What is really personal development? What is this person that we are trying to develop? Is there any specific purpose for doing that?
In this article I decided to provide you with a list of experts in a variety of controversial topics related to personal development and to introduce you to some unconventional resources.
The experts in the list have been spending their entire careers researching in their areas of expertise. Because I find it fascinating and because it is relevant to the topic of personal development, I’ve included reincarnation, near-death experience (NDE), out-of body experience (OBE), past life regression and spiritual enlightenment.
What Is Personal Development Really About?
You may wonder how the previously mentioned topics are related to personal development. Well, all tend to point out that we are here for a specific reason: to grow and become love. It departs from scientific materialism that sees people as biological machines with no real purpose, apart from, maybe, reproduction. In that sense, whether we are spirits, souls or consciousness, or simply a physical body does matter a lot! If we are indeed spirits, personal development takes a entirely new meaning.
It’s not anymore me against others. It’s definitely not anymore about what I have but about who I am. Being smart or having an encyclopedic knowledge is not what it is about.
It’s not about me getting rich, famous or loved by everyone. That would be me working for my ego.
It’s about me overcoming my fears. It’s about me getting rid of my ego. Where there is fear, there is ego. (see What is the Ego)
Fear may take various forms and may be hidden deep in our subsconscious mind. Some of these fears may be:
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of death
- Fear of being laughed at
- Fear of being lonely
- Fear of not being loved
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of not being in control
Shyness, greed, jealousy, lack of confidence, need to control, desire for recognition… All are the manifestation of underlying fears.
If we are indeed experiencing life on Earth to grow the quality of our souls, then overcoming our fears is what we are here for. Sounds crazy? Anyway, fear divides people whereas love brings people together. In that sense, it is not a bad idea to get rid of our fears, isn’t it?
Am I Crazy Or What?
I will give you a list of some people you might want to check out. Most of them have spent 30 to 40 years or even more doing research on controversial topics while in many occasions it would have been easier (and safer for their career) to simply stay in mainstream science or psychology. In that regards, I think they deserve that we spend some time reading their work while staying skeptical of course.
However, surprisingly, it is not uncommon to see word-class scientists who believe themselves to be the most skeptical people in the world but who have very little knowledge (when they have some) regarding the work done by scholars in fields like NDE, OBE or reincarnation.
Still, they have no difficulties discarding these things as nonsense. For people who claim they want to find the truth of our existence, answering questions like « where do we come from? » or « why are we here? » their lack of curiosity is striking to say the least.
I remember an interview of Lawrence Krauss where he was asked about reincarnation. He said it was nonsense: It’s just as likely that reincarnation exists to me as there is the likelihood there’s a teapot orbiting Jupiter. Now I can’t prove there isn’t.”
It is not because we believe reincarnation to be highly unlikely to exist that we should refuse to look at evidence. Lawrence Krauss argues that there is no evidence for reincarnation. However, Ian Stevenson and more recently Jim Tucker, both researchers from the University of Virginia, have done research on reincarnation using a rigorous scientific method. The result of their research lead them to conclude that, in the cases they study, reincarnation was the only explanation they could possibly think of.
The least that I would expect from a top-notch scientist like Lawrence Krauss, especially since he claims to be extremely skeptical, is to investigate and find out whether there was some flaws in their method, and if there is, to point it out. Saying that there is no evidence without even looking at the evidence is not what I call skepticism. At least he should admit his ignorance on the subject. Some evidence for reincarnation may also be inferred from NDE, OBE, past life regression or even spiritual enlightenment. Discrediting researchers in these areas just because it doesn’t fit one’s model of reality is not a very wise thing to do.
I don’t know if reincarnation is real, but if it were, would it be that much crazier than the Earth being round or the double slit experiment in quantum physics? Lawrence Krauss would, without a doubt, have criticized quantum physics for being total nonsense, had he been living in the 1920s.
In fact, even today, quantum physics is going against most scientists’ models of reality. Reality might not be as objective as we would like it to be. Richard Feynman, who received the Nobel Prize in physics and was probably the best expert in quantum physics said himself: “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see big paradigm shifts in the 21st century as we deepen our understanding regarding quantum mechanics or consciousness. (if you don’t know about the double slit experiments, check Dr Quantum’s short video on Youtube. It is one of the most fascinating experiment ever!). The laws of physics have surprised us many times in the past and will likely keep surprising us in the future too.
Interestingly, two or three years ago, I would probably have agreed with Lawrence Krauss’ conclusions. I believed that spiritual or religious people where simply afraid of death and needed a God to give them meaning and reassurance in life. That’s probably why I never bothered digging into “nonsense” subjects like reincarnation or OBE.
However, now, I believe that there is lot more going on, though I don’t know what exactly. I just can’t deny all the work that has been done on NDE, OBE and past life regression; I can’t deny the experience reported by enlightened beings.
Since I consider myself as very skeptical too, I can’t help to ask myself « Are people way smarter than I am, like Lawrence Krauss or Richard Dawkins, missing something, or is it me who is totally deluded? ». Who is really being deluded here? Sometimes it becomes an obsession.
Then, I remind myself that the present moment is the only thing that I have, and I stop obsessing myself over all these metaphysical questions for a while.
Just take a deep breath Thibaut. Relax! Yeah that’s good.
Time now to introduce you some experts in the previously mentioned areas and let you form your own opinion.
1. Out-Of Body Experience
Always know and remember that you are more than your physical body. – Robert Monroe
Robert Monroe is a pioneer in the OBE field and the founder of the Monroe institute. When he had his first OBE experience he thought he was going nuts. He consulted with psychologists, psychiatrists, and a parapsychologist but they all said he was perfectly sane. He went on researching about OBEs through direct experience until he came to the conclusions that his experiences were real.
Suggested reading: Journeys out of body (I haven’t yet read that book)
Recognizing that we are more than physical beings opens entirely new levels of personal development. I strongly believe that self-initiated and controlled out-of-body experiences are the cutting edge of accelerated personal development. – William Buhlman
William Buhlman is also a leading expert, with around 40 years of out-of-body exploration. He is a certified hypnotherapist and gives lectures and workshop at the Monroe Institute.
Suggested reading: Adventures Beyond the Body
I have absolutely no fear of death. From my near-death research and my personal experiences, death is, in my judgment, simply a transition into another kind of reality. – Raymond Moody
Ramyond Moody is a philosopher, psychologist and physician. He is the one who coined the term near-death experience.
One of the common critic regarding NDEs is that they are simply hallucinations due potentially to the release of chemicals in the brain (like a built-in mechanism to cope with one own’s death). It could be the case, but what about shared-death experience?
Shared-death experiences (SDEs) are similar to NDEs but happened to people who are at the bedside of a dying person. Still, they could also be hallucinations. Joe Nickell, an investigator into the paranormal, says that “if you’re looking for something hard enough you’ll find it”. It could be hallucinations that a person creates to better cope with a loved one’s death. However, it doesn’t really explain why SDEs also happen to nurses and doctors. What the heck are really NDEs?
Suggested reading: Glimpses of Eternity
The unconditional love and acceptance that I experienced on my journey is the single most important discovery I have ever made, or will ever make, and as hard as I know it’s going to be to unpack the other lessons I learned while there, I also know in my heart that sharing this very basic message – one so simple that most children readily accept it – is the most important task I have. – Eben Alexander
The interested thing with Eben Alexander, is that he is a neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience. He knows how the brain works! In his book, he firmly refutes the idea that NDEs could be just hallucinations. He explains how his brain’s functions (he fell into a coma) would have made it impossible for him to have hallucinations.
Suggested reading: Proof of Heaven
3. Past Life Regression/LBL Hypnosis
Past life regression is an interesting topic. By regressing patients in their past lives, past-life therapists have been able to cure them from chronic pain, phobias and other ailments as Michael Newton and Brian Weiss point out in the following videos.
Souls don’t represent all that is pure and good about a body or they wouldn’t be incarnating for personal development. Souls come to Earth to work on their own shortcomings. – Michael Newton
He is the founder of the Newton Institute that trains life between lives hypnotherapists.
In the video below he explains how he got into Past life therapy. Very interesting!
Suggested reading: Destiny of Souls
You are not here by accident or by some coincidence of nature. You are a spiritual being learning lessons of love in this earth school. – Brian Weiss
Brian Weiss went on from being a past-life skeptic to becoming a past-life expert. In the video below he explains why.
Suggested reading: Many lives, many masters (I haven’t yet read that book)
4. Spiritual Enlightenment
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was an Indian Guru. His book, I Am That, brought him wordlwide recognition.
Suggested reading: I Am That
People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind. – Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle was depressed, very unhappy and suicidal for many years. Then one day, at the age of 29, he had a spontaneous spiritual awakening without doing anything in particular. A complete separation between his body-mind, and his being occurred and everything became suddenly so peaceful. At the time, he didn’t know what happened to him and it is only later that he learned about Enlightenment.
Suggested reading: The Power of Now
Anthony de Mello
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. – Anthony De Mello, Awareness
Anthony De Mello was the director of the Sadhana Insitute of Pastoral Counseling in Poona, India, he was widely known in English- and Spanish-speaking countries for his retreats, workshops, seminars on prayer, and therapy courses. In his book, “awareness”, he urges us to wake up.
Suggested reading: Awareness
Step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not. – Mooji
Mooji is a spiritual teach from Jamaica. He was the student of the Indian Guru Papaji. All his satsangs are available on Youtube and on his website.
What about you? What is your take on reincarnation, NDE/SDE or spiritual enlightenment? Do you think it may be true or do you think it’s nonsense? Leave me a comment below and share your thoughts with me 😉
The future will tell us who was right.
- Awareness By Anthony De Mello – Time To Wake Up!
- 4 Disturbing Truths You’d Prefer to Ignore
- My series of articles on spiritual enlightenment
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