Da Vinci’s Code?

Love shows itself more in adversity than in prosperity; as light does, which shines most where the place is darkest.” Leonardo Da Vinci

No one can argue that Leonardo Da Vinci was a remarkable artist but what some don’t realize is that he was also a man of science way ahead of his time.  His creativity and artistic talents were paralleled with an insatiable zest for discovering some of life’s greatest wonders.

leonardo-da-vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

A true Renaissance man, his intellect spanned across a vast area of knowledge including philosophy, sculpting, carpentry, anatomy, mechanics, drafting, chemistry and painting.  He was even employed as a military engineer to design weaponry.  His inventions included the 33 barrel gun organ, triple barrel cannon, crossbow machine gun and a covered tank.

Da Vinci had a fascination with flying apparatuses and designed plans for prototypes of an airplane long before the Wright brothers.  True, he was a genius but being a prodigy like him means far more than being super smart.  What separates someone like Da Vinci is his unlimited creativity and his ability to see beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.

Recently, I was watching a special on Ancient Aliens about Da Vinci.  The show questioned how he could have obtained such a vast amount of knowledge and whether or not he may have obtained information from extra-celestials.  I have no idea whether that theory is true.  But what struck me is the similarities between Da Vinci and Nikola Tesla.

In 1943, the Supreme Court granted full rights to Tesla for the invention of the radio.  He also built the first working alternating current generator.  As a result of his genius, we are today able to take advantage of all the modern conveniences of A.C. (alternating current) electric power, and many others.  Other inventions include: remote control, robotics, x-rays, the electric motor, laser technology and wireless energy.

Some speculate that Tesla, too, obtained information from extra-celestial beings. The US Patent Office has hundreds of patents registered to Nikola Tesla and it is also said that he is responsible for creating many, many more inventions which were never patented.

Like Da Vinci, Tesla was able to conceive of the invention in his mind without any need for experimentation. Many inventions have been linked to Da Vinci including the parachute and scuba gear. He is noted as saying, “There is no result in nature without a cause; understand the cause and you will have no need of the experiment.”

Despite the inventions, Da Vinci is still most markedly known for his famous works of art including his Last Supper and Mona Lisa.  His detailed sketches and unique painting techniques continue to set him apart.

More recently, there has been renewed interests in Da Vinci’s paintings because of so-called hidden codes and messages.  The eyes of Mona Lisa are believed to contain various signs including the letters LV in her right eye.  It is also noted that Da Vinci carried the painting of the Mona Lisa with him everywhere in a protected case.

But perhaps no other painting has been the subject of so much scrutiny as his Last Supper.  For example, unlike previous artists, Da Vinci depicted Jesus and his disciples without halos supposedly indicating that they were mortal.

More recently in 2010, Sabrina Sforza Galitzia calculated both mathematical and astrological signs in the painting of what she believed indicated that the end of the world would come in 4006. In 2007, Giovanni Maria Pala, an Italian musician, stated that she found hidden musical notes in the painting.

Of course whether or not any of these codes are real is purely speculative.  So much attention has been placed on these so called hidden messages in recent years that some forget to recognize what is in plain view.  Although he may have not been credited because his inventions often did not go beyond sketches, he made incredible contributions to almost every field of science and the arts.

So much has been written about Da Vinci’s religious and spiritual beliefs. While some say he was catholic and followed the teachings of the church, others say he was more of a heretic thinker or rationalist who based his beliefs on reason.  The latter holds that truth should be sought by fact and reason and not faith or religious dogma.

Of course, we cannot know for sure what his beliefs were.  However, I came across a quote by Da Vinci which truly resonates with my own beliefs and what I’ve learned in my afterlife research.  “While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”  Although there are many opinions as to the meaning of his words, I take it to mean that he finally understood that life and death are one and the same.  I think this may well be Da Vinci’s “code.”

People often ask me what my research has taught me.  In researching life after death, I’ve learned what it means to live.  I’m not writing about death; I’m writing about life.  Death is not an end but a transformation.  Once we can understand this, we will know that we are far more than the physical body.

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Where are the Miracles?

“Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.” Richard Wilkins

The Bible mentions countless examples of miracles. There are hundreds of them, for example: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Jesus turns water into wine, Jesus walks on water, Jesus cures a blind man, etc. So if these miracles were possible then and if there truly is a God or a higher power, why wouldn’t miracles and divine interventions be possible today?

Miracles are typically supernatural, statistically impossible events that nonetheless occur. But what one may consider a miracle may not be so incredible to someone else. This week I had the opportunity to see Tony Melendez perform a concert for the parishioners of my church. His music filled the church as he beautifully strummed his guitar. Song after song, I found myself mesmerized by him lost in his tonymwords.

Tony was born with no arms after his mother was prescribed thalidomide for morning sickness while pregnant. His confidence in his music made me forget about his disability yet his inspiring faith in God and humanity often filled my eyes with grateful tears. What a gift it was to be able to witness his presence and feel his faith.

He told the parishioners that he felt normal growing up. Yes, he had no arms. But it wasn’t like he lost them and now misses them. He never had them.

Fitted with prosthetics at the age of 6, Tony soon realized that he could do just as much without them. He learned how to live his life to the fullest with what he did have. “Please don’t tell me that you can’t,” he said. “Because you can.”

In 1987, his life changed forever after he performed “Never Be the Same” for Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles. The Pope told him to keep playing and bringing hope to others. Tony became an overnight sensation and has since never stopped playing.

There was one thing that he said, however, that really struck a chord in me. Tony mentioned how people sometimes ask him, “Where are the miracles?” In answer to that seemingly difficult question, Tony effortlessly responds that he sees miracles in the very fact that people have arms. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought about his profound words.

We take so many things for granted in life. To a man like Tony just having arms is a miracle. Think about that for a moment. We don’t realize how blessed we truly are until something is taken away from us.

I, too, was born with a disability. Luckily, my cerebral palsy is mild but I still have my challenges. My muscles are numb and weak in some areas of my leg, and I suffer from bilateral hearing loss. I understand wholeheartedly what Tony means when he says he sees miracles in arms.

Growing up, I saw the kids playing and running in the street. Today, as an adult, I see people talking or listening to music. I have never heard an entire song. There are always words that escape my ears. So, to me, the very act of listening to music is miraculous. To me, each day that I can stand up and put one foot in front of the other is miraculous.

I was once told that I had no idea what I was missing because there are so many sounds I cannot hear. I remember standing in front of the audiologist somewhat stunned and confused. How could I even begin to comprehend what she was talking about if I’ve never had the opportunity to hear those sounds? Like Tony, this is my normal.

As the saying goes, it’s all relative. Most people don’t even give the fact that they have arms a second thought. Neither do people who are not hard of hearing. So, likewise, what you may perceive to be a miracle is dependent upon your view of certain things and situations. Everything is measured by individual perception.

Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I don’t want to speak for Tony but, like me, I’d be willing to bet he’d say the latter.

Tony continues to travel around the world inspiring others through his gift of music. For more information, visit his website at www.tonymelendez.com.

******************************

My youngest daughter Lia was there with me as we all watched Tony. Seeing him left quite an impression on her and she wrote the following poem.

LOOK AT YOUR HANDS

Do you really believe that you’ve never seen a miracle?

Look at your hands

A maze of crevices creating a path to your fingers

Opposable and capable

With these you can do anything

Your mind thinks but these hands can execute

They write stories, hold hands, catch Frisbees

Look at your hands

Do you really think that you’ve never seen a miracle?

Look at your hands

 

Tony sings for Pope John Paul II.

 

IS HEAVEN REAL? WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE?

“Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:10 NRSV)

The first time, I had a reading with a psychic medium, I was understandably nervous and had no idea what to expect. I was put almost immediately at ease, however, when my deceased cousin Lina came through.  The medium gave me several validations which indicated that it was indeed my cousin including mimicking her personality.  But one thing he said has always stayed with me, “She said to tell you, ‘Boy, wait until you see how beautiful the afterlife is. Heaven is beautiful.’”

The day was December 28, 2007. I have never forgotten about that reading and, truthfully, so much has changed.  For one, I believe in the afterlife and the existence of heaven more than ever before.

At the time of the reading, I was in the midst of doing research for my book, Visits from Heaven. Since then, I have continued my afterlife research and have written several books.  One of the main and most difficult questions that I consistently get is what is heaven like? It’s difficult not because I’m not sure of its existence but rather because it has proven to be indescribable in so many ways.

Fortunately, I’ve interviewed many who say they have been to heaven and back over the years. And who better to answer this question than someone who’s been there?  There was something about Steven Musick’s story that really struck a chord in me.

After having a severe reaction to the swine flu vaccine while he was in the Navy, Musick died, went to heaven and even had a conversation with Jesus. As remarkable as that is, it’s not what drew me to his story.  Truthfully, I’ve heard it all before when speaking to NDErs.  What intrigued me was his claim that heaven is much closer than we think.

Steve-MusickWhen asked what heaven is like, Musick admits it is extremely difficult to describe the vitality of “That Place” but equates it to super high-definition TV on steroids. In his book, Life After Heaven, he describes seeing green meadows, rolling hills, billowy clouds and bright sunshine.

“The light is brilliant, beyond description,” he writes. I can see no roads or other construction. I am surrounded by a profound sense of abundance. Of completeness. Of perfect being.”  He goes on to describe heaven as a place of “explosive peace” and pure joy.

Heaven is a very real, physical place. In fact, he writes, it is more real than this world.  It’s a beautiful place that commands you to be present in the magnificence of the moment. Although I’ve never had a near-death experience, I understand full well what Musick is saying.  I’ve seen the vibrant colors in the visits from heaven that I’ve received.  I’ve felt that peace and the magnificence of the moment.

I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like, however, to actually be in the presence of Jesus. While walking with Jesus, Musick said he was given a life review. At that time, he understood that nothing in life is without purpose—both the good and the bad.  “He made everything that happened to me make sense,” said Musick.  “There is no real vacancy.  God was and is always there.”

Although he wanted to stay in heaven, he was told that he had to go back. When he did, he found that he had been in a coma for five weeks and his body was now weakened with 60 percent damage in both lungs along with a heart murmur.  His body once fit to join the ranks of the prestigious Navy SEALs went from 195 to 126 pounds.

He explains that his recovery was painful and the very act of breathing became an inconvenience. All that changed when he was allowed to visit heaven again. He experienced a miraculous healing while attending a church service.  He passed out on the floor of the Denver Vineyard church and found himself in the presence of Jesus once again.  This time, Jesus tells him, “Things will be different now.”

When he came through, he was able to take a full breath of air for the first time in 10 years. He felt whole once again.  Things were different; very different.

“When Jesus said, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,’ he wants us to experience heaven here on earth. We should all experience more of the kingdom of heaven than we do,’” he explained.  We do this, he points out, by taking advantage of what he calls bubbles of heaven. These bubbles of heaven are, according to Musick, indicators of God’s profound reality in our lives.  They are opportunities to feel God’s presence in the here and now.  They are opportunities for us to spread joy and good in this world, love others and share God’s message.  They are profound moments when we can make a difference and heaven literally shines through us.

Musick shares examples of his own bubbles of heaven in his book. In one case, he confronts a stranger who was physically abusive to his wife.  The encounter ended with the man shedding tears of repentance.

Love, he says, is the language of heaven. “The economics of the kingdom of heaven are upside down: giving is better than getting, death can be life, life as the world sees it can be death, loss can be gain, gain can be loss,” he writes.  “God’s kingdom often flips the way we do little things upside down.”

The kingdom of heaven he notes is closer than we are led to believe but in order to notice it we have to allow it into our lives. When these bubbles of heaven arise, he notes, they need not be miraculous or paranormal. Sometimes they are seemingly ordinary events with the power to transform everyday lives.

His mission, he pointed out, is to share his experience and help people take full advantage of these moments. “My mission in life is to bring the message that the kingdom of heaven is closer than we think,” he said, “and everyone should experience it.”

For more information about Steven Musick or his book, please visit www.stevenmusick.com.

‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY? Getting Through the Holidays after a Loss

tree“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no separation.” Rumi

Recently, I attended a bereavement group meeting with my sister who is grieving the loss of her husband John. While I will not disclose the private conversations that took place that night, I will say that everyone was struggling with getting through the holiday season without their loved one.

While the holiday season is a time for good cheer, joy and merriment for many, it is also a time when some are anxious to say good riddance as they count the days until it’s all over. For those who have lost a loved one, the holidays can understandably be the most painful time of the year.

One of the things I said during the bereavement meeting that night was you can’t come out of it unless you go through it. How then do you get through it? How can you get through the holiday season? How is it possible to walk down city sidewalks amid the holiday crowds when you don’t feel much like doing anything? For one thing, it’s important to remember that the anticipation of the holiday season is worse than the day or event itself. During the days leading up to the holiday event, we often feel the stress brought on by all the unrealistic holiday expectations and gatherings. Here are some tips to help you get through the holiday season:

1. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel. Your feelings are your own and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. So be honest with yourself and allow yourself to grieve however you want. Take control of the situation. You don’t have to force yourself to be cheerful just because the holidays are here. If you don’t feel like attending a holiday party, don’t go. If you want to attend, then go. Allow yourself the opportunity to feel your pain and sadness but also allow yourself the opportunity to feel happiness and joy. Try to remind yourself that your loved one would want you to be happy.

2. Don’t expect too much of yourself. The holidays are full of unrealistic expectations. Don’t feel like you have to put up a Christmas tree, for example. If you are having a bad day and don’t want to go out, that’s OK. If you are having a good day and feel like you can manage buying a few gifts, that’s OK, too. Don’t try to do too much. If you usually have the holiday dinner at your house and don’t feel much like cooking, delegate it to someone else. Your family and friends will understand.

3. Ask for help. During the holidays what was once festive and light can now feel dreary and heavy. If you’re having a difficult time and need help, ask for it. Many people are more than willing to offer their assistance.One of the things that was discussed during the bereavement group meeting was how family and friends don’t know what to say and do. While some people may not call because they are afraid to say the wrong thing it doesn’t mean that they are not willing to help when asked.

4. Find ways to honor your loved one. One of the ways that I honor my lost loved ones at Christmas and every day of the year is by lighting candles in their memory. I also talk to my loved ones acknowledging their presence. It’s my way of saying that I know that they are still with me.

There are countless ways to remember your loved one so just do what feels right for you. Here are a few more suggestions:

a. Have everyone share a special memory involving your loved one.

b. Plan a day doing something that your loved one liked to do. For instance, go to his or her favorite restaurant.

c. Donate a gift in your loved one’s memory.

5. Take care of YOU! No matter how much your family and friends might want to help you, they don’t truly know what you need or how you are feeling. And your grief does not give you an excuse to ignore your own needs. In fact, it’s just the opposite. If you need to take some time off from work, do it. Try not to ignore whatever it is you are feeling. Pay attention to your body. If you’re feeling tired, don’t overdo it. Take a nap or go to bed early. If you’re not feeling well, go see a doctor. Perhaps, a complete physical will do you good.

6. Remember, love never dies. As an author and afterlife researcher, I can tell you without a doubt that your loved ones are still with you in spirit. The love that you shared is still there and will always be there.   Your loved ones are still part of your life and are aware of everything that is going on here on earth.

As an example, my husband’s friend Rich died in the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11. This year we attended a high school play featuring Rich’s son in the lead role as Macheath in The Threepenny Opera. In October I attended a spirit circle featuring two psychic mediums, Dean and Stuart, from England. Dean stood directly in front of me that evening and told me Rich was there. He told me that Rich was saying that I attended a very important event for his son recently and he wanted to thank me for that.

Dean was unknowingly referring to the play that my husband and I attended.   Keep in mind that this was not public knowledge so Dean could not have read about this anywhere. My point in telling you this story is to remind you wholeheartedly that love never dies. Our loved ones are still with us and are very much aware of what is going on in our lives.

Everyone grieves in their own way. Do whatever you feel is best for you. Allow yourself time to deal with the pain but also allow yourself time to be happy. Our loved ones in heaven do want us to experience joy once again.

Whatever you do; wherever you go this holiday season, reach within and feel the love in your heart. When you do, you’ll realize your loved one never truly left you.

The Gift of Heart Failure

I remember the day well.  My friend Dan Weiniger and I were hanging outside of the middle school awaiting the arrival of our daughters at the end of the school day.  As usual, we enjoyed each other’s company chatting about life and everything in general.

But on this day, Dan surprised me by asking, “So, Josie, do you really think there is an afterlife?”  As an author and afterlife researcher, people come up to me all the time asking about the afterlife.  But Dan, though a loyal friend and huge supporter of mine, was agnostic.

I looked back at him leaning against his car, “Yes, Dan.  I don’t think.  I know.”  Dan told me that he wanted to believe but wasn’t sure.  For the next several minutes I answered his questions about heaven and the afterlife ending with, “I’ll tell you what Dan.  If I go first, I’ll bring you a sign and if you go before me, you bring me a sign.  All I can tell you is when you die, you’ll going to be surprised. Because, yes, we die in body but not in spirit.”

He gave me a serious yet cheerful laugh and said, “OK, Josie.  You got a deal.” That day was February 18, 2014.  Below is a picture Dan took of us that day and posted on Facebook. Pictured with us is his dog Popcorn.

Daniel H Weiniger February 18, 2014 · Discussing life & afterlife with my good friend Josie Tropeano Varga — feeling great with Josie Tropeano Varga at Thomas Edison Intermediate School.Daniel H Weiniger

One year later, almost to the day (February 4, 2015), Dan suffered a massive heart attack losing 80 percent of his heart’s functions.  Basically 80 percent of his heart was dead and there was no place to by-pass to; no veins to stent.  Dan opted to have a LVAD (left-ventricular assisted device) implanted in his chest which is a mechanical pump that helps to pump blood. The surgery was a success and he was then placed on a list awaiting a heart transplant.

Sadly, Dan passed away on July 25, 2017.  The heart he so desperately needed never materialized.  The fact that a heart failed such a wonderful, kind, loving person is beyond my comprehension.  Ironically, he was all heart.

In April of this year, Dan released a book, The Gift of Heart Failure.  While he was working on the book, he called to ask if I would write his foreword and also wanted my advice.  We talked at length about his book and his reasons for writing it.  I advised him to include an introduction as well as a final thoughts section.  I explained that it was important to tell people why he was writing the book.

“Heart failure has taught me how precious life really is,” he told me.   “And what do you want people to remember when they finish your book?” I asked.  Dan quickly answered, “Be grateful for the tough times because they mean you are alive.”

In Dan’s memory, I am sharing some of his enlightening words of wisdom from the book.

Kindness:

What I learned from this is that there is more to being kind than simply just being nice, more than being a good neighbor, more than doing the right thing. All of that can be driven by ego and have self-serving adulation and recognition.  True kindness is generated by our true essence and attitude not by our ego.  It taught me, besides my mother’s insistence, I am not the center of the universe.

Kindness is born of compassion for others.  It is a deep sense of understanding and caring that comes when your heart is open and your mind is not solely focused on your universe.  It is again showing us the importance of being able to look at our situation and ourselves from an unemotional, detached angle and see more than one perspective.

Your actions may appear to be kind.  I always try to display kind behavior.  However, what this experience has taught me is your thoughts have to be kind, kindness must initiate from inside, from your heart.  Are your thoughts kind?  If not, you are not expressing true kindness and compassion, because inspired kindness flows from the soul and it treats all things and all people with gentleness and respect.

Enthusiasm:

Your enthusiasm can cause a chain reaction of good in the world.  So live your life with enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  Every great endeavor has been fueled by passion, which is the byproduct of enthusiasm. By passion, I mean zest and zeal, a fiery non-stoppable enthusiasm.  I’m talking about an inner force that relentlessly drives you forward.  Setbacks and frustration just fuel your passion to try again, and climb that mountain.  It is a burning desire that creates a commitment to obliterate one’s obstacles and live the life you imagine.

Mindfulness:

Control your thoughts and your mind.  To live more in the now we must control our thoughts and our mind.  To live in the present moment we need to develop more mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, nonjudgmentally, to whatever arises in the present moment.  When we are mindful, we experience what life presents to us, and we are no longer resisting the flow of life. The flow of life energy, when you go with the flow, you are surfing life’s energy force. When we are mindful, we realize that we are not our thoughts; we become an observer of our thoughts without judging them.

Forgiveness:

There is always an opportunity. Mistakes offer a fork in the road. They represent a chance to choose one path or another.  Choose forgiveness, choose kindness and choose love. Use your past and a broad perspective as a light to identify the opportunity so that you can forgive yourself and others. One of the best opportunities and paths to forgiveness is to seek opportunities to help others. When we shift and focus on others a real shift takes place in us and in our lives: you can feel it. When you move pass your worries and look back at your mistakes and you are focused on helping others in this world, that is when some magical things begin to happen.

It takes a lot of strength to forgive someone who is not sorry and to accept the apology you never received. However, unforgiveness is a negative emotional mindset where you, as the offended party maintain feelings of resentment, hostility, and anger toward the person, or persons who offended you. If you do not forgive, all you see is an injustice.  This unforgiveness will take a huge toll on your physical and mental health and will destroy your relationships.

Personal Perspective:

Most of us see only the trees; we cannot or choose to not see the forest. We live our lives in small 24 hour segments, or even smaller.  The answer is personal perspective. It is not easy to step back from a present obstacle, especially a painful or emotional obstacle. However, by stepping back we can see a bigger picture, find the new angle, and look for the always-present opportunity. Yes, personal perspective is the key, and what a wonderful way to achieve wisdom.

Be a Miracle:

By making the choice to live as if everything is a miracle, every moment becomes something to appreciate and be grateful for. One of the biggest miracles I see in my life is my family, friends and the love we all share.  Love is the most amazing thing in our lives.  It is what makes us sing, dance and smile. The miracle of love also leads to what we have already discussed and that is the acts of kindness, forgiveness, thinking of others and seeing life from another person’s point of view.

Difficult times will happen. To find the light, we have to go through the darkness. Please remember while you’re in the midst of it, to try and take a deep breath and remember that the lessons you are learning from the very obstacles you are facing, will shift your view of life. You will learn what matters, who matters, how strong you are and how lucky you are to exist. That is what difficult times teach us, and they are some of the most important lessons we can ever learn.

I loved what Dan had to say about appreciating the little things in life.  “When we are faced with difficult challenges and when death stares us in the face, it is then that we often realize that our smallest joys and accomplishments are what matter most.”  As I wrote in the foreword to his wonderful book, The Gift of Heart Failure, sometimes it takes something bad to teach us something good.  Sometimes it is our greatest challenges that teach us our greatest lessons.

Dan once told me that if you wanted a miracle in your own life you had to first be a miracle in the lives of others.  I truly hope he knows as he now watches from heaven what a miracle he was and what a difference he made.  Thank you, Dan, for the gift of your friendship.

ONE LOVE, ONE HEART

“Remember that all is One… and what you do to your neighbor, your friend or your foe, is a reflection of what you think of your Creator.”

Edgar Cayce

This month my family and I vacationed in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We had a wonderful time. Although I found the beaches to be breathtaking and the many scenic landscapes to be unforgettably beautiful, what I will cherish most about our time in Jamaica is the people.

Everywhere ybobmarleyou went everyone was kind and free-spirited. One day we decided to go shopping and stopped in a gift shop to buy some souvenirs. While there, we struck up a conversation with a petite Jamaican woman (Nell). She asked how we liked Jamaica and I commented how much I loved the people. She looked at me smiling, “You know, one love.” All of a sudden, Nell began to singing the lyrics to the classic hit, One Love (written by Bob Marley and the Wailers).

My family and I quickly joined in singing, “One Love! One Heart! Let’s get together and feel all right. . .” We left that store with something far more important than t-shirts, we left with smiles on our hearts and the feeling of oneness within.

Marley, who died at the age of 36 on May 11, 1981 after suffering from melanoma, was said to be very spiritual and intuitive. In fact, I’ve read that he used to read palms for people as a young boy growing up in Nine Mile, Jamaica. As some of his songs imply, he believed in monotheism which is the belief in one God or one supreme source. He also believed in oneness for all and the connection of all things.

The concept of oneness is difficult for our earthly minds to comprehend. Honestly, it’s not our fault. We live in a world of contrasts which gives us the illusion of disconnectedness and separation. But in reality, we are not separated at all.

The late Wayne Dyer explained it well when he wrote, “The idea of oneness is next to impossible to grasp because we live in this world of contrasts, and contrast requires more than one element. So here we are, persistently in our world of twoness. How can we grasp the idea of oneness in the world of nonbeing that we occupied before we came into beingness? One way might be to think of our fingers, legs arms, toes and eyes: We don’t think of them as separate entities from our total being. We don’t refer to our fingers as being separate from ourselves. So it is with our relationship to Source or God before we came into this world—in that world, we and God were one.” (www.healyourlife.com/what-is-oness.com)

If you think this is pseudoscience, think again. Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.” Let’s start with the human body. When asked what your body is made of you might automatically think: blood, bones, skin, organs, etc. But if you break down everything that you can see and feel to the subatomic level what you will find are particles and atoms.

As you look deeper and deeper into the workings of the atom, you will discover that nothing is there. Well, at least nothing very tangible. What you will find is an energy field or energy waves. These atoms, in other words, are composed of nothing very tangible. So everything that you see around you (the trees, the sand, the sky, the ocean, your house, computer, cell phone, etc.) is made up of this energy and everything is connected to that energy.

Science has discovered that matter is 99.999999999999 percent empty space. So what looks and feels solid is not solid at all. It’s actually energy. In 1911, Max Planck was the first to demonstrate that the seemingly empty space between the planets, stars, etc. is actually teeming with energy.

If we all truly understood the implications of this on the nature of reality, the changes in our way of looking at life would be immeasurable. We are all connected by an unseen force that in turn infuses everything else. This is why it is so important to make sure we surround ourselves with positive people. The energy waves that make up who we are constantly collide or join with the energy around us.

We get back what we put out there in the universe. Taking this one step further, everything that we think, say and do influences our reality. If you want good, you have to do good. If you want love, you have to give love. You create your own destiny.

I will never forget the kindred spirit of the Jamaican people; someday I hope to return there. As we left the store that day, our bags filled with souvenirs, Nell looked over at us with her contagious smile and warm heart, “Remember, one love, one heart.” It was a day and a lesson that my family and I will not soon forget.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE?

“Endings are not always bad. Most times they’re just beginnings in disguise.”

Kim Harrison, Something Deadly This Way Comes

How do you know there is life after death? I’ve done several interviews over the past few weeks promoting my newest book, A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side. During these interviews, I’ve been surprised by the many times I am asked this question.

I’ve been researchinCallfromHeavenCoverg the afterlife for over 10 years now and I’ve just completed a book about deathbed phenomena. So how do I know there is life after death? I know not because of my books or the countless spiritual experiences that I have come across; I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an afterlife because of my own personal experiences.

The epilogue of my first book, Footprints in the Sand: A Disabled Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Happiness, contains an inspiring e-mail written by my husband’s friend and former boss, Rich, who died during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11.   In it, Rich talks about the passing of his father but more so about the importance of living life to its fullest.  After the completion of the book, Rich came to me in a vivid, lucid dream that would not only forever change my view of the afterlife but would also strengthen my faith in God.

In the dream, I went down this long hallway. I had no idea where I was yet there seemed to be a force pushing me forward as I eventually made my way through a doorway at the end. I walked into this room and looked around seeing a bunch of desks and windows. Although I say, “walked,” it was more like I glided as I do not remember my feet ever touching the ground.  I should also mention here that I actually felt myself moving.  It was as though my soul was out wandering while my body remained in a deep sleep.   All of a sudden, Rich appeared before me.  He was wearing glasses and smiled reassuringly at me as he telepathically communicated, “Josie, thank you for mentioning me in your book.”

It is important to note that I had never met Rich in person when he was alive on this Earth. I had only spoken to him on the phone and knew him through pictures yet I had no doubt that this was my husband’s friend standing before me.  I looked up at him seemingly squinting because it was hard to look straight at him.  The only reason I can give for this is there seemed to be a density or fog about us.  To this day, I don’t know why I said this but I looked at him and said, “Rich, you have to give me proof that this is really you?”  He looked at me with a comforting glance and walked over to a desk picking up a cell phone.  On the cell phone was a picture of him, his wife and his son.

He then spoke to me again saying, “Boston is O.K.” I had no idea what this meant but I understood intuitively that this was a message he wanted me to get to his wife. The next thing I knew I was going through a window and found myself on what seemed like a street.  Rich appeared to be in the bed of this pickup standing behind his wife and son.  He looked at me motioning for me to go and give his family the message. I don’t remember anything much after that except for waking up panting and sweating in a sitting position feeling like something had just hit me in my chest.

I must admit I was scared and confused. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. Though I could not understand what just happened; I was certain that I had to get this message to his wife.  I was certain that what I had just experienced was real.  It was about 8:00 a.m. and my husband was already at work.  I quickly rushed to call John and told him what had just happened.  His response was nothing that I didn’t expect.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!” he yelled.  “You want me to call Rich’s wife who just lost her husband and tell her that he said, ‘Boston is O.K.’” He was convinced that I had lost my senses.

I persisted telling him that I was certain the experience had been real and not a dream. It was unlike anything that I had ever experienced.  As I would later find out, I had just experienced a form of O.B.E. (out of body experience) known as astral travel. When this occurs, the soul leaves the physical body to travel in its astral body to other dimensions or realms of reality.  My husband listened reluctantly but finally agreed to forward an e-mail written by me explaining what had occurred to Rich’s sister-in-law.  He would ask her to forward the e-mail to Rich’s wife only if she felt it was appropriate.

Shortly after, we were on vacation when my husband received a response from Rich’s sister-in-law on his BlackBerry. In short, she explained that they had a brother in Boston and Rich’s wife was considering moving there.  But having purchased their home just before her husband’s untimely death, she felt guilty.  My husband read this message to himself but did not grasp what the message meant until he read the e-mail aloud to me.

We both looked at each other in complete shock. I never even met his wife let alone knew that she had a brother in Boston.  Now, it all made perfect sense to me.  His words, “Boston is O.K.” was meant to let his wife know that she need not feel guilty about moving.  He was telling her that it was alright with him.

At first, I honestly did not know what to think. So a deceased friend had given me a message in my dreams that had actually been validated.  What next?  What did this mean?  I had no doubt that I had visited with Rich’s spirit and that he was alive and well, but I had difficulty processing this information.   After all I reasoned, if Rich is dead and if he did, in fact, communicate with me, then not only is it confirmation of the existence of an afterlife, but it is also possible for the those on the other side to communicate with the living.

I did not realize it then but this would ultimately lead me on a spiritual quest which would later result in my research followed by my books which highlight various spiritual phenomena including deathbed visits, near-death experiences, angelic encounters and evidential afterlife communication. The more books that I write and the more I delve into these spiritual phenomena, the more I realize that we are so much more than the physical body.  As Edgar Cayce once said, “Birth in the physical is death in the spiritual. Death in the physical is birth in the spiritual.”

So, again, how do I know? I know because a man who was killed in the World Trade Center Attacks of 9/11 came to me with a message for his wife.  The message was later validated by his family shaking me to the core and leading me on my spiritual journey. I have also had many other spiritual experiences since then.

What about those of us who have never had such experiences? This is another question that I’ve discussed on several radio shows in recent weeks.  For those of us who have had such experiences, no proof is necessary.  For those of us who haven’t perhaps no proof will ever be enough.

Skeptics often argue that evidence pertaining to the metaphysical is largely anecdotal or based on personal experience. For this reason, many claim that such evidence is worthless and irrelevant.  As I write in my book, yes, most supernatural evidence is based on personal experience or eyewitness testimony but they are not worthless by any means.  They are, in fact, very noteworthy and significant.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world. All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.”  In other words, all knowledge starts with personal experience.  How can we know that something needs to be studied if we don’t first experience it?

Recently, I received a note from a reader named Kim who had just finished my book, A Call from Heaven. She wrote, “I just finished it! Thank you so much for validating the visits from heaven that I have experienced over the past two years since my husband passed. After reading numerous stories, I would end the chapter saying out loud to myself, ‘It’s all really true!’ Thank you for the peace I am feeling tonight!”

Thank you very much, Kim. Yes, it’s all really true.