Recently I got an email from Ben, a commenter on this blog, asking if I ever worried that the Light experienced in NDEs is not what it appears to be. Ben made reference to loosh, a term I'd never encountered before, and suggested (maybe not quite seriously) that the Light might simply be a supernatural being's way of preparing us for harvest. That is, perhaps the feelings of peace and oneness that NDErs report are merely a prelude to being sucked dry by the vampire-like creatures that feed on loosh.
As I said, I'd never heard of loosh, which sounded like something Dr. Seuess might have made up. A little Googling (which, by the way, also sounds like something from Dr. Seuss) revealed that loosh is a term coined by OBE pioneer Robert Monroe to describe energy radiated by all life forms. According to Monroe, there are nonphysical beings that feed on loosh. This leads to the disturbingly paranoid idea that the human race has been cultivated by these parasitical creatures more or less as dairy cows are bred by farmers, and that we are subjected to distressing and painful events in order to maximize loosh production!
As is the case with many of Monroe's statements, I find this whole notion more in line with the imagery of dreams (or nightmares) than with anything likely to be "real." But of course there's no way to either prove or disprove the existence of loosh or its feeders. There's no way to prove that the Light is benevolent, since it might simply be fooling us.
In the end, it really does come down to faith. After his wife Linda died, Paul McCartney said that the two of them had shared an abiding faith "in the deep okayness of the universe." Or at least I seem to recall him saying that, or some words to that effect; I've never been able to verify the quote. Anyway, whether or not Sir Paul said it, the words ring true to me. Ultimately we can't know all the answers, so either we embrace despair or we believe that ultimately all is well.
Julian of Norwich, a 14th century Christian mystic, captured the latter viewpoint in words that have become famous:
And the beholding of this, with all the pains that ever were or ever will be... was shown to me in an instant, and quickly turned into consolation. For our good Lord would not have the soul frightened by this ugly sight. But I did not see sin, for I believe that it has no kind of substance, no share in being, nor can it be recognized except by the pains which it causes.
And it seemed to me that this pain is something for a time, for it purges us and makes us know ourselves and ask for mercy; for the Passion of our Lord is comfort to us against all this, and that is his blessed will for all who will be saved. He comforts readily and sweetly with his words, and says: "But all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well."
Julian lived during a period of recurrent attacks of the Black Death, which killed millions. Many preachers of the time blamed the plague on sin, saying that God was punishing his wayward flock. Julian's more optimistic and comforting perspective was unique in its day.
We may not have the Black Death to contend with nowadays, but there is never any shortage of worries -- not primarily because of external events, but because of an internal process. It's the ego that gets us all worked up, no matter how safe and comfortable we may be. The ego just loves to torment us with hellish and nightmarish scenarios. "What if the plane crashes? What if my 401(k) is wiped out? What if I get cancer? What if my spouse is cheating on me? What if the 'wrong' party wins the election? What if the icecaps melt? What if there's a new Ice Age? What if ...?"
And of course: "What if the Light is a demon in disguise? What if communicators who speak through mediums are devils impersonating our loved ones? What if everyrthing is a lie, and the universe is insane, and God is a monster?"
But it's the ego -- at least when it gets out of control -- that is insane, dishonest, and a kind of demon or monster. The unchecked ego is a liar and a subverter, a tyrant and a fiend. It's not looking for the truth, and it's not looking out for our best interests. It can be useful -- even vital -- in certain situations, when properly trained and restrained, but it is not our friend. It is more like a vicious animal that can either protect us or tear us to pieces, depending on our relationship to it, a relationship that is never set in stone.
Or maybe this is giving the ego too much power, and it would be better to say it's like a small yapping dog that can either please us or drive us crazy. A well-trained lapdog can be a good companion and even a protector, but a poorly trained, hyperactive, noisy and frantic little dog will make you nuts!
If we gently nudge the ego aside for a while and relax into mindfulness, all our ego-based worries go away, and we can say with Julian, "All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well."
Or to quote a modern philosopher: "Don't worry, be happy."