NOTE: As in all my discussions on Christianity and its beliefs, my intent is to link certain ideas regarding Biblical theology with current theories on the afterlife. There is NO evangelical purpose here; I am not trying to convince anybody of the truth of one religion over any other. I simply write what I know.
There are a great many Biblical stories that upset me. One of them is contained in Revelations and concerns the Apocalypse. The verses have to do with ‘being awake’ and aware as if you were protecting yourself from a ‘thief in the night.’ When the end of the world comes, one of every two people will be ‘taken up’ or rescued from a dying world. This is the ‘Rapture,’ which I simply cannot understand as something literal. The idea that these verses concern a literal end of the world where people actually rise to Heaven has created much confusion: there are entire cults built around this idea of Apocalypse, and as they patiently await the end of the world, they are also waiting for the second arrival of the Savior. This too strikes me as allegorical and symbolic. It also occurs for me as a lesson on time, and how we are tricked into thinking salvation is a future act for which we are supposed to wait.
Last Sunday, a guest pastor at Saint Francis Episcopal explained these troubling stories in a way that links them to quantum physics and human psychology, although not explicitly. The question he asked us was painfully simple: “Have you ever had something happen to you that made you feel that your world had just ended?” Most of us can answer with a yes. When my grandmother died, there was a sudden rupture in my life that would forever change my existence. There was the world with Nana, and the world without her. I was different in each of those worlds. There are many examples of this: when my first husband told me that he was no longer in love with me, I felt that I died that evening. Of course, I woke up the next morning, but I was not the same person nor was my world the one I knew before. Everything seemed unfamiliar, as if I had just started over somewhere strange where I had to learn new rules and build another life.
You do not have to stop breathing to die. You can die to your old life and wake up to a different one many times before you lose your physical body. I suspect that losing your physical existence won’t be much different than losing your husband, your grandmother or another important person that has defined so much of you. You will wake up from your physical death as you wake up from an emotional or spiritual death and have to start over.
The ‘many worlds’ theory in quantum physics states that there are many dimensions of existence (perhaps uncountably many) where we exist in slightly different circumstances. There is a universe where Nana still is my grandmother and where I never endured a divorce. There is a universe where I wrote this post and one where I did not. Although there are logical problems with this interpretation of reality, and I don’t necessarily buy into it, the idea that multiple dimensions of reality intersect with this one explains a great deal of paranormal phenomena. Ghosts, EVP, NDE, OBE and so on might simply represent interactions between dimensions of reality where other beings are living out their lives and where we occasionally slip into a universe where the rules governing reality are vastly different.
The Apocalypse, then, is about the ending of YOUR world, not all of Creation. When your life utterly falls apart, you have died to your old reality. What will you do then? Do you find salvation? Or do you turn away from the Divine Principle and end up alone, isolated and abandoned? You have a choice regarding which world you inhabit: in one, you have reconnected to God and life; in the other, you have become a shadow, a lost soul in the darkness. Perhaps in some worlds, we are lost and in others, we are saved. Which one is the Ultimate Reality? Not all of these universes can be coequal. I suspect there is only One World where we live out our true and eternal lives, but until then, we are fragmented in infinite ways.
Our task, then, is to find the unification of these disparate selves living out multiple lives. This is not about waiting for a Savior to pull us together and raise us to Heaven. Heaven, Hell, Salvation and damnation are always happening right now. They are not ‘in time,’ but ‘of time’. All aspects of our soul and spirit are eternal–nothing concerning salvation can happen in the future, because past and future rely upon time to have any meaning. We are outside of time. The Apocalypse is now, and has always been now; salvation is now, and has always been now. There are many worlds where we exist simultaneously: in some, we are moving towards our ultimate salvation and integration (we are making the right choices); in others, we are moving away from God and spirit into oblivion. Fragmentation of our souls and spirits is the enemy. Integration of our essence within the multiverse is what saves us and recreates us as a whole being.
Jesus, then, isn’t waiting to show up again. He’s already here. He has ALWAYS ALREADY been here. The Second Coming isn’t about Him, but about us: do we make our way towards Salvation, or not? That’s the religious understanding. The scientific one is similar: time is not an independent quality of the universe; everything that has happened, is happening or will happen is actually occurring right now! Actions, lives, events, and simply spread out in space-time. There is no ‘before’ or ‘after’. Only now. Every potential you have as a human being is ‘out there’ for you to discover–but to see it, you need a new and radically different perspective. And that is where the Divine Principle comes in, or whatever you wish to call it. You don’t achieve that kind of radical vision and perspective without serious transformation; how you discover that transformation that gives you the gift of true sight is the purpose of your live(s).
–Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.