When I was, let’s say seven years old, my standard response to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was “a lawyer.” That’s until my little sister, Khayriyyah (pronounced Ka-ree-ah), also wanted to be a lawyer. This frustrated me, being her older, and only, brother in a family of six (at the time, we ended up being 7 strong). I wanted to be original, unique, I guess being the only boy in the family wasn’t enough.
I’m glad she pushed me away from pursuing that dream. I can’t imagine being a lawyer now. I’m already pretty discontent with “the system.”
My sister didn’t end up becoming a lawyer either. She chose an even better field; she’s a psychologist and school counselor. She’s also a mother, a great one in my opinion. She recently wrote a blog post detailing her experience giving birth to her son. She explains how she had an out of body experience (OBE) immediately after her son was born:
But all I could think was something was missing. I was looking for all of those emotions and they weren’t there. I got weak. People were screaming. Who were these people screaming at? I could see the girl in a hospital bed. Then I realized that girl was me. I thought about dying because that seemed so much easier. But these people said I had a baby who needed me. Somehow I opened my eyes. Then it happened again. And once more.
Is that called dying and coming back to life or almost dying. I’m really not sure. All I know is that I did not know my child for the first two hours of his life. The rest of the details don’t matter.
She saw herself from above. I think that’s pretty cool. Not the almost dying part, but the fact that she could see without eyes, and she’s flying over everyone. Khayriyyah can fly! Okay, I know you almost died, but you didn’t.
Another psychologist, the grand daddy of psychology if you don’t count Freud, Carl Jung also had an OBE. He was also in the hospital suffering from a heart attack when he suddenly found himself flying a thousand miles over the earth. He looked down and saw Ceylon, what is now called Sri Lanka.
The beginning of 1944 I broke my foot, and this misadventure was followed by a heart attack. In a state of unconsciousness, I experienced deliriums and visions which must have begun when I hung on the edge of death and was being given oxygen and camphor injections. The images were so tremendous that I myself concluded that I was close to death. My nurse afterward told me:
|“It was as if you were surrounded by a bright glow.”
That was a phenomenon she had sometimes observed in the dying, she added. I had reached the outermost limit, and do not know whether I was in a dream or an ecstasy. At any rate, extremely strange things began to happen to me.
It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the Earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents. Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole Earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light. In many places the globe seemed colored, or spotted dark green like oxidized silver. Far away to the left lay a broad expanse – the reddish-yellow desert of Arabia; it was as though the silver of the Earth had there assumed a reddish-gold hue. Then came the Red Sea, and far, far back – as if in the upper left of a map – I could just make out a bit of the Mediterranean. My gaze was directed chiefly toward that. Everything else appeared indistinct. I could also see the snow-covered Himalayas, but in that direction it was foggy or cloudy. I did not look to the right at all. I knew that I was on the point of departing from the Earth. – Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Carl Jung was pretty much alone in his worldview when it came to experiences like these. He went through long periods of social isolation because there was no one in his professional or personal circles that could relate his experiences to something valid. There was no one to tell him that he wasn’t crazy for having an OBE or having visions.
Khayriyyah, you’re not the only one who thought it would be easier to die in that space. Here’s how Jung puts it.
From below, from the direction of Europe, an image floated up. It was my doctor, or rather, his likeness – framed by a golden chain or a golden laurel wreath. I knew at once:
“Aha, this is my doctor, of course, the one who has been treating me. But now he is coming in his primal form, as a “basileus of Kos.”  In life he was an avatar of this basileus, the temporal embodiment of the primal form, which has existed from the beginning. Now he is appearing in that primal form.
 Basileus was the king (i.e. “basileus”) of Kos – a small Greek island on the Aegean Sea. The island of Kos was famous in antiquity as the site of the temple of Asklepios, and was the birthplace of Hippocrates.
Presumably I too was in my primal form, though this was something I did not observe but simply took for granted. As he stood before me, a mute exchange of thought took place between us. The doctor had been delegated by the Earth to deliver a message to me, to tell me that there was a protest against my going away. I had no right to leave the Earth and must return. The moment I heard that, the vision ceased.
I was profoundly disappointed, for now it all seemed to have been for nothing. The painful process of defoliation had been in vain, and I was not to be allowed to enter the temple, to join the people in whose company I belonged. – Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Just as you were woken up, Khayriyyah, because your son needed you, Jung was also woken up because he needed to finish his work on earth. Your story, and your profession, reminded me of Jung’s out of body experience. But it also makes me think of Kemet, or ancient Egypt and what Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum Calls The African Unconscious.
Khayriyyah asks, “Is that called dying and coming back to life or almost dying. I’m really not sure.”
The Ancient Kemetans called it, “coming forth by day and going forth by night”. In Kemet, the pharaohs and priests practiced, among other things, willful out of body experience, or near death experience. I think this process of exploring other realms of consciousness is one of the ways they developed a lasting civilization. They were the first psychologists. They studied the unconscious, what they called “the underworld” to make sense of reality. Just as Jung developed the concept of archetypes, universal human mind patterns, the Kemetans developed mythology that explained life, death and the cosmos.
Here’s how Dr. Bynum explains their practice.
This ancient approach to the Amenta, or unconscious, began in Kemet and spread down the Nile and then throughout the Mediterranean world of Greece, Rome, and the Near East. At one time there were over 400 such temples to the god Asclepius. They existed from 600 B.C.E . to 500 C.E . The medical caduceus, a staff with a serpent entwined around it seven times, was taken from this period. The whole point, beyond physical- medical healing, was to “awaken” the sleepers to the deeper spiritual life existing in the unconscious depths of their experience. It was to re- member , to put back together again the consciousness of the finite individual material life with the infinite collective and luminous life of the great spiritual being. When this was accomplished, the neophyte matured into one of the “sons of light” and was capable of “coming forth by day and going forth by night.” -Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum The African Unconscious
Judging from your blog post, Khayriyyah, it seems that your experience and the experience of the pharaohs had the same illuminating effect.
For anyone interested in pursuing these topics more here are a few videos and links.