Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people have done nearly 500 of them now. And if you would like to check out previous ones, please go to bat gap calm bat gap and look under the past interviews menu. This show is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers, I say listeners because it also exists as an audio podcast. So if you appreciate it and would like to support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. And there’s also a page about other ways to donate if you don’t like dealing with PayPal. My guest today is the Reverend Peter Panikkar. Peter has a Master’s of divinity from Yale University. He had two near death experiences which transformed his life. And we’re going to be talking about those and but also about some other stuff because his life was already sprinkled with interesting spiritual experiences before he died. The first of his near death experiences was while climbing, ice climbing near Banff, Alberta in 1980. And the second was in 2015, when a congenital heart condition caused him to have a heart attack. He’s been practicing zozen and centering prayer and also Kundalini and Kriya Yoga for 40 years. 50 years he hosted a daily TV broadcast reaching 30 million views a year across Maine and New Hampshire, in which are on which he told inspirational devotional stories. Before that he served as the United Church of Christ minister and pastor in Maine and Connecticut, and published 150 sermons and many prayers. His second book is called I have a picture of it flashed on the screen here. Heaven is beautiful. Dying taught me that death is just the beginning. And it’s an audit audible bestseller. And his first book, two minutes for God is a best selling inspirational devotional book, Peter runs a global spiritual counseling service and travels as an inspirational speaker and teacher. So just before we started, since we’re going to be talking about NDAs, or near death experiences today, I just want to take a minute to explain why I consider these experiences relevant to the theme of spiritual awakening. And thus to the theme of this show, I just wrote out a little paragraph here of some thoughts I want to express, I consider spirituality to be not just the aspiration to know the ultimate reality or one’s true nature, although it very much is that but also to understand the subtle mechanics of creation, at least those relevant to the process of spiritual awakening. Such knowledge safeguards one’s path and may improve one’s effectiveness as a teacher should one become a teacher, for instance, some spiritual teachers reason that there is no personal self ultimately, and that therefore, life after death and reincarnation can’t exist, because there’s no one to survive physical death or to reincarnate. If they teach such views to their students, I would influence their spiritual journey. What if they’re eight years old or dying of cancer and feel they’re far from spiritual awakening? Will they feel that their life has been in vain, and they will die and cease to exist without having attained life’s highest goal? Contrast this with someone who realizes that the death of the body is just a milestone on a long journey, and that whatever spiritual progress they have made in this life will carry on either into the next life if they, if that’s the way it works, or whatever they will carry on. So anyway, I just wanted to express that thought, and maybe as a start, I can get Peters response to those. Those thoughts.
Peter Panagore: Well, I learned when I was dead, that I continue on. So I have no problem whatsoever. Somebody is teaching the other thing because from my point of view, they’re going to find out when they die. And so I’ve never been about evangelizing because everybody’s going to find out the moment that it happens to them.
Rick Archer: That’s true. I often think that it’s kind of amusing in a way that hardcore atheists who are materialists are going to have a bit of a pleasant surprise, hopefully pleasant. Wait a minute. He was right. No, I can How do I tell them now?
Peter Panagore: Maybe they know. Maybe they can figure that out? Yeah.
Rick Archer: Like the movie ghosts. They can go find Whoopi Goldberg and communicate with their friends. They’re still around
Peter Panagore: Yeah, that happens a lot, actually. It but visitation and dreams from deceased loved ones is a frequent occurrence that I, when I was a pastor people started whispering to me, you know, my aunt, I saw her in the kitchen doing dishes, she looked at me. And I had this incredible feeling of, of telepathic love. And I knew that all was well with her. And people don’t talk about it much because it’s kind of kooky. But it happens all the time. Yeah, you know,
Rick Archer: various polls have been taken by Pew, and by who’s that other famous pollster in New Jersey? I forget. I met him once George George. It’s not coming to mind. But anyway, they’ve done polls about people having these kinds of Gallup, George Gallup gal, about people having these kinds of experiences. And they’re, they’re very common, I’m extremely common. So it’s a little weird that there should be any stigma about having them or about, or any fear about telling others you’ve had them seems to me?
Peter Panagore: Well, I think that there’s a reason why there’s a stigma. And I think it’s a biblical reason. I think it goes back to, was it. I want to say Deuteronomy, but I just say, Hebrew Scriptures, there’s a passage about, it’s bad to cavort with mediums, spirits, all that kind of stuff. So there’s a prohibition that’s built into the culture to distrust the transcendence, the direct experience of the transcendent, that’s mediated through a pretty much do anything, really, I mean, once the Bible was zipped up and sewn shut, the Western Church took the perspective of the No, that’s it, no more revelation, no more direct communication. And that is also true of these experiences with so many people have about the deceased loved one coming back and communicating all as well. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Although Christian iconography, and an art of various kinds is full of images of otherworldly things, you know, angels and devils and, you know, all kinds of stuff that we don’t ordinarily see around us. So it’s there. And, and obviously, not only Christian scripture, I mean, the very birth of Jesus was, you know, the, the shepherds were visited by angels in the field. And you know, we’re fearful. And so I’m told to relax, it’s not, it’s not about things it’s about to happen. And there’s so many stories like that every single spiritual tradition. Um, so it’s a bit of a schizophrenic attitude.
Peter Panagore: Yeah, I agree. 100%. Yep.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Anyway, I guess the main point we’re getting at here is, you know, there’s more to life than the snap of the fingers that, you know, the are 70 or 80 years on Earth, is represented by and it would be, and if that is true, which you and I believe it is, and have experienced that it is, then it would be behoove people to get to know about that changes your whole perspective, does it not?
Peter Panagore: It completely changes your perspective, because you begin to understand that the temporal nature of all reality, including yourself, it’s all passing away, and especially us in the cosmos is going to last another how many billions of yours, but each individual consciousness, each person, you know, we get a short time here. And if we begin to understand that this is just a, oh, a passage through a physical experience, and that we had a beginning before, and that we have a existence after an existence before in existence after we got this little bridge. And here, it seems like this bridge is really long. But when I was dead, it was that big. And, and, and it was pop powers. Oh my gosh, that’s the length of my life, the wink of an eye?
Rick Archer: Well, we can’t when you consider the timespan of, you know, geologic time, or astrophysical time, and so on 13 point 7 billion years and this universe so far as we understand, you know, 70 years, 80 years is nothing.
Peter Panagore: Nothing. humanity’s existence on the planet, as sapiens is
Rick Archer: nothing. Yeah, they do these things where if you take the length of the universe as a 24 hour clock, you know, human humanity has shown up kind of in the last seconds of the last minute on that clock.
Peter Panagore: Yeah, so it seems to me to be a fallacy to think that we’re the most important thing there is.
Rick Archer: All right, we’re gonna get into a lot of things here. In fact, the person who recommended that we interview you said all his near death experience is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more, so we’ll get into everything we can. So from from what I understand, having read much of your book and listened to some other interviews, you had a proclivity for spiritual experiences or unusual acts. variances even from your childhood, perhaps it would be interesting for you to recount a few of those.
Peter Panagore: Well, I it kind of came unexpectedly, when I was maybe five or six years old. My parents had had another boy, the fourth child to be born was the baby. And at some point, he moved into my room, which upset me. Now I had to share this room. I was five or six years old, and, and I remember that early on when he moved into my room, and I love my brother. Okay, if you’re listening, David, I love you.
Rick Archer: Just glad you’re not in my room anymore. But otherwise?
Peter Panagore: Well, it’s beautiful. It’s so my brother moved into my room. And it was it was a small room that I had, and I was sharing it suddenly with this little baby. And he always went to bed before me, and I would go now my new bedtime routine was to do it in the dark with my mom, and she would always tuck me in and I would kiss me we’d say a little prayer, and she’d leave the door open six inches with a night, nightlight on the hallway. And I fell asleep like I always do. And then one night, early on when he was living in my room, and I love my brother, just to be clear. And I heard Peter Peter. And so I I awoke to that and as i i sat up in bed, and I heard eater, Peter, but it was a voice I’d never heard before. But it was compelling to me. And I and I and I turned and I looked and the the room as I looked around the room, the room was the color of separate tone. And it was illuminated even though the room was was like no lights on. It was the all this coppery color. And I I kept hearing my name called and I got out of bed and as I got out of bed and I put my feet on the floor, I happen to look to my left. And there I was asleep in my bed. And I was covered the covers were over me and I was sound asleep. And I and I stared for a while at myself and not I’m not afraid. I was in wonderment. And I kept hearing my name called Peter, come here, Peter, come here. And so I moved forward to see peek out the doorway, the six inches and I didn’t see anything but I kept hearing my name and I went to touch the door to open the door but my hand passed through the door. And so I kept hearing my name and felt called. And so I passed through the door. And I went into the hallway where the light was off because everybody was in bed asleep and the doors were all closed. And I went to the edge of the stairwell and the stairs went down seven or six steps and then there was a right angle turn right and turn it in a landing. And on the landing on the landing, there was a little baby elephant. And the little baby elephant was speaking to me telepathically and calling me and motioning me with its trunk to come down. And it was covered in Indian clothing.
Rick Archer: God Ganesha, don’t
Peter Panagore: you? I do. And at the time I didn’t then I was a little tiny boy and I was raised orthodox Catholic, Roman Catholic, a Greek Orthodox Ganesha, I’d never seen an elephant. And so I went down the stairs. And I floated down the stairs to the elephant. And when I got to the elephant, it was expressing love and compassion and wisdom through its eyes. Its eyes were wide. There were no pupils there were no irises. There was no white of the eye they were just black. And the blackness of the eyes as I looked into them, was like looking into a an everlasting expanse of beauty, and feeling love and compassion coming from this, this little tiny elephant and it expressed inside me like what I felt was belovedness and in it and trust, I trusted and it said to me, now go down the stairs go and it took its trunk and it pointed down the stairs that I went down the stairs floated down the stairs into the front hall, who told me communicating to be constantly told me inside myself go through the doors, I pass through the the the door with the curtain on it in the screen door and an out onto the little porch and down the steps keep going I went down the steps down the walkway out into the middle of the road and I lived in a sort of like a 1910 cul de sac. And so there was no traffic ever and there’s a woodland behind us. And I’m in the middle of the road and it says to me, now look up. And so I look up into the starry night sky and suddenly the starry night sky becomes eternal and I I see into a, I see infinity. I see a, a, an expanse that that was I was incapable of seeing. From where I was it suddenly expanded into infinity and eternity. And I became frightened. And I popped back into my bed. So now I’m awakened my bed, and I’m wide awake in my bed. And I think what has happened and it’s dark in my room, but I’m all worked up. And so I do something I’m not allowed to do except for to get up and go to the bathroom. So I get up out of my bed and I open up the door, and I go to the bathroom, just so in case I get caught. Everybody, I went to the bathroom mom, but But I, the first thing I did before I went to the bathroom is look over the stairs to see if the elephant was there. Elephant wasn’t there when in the bathroom, went to the stairs, went down the stairs, crept around the house that looked in the living room, looked in the kitchen, looked in the dining room, went back upstairs, when in my sister’s room, which I wasn’t allowed in at all, ever. But I went in there and I you know Andrea is asleep. Cynthia is asleep. I closed the door sneak to my parents room. I listened at the door. I don’t hear anything. I went over to the railings. So there was like this railing with the spindles. And I dangled my feet over and I just stayed there for I don’t know, a long time looking and wondering what had happened to me because I knew something had happened to me. I must have spent an hour there more I did. I did other stuff hanging around. But I kept wondering if the elephant would come back. And then I went to bed. Like a tired went to sleep. And never told anybody about it. Because I was gonna say, I popped out of my body and I met an elephant. That’s nice. Right? Right, have some more peas, eat your peas,
Rick Archer: you had a dream there, right?
Peter Panagore: Move on. And I I kept it to myself. And so then later that year, or a year later, it’s kind of fuzzy the timing of it. But I we had a little we had a little maple tree in my front yard. And it was my tree to climb because I could get into the lower branches. It was my safe space. And my brother was sleeping because he’s the baby my mother’s ironing, go outside and play Peter. So I went outside when another front yard, climbed the tree and I’m sitting in the tree. And I hear the same voice inside me. And I hear it from behind me and inside me. A singular voice says to me, you belong to me, your mind. You work for me? Your mind. And I was like, Oh, okay. i It’s God, God’s talking to me. And angels talking to me heavens talking to me. There was no language to it. There was there were no actual words. And so I climbed down on the tree. I went into the house, and my mom’s ironing the clothes that I was banned from being inside. And she you know, what are you doing in here, Peter? Well, I have something happened. Okay, tell me what happened. Don’t wake the baby. I tell her God, an angel came to me and told me that I belonged to God and that I was going to work for God. And I think I’m going to be a priest mom, because, you know, Catholic Orthodox, one sort of way of do this, do this thing. And she says, Oh, really? Well, then you’re going to need to learn. You’re going to be living alone for the rest of your life. You won’t be a married housewife. This is like 19 Whatever. 66 Okay, so my mom’s ironing my dad’s shirts or shorts or something for work. And you’re going to need to learn to do this stuff for you’re going to need to iron do your laundry so and clean the house and and today, you could begin by dusting because you came in. So I ended up starting my and I still dust and clean but it was the beginning of my of my independence and punishment for whenever I just whenever I was disobedient I always clean the house.
Rick Archer: Hmm. So what do you make of that whole experience now? Well, elephant in the stuff that the fact that you had these experiences? I mean, you must have thought about them over the years? Well, yeah.
Peter Panagore: Well, they were they were always an anomaly to me. And then there were a couple of more that happened a year before I died. And only in hindsight. Do I understand now, what they had, what the meaning was, but I can I can say this about about it is that I seem to have been born mystic. It seems that there that maybe it’s in my DNA. Maybe it’s in my my soul or some combination of these two things. But there seems to be people in the world and I’ve met others like me, who seem to just have this happen to them. God somehow calls them and or, or their soul is advanced enough or whatever that is, I don’t really understand it. I just know that. Like, it’s like a talent. It’s like I was born with this thing, and I am able to use it. That’s really kind of what it is. And it’s, it’s isolating, because there I was a six year old. And I knew that I was not my body. And I didn’t travel very far I saw very deeply. But from that day forward, I was always sort of on the outside. And I think it was around that time that I started not talking much. I started my parents nicknamed me silent Pete, because I just didn’t say I didn’t say anything. I, I was kind of, in wonderment a lot.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, I, I was gonna say I envy you and I don’t envy you. But it’s um, kids should be supported if they have such experiences and not dismissed as, as kooky or crazy or, you know, overly imaginative or something like that. Because I think you and I would agree that everyone has the capacity or the potential to have deeper insights. And a lot of times people are dismissed when they have them. And then they kind of clam up. And I’ve interviewed a number of people who saw angels as a child or had some kind of mystical experiences, and the adults just didn’t get it. So they stopped talking about it and eventually lost the ability. So which is a shame?
Peter Panagore: I agree with you that we should be more open in our society for talking about the things that we don’t understand. Yeah. And so my parents didn’t, if I didn’t tell them, so they didn’t know except for they knew my mom knew about the angel, but they nobody knew about the the preceding experience. I kept that to myself, and why I kept it to myself, maybe because I didn’t understand it. Maybe because it seemed special to me that speaking about it would somehow lessen the experience. And maybe, maybe if I talked about it, nobody would believe me, and then I would begin to doubt myself. It’s true.
Rick Archer: I don’t think they would have believed you most than they would have just just felt you had too much spaghetti sauce for dinner or something. You had a vivid dream.
Peter Panagore: Right? It was, it was unlike any other dream that I’d ever had or had until I was in college. And I we mentioned before, before we were on air, you mentioned Thomas Keating, the abbot from St. Joseph’s Abbey and, and outside of Boston, west of Boston. I went to I went to I went to a Catholic High School near their Catholic prep school and my religion teacher, my senior year, at the end of school, went to a retreat at the monastery and learned centering prayer, or meditation, came back to our class taught us how to do it. I was adept at it from day one, and began my daily practice. From that time forward, I was the only one in my class, who even liked it, let alone kept at it. And I found I find over long practice that it strips away as Keating says the false self, which allows more room for the divine to enter in. And so by the time now here it is sophomore year of college Three years later, just three years in a meditation. I’m out on the Appalachian Trail for a winter break. Pardon me March spring break with a an atheist buddy of mine who is still one of my best friends. And because I know, he’s gonna find out when it gets to the other side. It’s a joke between us. So anyway, read on the 80 in Massachusetts is like eight inches of snow on the ground where we’re tenting and half cabining. And one night we get to this half cabin, and we go to sleep and as soon as I fall asleep, I’m plucked out from inside my body. And I’m instantaneously it feels like at first and then it realize that this instantaneous experience was longer. It’s both these things long and slow at the same time and and I felt like I could see that I was being raised up on a cable cord I come to understand later out of the out of my body out of the cabin, above the tree top and up to the edge of the atmosphere where I where there seemed to be some sort of opening that I went into another space and now I’m in a like a bubble of containment that’s made, especially for me, and I’m in a, in a darkness, an impenetrable, infinite darkness that I can see with my spirit eyes because I’m my spirit body and not my physical body. And I’m wondering what’s going on because I, I know I’m asleep. I know I’m in my sleeping bag. I know, Bob is in the half cabin, I know where my body is. And I’m completely cognizant of, with capable mental processing, I’m thinking about all this stuff. And this isn’t a dream. This is this is like that time before. I’m thinking and, and then suddenly, oh, and so I can see myself, I’m I have two perspectives simultaneously, I’m looking out through my spirit eyes, and I can see myself in this bubble, my spirit form. And suddenly, these two hands up here, and they kind of come into my bubble. And they’re like this. And then they’re like this, and one hand disappears. And it’s holding a glass file, full of gold dust, and I hear inside myself and outside myself without, with words without words, hard to tell. And it says, The Voice says to me, this is my gift for you. I give it to you and my hands, through no will of my own come up into a cup. And this gold dust pours into a pile in my hands. And the voice is this is my gift to you. A breath comes. Now give it all away. It’s gone. I’m awake. I’m in my tent. I’m pardon me, I’m in the half cabin again. And I’m, what was that, and I’m thinking about this, and Bob’s there snoring and, and I fall asleep again. And I am suddenly instantaneously taken out a second time. And I’m in the same a new bubble, but the same bubble in the same infinity. Only this time, my spirit and I two perspectives. And my spirit is standing. And suddenly I am a call I am in and I am a column of fire. This fire is consuming to the marrow of my bones and surrounding my entire flesh, like a tower pouring through me. And I was not scared, but astounded. And the voice says to me, I will not consume you. But I felt consumed. I didn’t feel burned, but the voice I felt consumed in the voice that I won’t consume you. And it was over and I was awake. And I you know Shut up. And I didn’t tell Bob and we finished the hike. And I wondered what was this? So I spent the entire next year wondering what is this? What? What is this mean? Who am I? I remember coming home. I remember coming home to my parents house and saying, you know, we’re not telling them the truth but there’s something different about me I something’s I can’t I’m feeling like I’m I’m special somehow like there’s something and not special in a good way just like special in a way I don’t understand. And of course my mom got lover Oh Peter, you’re just like everybody else you’d be fine and she’s right. I am exactly like everybody else. But I also felt completely off my pins. I didn’t really understand what that was all about until I died. And and can I toss in I’m going to skip forward after my near death experience. I was in the monastery Keatings. Keating, Keating had innovation master named Thea Fein Boyd, and he was also the guest master and I became a disciple of his after my near death experience. And so when he retired, he went to St. Benedict’s and Snowmass Colorado, which is a Catholic TRAPPIST monastery and, and I would visit him out there. And one night, during the 3am prayer, I walk from the guesthouse up to the chapel and I’m in the chapel with the monks. And they’re chanting beautiful, beautiful Gregorian chant in this echoing beautiful stone structure. And I’m just listening because I don’t know the chant and I’m listening with my eyes shut and suddenly I feel like someone staring at me. And I, what is this and I look over to the corner and there’s Theophanes sitting in the corner, and any staring right at me with his laser beam blue eyes, and Ay, ay, ay, he’s up a column of fire. There’s like a column of fire coming through the floor, completely engulfing him and going right out the top of the chapel. And he’s looking at me with this intent look, and none of the other monks are. They’re all like eyes chatter into their prayer life and he’s he’s like communicating To me see this, see this thing? So, when I when I was dead, I also went through a fire and the fire. But that’s a metaphor, because there’s really no way for me to explain linguistically or conceptually exactly what happened. But it felt like I went through what Catherine Genoa calls the purgative fire of divine love. That felt like, like I went through my life review was to experience all of the pain I’d given everyone in my entire life
Rick Archer: getting ahead of yourself. Here I am. Let’s
Peter Panagore: stop. Alright, there’s a cliffhanger. We’ll come back next week.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s literally a cliffhanger actually, we’re gonna be getting into it. Yeah, so this is I find this stuff fascinating. And I was reading Near Death Experience Books way back, you know, Betty ed, and Dannion Brinkley, and, you know, James, on Prague and all that stuff. So I love the topic, and we are going to be getting into your near death experiences. So far, we’ve been talking about sort of experiences that happened during sleep, which maybe we could just kind of embellish that a little bit for, I think that sleep is a very innocent time. And, you know, you’re you’re not in control, you’re not you’re totally relaxed. And and probably you’re more susceptible to having a deeper or transcendental or out of body or some kind of experience like that, then you would be in the waking state. So there’s that. That’s one thing, and, and a lot of people report having had cool experiences like that, during sleep. I recently chatted with some people. And we were comparing notes. And several people said, when they were little kids and had a high fever, they had far out experiences, a feeling of sort of infinite vastness and infinite tininess and infinite heaviness and infinite lightness, and they just sat there amazed by this, except you’re not in your head, and you have something like that to when you had a fever.
Peter Panagore: I had, when I had a fever as a kid, I had kind of the well, kind of it just felt crazy to me. So it didn’t it didn’t I didn’t get that kind of out of body experience at that point. But I put the three dreams I had, were unlike any other dreams I’ve ever had before or unlike any other type of dream. I’ve had other experiences in dream state, but not it’s not a lucid dream. And it’s not a out of like I wasn’t in control. It wasn’t like I was I was astrally projecting myself out of my own body I was taken. And the second two times, and the first time I was invited, I was welcomed. So although I had a choice the first time, it seems to me, but I also felt like I was compelled by the attractiveness of this beautiful voice of compassion. It was calling me that seemed irresistible to me. Like I like, although I had a choice, I had no other thought than to go.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So what do you make of these elephants and voices and different things that have sort of intervene? Do you feel that there actually are some sort of subtler, angelic or astral or celestial beings that are interested in our welfare and that intervene that that check in from time to time and perhaps give us an experience and imbue us with some kind of knowledge that we might not have had, like guardian angel kind of thing? I feel like that’s going on.
Peter Panagore: I think that happens a lot. I think there’s a lot of anecdotal information out there. That’s is more and more people are talking about it and have the courage to talk about it, we’re discovering that there’s more truth to that we can’t prove that empirically. There’s no science that we can show that that’s the case. But and what I have a lawyer friend who says, an accumulation of of of anecdote is evidence. True, and so you get enough of that, then you can convict a person of crime in a court of law. So yeah, I think it’s real. I think that people experience the divine in lots of different ways. I think that the, the, the oneness of being speaks through many voices, and that the individual hears the voice that they’re capable and comfortable of hearing. And so there are stories of people seeing the physical manifestation of angels with wings. There are people like me, when I was a boy, hearing the voice of God for lack of any other word, speaking as if through a microphone to a speaker behind my my head and inside my soul, that but the speaker and the microphone seem to have some sort of entity next to them. So So when And when an angelic being comes to speak to help us or guide us, it seems always to me to actually be the oneness itself manifest in a form that we’re capable of comprehending is that that kind of makes sense?
Rick Archer: Yeah, totally. I’ve heard people say that, yeah, I don’t know how they would know this, but that when we die, maybe initially, we go to a sort of a realm that makes sense, in terms of the tradition that we’ve grown up in has been explained to us, you know, so that we’re not startled by something radically different than our expectation. And, but it’s sort of customized to the culture or to even to the individuality of the person.
Peter Panagore: I think that that may be true. And if I, if I had a $3 million, I would do a global sized, near death experience study on that particular subject, and find out if in India, and in Malaysia, and in Australia, and in Zimbabwe, that that holds true, because I don’t think that we have enough, I think that we can gather that anecdotal evidence and make some sort of data analysis to see what the percentage of experience is like that is that 100% Is that 80% Even if it’s 60%, that has a significant cultural, the cultural social context of the experience matters, because but there are Jews who see Jesus and Buddhists who see, you know, Jesus or or, or Christians who see, Krishna, Buddha, somebody Krishna, right, right. No, so, and I saw baby elephant when that was what I was dead. And, you know, what did I know about India? Nothing, you know,
Rick Archer: you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need. Right? Right.
Peter Panagore: But what I did get was was the communication of compassion. And that the containment unit, the little baby, elephant, angelic form, whatever, you get ash, whatever you want to say was, I could perceive that it was not the thing itself. And that inside the eyes of this eye, when I looked into the eyes of this baby elephant, it wasn’t like looking into your eyes, I could see the I could see the expanse of the universe. And it was unlike when I looked outside, when I was outside and saw the saw the without the sort of kind of sought raw, without the containment of compassion, I just saw infinity and it was awful. And that that word full of full of fear. And wonderment at the same time wasn’t negative, wasn’t bad, it was just overwhelming. And I was I was, I was shocked. There’s a lot of angels that come to people, there’s a lot of deceased loved ones that come to people. And if in our culture, and you’re helping a lot, Rick, by having this, these doing these sorts of 500 video interviews, you’re helping to, to allow people like me, and to speak these things to take the risk. Because I’m I was pretty much a rational person. Even though I was a mystic. I’m really into science, I like evidence. Um, well, it gives the opportunity for those who are whose circumstances don’t allow them to speak as loudly as they would like to, to be able to do that.
Rick Archer: That was one of my initial motivations with the show was I was I’m in a town where, you know, a lot of people have been meditating for a long time and people were having spiritual awakenings. And their friends would be very skeptical, because they weren’t having them because this guy looks like an ordinary guy, how could he be having anything special? So one of the one of the motivations was to sort of showcase various people’s experience so that people can see that their peers were having these things and if not, if their peers could have them, why not they know to increase their confidence maybe.
Peter Panagore: Right and, and so I seem to be a natural born mystic, but, but I think that everyone has the capacity for mysticism everyone is connected innately and interiorly, directly to the divine. That’s it’s and even our souls and our spirits, you know, if there’s like a, if you’re going to give it some sort of physicality, get your physical body, metaphors spiritual body, like that people astral projecting soul which is this, this, this non being, consciousness that has no physical form, I mean, even the, the non physical consciousness that has no physical form has is is made of it like a photon of, of divine light at its very center core of being, everybody is exactly the same, made of the same substance and therefore, if because we’re all the same, if we pick up tools that work With our biology, meditation being the primary one and but there’s his, you know, you can qi gong or you know, any form of focus, any form of mental focus that that isn’t focused on the self with a little S is not talking about self realization about Peter, it’s self realization about what Emerson called the oversold, you know, the big capital S self realization is, is, it’s, it’s like this passionate yoga, where it’s really not about you, it’s about connecting to the Atman. And that’s an in an anybody can do that. If they set their mind to
Rick Archer: Sure, well, if the Divine is what it’s supposed to be, which is on the present, and all pervading, then it pervades all of us, it provides a cat or a rock or anything else. But human beings have a more sophisticated nervous system than cats and rocks and have the capacity to use that nervous system as an exploratory tool in order to tap into that divine consciousness and begin to live it and experience it.
Peter Panagore: Exactly, exactly. So we are we are nature with a capacity for self reflection. And and we spoke early on about you know, human being Sapiens being on the planet 100,000 years. Not very long. But here we are 100,000 years into it. And we discover this about ourselves that we can we can access the divine directly if we look within and it’s on the inside that you find the outside you that’s really how it how it works best.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so let’s move on to your near death experience. You’re a big outdoorsman, you were really into skiing and hiking, climbing and all that stuff all year round, summer and winter. And so you went on this adventure up in Canada and that you take it from there.
Peter Panagore: So I was a college student on exchange hiding out from my family back east sister had vanished when I was a kid, ran away from home broke my mother’s heart and I was escaping from a family emotions. And so I didn’t want to go home to Boston for vacation. I found a buddy I found a fellow who would go snow caving, backcountry skiing and ice climbing. It was his trip I joined his trip. By like you said, I been an outdoorsman. It wasn’t the first winter trip I’d been on. So after our snow caving tour, which lasted about eight days, and it was fantastic. We did this one day of ice climbing. And Tim, I’ve been a technical climber rocks, but never been on ice. Tim was a lead climber on ice and on rock. And we had a he had all the gear I had most of the gear winter wise, and I borrowed what I couldn’t find. So I borrowed crampons, I had boots, climbing boots that I bought, and Uparati spiky things that you put on your way spiky things, actually, I rented those from the outing club. Yeah, they strap on your boots, they’re there. Yeah, that’s a good description, they’ve got to, they’ve got points that look like things that come out, and then points that go down. So you can kick your kick the things that are here into the ice and the points that go down, you kind of lean back a little bit and you get four points of contact on the ice. So you can toe you can toe toe grip onto the ice, and I got an ice axe and I couldn’t find another one. So I had one ice axe, you need to I found out
Rick Archer: that ice axe on the screen right now. And the second thing was an ice hammer. Hammer screen right now,
Peter Panagore: they both have wrist straps on them. One of the hammer has the strap on the bottom. And the ice axe has a strap partway up. And you can you can put your hand through the strap and slide like a bead down at least the one I had and hang you could set the axe and then let go and hang and rest with the hammer. You have to hang on to this thing because it’s really not useful. It’s its primary use is not climbing. It’s putting in screws and taking screws out and chipping ice away. But you could use it in a pinch. Tim and I decided we wanted to do this climb. I didn’t have enough ice axe. I only had the one. But we did it anyway. And that was our fatal choice. Because it’s it’s a world famous climb. It’s just between Jasper and Bamp in Western Canada. And there were maybe eight or 10 or 12 other teams there that day climbing. And we made our sense but because I had a hammer and an axe it slowed our ascent down significantly so that we reached the top of the climb, maybe 500 feet or something like that at dusk, and all the other teams had already descended and we’re leaving. They were there watch them walk out they weren’t even on the ice anymore by the time we get to the top. And so at that point, we we knew that we were in trouble because it was the sun was setting the temperature was dropping fast And we had eaten up our food, it was a day climb, we didn’t bring up a stove or a tent or any of that kind of stuff. And we were soaked because it’s a wet sport. And Tim hauled up the rope pretty fast and it became a 300 foot knot. And hypothermia set in, got clattering jaw, like in a cartoon where they you know, that’s a real thing. And I had to begin to get the rope on tight. So I took off my gloves and began getting frostbite pretty immediately, because I had to untangle the rope. As we talked about what we would do, we knew that our situation was desperate.
Rick Archer: We just hang in there, right or ledge or something. We’re
Peter Panagore: sitting, we’re sitting on a ledge, thanks. Yeah, we were sitting on a ledge, our legs are dangling over it. There’s maybe about 10 or 15 feet behind us. There’s a wall that goes up, you know, the mountain keeps going, is it you know, we’re only 500 feet up. That thing is 10,000 feet high or whatever it was, like, I don’t remember I don’t know the height is probably 5000. But we’re behind us, maybe 10 feet is this wall and we got hypothermia. That was starting to set in and I was I was on the national ski patrol at Bridger Bowl. I’ve been on the ski patrol since I was a freshman in high school, and not approachable, but elsewhere. And, you know, I was trained as a first responders ski patrol guy, I was observing to Tim that we were had hypothermia, and that we’re getting frostbite. And so we decided that we were going to die there. If we stayed, we we might die. If we’ve tried to get off. We talked about snuggling up against the cliff, and kind of you know canoodling for warmth, but decided that both of our core temperatures were so low that we were wet. And we were shivering and shaking, we’re never going to get warm. If we did that we were going to die. And so the only choice we had was to try to get off the cliff. The sun had set. The Moon had not risen at this point, there was a bazillion stars of every color imaginable filling the sky. So there was some light, kind of black and white enough light to see by when Tim and I Tim roped up, we took the same rope and he roped in front of me I wrote the behind maybe 10 or 15 feet, put on our gear. And in the dark, the semi light the traverse to the first repel. And by this point,
Rick Archer: and a repel is a thing where you can slow yourself down on a rope, right?
Peter Panagore: Yes, exactly. So we have I should say that we have harnesses on and the harnesses are around our waists. And it’s what the climbing rope wove through a connecting place, so that we would be able to be safe in our climb. It’s the same kind of situation on a repel, you throw you you throw the rope over the edge, you clip in your equipment on your harness, you hold the rope, or friction, and you can walk down walls, probably lots of people have seen this kind of thing on TV. And so we were at this point, we both super like trim 20 years year olds, I was 21 No fat on me at all, had already eaten up all our stores of food. It’s I don’t know what time it is now hours after sunset. And we feeling our energy levels depleting rapidly as we move and as we speak. So we decide not to speak unless it’s absolutely necessary to conserve whatever energy we had for our survival. We knew we knew that this was we were in serious, serious trouble. And so we get to the first repel, and in this particular place had a like a spruce tree or some kind of small birch tree that you’re supposed to take a piece of nylon webbing, which is this flat, tubular webbing tied in a square knot to climbers thing, wrap it around the tree with the rope through the webbing and throw the rope over the edge so that when you pull the rope through when you’re at the bottom it slides, but we were already beginning to lose our cognitive capacities. And we decided that we didn’t want to waste a piece of webbing that costs money. And you know, we report poor stupid, dumb college students losing our ability to think and so we throw up the tree with the rope itself. And Tim descended down 100 150 feet, whatever it was. And I followed and got down most of maybe three quarters of the way down. There’s an open space. And so now you have to go through kind of sliding down the rope feet aren’t on the rock anymore. You’re just sliding down in space. I get down to this platform area. It’s probably like 12 by 12 or something like that snow is up to my knees. Tim’s there. At this point I you know, by coordination was wrong now now I’m in a state where my lips are frozen. My feet are frozen my jaw I can’t really talk my lips are too hard to talk. I’m not able to stand well of falling over in the snow. The week We finally Tim and I get our you know, he’s helping me up, we get our act together a little bit, and we go to grab the rope to pull the rope through, and the rope is stuck. And now it’s frozen, because the rope was wet, and now it’s on the tree. But on the tree, it has rough bark, and we can’t get the thing. We can’t get it loose. And both of us hanging on this thing. We just can’t get it loose in our and then the nights getting colder, or situations getting more serious. Every minute that passes, we’re in more danger. And so
Rick Archer: to get the rope loose in order to attach it to a new thing lower down and then lower yourself down from that point. Correct. Okay?
Peter Panagore: Correct. And we eventually there were three repels, and each one, we had to use the same rope to descend down this whole length. And, and so we’re, we’re in this situation where Tim says, I know this is there you have knots, hitches and bends, it was a three types of rope uses not teaches and bends. Tim knows a hitch called a persik hitch. And and what it is, is hitches are friction based knots, where when you pull on it, they become super tight. And if you like Slack them, they become loose. And this particular hitch, which he had this really super fine line with us. It was I don’t remember how thin it was pretty, pretty skinny nine millimeters or something like that. And if you tie it on, on a rope with a big huge loop, you can slide this thing up and slide the loop up for your foot. It’s an ascenders itch. And when you step on it, it becomes like 98% locked. So it’s so he knows this hitch, I don’t know this hitch, he ties two of them one on this side of the rope, one of the other side of the rope makes these huge loops, steps one foot in steps the other foot in, he’s going to he’s going to ascend back up, because there’s, there’s really nothing else that we can do. Someone has to go up and get the Rope free. He’s the better climber. He’s the better rope guy. And he’s the leader so bravely courageously, he, I take the I take the climbing rope, I wrap it around my waist, I kind of curl up in a like a spindle, and I lay in the snow trying to make this line these two lines as taut as possible. And Tim gets on these lines. And it begins to ascend back up one leg, the other leg and he he’s climbing up and I don’t know I’m not I’m the way I’m lying. I can’t see him on my face is kind of in the snow. And suddenly I feel the rope move and I hear him yell falling and I you know it that fast the rope the Rope is free and I’m kind of under spinning a little bit because his weights on the rope and and he falls down whatever 20 feet or something into the snow half lands on me I tried to get out of the way he’s fine. But no Rope is free. And we coil up the rope. We’re ecstatic. We’re now we can move on to the next repel. And at this point, we’re on the Icefields Parkway, which is this road that runs between Banff and Jasper along the Saskatchewan River, which right next to the river is the road and right next to the road is this climb so it’s very close to the highway. And this this truck comes down the highway, his headlights were no go traffic all night, pulls into the parking lot turns to face us. It’s the warden, because the night before we had, we had bribed the warden into letting us spend the night in his cabin with him. So we wouldn’t have to set up our tent because it was after dark. We cooked him dinner, a good dinner, and we cleaned up. So he let us spend the night and we signed into the log as we went out into the wilderness to the climb the next morning. And we didn’t sign out with all the other teams at sunset. So at some time, in the middle of the night, he came looking for us. And so he pulls in the parking lot. And he flashes his lights and now the moon’s up three quarter moon or so and we jump up and down and we wave our arms and he flashes the lights and we can see him and he can see us and we’re heartened we’re like oh my God, thank God. He knows we’re here. You know we’re gonna make it we’re gonna
Rick Archer: do to help you. No, no, because we can’t climb a thing and you can’t bring a helicopter in in the dark and whatnot.
Peter Panagore: Nope, nope. But but just enough to be known, just was enough to like, at least at least they know we’re here. So we make the next week we traverse over to the next repel. And in this this repel, we’re off the ice. Now we’re on granite. And there’s an iron pin into the mountain with a ring on the pin and you run the rope through the ring and you descend down this kind of craggy rocky space. An off to the left of this the mountain comes out and makes a corner and you come down 100 other 100 150 feet and you make this corner and you step onto a ledge around The corner so the rope is over this way we’re over this way. And on this ledge are two iron pins with rings and harnesses straps that are permanently there for climbers. And I clip into the one closest to the rope and Tim’s off to my left because he got there first, the ward and flashes his lights, and he drives away. Because we’re only one repel left, we’re 150 feet up, you know, at the bottom is our tent. And, and safety. And so now you know my feet are or are our blocks of ice I their blocks of ice I am, I am my hands are are hard to move my fingers, my jaw, my lips, I’m frozen. And I take one and I have to take my gloves off. To do this, I take my gloves off, I put them down, I tie a knot with one end of the of the rope onto my harness so I don’t lose it, I put my gloves back on, I take the other end of the line called the bitter end. Ironically, I take the bitter end, and I toss it out to the side with the intent to grab the line and pull it through. And I grabbed the line and I and it’s frickin jammed. First Yank, it’s like it’s stuck in you know, and I like pulled it a couple times. And I’m sure there was like a cleft and the the rope just every time I pulled it got tighter and tighter. And, and, and you know Tim’s aware of this, and I’m aware of this. And so we discussed what to do, do I because there was there was not much slack in the line, when I tied the knot, there was jet might not be enough rope to get to Tim to have him pull with me. And if I take my gloves off, because my fingers are frozen. What if I drop the rope and the rope is secure. Now we have it if I drop it, we’re definitely dead. And we dove deep into our willpower. I don’t even know how to describe this, that the drive for survival was so powerful inside me that I had a singular focus to my entire will. And it was it was life. It was like stripped to everything was stripped down to live. And so everything we did was driven by this will for survival. So I kept pulling on the rope. And then I then I got hot, which is like last stage before sleep. And I even though I knew better, but I lost my one of the things that happens when your brain freezes is you really lose your you lose your ability to reason. Reason kind of goes away and kind of craziness sets in. And so even though I knew that I wasn’t actually hot that I was actually freezing, I didn’t really care. And I unzipped my coat and got kind of made this happen faster, because that’s kind of what happens. And, and I realized that I was not that I wasn’t going to get the Rope free. And that I was I was gonna die here. And that was just it. And so I remember like I looked out over at the beautiful sky and the and the eye in the mountains that I could see in the distance and, and I got up, I was peaceful. I was sad. But I was peaceful. And I was accepting and I thought about my parents. And I thought, you know, my sister had run away and hurt my mom. And here I am. I’m dying and they’re going to lose me and it’s going to be worse for them. As bad as it’s bad. It’s going to be worse. And and then I began to fall asleep. And I would I would pull on the rope. I fall asleep I’d collapse. I hit the ledge, I’d slide off the ledge, I’d wake up, I pull myself back up, I pull on the rope and repeat. I don’t know how many times and then I pulled myself up. And as I stood there about to pull on the rope. This very wide black circle appeared in my peripheral vision all the way around to be like a fade to black on a spotlight on the stage. And that comes in on the center actor. And the whole place goes dark. Well this this spotlight was coming in on me and I couldn’t see any more of the world, this world outside the edge of this collapsing black circle. And I remember looking this way and looking this way and looking forward and it got smaller and smaller and smaller really rapidly. And it was out blackness. And I thought wait a second. What is this? What is this thing? And when I went black I thought oh it’s it’s gone black and I felt myself collapse. But I thought I’m I’m still awake. I’m still conscious. I’m not asleep. Why am I not asleep? I should be asleep. I didn’t feel myself hit the rock. Did I hit the rock? Why am I not awake? How come I can think and as I’m thinking all these thoughts, my mind My vision, this blackness becomes an infinite darkness. And this infinite darkness and this greatest distance from me, I see an like an entity, I don’t can’t hardly describe it to you, it’s a consciousness that is independent. And is in an instant of a thought, from, from the 13 point 7 billion times span of the universe from the Big Bangs beginning that far away and further in the in the space of a thought, it rushes toward me, and expands to fill my entire horizon while also being very localized, and communicates to me telepathically without language I’m taking you. And I thought, No, you’re not, I don’t know what you are. But you’re not taking me. And I took all this willpower, this drive to survive and strength of myself to be alive, and I put up my will against it. And it just took me like my will was nothing. And I traveled with it, I traveled with it, and speed of thought. And then then I kind of was in suddenly alone, in a great greater darkness that was illuminated. So this this first Fade to Black was not illuminated darkness. It was just darkness. But this new place, it was it was darkness and illumination at the same time. And so from from here on out, I need to tell everybody, I’m speaking in metaphor. I’m speaking in concept and words. But there are no words there. And there were no things. I was not a thing. I had no thingness I had self awareness as a consciousness, but I had no physicality. There was no thing there that I could conceive of as being a thing here. And, and I tell it in a sequence of events, but there was no sequence of events, because there was no time. It wasn’t like, out of time. It was like all time and no time. At the same time. It was and so I’m in this, I’m now much bigger than I am. And I my physical, Peter. And I’m I’m I know I’m big. I know that I’ve expanded I am utterly unafraid. I’m completely calm. I’m content. I feel. I feel like this is me. I feel like Peter.
Rick Archer: Yes. On this note, this would be a good chance to ask a question that just came in it relates to what you’re saying right now. From Jill Brody in Connecticut, she asks, When you’re out when out of your body, did you ever totally dissolve beyond subject object? She said I have had numerous awakening events, including 360 degree views with crystal clarity. Though through all these experiences, there has never been a total dissolution of viewed and viewer.
Peter Panagore: That is an excellent question. And my my answer is in this particular in my near death experience, no, but it’s a yes and no and I’ll tell you about that in a minute. But in my subsequent out of body experiences of with a Christians called a beatific vision, of union of union. Even Even more so, yes and no, almost disillusionment but not, which leads me to the solution. You mean this dissolution? Yes, not like dissolution, which leads me intellectually to to unlit reading through the literature, centuries of literature that yes, yes, this the Divine Sense of union, it can lead to the obliteration obliteration of the self, but it’s not a negative obliteration. It’s a reabsorption of totality, into the oneness. And in a while, I haven’t experienced that, to the fullness of what I just described. I’ve had enough of that to know that I, I am that other thing, but in sort of a, a little, the same and less at the same time. And so let me, let me let me answer that question a little bit. By continuing with near death, because, because that’s kind of what happened. And so I’m this I’m this orb of consciousness, and I can see in every direction all at once I am one big eyeball. I am one mind. I am one, my whole physicality of my spiritual soul by consciousness is all of me all at once. I’m an ear. I’m a tongue. I’m an eye I’m every I’m all of them. This whole at one thing, and I couldn’t see in every direction at once, and I’m alone and content and I know that I’m in, in, in, in a eternal place. And, and and then portal opens, like I describe it as a doorway, gigantic doorway, 70 feet by 30 feet. But this is metaphor, it just as easily could be described as a, as a as an opening, like a, like a womb opening. But but it’s a it’s a, it’s a tunnel. And this tunnel goes off into a into infinity and and I look through this transparent and translucent opening. And I see this tunnel and I know that I’m welcome to go through it. And the first thing I do is I touched this translucent flow. It’s this flowing, sort of shimmering, translucent, transparent covering, and I touch it with the beingness of my soul of my consciousness and it’s living, it has life in it. And as soon as I touch it all, it’s not just like, like with a little L, it’s like living with a capital L. It’s the totality of all, all livingness. And it’s flowing of all energy of all of everything, and it flows into me. And as it flows into me, I hear my name called, but it’s not Peter, it’s like the the Create, I know that I’m a creature created by creator in the calling of my Name, which I cannot pronounce. But I know because there’s no it wasn’t a word. It was a it was a a description of my creative being. And, and I could see, I could see lots of things all at once. I could, I could, I could see that I was absolutely fully known that there was nothing about Peter that was unknown, that that that my entire existence was of fully absorbed. I knew by the all knower, I could see that that my consciousness that I was sort of riding on the top have was actually this long, long sort of conical snake tail of my everlasting soul extending back into the moment that my name was called into beingness as a as a like a photon of lights like a wave and a particle at the same time. And I was spoken into being an I had this, this soul form, and I was could see my life pass before me, only it wasn’t really before me it was I watched all of the suffering that I gave every single person in my entire life, from their point of view, times 10,000. So every with all the pain that I’ve caused intentionally, and all the pain I caused, unintentionally, and there was more unintentional than there was intentional, because you just heard people and you don’t know it, and it but all, but every single drop of pain that I had caused, was 10,000 times more than I thought it was. And so not only I didn’t like witness this from the outside, I witnessed it from the inside of the people that I hurt, I felt their feelings time 10,000 simultaneously experiencing all of my justifications or reasons for causing that pain. Like,
Rick Archer: let me ask you a question here. Why should it be time to times 10,000 Because it’s so brief, and it had to be magnified in order to do it all in such a short flash of time or what?
Peter Panagore: Maybe it seemed to me that it was that the pain that I caused was much more extensive than I had any idea. That’s that was what it seemed to me is that is that the is that the very little pain that I say for instance, I caused my my, my second sister in one particular instance I thought I you know, she’s okay. Well, what really her soul was not in her soul was was damaged by me 10,000 times the pain in the moment that she experienced it than what she experienced in life. And these that’s how it appeared to me.
Rick Archer: Your instinct really bad guy. I mean, no,
Peter Panagore: I was just a pretty,
Rick Archer: pretty nice guy by some standards.
Peter Panagore: I wasn’t a bad guy. I’d not killed anybody or you know, I wasn’t, you know, manipulating narcissistic, you know, sociopath, genocidal kind of I was just a guy. And in simultaneous to experiencing all this pain that I caused, I was also experiencing all the justifications, and I judged myself shameful. I was I was not just ashamed of the pain that I had caused, because now I knew that I had caused the pain. I also there was a bunch of other stuff going on. I knew that I also knew that all the love that I’d given away in my life was brought with For me, it was part of my treasure. And all the love that was given to me was part of my treasure. And somehow this lens of love allowed me to see the infinite amount of love. That was the divine. And it was in comparison to the Divine that I felt shame. It wasn’t so much just that I hurt people, it was that the purity of the one, the purity of perfection, was not me. And simultaneous to all of this, I could also see the structure of humanity’s sinfulness, which is causing when we hurt other people that, you know, that’s what is sin. It’s hurting other folks. That’s it. And you know, we can’t really seem to, to help that too much at all, actually. And it seemed to me from where the this heavenly view that I had, that, that the sins that I had committed, were no worse or no better, or no less or no greater than anyone elses. And that there was this equality of brokenness, between all humanity into that, that because of because I could see from a heavenly view that this is just the way we’re made. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It just is who we are. And it’s not really our fault that we’re made this way. It’s not our fault that we’re made this way. It’s the structure of the reality in which we live. And therefore, therefore forgivable. And and the voice.
Rick Archer: One question I had, when I listen to you say this in other interviews was, how come? The pain you had caused was such a large part of your experience? Without a counterbalancing experience of the good you had done? You mentioned something about love, but even there, you said it’s pales by comparison with the love of the Divine. So why shouldn’t you have been shown the sum total of your life both good and bad?
Peter Panagore: I have no I don’t know. Okay. I’ve been why was I Why did I see a baby elephant? Why? I, I was not I don’t know. I wasn’t in control. And but what I did see, but I did to this voice of the Divine. I knew that I was I knew instantaneously unequivocably and self. What’s that word? It’s a self evidently that I was in the presence of the divine and the divine but completely surrounded me, but I couldn’t see the divine. But I knew the presence was there. And this voice, a non gendered voice, with no breath, and no words, no language, direct communication was saying inside me simultaneously. I love you. I’ve always loved you. You’re my beloved, I love you. I forgive you. I love you. I know you. I’ve always known you. I’ve known you since the moment of your creation. I love you. I’ve always loved you. And my love for you is a septillion times a septillion times greater than anything you’ve ever experienced. And so, you know, all this, this love that I brought with me this little tiny bit of treasure. This little, little, little teeny tiny bit of treasure was nothing in comparison to the immensity of the Divine Love, abundant storehouse of love that exists everywhere all the time, unending. And so was my was the love that I brought with me the key that allowed me to see this, it seems to me that the love that I brought home with me, allowed me to see the divine love, but that I needed to be, I needed to go through the I described this as the hell of my own making, I went through hell. And the hell that I went through was the hell that was the pain that I caused other people, but it was unnecessary hell, because I needed I needed the divine fire of purgative love to cleanse me for what happened next. I had not I did not have enough room in me. To be in this gets to the woman’s question and Connecticut, it to be in filled with oneness. So I experienced God the divine as the oneness of being predominantly as beauty and love but but also joy and knowledge, information, data processing, wisdom, glory, ah, radiance, blissfulness, wholeness, health, truth, all smushed into one thing. And that oneness entered into me. And I was infilled. I was already this large, expanded self, but I was like a balloon that was pushed even further to the point of popping to the point of popping, like if I had one more drop of oneness in filling me that I would have gone to the state of obliteration of being and that that It was beautifully painful, it’s sort of like, it’s like when, when, in pre orgasm, where were pain, where it’s so it’s so pleasurable, it’s almost painful. And that’s but I was. So to this place of awe, and absorption of, of knowledge, anything that I could want to know and did want to know was instantly downloaded into me. I had no brain in the way of my thinking, I process information that fast. And I was beloved, utterly Beloved.
Rick Archer: It’s interesting with all this that you’re describing, to contrast that with the, with the doubt that skeptics usually err, which is that, oh, and their death experience is just the, you know, reaction of a brain to oxygen deprivation as it’s dying, you know, I mean, how could oxygen deprivation result in experiences like this?
Peter Panagore: Oh, that’s where Eben Alexander and Mary Neal, you know, they take they take they take the lead with that, and but what did I know of non being? What, you know, what, how can I possibly understand that I’m not my physical self. I. So, so what happened next was, I was in filled and I said to the voice, Am I dead? And the voice said, yes, you’re dead? And I said, Well, I haven’t gone through the, you know, the portal yet? And the answer was, No, you haven’t. But come, welcome. Welcome. And I said, but but but my parents, my parents, you know, my sisters ran away, my mom’s broken. She, it’s 10 years of suffering for her. I can’t take another child. And in an instant of a thought, I was transported to a, I was right up next to Earth, but also far away. And I could see like earth like a hologram. And I could see every every single person on earth, 7 billion people sleeping, eating wars, violence, love making every single human action. All at once everybody, and everybody’s covered by like a veil, like everything’s like this, this veil over every single thing, including the earth. And the voice says to me, in the way that I now love you, you now know I have always loved you eternally was is and will be, and that my love is a trillion times a trillion times anything you’ve ever experienced, and that I love you in particular, and my love is healing love. Its wholeness, love, its beauty, love. And that all is well with you was well, is well and will be well with you eternally because of my love. And so we’ll be everyone. Because my love is so vast. And then I could see my parents faces in particular. And I could but I could also see their suffering on their faces. And I said, Well, I got another reason I was in this theatre company. We’re leaving on this national tour, I made a promise to the director who told me not to get hurt. There are no understudies. It’s a big show. It’s 24,000 Miles 64 shows a year and development, university based big, big tour thing. And he said don’t get hurt. We can’t replace it’s no understudies. So you know, you’re I am dying. I’m not hurt, I’m dead. So I’m not even going to show up. And I had made this promise and, and I and God made no response. And I said, Well, I still haven’t gone through the door yet. And the voice said, No, you haven’t. And I said, Well, do I have to go and the voice said, No, I want you to come. You don’t have to go. But I want you come home now. Come home. And I say well, being the argumentative sort troublemaking kind, I say, Well, if I go back to my life, can I come back here to this place of a Divine oneness of being? And the voice says yes, you can come back. Because I love you. And I say, well, then I choose to live my life. And the voice says you’re not going to live your life. Boom, I’m sent back. And I, I felt myself approached my body from the outside. Like, like, I had no willpower over this. I had no choice over this like, and I felt myself crushed down from this much larger self into this tiny, very uncomfortable package that was painful to be in and like screwed back into my body. And suddenly I’m inside this, this physical form and I know that I’m not this thing and that I’ve been reduced into this, this crude couple reality of mortal brain. And I don’t like it, when I’m in pain, and I can’t, I don’t even know how it works. I, you know, I sound and feeling and movements and I’m completely at loss, I’m at a loss in this thing. And at some point, I start to, like, come up to the surface, and I hear this noise and it becomes the voice of Tim, I later learned screaming, your don’t die, don’t die, and he’s got me he’s jiggle in my body. And at some point, he’s, I’m able to stand and he gets me up. And I don’t even really understand what he’s saying still. And I’m looking at him. And I’m like, What is this place? Where am I? Who am I? What is going on here? What are thoughts, and I suddenly kind of come clear, and I hear him say, you were dead, you were dead. If you died, I’m going to die. And I stand in there. And at some point, he convinces me to work on the rope and I pull the rope, and on the first pull, the rope comes free. He takes the rope, he puts it through the pin and the and the ring again, like I described before. He hooks himself and he descends. I’m trying to he gets to the bottom. I’m standing up there like what is just happened to me. And but I’m also aware that I’m in trouble. And so I I clip onto the rope and I repelled down. And because the car is right across the street, and because I’m trained and and first response, like we can’t just get hot, he’s like, let’s get in the car and fire up the heater. I’m like, No, I can’t do that. We have to let’s get the tent. Let’s it’s a winter tent with a chimney and event. We fire up the stove, we heat up the tent, we make warm water we get in our sleeping bags, we bring our body temperatures up slowly, slowly till our feet can move and our hands can move. And when we’re able to move again. Then we get in the car and we blast the heat. We stay in the car for like, I don’t know, an hour or something. This is now it’s dawn we move the car back over across the street to load up our gear and the warden shows up as we’re packing out our gear and he gets out of his truck and he says to his boys be the boys in the mountain last night. Yes, sir. We were there were we thank you for coming and seeing us and he said a lot came to see if I if I needed to get the helicopter you mentioned helicopter to get the helicopter to get your bodies off the mountain was serious. And and am Tim I didn’t mention Tim’s an atheist. So if he, you know I can’t talk to him. We actually made a rule early on in the trip no talking about God. And I met it I’m a meditator and read the Tao Te Ching is like no, let’s listen to jazz, like so. So I went from there the next day. Tim drove south and we drove through the day and we get down to Calgary and stopped and had pizza sometime after sunset. And driving south of Calgary we totaled the car hit a semi blew the car apart. Spent the night in a hotel bed doorway, the Mountie big doorway into the hotel. I should also hope I should before that even happened we got arrested and spent time in jail for speeding, bribe their way out of jail. Tim’s Tim’s driving this whole time I’m exhausted. I wake up in the middle. I told the story a little out of order there. We’re driving. We drive through with his lights behind us. I wake up is a Mountie, we’re pulled over. We’re Americans. We don’t have any money. Wink wink. We’ve got some money. We stashed it in our boots because we’re in a foreign country. We don’t have any money to pay the bill was just give us the fine. We’ll pay it when we get home. He’s like, No way. You’re coming with me. We’re locking you up. We get in the Mounties car we drive, we get locked up or locked in this cage. There’s some small town somewhere. And we decide that we’re going to pay as much as the fight as we possibly can we go into our booths, we come up with the money. We say, you know, here’s the fine Money takes the money lets us go drives us back to the car. We drive itself. And I wake up in the middle of the night. And I’m like, Tim, you’re on the wrong side of the road. He’s like, No, I’m not like yeah, man, you’re on the wrong side of the road is you know, his headlights coming toward us and and he said, Oh, and he steers off and he was on the wrong side of the road. Are you okay? Do you need to sleep? He’s like, No, I’m good. I’m good. And I go to sleep and I wake up again and then we hit the semi because I wake up and I see we’re on the wrong side of the road again. And I’m like, we’re on the wrong side of the road. He’s like, No, we’re not. And I and I in this time I jerked the wheel. I reach over I just grabbed the wheel. I jerk it, boom. And suddenly we’re up. You know, I don’t know how fast we’re doing. I don’t know what the speed was was on the highway. And we’re off to the side of the road and we’re like over to the over to the side and then we’re back over here and we go past the front of the semi and now we’re in slow mo and everything’s flying around inside the car cassette tapes and pens it’s all going really slowly and we’re screaming and stuff is flying by my head and I see my life review this time but only it’s like a movie I see a movie go by me everything good in the bad it goes by my eyes like a movie and we go past the front of the semi like right past the front end up on our wheels and underneath the flatbed into the rear wheels and blow the car apart by hitting the rear wheels and in the front of the car is totally shredded. And I’m in I’m into the front side here looking at the like the flatbed is like this far up against the glass, but I didn’t hit it you know I’m bruised whiplashed and we’re not hurt this other than that no broken bones no blood and a Tim is livid. He’s screaming at me. And I’m now like a wreck. And and and we get out of the car and the truckers like what are you guys doing and he’s yelling at us in the mouth. He shows up pretty shortly thereafter and we’re blocking the highway and and they gotta get the traffic flowing. So we push the car off the highway so traffic to get around and and then we bag our way into this hotel which is right nearby the Mountie drives us and I’m leaving on tour and like days. And it I should tell you it’s a sign language theater. It’s a sign language theater for the deaf. And I’m a practice I was a practicing mime at the time. And I next morning, we split up Tim is like so angry at me for ruining his car, like incredibly angry at me. And so he takes the skis and the poles. I take the axes and the rope, the crampons we have enough money for one bus ride back to Bozeman. He gets the bus ride with the skis because I totaled his car and I make a little sign that says Bozeman I stand out on the side of the highway and and I I’m in a foreign country. I died I don’t even understand what it happened to me I have a stutter now. Now the car wreck gives me a stutter and I’m a nervous crazy wreck. And I’m wondering inside me so inside me when all all while all this is happening on the outside inside me. I’m still hearing the voice of God speaking to me. This soundless voiceless voice is still coming into me pouring my name into me. Like I’m I’m overfilled with this. This sound like like like tinnitus times. Like only tonight is a gong and it’s inside me golfing and I and it’s very distracting. And the voice is calling me saying you Oh, I own you. You are mine. A You are my messenger Your job is to speak me. And that’s like, no effing way. I don’t even understand what this is. I can’t even articulate I don’t even understand in my head. How can I possibly even do what you’re saying? I’m not your guy. I’m I’m not your guy. And then I hitchhiked back to Bozeman. We termini meetup, we exchanged gear at some point, I go on this theater tour, we get a 15 passenger van and a pickup truck with a trailer behind that I’m supposed to be a driver of the van. I’m like I can’t frickin drive. And so I go, I take my camping gear, and I my sleeping bag and my pad and I spend the entire 24,000 miles in the back of the pickup truck by myself. Not because I have an all I can think to do is meditate, like what am I going to do? A I have no tool set for this thing. But meditation. And so I meditated and meditated and meditated in and kept this thing a secret for 20 years. I went back to Boston. And later finding out Tom, I didn’t tell my parents would have happened to me. And about three years ago, I said so mom and dad, you know, what would you experience for me? And they said, Well, we knew that you had changed. We knew that when you came back. You were a different person. We didn’t know why we knew something had happened to you. You wouldn’t tell us. I said Well, how was I different? They said, Well, you were kind. You were you were just kind all the time. And so I changed my career plans. I was an English major, but my family my family had an architectural firm my dad was the president of and I was going into the firm, like my sister who was in graduate school right then. And I was going to grad school but an architecture no I, I didn’t say I escaped to the monastery. I hung out with the monks. I decided that I would go to divinity school to put off the monastery for a couple of years because the monks were the only people I’d ever met who radiated light that I could see. And I saw that difference. first time at the monastery, when my religion teacher in my last year of UMass took us on retreats. And I was in front of Theophanes Boyd, with my class on a Zen retreat for the weekend of silence. And I could see His radiance, I could, I could see it. And I, it was like, it was a first experience for me, of seeing the light of a human, the light of God inside a human being be visible to me in such a way that it was perceivable with my eyes. And so I adopted him against his will, as my spiritual director, to kind of force myself on him for the next 15 or 20 years. He was eventually very accepting, but But you know, I’m just some guy coming in from the outside. And I went to divinity school instead to study mysticism, which wasn’t taught at Yale. But I got into Yale and I talked to the dean of admissions into creating a three year independent study for me, and utilizing university resources and bringing in other professors. And doing independent study, I studied the history of Western mysticism in order to create a conceptual context, a containment unit, for what had happened to me to explore it, because I realized that I felt alone, I felt like, in this time period, there was no internet, I didn’t know about near death experience, I didn’t even know the name of it. There were no books out there for me. But I knew that having read enough that there were mystics, and that there were mystical geniuses throughout history, who’d had divine transportive and unitive experiences that I could learn from and maybe find a way to understand what had happened to me and go from there.
Rick Archer: One thing I heard you say, in several interviews was that after your near death experience, the world seemed flat and said, Life Yes, dead. You know, by and heavy, we’re in this beautiful place in the Canadian Rockies, but everything just looked like two dimensional, as if black and white, kind of like drab, compared to the heavenly experience you had just had. Yes, I thought about that. And maybe you would like to say something about that. Before I say anything more?
Peter Panagore: Sure. That very first morning, when I was hitchhiking back, I was in this incredibly beautiful place. It was at Sun up and it was clouds. All Yeah, a million colors. And I felt crude. I felt like a like two dimensional, like you described, like, This place here is flat and broken and less than and, and not by thought by mere, you know, percentage points by cosmological factors. Like, like, like that kind of measurement. It’s, it’s so reduced here, and so cartoonlike. And so I feel like, I felt like a feel like I’m inside a biological machine, where I am outside looking in and having two perspectives at once. I am, I know that I’m not this thing. And yet I’m stuck inside this thing. That is the B explain it. This was the first time we had pizza in Calgary, we went into this place, and I was like, This is so broken. It’s so ugly. And and, and I had to, I had to take this pizza. And I had to, I had to put it in this. And it mash innate it and swallow it in order to was like, it was disgusting to me. It was like, it was repellent to me and, and repulsive to me that it was so. So not what I know was real. And so my, my, my, I’ve adjusted now I’m at that perspective, I still have that perspective. But I’m, I’m better adjusted to the world at this point. But I’m always I’m always in the experience here as an outsider. I’m always like an alien like a stranger in a strange land. Like, like, I can’t wait to go home.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that experience reminded me of a verse in the Mundaka Upanishad, which reads, two birds living together, each the friend of the other perch upon the same tree. Of these two one eats the sweet fruit of the tree, but the other simply looks on without eating. And the interpretation of that verse is that the two birds are the Jeeva the individual entity identity and issuer or the Universal Spirit or God indwelling within us, and that both exist within the individual And people often speak of the experience of witnessing in which they feel that they’re and they’re engaged in the world, but they’re not, you know, there’s they’re doing stuff, but they’re not. They the world exists, but it doesn’t. And both of those experiences happen simultaneously, without really conflicting with one another. They’re just paradoxically opposite. And yet one can sort of incorporate them within one life.
Peter Panagore: Exactly. So it’s exactly that that description is accurate for my life. From the moment I came back, and I always I was pretty upset that I was sent back to this, that I, that I felt like I was tricked. Yeah, you can go back, but you’re not going to live your life. Like, and, but really, I come to the conclusion through decades of reflection, that I was youthfully angry at, at God for letting me make my own choice. And that, and that I chose to come back to this crude place and live this life of its do I live in a duality, I live I live in two places at once. I see from the outside, I see from the inside. There’s this, this, this in here, any any, any emotional experience that I have here, joy, love, beauty, anger, pain, it’s so there was no anger and pain in the other side. But it’s so not it’s it’s such a small level, that I can’t help but compare it to the oneness of being, I’m always everything is always compared to the oneness of being. And everything here is just so much less than. But I would
Rick Archer: suggest and you must know this, that. That one is a being or that heavenly quality can be lived in the midst of earthly experience, you know, that’s the line from the Lord’s prayer that kingdom come Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. And that the gross pneus of perception that usually characterizes people’s life can be refined to the point where the heavenly quality that you experience in the transcendent or that you experience in your nd he is actually it actually characterizes everyday living.
Peter Panagore: That very well may be true. My my experience of that is twofold. One, that I know that through long practice of prayer and meditation and yoga, that and based in my near death experience in the multiple mystical experiences that I’ve had, subsequent to that, that I am a carrier of divine light, that I am a channel, I’m a lens, and that the that the and I work to make that happen, too. And I think that every single human being has the capacity to open a channel to the Divine heaven of light here. And that the more of us to do that. The the more of Heaven becomes present for everyone. Sure, two people
Rick Archer: can be experiencing the exact same situation. Sitting looking at a sunset, for instance, and one of them can experience it as this divine play, you know, just the they’re seeing God in action, and the other is depressed and miserable, and the whole thing just looks drab and ugly. So, so much depends upon our individual orientation.
Peter Panagore: It does. And don’t, don’t misunderstand, please, that just because I feel like an alien here, and that it seems drab and ugly to me, that that is in any way my primary perspective. Because it’s not. It’s, it’s, it’s my I, one I always sees the divine. And by one I always seeing the divine it when I when I look over here, everything is less than but that doesn’t mean that it’s it’s bad. It doesn’t mean that it’s it’s not a negative thing. It’s an experiential reduction. It’s and I find that that my my interior practices of seeking the oneness inside myself, give me the stability and capacities to live a more stable life in balance in this world. And it’s people say, well, don’t you ever feel joy? Well, yeah, sure I do. But it’s not anywhere near comparative to the other side. So it seems to me this, it seems to me that the amount of the Divine that I’ve experienced anyway on this side is always filtered and reduced through the physicality of my DNA self no matter what I do, even though I have a direct experience of contact with my own soul constantly
Rick Archer: True. But ultimately, if all is one, there are no sides. And so not not this side, other side, but you know, you read beautiful accounts by mistakes of seeing the divine in a garbage pile, or, you know, Ka’bah pile of cow dung or something like that. Because obviously, God can’t be sequestered off into some transcendent realm, he, he or she or it pervades everything. So I think yeah, name of the game is to get to that level of perspective.
Peter Panagore: Well, I, I totally, I totally agree with you that the Divine is transcendent and imminent at the same time simultaneously. And I think that the the saints, who say that they see, the divine in the dunk pile, which is true, is an is a is an experience that may or may not be a continual experience in their life, you can see because I’ve had those kinds of experience, where we’re in the, in a flash of a moment, see the totality of the Divine Being in the experience of great beauty, or even ugliness. I worked in the homeless movement for a long time when I was in grad school and after, and in the eyes of the most desperate, I sometimes see the light of Heavens light. And, and so, but I also know that Teresa of Calcutta, mother, Teresa had one divine experience in her entire life, that drove her and her per actions, till the day she died by serving the poor and never had another one. The weather we can live in a constant state of oneness of being where everything is beautiful in life is possible, but it’s not my experience. My My experience is that in individual moments of life, I can, I can see the light of the divine in the purity of itself. And I’ve seen it directly in people, like I’ve seen, by about three years ago, this started happening, because in de, is a gift that keeps on giving. And if you practice in meditation, you can remain connected to it. And my goal is not only to remain connected to it, it’s to deepen my experience of it to become more of a lens through which the light can enter into the world, not Peter, okay, because because Peter is this false self that I saw as a false self, when I was dead, it’s just the thing I live in. And the, the, the light, I saw, I saw the light of like a, like a, from a forehead to a nose, three times so far, in in seeing, and in seeing that light, I see the totality of the oneness of being, I don’t just see like light reflected in people’s eyes, or like the aura around people, in particular experiences, I see the oneness of self. And when I see that oneness of self, I see in that other person, that I am no longer me, and that she is no longer she and that it’s God’s seeing God’s self. It’s the Eye of God seeing the Eye of God. And so, so yes to what you’re saying. But no to living that experience in a daily way. For you what I have far for me so far, right. But what I do experience on a daily experience is that is that the radiance of God, I live in a very rural place on purpose. I live in a rural place, it’s high aesthetics, it’s I live in a rural place, because every time I step out my door, I get nature bathe with the radiance of the Divine that pours through every twig and stick and buggin B and hurricane and cloud and in a vicious fox that takes ducks, which nearly happened yesterday, even the fox so which is beautiful and intelligent and so so I live in this constant state of the Divine Presence in escape Hubli so now for me, but to have the intensity of the eye of the self seeing the self is a it’s it’s new for me. And
Rick Archer: I imagine even great saints who claim to have that sort of divine perception all the time, have their peak experiences, you know, probably everybody fluctuates high and low. But always, you know, perhaps on a higher and higher baseline.
Peter Panagore: Yes, it’s it’s probably So that’s been my experience in that. From the time I was a boy to when I was a sophomore to when I was a junior near death experience and then subsequent divine beatific visions where I’ve been taken out of myself and brought into another heaven that has lasted days or hours. The I come back a different person, and I come back with more capacity for the presence of the light inside. Myself, I humbly so this is not a braggadocio thing, this is a because in comparison to divine perfection, I am a nothing. And so I but each time I come back, I have more of the access to the other side, on the my filter, my lens, my No My veil, the veil becomes, the curtains are parted wider and wider. Through no doing of my own my job, as I see it is to practice meditation and prayer and to seek the oneness. It’s the divines job to to give me the gifts of the Spirit that the divine wants me to have, in order to do my job. My assigned commandment, I’ve been commanded, and I’ve been a bad, I’m not a good soldier.
Rick Archer: Make you do peel potatoes for a few weeks. Exactly. The question came in from Sebastian, London, trollhattan, Sweden, which I think relates to what you’re saying what we’ve been talking about last few minutes. Why does God not reveal himself in an obvious manner through His creation? Why were we created indirectly through impersonal processes such as the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution, as opposed to being sculpted directly by God?
Peter Panagore: Good question. And the first assumption there is that human beings matter. I don’t think he I don’t think human beings matter one single bit. I think that we’re just we’ve been on this planet on the surface of this planet for 100,000 years, we, of course, we evolved into this particular form that we have, but I’m pretty sure that we’re not alone in the universe. And that with us, this trillions of galaxies and star systems and planets and water and, and DNA and all the rest of the stuff that’s out there, that, that we’re not the only one sculpted into this form. And we’re, and probably billions of years before we were, others were. So that’s the first thing. And the second thing is that why not revealing because it seemed to me when I was in a beatific vision. I was maybe now’s the time to tell a different story. So. So I sometimes get taken out of myself, and brought into heaven. And this is one of the things that happened. And in in the moment of I was married probably four or five years at this point. And I told my wife, by the way, my near death experience, I never told her about any stuff. I never told anybody about it. And I never told anybody about my near death experience told 20 years after. So I kept it all a secret. But some things you can’t keep secret and fortunate for me. In this particular experience. My wife had witnessed something that had happened two years before, right after we were married, that lasted days. And so she wasn’t surprised when this happened. And so at the moment of orgasm, I left through my forehead, I was taken, and I traveled at the speed of thought, in my spirit self across a vast distance of the whole universe, pasts, galaxies, at an incredible rate of speed, being escorted, but I couldn’t see who is bringing me to the very edge of the creation of the universe, where where the universe is where the divine light pulses to create matter, into being. And and I could see the light itself like the divine wholeness, oneness of purity, I could see that and I could see the darkness which was not negative, it was simply was the was a dualistic projection of the of creating matter from oneness of being a separation or reduction, a less than, and this perfection of the Divine oneness of being that I experienced in heaven is so total, that it cannot have any sort of less than in it. And so for the entire universe to exist, it can’t be perfection. It has to be it has to be imperfection. And we know this because because we age and we die, we get wrinkles, terrible things happen cancer and and star systems in the soup planets get swallowed with supernovas and black holes consume entire star systems and and, you know, from the microcosm to the macrocosm. It’s all based in sort of imperfect matter. And it seems to me that if the Divine Light presented the divine light in its total perfection, anywhere in the place of matter, then it would not be matter anymore. It would be perfection. And if it’s perfection, And then it’s not existence as we know it. And it’s so why does not God allow? I think God does allow, I think as much as can get through gets in, and that we have a responsibility as individuals to seek the one who seeks us to pursue the pursuer. And know that in this this this physical power reality of energy and matter that this is totally temporary. And the perception that it is a long time is a false perception. And the moment of my death, I perceived that the length of my physical life was the wink of an eye that fast. That’s how long 21 years was. So, so So now I’m 60. That’s how long it is, right? Three times as long, three quick lashes in from our limited point of view here. It seems like the Divine is not showing the divine God’s not showing God’s self. But here’s the thing, I had this long conversation with this woman. And she rescues she rescues. How do I say this? People in trouble. People who are in danger in Southeast Asia. And she’s worried that her life of meditation is always set aside. Because she’s always going off having to get into these dangerous situations to rescue these people, when actually even though she doesn’t feel connected to the Divine, because she’s not practicing or meditation, she can’t find the piece that she wants, per action of selfless giving, of charitable love creates a treasure that she does not even know she has. But I can see. I can see that the the mom who is a single mom, who’s left a domestic violence situation, who’s rescued the children who’s struggling every single day with bad economics and dangerous people, you know, ex looking for her, that woman is creating love, a love treasure, or saving the lives of the children that she can’t even perceive. And so I think that there’s a, there’s a lot of God’s showing in this world. It’s just that it’s masked by all the suffering here. And so why the thing that that i The big takeaway for me from Jesus, is is that is, first of all, he maybe he was a near death experience. Or maybe he died when he was a baby who knows, he talks like a near death experience or that’s for sure. He he, he says, Love thy neighbor as thyself. love God above all things. Love the oneness above all things seek heaven above all things, these two things. And in the epistles, it’s like those who know love know God, for God is love. So if you know if you’re a human being, and you’re an atheist, like my buddy, Bob, who was backpacking with me, who’s still my friend, he loves his children. And that’s the treasure of his life. And so even though we can’t perceive the oneness is clearly here or as easily as we’d like it to be. We see that every single time we love, every single time we give of ourselves in a selfless way for the for the sake of another, every time somebody loves us back, but also in the ecstasy of, of merging in sex or or loving your grandchild, or any form of love whatsoever, is the presence of the Divine. And so instead of calling God God, or Allah, or maybe a better word is love. I’m in love with love. I’m beloved by the beloved. I had this Rabbi buddy, old man, God rest his soul. He told me that, that the word Adonai, which is translated in from the Hebrew is Lord, L, capital, Lor D, small, Lowercase Capital, he says that really, the translation is beloved. That’s That’s what Adonai means is beloved. And so if we language matters, but it also be only because it’s the way we communicate. So if every time we say I love you, we think that we’re talking to God, then we’re seeing the Divine Presence.
Rick Archer: I would say as an addendum to that, and as a response to Sebastian, that, who’s to say that the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution are not the hand of God, you know, maybe it’s not obvious to us, but there obviously isn’t, is a profound intelligence in orchestrating the functioning of every little molecule in creation. So, from my point of view, this Divine Intelligence pervades everything, including all the natural processes that science tells us about.
Peter Panagore: I absolutely agree a one stop near death experience or said, the universe seems to be made of matter, but secretly, it’s made of love. And it’s not just our universe either. So the the physicists at Smithsonian, Harvard, Harvard Smithsonian, are talking about multiverse they’re talking about I mean, it’s in the news this week about black holes, potentially being portals, right. And so what we know of the existence of the universe are how things work is very little. But if we begin to see God’s presence, on a daily basis, inside our own lives inside of love, maybe then we can begin to see it in the flower, or in the in the bacterium, or in the electron.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s obviously there. Because if you look at any of those things, closely enough, you see something marvelous taking place, that is obviously not random. It’s not just little billiard balls crashing into each other randomly, the whole thing would fall apart in no time, if that’s what it were. It’s, it’s this evolving, intelligent expression, even a single cell, they say it’s more complex than a large city like Tokyo. And yeah, and it can repair itself and replicate itself, and, and so on. So obviously, the vine is, is functional in every little particle of creation. But you know, if our if our perception is on a more crude level, we may fail to appreciate that.
Peter Panagore: Which is why prayer really matters. Because the because the more you open up, the the Temple of your heart, the more space you make in the temple of your heart, the more you perceive the Divine Presence, not only inside yourself, but everywhere all the time. It’s kind of the way it works.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And again, if God is supposed to be on the present, then show me where he isn’t, you know, show me some hole in the universe where that divine intelligence cannot be located. If we look closely enough. I think
Peter Panagore: one of the great things that’s going on right now in science, and in the United States, primarily, but elsewhere in the world, is the examination of the location of consciousness. What’s the origin of consciousness? Is it bio? Is it DNA biolog? Biochemical? Is it? does it originate inside my brain? Or does it not? And from my perspective, I’m really glad that science is looking at that, because I’m pretty sure what’s gonna, they’re going to conclude, I think that they’re going to conclude in the 21st century that it’s actually more like a download. consciousness exists from outside the self. And when that becomes scientifically provable, that’s going to change the paradigm of how we think about ourselves for everybody.
Rick Archer: I had a guest on there Mark Gober, who wrote a book called The End to upside down thinking, and the whole conversation was about that. And a simple metaphor would be like, are the Beatles actually in the radio? And if you smash the radio, did you kill the Beatles? Or do you just turn on another radio and same signal, you know, which is mediated through electromagnetic field comes through that instrument instead of the other one?
Peter Panagore: I like it. I like it.
Rick Archer: I think questions came in from guests. Let’s get to this. Here’s one from Shell Romero from Keene, New Hampshire, near you might know you. Do you have an insight, if what you experienced and others experience in ndS represents what happened when we die? Or do these experiences happen to those who will return rather than actually die, so that they may return with this wisdom to share with others? In other words, he has no way of asking that is, is there a difference between almost dying and really dying? Maybe you go on to even further, you know, realms if you totally die as opposed to being in the sort of lobby as you were? And then you come back from the lobby into this life?
Peter Panagore: Yeah, I mean, I guess I don’t know yet. Because I if I did, I wouldn’t be able to tell you because I wouldn’t be here. But But what I can say is that there seems to be different. As we talked about early on, or before the show, actually, we were talking about whether the experience whether there’s a cultural context for the experience of the near death experience. So if I’m a Christian, and I see Jesus, but we but we know that there are Christians who see Buddha, and we know that there are Buddhists who see Jesus, there’s so maybe the cultural context doesn’t apply. But maybe there is something about the the in the God speaks to us and the ways that we can comprehend. But maybe there’s so maybe there’s something about the place that near death experiences go to that help them bring that back. Maybe that’s not I don’t think it’s the end game, that’s for sure. My experience of the Divine was I was in a place of non being. There was no core reality to it at all. And as some people go to This place like Eden, I didn’t go there I went to a place where I was pure soul and and so close to oneness, that one more drop would have obliterated me. So which leads me to the conclusion that there is more to go in, in my, in the beatific visions that I’ve had, I’ve been compelled to understand that the deeper one goes into the divine, the further the divine recedes, the bigger it becomes. So you it’s like this ever deepening, ever widening, ever broadening journey within multiple levels of heaven as it were layer by layer Swedenborg Swedenborg. This Lutheran he talks about, he talks about these levels that, that in each level, you you think you’ve you’ve reached the highest level of heaven, because it’s such pure love. And then, and then you die in that level. And you move up to the next level, and you’re like, Oh, this is it. And then you die in that level. And you’re like, oh, no, this is it. That’s more likely to me,
Rick Archer: like the infomercial. But wait,
Peter Panagore: there’s more. But wait, this horse? Exactly. I think that that’s true.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. And there are a lot of traditions which tell us that sort of thing. I mean, you hear about different degrees of heaven and different logos they say in the Vedic tradition, and so on. Some of which you might return from to become a human being again, others of which you know, when you graduate to that level, then you don’t come back to lower levels. You just hang out up there and do whatever you do.
Peter Panagore: Can’t wait. Watch. You don’t want to come back. Don’t come back.
Rick Archer: I attitude is, whatever, God wills, you know, if coming back is what’s best for me. Or if it’s how I can best serve great. If it’s not then fine. It’s like, I’ll just kind of go along for the ride.
Peter Panagore: Well, that’s what I chose to do twice. Yeah. So I keep choosing to come back, even though I say so. The second time I died. The second time I died, had a heart attack. I live an hour from the cath lab an hour and a half and summer traffic and, and I’ve been praying for my own death for 30 years. And as I’m on the gurney, leaving the urgent care center to take this hour and a half ride, the doc expects I’m going to die on the way and not come back. Because it’s such a long drive and I know enough damage and all the rest of the
Rick Archer: stuff couldn’t helicopter you
Peter Panagore: know, no, no, there’s no helicopter in Maine. Or at least if there is it’s
Rick Archer: new indoor plumbing don’t yeah, we
Peter Panagore: we do not in my studio where I am right now. But yeah, no, I I don’t know why they didn’t call a helicopter. I think there might be one but now that’s what saved my dad. My dad got helicoptered. Same thing when he was my age. But But But I told my wife, I’m out of here. You know, I die. Here’s my chance. I’m going home. And she’d expected the to do that that day. And as I was going out in the gurney, have squeezed your hand look her in the eye gave her the gave her the goodbye, wink, see, honey, they’re going to five, you know, this is what I want. And then, you know, I chose to come back for the sake of love for my granddaughter sake, who would just been born and a bad situation. There’s domestics going on and, and I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t leave my daughter and my granddaughter without protection and without my granddaughter without a male figure that she could love and be loved by and so. So even though I said I want to come back and I don’t really I will of course because I’ve done so twice already that I know of and I’ll do what I have to do.
Rick Archer: Here’s a question that relates to that is from Connie and bend, probably Bend Oregon. She says, If we our souls are perfect in the heavenly realms or dimensions to begin with, then why choose to incarnate on Earth? Why choose to become imperfect, imperfect humans when we are already perfect to begin with?
Peter Panagore: I know, I know, when I was dead. I like everybody says to me, this is a learning place. You know, you come to earth to learn. Okay, yes, I’m learning stuff. But you know, when I was dead, I was in the best school in the universe. Anything I wanted to know, I knew instantaneously. I had knowledge that I had so much knowledge over there. I brought back this much of it, that much of it. Anything everything I insatiable curiosity, and instantaneously all knowledge was given to me. Why would I want to come in on carbonate here into this, this kernel form? I don’t know the answer to that one. I wish I did. But I do know that in the Divine Presence. There’s purity and love and that it’s so Strong in its presence, that there is no imperfection I had in the presence of the Divine, I had no imperfection. Why come back I, I don’t have a clue right now. But when I was dead, I probably did,
Rick Archer: well take a stab at it. And that is that the universe is multi dimensional and spiritual evolution for some reason, entails being able to incorporate being able to fully appreciate and retain the sort of vastness of wisdom that you experienced on the other side, well, functioning in all dimensions simultaneously, not just in the transcendent or subtle realm. So as a as a flesh and blood human being having that kind of vast awareness and wisdom, as perhaps Christ and Buddha and Shankara. And Ramadan, some of the great saints had that something more than just being able to sort of know all that when you’re, you know, out of body or without a body, it’s a greater achievement in a way, then if you can know all that and well being a functioning breathing human being.
Peter Panagore: Sure. Oh, yes, I see that. That doesn’t answer the question for the, for Joe and Jane Doe, who, you know, have to incorporate back down in here. It leaves it still leaves the question, why incarnate in the first place? And I wish I knew the answer to that question. Maybe it’s to purify this realm, maybe it’s to bring more light here, maybe by by being here, by loving each other, we increase the capacity of our spirituality, because because when I when I was dead, I really, I understood everything I could, I could even see in my long tail of my soul, that there were other in the same way that Peter was sort of this, this micron thin sheathing on the very top of this, of the of my soul, there were these other sort of bifurcations through the long tail of my soul that may have been other forms of, of existence, that, that I couldn’t see. I can’t see now where they lead to i but they seem to be to be other of I don’t know how to say incarnations, but because I can’t see that now very clearly. But they were definitely part of my soul. They were definitely part of my soul. And the, the what I do, and whether they were in a sequence of events, which is kind of a strange thing for me to speak about here. Because even though there’s time here, if they existed as incarnations, they were in the place of timelessness as I was, yeah. And so and so there’s no sort of coming and going, there is only being and, and it’s an illusion, it’s an illusion, to think that I’ve come here. True. It’s and from the from the heavenly perspective. And so but yet, here I am in this world of suffering, and whoa, hopefully learning something, or helping other people. And so so the conclusion that I’ve reached is this is that, that love really is the reason. Love is the treasure, not only for individuals, and, but it’s for all of humanity. It’s the gift we give to ourselves that doesn’t belong to us in the first place. It gets poured down through us to the storehouse of abundant love. And so it’s like the divine loving the divine through us. And maybe there’s some sort of magnification that occurs for the for all of us together. And maybe that maybe then we go up to the next level, and maybe what you say becomes true, that they go through levels of heaven. But I think that ultimately, there’s only oneness of being and all the rest of this is just kind of spending time.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that question about well, why should we incarnate if we’re already perfect is like you might broaden that out to ask well, why should the universe manifest in the first place? You know, why should God sort of breathed this whole thing into existence? Why not just rest in Godhead, and not go through the whole rigmarole? The Vedic answer is Lila, you know, play it for the sake of creative expression. And presumably, something is gained that’s more than would be had if one were just to if the divine if the God if God were just to reside in the unmanifest state. And they also say that this is a never ending cycle of manifestation and collapsing back into the absolute and then manifesting and back into the absolute. And, you know, this is all a little bit esoteric or metaphysical speculation, but it helps to sort of give one a sense of what might be going on
Peter Panagore: there. metaphorical I mean in that that’s that Brahmas tongue rolling out and coming back in and rolling out and coming back in. And that’s sort of
Rick Archer: related to breathing out breath, and then the in breath.
Peter Panagore: Right, right. And maybe we have expansion of the universe that we think is true. And maybe that will collapse again and become another one. You know, we, these, to me, it’s really interesting to talk about these things, and to create language around them so we can begin to think about them, but utter but utterly they don’t help me in my pursuit of the oneness, which is a direct non linguistic connection, that has nothing to do with my intellectual capacities for understanding any of the mythologies of the globe that are used to explain the answer the questions that we have, when when really the two things to me matter most is the pursuit of the oneness. Being wider open to letting the light through and loving as best as I’m able. And to me that’s, I could show you my bookshelves are filled with books like this. And I’ve spent my whole life reading, reading and reading and reading in order to create a help myself understand, but I think ultimately, what really really matters isn’t the questions we can’t answer that we can only speculate on. It’s it’s how we pursue the oneness of love in our lives and in practical ways. And in our cheerier lives because the answer to all these questions, you will have them when you die, I had the money I was dead. Um, so I’m not gonna I don’t spend my time trying to, like I don’t I don’t discuss philosophy, and I’m really not interested in theology. I’m a theologian by training, and I’m not interested in theology, I’m interested in the divine connection, you show me you give me a tool to help me find the oneness and of being, I’m with you. If you want to talk about how many angels dance on the head of a pin, I don’t really care. Mostly because we can’t answer that kind of question.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think where you’re coming from, is that you are, you have an empirical, pragmatic, scientific approach to spirituality, which is what I think spiritual reality should ultimately be all about, it doesn’t do you any good to believe anything, or to understand anything, if it if it can’t be experientially validated. It’s like I often say, you know, some friend tells you some restaurant is really great, the food there is fantastic. So, you know, you could starve to death, believing that you got to go in and eat, you know, to verify the experience that he’s talking about. And that’s any any kind of spiritual experience or state of consciousness or realm or anything else is ultimately experiential, not conceptual, or belief based.
Peter Panagore: Yes, in all of the all of the books that have been written over the 1000s of years, and all of these cultures are all based on individual divine experiences, somebody, somebody had a vision of the breath of the Divine expanding into contraction, in order to create the universe, and wrote it down. And, and, but, but that writing came through the filter of the human became to the brain and the training and the language and the cultural context. And metaphor, and symbol is the myth of the tools that we have to explain the unexplainable, and, and they’re very helpful. We have, there are good parts to religion, there are bad parts to religion, wars, and death, and then all these horrible things. But there are good parts to religion too. But they, they they create an ethic for, they’re supposed to create an ethic for better living for human relationship to each other, they gave us the capacity to, in in the Middle Ages, the reason why Jews could, could create continental wide commerce is because of religion, because they all follow the same ethic, whether you met the guy in Poland, who’s selling you the silk. And he, and you live in London, it didn’t really matter if you ever met this guy, because you knew that this person had the same ethic as you, you could trust this person. So there’s this practical applications, also in tool sets of prayer. But, but ultimately, ultimately, it’s about the divine individual experience. And the pursuit of that in their adepts. There are people who are talented at this, and people aren’t. But but that doesn’t mean that your experience of the Divine is any less, it just means you can’t feel it. This this whole notion that we have to you have to feel God. That that’s very based in your physical body. That’s It’s a feeling is a feeling of warmth, okay, that’s true. Good. I feel peace. That’s true. I felt those things. But that’s not the divine. That’s a feeling of the Divine. That’s always Step away. Um, access to the divine experience can be had by anyone, I think, who pursues a life of prayer. Yeah,
Rick Archer: prayer or its equivalents. Very various spiritual practices, I’m what might boil down to ultimately is if this stuff, and we’re speaking to the choir here because everyone watching the show probably already or is oriented this way. But if this stuff interests you keep your attention on it, you know, do whatever you can to, you know, listening, reading, meditating. And the more you have your attention on it, the stronger it will grow in your life.
Peter Panagore: I want to make sure that the audience understands that even though I don’t think that the questions, I don’t think that the questions are answerable. I still read the books. Yeah, I still read the books because they, they, they put stuff in my head, that helped me understand my own experience. They give me frameworks to understand how God speaks to me. And when I when I mentioned prayer, that’s a very loose term that has to do with anybody who’s practicing some sort of single mindedness in pursuit of the Divine of any form.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, well, you’re fun to talk to, I could go on all day doing this. And we have for a good chunk of it, but um, we should probably wrap it up. So what would you like to say in closing? Actually, the things you’ve been saying last five minutes are great closing remarks. But is there anything you want to just say, in a nutshell, that would bring us to a close?
Peter Panagore: Yes, the nutshell is, love really matters. If there’s if there’s, if there’s any, in made access to the Divine and all of humanity, or even between humanity and animals, dogs, and cats, and pigs and chickens, it’s it’s love, you know, long before long before religion was a factor in human existence. Love was present. Love is innate to the human being, we’re built that way. It’s part of our survival. It’s the way we pass on our genes. It’s the way we create community. But it’s also the access point to the divine. So if you don’t have a, you can’t practice meditation, or you don’t go to some sort of religious organization, or your your, your you wish that you wish that you had a divine experience, you are having one every single time you love. That’s where it really is. That’s the center that’s built into the temple of the art. So love really matters, what you give, you get to keep and take with you when you die. What you get from others, you get to take with you and you die. God is love. If you know love, you know God, and see Kevin first. Because if you see Kevin, first, you polish your lens. And that’s what meditation does. You’re polishing your lens, you’re polishing your lens, you’re polishing your lens, you’re creating a cleaner channel for the divine light to pass through you. And remember, it’s not your light, you you are not the oneness of being you’re part of the oneness of being the light flows from the Divine. And that becomes who you are. And that to understand that particular thing removes all ego. It’s not my light, you see, it’s the divine light that is
Rick Archer: perfect. Okay. Just a couple practical points, then. What do you do that people watching this in England or Florida or someplace far away? could benefit from could connect with Assad from reading your books, which I will link to on the BatGap page? What you mean by do which we know I mean, do you have Skype consultations with people? Do you still have some kind of an online radio show people could listen to? You know what, very often people I interview have some kind of they offer webinars and they offer retreats that people can travel to and attend that kind of thing.
Peter Panagore: I run a global sized counseling service for mystics. Right, I have clients around the world who are real mystics, not people who are people who have theophanies and beatific visions, and God talks to them or angels come and visit them or they have out of body experiences, or all the all the all the stuff that you can’t talk over coffee with in the local cafe when you’re showing up for breakfast in the morning because everybody will think you’re crazy. Especially I specialize in that
Rick Archer: sound like a deep pool of potential BatGap guests.
Peter Panagore: So I and I do so I run a global counseling service. I help people reflect on their experience. I try and I don’t tell people what to think. I tried to help people understand what’s happened to them, or what’s happening to them. So I do do that. Got a YouTube channel. Peter Pan ago dot love. My focus right now is on my third book, which is going to be a lot about what we talked about today I’m kind of coming out of the closet. Now about being a mystic. I’ve kept that a secret as well, because you know, that’s a hard thing. Everybody here who’s in the audience knows how hard that is to talk about. I’m only beginning to talk about it now. Because near death experience, which was really hard to talk about, it’s become so popular globally, there’s 10 million in the United States must be 50 Millions globally, because of car science. You know, thanks to science, cardiac care, everything else I
Rick Archer: bring in Jim Lovell, and people like that bring right Yeah,
Peter Panagore: exactly. Now that now that, that this is in the forefront, near death experiences becoming more socially acceptable. I feel safer talking about mysticism. And so I’m coming out with this I’m working on I’m working on my next book about mysticism,
Rick Archer: mysticism for Dummies, is it?
Peter Panagore: Oh, yeah. It’s like, it’s, it’s like, a commonality of common this is, it’s a lot more common than people think it is. If there’s 10 million nd years in the United States, I bet there’s 20 million mystics, who are who are who, you know, the the angel comes to visit them or, or, you know, however, whatever the manifestation is, their spirit guide comes, is many more people like that. And that’s, that’s I want to see break open, I want to see, I want to see the cultural con conversation, except not just near death experience, but to see that the spiritually transformed people who have had out of body experiences are more common, and that we’re all part of one big club, and that there’s this global movement. Now there’s, you know, 50 million say, on earth, the near death experiences and say 100 million, spiritually transformed out of body people. We are right cultural force. Hmm, we’re Jews, and we’re agnostics. And where’s the Rastafarians? And we’re Buddhists. And we’re everywhere. We’re everybody. And now here we are, on the 21st century with capacities of what we’re doing. We’re Skyping for crying out loud. And, and in on Facebook, and Twitter, and people are talking now. We’re finding each other, the common ordinary people are finding each other. We’re a global movement, with a capacity for cultural influence at a time when humanity needs it the most. And the message is love.
Rick Archer: That’s really exciting to hear. Um, keep me in the loop. And let me know when that book is published. I, sir, maybe we’ll have another one of these conversations about that.
Peter Panagore: I would like that very much. Yeah. I’ve had a great time with you, Rick.
Rick Archer: Yeah, me too. I really enjoyed this, and also the whole previous week listening to you and reading your book and stuff. So thanks, peace. Yeah. Let me just make a couple of quick concluding remarks. So I’ve been talking with Peter panagora. As you know, this is an ongoing series of interviews, as you know. And, you know, check out the website batgap.com. Bat gap, just poke around through the menus, you can sign up to be notified of things by email, or you can sign up for the audio podcast. And there’s some interesting little indices of past interviews and some other resources if you look onto the other resources menu, so just explore won’t take too long. You might find it interesting, and thanks for listening or watching and we’ll see you for the next one. Thanks, Peter.
Peter Panagore: Thanks, Rich. Thanks for having me. All right.
Rick Archer: Talk to you later. Peace.