The Third Eye
by Nicole Howard
Illustration by RAchelle
I am Julia Dempsey in the movie Before Sunrise where she meets up with Ethan “I-stroke-my-goatee-so-I-look-deep-in-thought” Hawke on the EuroRail. In their trite pseudo-intellectual philosophy discussions, she “confesses” to him that she’s constantly consumed by the thought of death; it’s always on the back of her mind, plaguing her; she can’t seem to escape it. Well, that is me on a glaringly good day, so naturally I jumped at the chance to attend a two-hour program called “The Death Transition” at “Open Doors” on Washington Street in Braintree, MA. The two-hour long program promises to “help you overcome your fear of death” and “understand what the after-death reality is really like.” Hmmm…modern day popes selling indulgences, or a quick fix at only $25.00 a pop (free book included)? Plus, the added advantage of meeting some cool Ethan Hawke wanna-be’s (just kidding).
As I headed down to the open arms of Cliff Aguirre, author of The Death Transition and Masters of Perception, I couldn’t help wondering if this would be a self-defining moment or another wasted $25. It soon became apparent when only a few of us showed up for the class, that I may as well have torn up my $25 and thrown it around like confetti at Cliff and the two googly-eyed ladies, so that they would all wake up and smell the incense. “Listen to my reality!” I wanted to scream, because those “golly-gee” ladies were suckered in like hypnotics, it was like being in Night of the Living Dead with the zombies saying, “Yes, Cliff” to his ultra-ordinary whacked belief system.
His entire after-death theory is based on two years worth of communications that he had with his deceased girlfriend through dreams. Talking about keeping a dream journal, he claims that his girlfriend kept in direct contact with him for the distinct reason of giving him updates on the afterworld. Or, more to give this man a term, I would call him a “Christian-Reincarnationist” because all he does is combine and embellish, like a mad chef who chopped up even his hat and added it to the meal.
In Cliff’s World, when you die, the first thing that occurs is very similar to a near-death experience. You approach a bright white light, which is actually a stream of your own knowledge and consciousness. This is basically Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, which states that we hold the answers to all the mysteries of mankind in our subconscious. In Cliff’s theory, upon death you gain all of this awareness that you’ve always had, but has been buried deep down during life. In a pin-prick of time you know everything from the universe right down to your self. You also are given a “life review” which looks at everything that you’ve done and left undone. Since you planned your life out yourself you judge how you have fared at overcoming your inadequacies. Next, you are met by a helper (for all intents and purposes, an angel), who is a deceased family member or friend, possibly someone you have known in a past life and not the one you just left. This person will guide you through the whole death experience, from the initial stages of panic (and trying to get back into your physical body) all the way to your funeral, where you watch yourself being mourned. This is supposed to erase the biggest fear of death that most of us have (including me), which is, being alone.
The next step is crucial, here the individual must accept that they are dead. Some people become so horrified that they send themselves into whatever their mind expects will happen, in this way they can create their own heaven or hell. The projection of their mind and blockage can be so severe that they become locked into a mind-frame. Cliff promises that this stage cannot last and will extinguish itself eventually, since it is, after all, not real.
Once the individual has accepted their death, they learn and grow in the afterlife much as they did in life. You retain parts of your personality and explore the universe. You re-enter the chain whenever you choose to be reincarnated. It’s one big circle out there! Cliff’s God is neither male nor female, but a “something” that gave life to the universe. As you can see, Cliff’s theory merely combines several ideas that are already known to us; near-death, Jungian thought, Christianity and reincarnation.
Cliff’s saving grace and originality lies in his theory of an alternate reality. Basically this states that there are things that are going on right now that we cannot see. For instance, take the room that you are in right now. There are four walls and lots of physical things like “table” and “chair.” This is because it is all we allow ourselves to see. Sometimes we will catch glimpses of “the other dimension” from the corner of our eye, and then dismiss it as an illusion. The truth is that there are other things going on in the room, as real as us sitting there and just as we are unaware of them, they are unaware of us. When we both become aware of one another is when we catch furtive glances that we later talk ourselves out of.
Cliff also believes that dreams are as real as daily life and it is only because we have divided them ourselves that the separation exists. The truth is that when we are dreaming or experiencing astral projection (leaving one’s body), we are closest to the death state. It is during the dream state that it is easier for us to communicate with the other world, the dead.
When I admitted my skepticism, Cliff was not bothered and said in an eerie voice that upon death I would remember this conversation, which spooked me like a black cat walking under a ladder might. The truth is that any human being telling me that they know the afterlife for certain is preposterous to me. And simple ideas strung together just don’t do it for me. If this were a movie, Julia Dempsey might have felt at ease and feared death less, but for me, it only increased it. Every one thing I hear about death convinces me that can’t possibly be it either, and even anything that we are capable of thinking, no matter how intense, cannot be it no matter how probable it seems at that moment. So, will I shut the shutters each night and freak? No. I will just do what we all do, contemplate life and rush through it just to die.