb and glorious unconditional love surrounded me, wrapping me tight as I continued to let go. The term unconditional love really doesnít do justice to the feeling, as these words have been overused to the point of having lost their intensity. But the physical battle Iíd fought for so very long had finally released its strong hold on me, and I had a beautiful experience of freedom.
It didnít feel as though Iíd physically gone somewhere else-óit was more as though Iíd awakened. Perhaps Iíd finally been roused from a bad dream. My soul was finally realizing its true magnificence! And in doing so, it was expanding beyond my body and this physical world. It extended further and further outward until it encompassed not only this existence, but continued to expand into another realm that was beyond this time and space, and at the same time included it.
Love, joy, ecstasy, and awe poured into me, through me, and engulfed me. I was swallowed up and enveloped in more love than I ever knew existed. I felt more free and alive than I ever had. As I described, I suddenly knew things that werenít physically possible, such as the conversations between medical staff and my family that were taking place far away from my hospital bed.
The overwhelming sensations were in a realm of their own, and words donít exist to describe them. The feeling of complete, pure, unconditional love was unlike anything Iíd known before. Unqualified and nonjudgmental. . .it was totally undiscriminating, as if I didnít have to do anything to deserve it, nor did I need to prove myself to earn it.
TO MY AMAZEMENT, I BECAME AWARE OF THE PRESENCE of my father, whoíd died ten years earlier, and it brought me an unbelievable level of comfort to sense him with me.
Dad, youíre here! I canít believe it!
I wasnít speaking those words, I was merely thinking them--≠in fact, it was more like I was feeling the emotions behind the words, as there was no other way of communicating in that realm other than through our emotions.
Yes, Iím here, my darling, and Iíve always been here---≠for you and our whole family! my father communicated to me. Again, there were no words, just emotions, but I clearly understood.
And then I recognized the essence of my best friend, Soni, whoíd died of cancer three years prior. I felt what I can only describe as excitement as their presence enveloped me like a warm embrace, and I was comforted. I seemed to know that theyíd been around me for some time, long before I became aware of them, all through my illness.
I was also aware of other beings around me. I didnít recognize them, but I knew they loved me very much and were protecting me. I realized that they were there all the time, surrounding me with so much love, even when I wasnít conscious of it.
It was tremendously comforting for me to reconnect with Soniís essence, for Iíd missed her so much during the years since sheíd gone. I felt nothing but unconditional love, both from her and for her. And then, just as I experienced that, it was as though my essence merged with Soniís and I became her. I understood that she was here, there, and everywhere. She was able to be in all places at all times for all her loved ones.
Although I was no longer using my five physical senses, I had unlimited perception, as if a new sense had become available, one that was more heightened than any of our usual faculties. I had 360-degree peripheral vision with total awareness of my surroundings. And as amazing as it all sounds, it still felt almost normal. Being in a body now felt confining.
Time felt different in that realm, too, and I felt all moments at once. I was aware of everything that pertained to me---≠past, present, and future---≠simultaneously. I became conscious of what seemed to be simultaneous lives playing out. I seemed to have a younger brother in one incarnation, and I was protective of him. But I knew that this siblingís essence was the same as Anoopís, only in that existence, he was younger instead of older than I was. This life I was now perceiving with Anoop seemed to take place in an underdeveloped rural setting, in a time and location I couldnít identify. We were living in a sparsely furnished mud hut, and I looked after Anoop while our parents went out to work in the fields.
As I was experiencing the sensations associated with being a protective older sister, ensuring that there was enough for us to eat and we were safe from any undesirable external elements, it didnít feel like a past life. Even though the scene appeared historical, in that realm, it still felt as though it were happening here and now.
In other words, time didnít run linearly the way we experience it here. Itís as though our earthly minds convert what happens around us into a sequence; but in actuality, when weíre not expressing through our bodies, everything occurs simultaneously, whether past, present, or future.
Although being able to perceive all points of time simultaneously lent to the atmosphere of clarity in that realm, recalling it and writing about it creates confusion. The sequence isnít obvious when thereís no linear time, making the retelling sound clumsy.
It seems as though our five senses limit us to focus only on one point in time at any given moment, and we string these together to create an illusion of linear reality. Our physicality also limits our perception of the space around us, confining us to only what our eyes and ears can see and hear or to what we can touch, smell, or taste. However, without the limitations of my body, I took in all points of time and space as they pertained to me, all at once.
MY HEIGHTENED AWARENESS IN THAT EXPANDED realm was indescribable, despite my best efforts to explain it. The clarity was amazing. The universe makes sense! I realized. I finally understand≠---I know why I have cancer! I was too caught up in the wonder of that moment to dwell on the cause, although Iíd soon examine it more closely. I also seemed to comprehend why Iíd come into this life in the first place≠---I knew my true purpose.
Why do I suddenly understand all this? I wanted to know. Whoís giving me this information? Is it God? Krishna? Buddha? Jesus? And then I was overwhelmed by the realization that God isnít a being, but a state of being. . .and I was now that state of being!
I saw my life intricately woven into everything Iíd known so far. My experience was like a single thread woven through the huge and complexly colorful images of an infinite tapestry. All the other threads and colors represented my relationships, including every life Iíd touched. There were threads representing my mother, my father, my brother, my husband, and every other person whoíd ever come into my life, whether they related to me in a positive or negative way.
Oh my, thereís even a thread for Billy, who bullied me as a child!
Every single encounter was woven together to create the fabric that was the sum of my life up to this point. I may have been only one thread, yet I was integral to the overall finished picture.
Seeing this, I understood that I owed it to myself, to everyone I met, and to life itself to always be an expression of my own unique essence. Trying to be anything or anyone else didnít make me better---≠it just deprived me of my true self! It kept others from experiencing me for who I am, and it deprived me of interacting authentically with them. Being inauthentic also deprives the universe of who I came here to be and what I came here to express.
In that state of clarity, I also realized that Iím not who Iíd always thought I was: Here I am without my body, race, culture, religion, or beliefs. . .yet I continue to exist! Then what am I? Who am I? I certainly donít feel reduced or smaller in any way. On the contrary, I havenít ever been this huge, this powerful, or this all-encompassing. Wow, Iíve never, ever felt this way!
There I was, without my body or any of my physical traits, yet my pure essence continued to exist, and it was not a reduced element of my whole self. In fact, it felt far greater and more intense and expansive than my physical being---≠magnificent, in fact. I felt eternal, as if Iíd always existed and always would without beginning or end. I was filled with the knowledge that I was simply magnificent!
How have I never noticed this about myself before? I wondered.
As I looked at the great tapestry that was the accumulation of my life up to that point, I was able to identify exactly what had brought me to where I was today.
Just look at my life path! Why, oh why, have I always been so harsh with myself? Why was I always beating myself up? Why was I always forsaking myself? Why did I never stand up for myself and show the world the beauty of my own soul?
Why was I always suppressing my own intelligence and creativity to please others? I betrayed myself every time I said yes when I meant no! Why have I violated myself by always needing to seek approval from others just to be myself? Why havenít I followed my own beautiful heart and spoken my own truth?
Why donít we realize this when weíre in our physical bodies? How come I never knew that weíre not supposed to be so tough on ourselves?
I still felt myself completely enveloped in a sea of unconditional love and acceptance. I was able to look at myself with fresh eyes, and I saw that I was a beautiful being of the Universe. I understood that just the fact that I existed made me worthy of this tender regard rather than judgment. I didnít need to do anything specific; I deserved to be loved simply because I existed, nothing more and nothing less.
This was a rather surprising realization for me, because Iíd always thought I needed to work at being lovable. I believed that I somehow had to be deserving and worthy of being cared for, so it was incredible to realize this wasnít the case. Iím loved unconditionally, for no other reason than simply because I exist.
I was transformed in unimaginable clarity
as I realized that this expanded, magnificent essence was really me. It was the
truth of my being. The understanding was so clear: I was looking into a new
paradigm of self, becoming the crystalline light of my own awareness. Nothing
interfered with the flow, glory, and amazing beauty of what was taking place.
I became aware that weíre all connected. This was not only every person and living creatures, but the interwoven unification felt as though it were expanding outward to include everything in the universe---every human, animal, plant, insect, mountain, sea, inanimate object, and the cosmos. I realized that the entire universe is alive and infused with consciousness, encompassing all of life and nature. Everything belongs to an infinite Whole. I was intricately, inseparably enmeshed with all of life. Weíre all facets of that unity---≠weíre all One, and each of us has an effect on the collective Whole.
I knew that Dannyís life and purpose were inextricably linked to mine, and that if I died, heíd follow me soon after. But I understood that even if this were to happen, everything would still be perfect in the bigger picture.
I also understood that the cancer was not
some punishment for anything Iíd done wrong, nor was I experiencing negative
karma as a result of any of my actions, as Iíd previously believed. It was as
though every moment held infinite possibilities, and where I was at that point
in time was a culmination of every decision, every choice, and every thought of
my entire life. My many fears and my great power had manifested as this
Link back to index.html