Our Featured Topic: Experiences from the Beyond
He made a promise to me. He promised he would leave the hospital and come home with us. I took the promise to heart. When the ICU doctor instructed us to go home and prepare for the worst, we refused to accept it. My father was a brilliant man, a doctor who was not going to perish off the face of the Earth after a routine operation. Not like that! Not if we can help it!
While my mother argued with the doctors over the massive dosage of morphine pumping into my father’s body, I took a different approach. I decided to seek “alternative” help, the kind of help intuitive people like me turn to in their time of need. I found a hospital chapel to pray. As a Christian-raised Buddhist practitioner, I recited both Our Father and Daimoku, but soon, I realized I wasn’t praying. I was meditating.
My eyes were fixated on a small gold cross placed at the center of the altar. As the golden rays of the afternoon sun crept past the colorful glass chapel windows, gently stroking the edges of the cross, I was hypnotized by its magnificence. Using my inside voice, I said: “I need to know he will be all right. I don’t want a sign. Tell me now. I need to believe.”
I remember what I said word for word, because of what happened next, when my trance finally broke and, once again, I became aware of my surroundings. By this time, the chapel was full of people. I had no idea how they got there. I didn’t hear anyone come in. The chapel was full. A service was just about to start. I decided to stay, for my father, joining the strangers in their Christian ritual. I mimicked the others, standing when they stood up, taking a seat when they sat down, and I mumbled the ends of sentences, guessing what I remembered from the years of participating in Mass during my Catholic grade-school years.
Part of me felt ashamed. Perhaps, if I were a better Christian, my prayers would be heard. On the other hand, Buddhism is part of who I am on a much deeper spiritual level than organized religion may allow. It is not a religion to me, as it may be to the myriad Buddhists who eat meat. For me, it is a way of life.
I felt a small sense of relief from having been part of the service. Then, as I got up to follow others out the door, a small framed, gray-haired lady placed her arm around my shoulders saying: “It’s going to be all right my dear, you’ll see. He will be all right.”Â
A major chill should have poured over me right then, but instead, I felt a great sense of relief and warm comfort in her arms. I began to cry. I couldn’t get a very good look at her, but I could make out her pleasant smile through my tears. I wiped my tears, wanting to take a better look at her, but she was gone. I looked around and turned every which way, but she was nowhere to be found. The kindness she extended to me, her soothing voice and her gentle touch are all I can remember. Who was she?
My puzzled feeling didn’t stop there. When I returned to the ICU, I learned my father was being moved to another floor. A hospital room. He was feeling much better. No doubt my brave mother raised hell, warning the hospital she’ll sue for murder if they don’t ease up on the morphine — and that alone may have done the job, because he recovered and he lived. My father got better each day and finally came home, just as he promised.
Three weeks later, headed down a secluded road, one that not many people take over the weekend, my car broke down. To make things worse, I didn’t have a cell phone. (I avoid them to keep my aura clean.) I was stuck. I did the only thing I could do. I sat down in the grass among wildflowers to clear my mind, hoping a friend or a kind stranger would drive by, perhaps to lend me a helping hand.
Not even thirty minutes later, a young man pulled over, offering help. He made a gas run for me and allowed me to call home. We only spoke for a moment when he returned with gas, because I saw my father’s car in the distance. I began waving my hands, walking forward. The kind young man was a foreigner from Namibia. I was excited to introduce him to my parents, but lo and behold, by the time they arrived, there was no one to introduce them to. My good samaritan had vanished into thin air.
I wondered, who would do this? Who would be so kind to a stranger that no thanks are necessary? The answer is simple. Angels. Angels live among us and help when they can. Perhaps both good and evil exist to balance one another. I looked around for examples in my own life and in the lives of others to prove angels exist.
I remembered a story that touched me very deeply as a child. It was the story of Adam Walsh. His parents were good people who didn’t deserve to lose their little boy the way they had, but what happened to them made them accept their real role on Earth. They are angels. They needed to go through what they went through to sustain an iron will when they help millions of other children find their way home. They helped establish laws.
Perhaps the angel of evil touches victims so they don’t feel pain, but sometimes, from something bad a good thing can arise. It is the case of a vain young woman who crashed her car and ended up in a wheelchair. She was unable to walk for months. Bored out of her mind, she found a passion in literature, and then, slowly learning to write for a living, she became a novelist.
A starved little pit bull that was thrown down a long garbage chute survived and was nursed back to life by a loving doctor, who later took the dog into his family. The story reached millions, gaining support worldwide. Awareness of animal neglect grew in all corners of the world. This was good and evil working hand-in-hand.
A little girl is abandoned in a park, faraway in China, perhaps the same day an American woman finds the will to pray yet one more time, asking God for a child. Then the two souls in need are united in adoption.
A young boy who grew up on the streets, sleeping in a bathroom near an opera house, learns to sing. His angelic voice captures the hearts of a worldwide audience, inspiring others towards their goals.
Stories like these are everywhere.
How do you spot an angel? Good angels usually have it good here on Earth, just as they would anywhere. Evil angels thrive among the bad, but they are not bad! The evil angels live among evil, but for the greater good. They are the homeless person who protects you from being raped by others when you find yourself out on the street one day. They are the drug pusher who can see you’ve had enough and refuses to sell you another dose, urging to get yourself cleaned up. They are the gang member pretending to shoot badly, just to spare a life. They are the dog fighter posse who drops a box full of puppies outside a shelter, saving them from a life of killing.
An undercover cops’s life isn’t easy, but it is his job. The good angels are not necessarily well off. You can find them running their own farm, working the land morning to night, or running a successful business. A good angel can be the first person to give you a start at your dream job, when everyone else closed their doors. She can be a cashier at a supermarket who makes your day brighter with her smile. He can be the man pumping your gas one night when you realize you left your wallet at home and trusts you enough to return with your payment. A good angel can be your postal worker giving you a shoulder to cry on when you receive bad news, or the silly blonde who spills her coffee on you, slowing you down just enough to miss that huge car crash you would have been part of on your drive to work.
Angels come in many forms. You recognize them by their lifestyle and their kindness. Angels, both good and evil, walk among us every day. It is this very duality that decides our own faith. It shapes who we are. When you are faced with a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing, which do you choose? Do you compromise yourself? Your integrity? Each and every one of us can be an angel. We make the choice between good and evil many times during our lifetime.
The most important thing is to guard the divine within us — that “little voice” that always knows what’s right and stops talking when we make the wrong choice. The bad grows and festers inside; it brings us to our spoil. Yet, as with every Shakespeare play, eventually, nature is restored. Usually, the truth comes out as good and evil work together, testing us each day. We need both. Without evil, we wouldn’t know the good. Our divine remains in our own hands. Where we belong is up to us.