Inner transformation of our minds is necessary to step out of the self-created prison caused by the habitual thought. Self-awareness and the associated wonderment bring about an inward journey that augments inner transformation. It helps us understand the near death experience (NDE) and integrate its messages with our inner evolution, leading to wholesome life.

Here, it would be interesting to study a natural phenomenon – the formation of stalagmites and stalactites. As the reader knows, these are formations in limestone caves due to dripping water. The stalactite is above, and hangs downward like an icicle; the stalagmite is below and sticks up. The slightly acidic water dissolves some of the limestone, carrying it downward. When the water evaporates, a stalactite is formed on the ceiling. Some of the water does not evaporate until it has fallen through the air, the residual limestone building the stalagmite. As water continues to drip, the length and thickness of the calcite formation grows both ways. It can take a very long time for most stalactites to form -- they usually grow anywhere between a quarter-inch and an inch every century. As a result, some of them are so hard and stiff that, if you hit them with a hammer, its handle is likely to break!

The point here is that whatever is hardened by slow deposition over a period of time is likely to be very obstinate and resistant to change. The psychology of people is usually driven by what may be called the mental residue. This residue is the gradually accumulating imperceptible precipitate from the habitual thought process. As we grow in age, the residue gets harder and harder, like the tough material in the stalagmites and stalactites. That residue is the ego and is the one that makes us behave hard and stiff introducing suffering in our lives. Quite often, when we suffer we make others suffer too.

To the reflective people, the situation does appear hopeless. Added to it is the fact that religious practices too support the hardening process while making the adherents erroneously feel that they are getting rid of the ego. However, fortunately, the centuries old mental residue can be dissolved within a lifetime through earnest self-awareness. Predetermined formulas and techniques cannot help for the simple reason that they operate through emotional attachment, the very thing that is responsible for the residues.

Self-awareness begins when we are eager to understand how the hardening process takes place. This inwardly directed attention has the capacity to dissolve the residues; once begun, it furthers itself. One of the potent issues here is the attention to the esoteric and other-worldly issues. It makes us expand our awareness into the region of wider consciousness that is untouched by the residues. This is where paranormal phenomena such as the NDE and the Out-of-Body Experience become relevant. They help people in the following ways:

• Understand how thought whirls within the limited sphere of self-importance and self-interest.
• Wonder about:
What lies outside the conditioned response of the mind?
What happens after life ends on earth?
Why is the unconditional love that the NDE people speak about does not operate through us?
Why do people often mistake pious-egoism for love or humility?
What is it that softens the ego in the NDE people?
Why do the NDE people lose the fear of death?
Can reincarnation be a fact?
Does the explaining-away attitude of the skeptics obstruct people from sensing the spiritual content of the NDEs?

Reflection on the above can help people come out of the self-created prison and let the inner transformation take place of its own accord. The clarity begins like the dim light of the dawn and furthers itself towards the bright sunlight. It helps one lead a well-ordered and useful life. The website would be of interest to the reader.

Author's Bio: 

Gopalakrishnan TC was born in Madras (now Chennai), India, in 1941. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978; served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait. Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled “In Quest of the Deeper Self” is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.
Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He presented a paper at the 2011 conference of the Association on the theme "The Spiritual Content of Near Death Experiences". Functions as a freelance counselor for mental relaxation. Lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in south India, with his family. Now he and his wife are both retired and currently involved in developing a fruit farm at a village 20 km from their residence.
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