1937 – 2005
One night when Jerry was nine, he awakened with a question on his mind. How could people love each other and yet act in such unloving ways? He wondered how Jesus could have loved the people who nailed him to the cross.
Jerry had a transcendent experience that night as love effortlessly poured through him. He understood the distinction between loving someone and being a vessel of love. In that moment, Jerry dedicated his life in service to God.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota and went on to complete a Masters in Divinity at the Lutheran Seminary. Over the course of his life, he worked as a parish preacher, a radio commentator on social injustice issues, a reporter, and a counselor. Jerry studied and explored various expressions of spirituality, and in his later years was drawn to Zen Buddhism. He traveled frequently to Japan, where he studied with a Zen Master over the course of a decade.
Diagnosed with a brain tumor at age sixty-eight, Jerry was told he had two months to live. With the ever-present love and support of his wife, family and friends, he spent his remaining time completing unfinished business and saying goodbye. He was ordained as a Buddhist priest three weeks prior to transitioning at home, in his own bed, confident that he was moving toward loving expansion.
Jerry Conversation One
Irene: Jerry, what did you experience when you released your last breath on earth?
Jerry: I kept breathing, but my body wasn’t responding. My release was gentle; I practically melted out of my body. I felt cold just before losing consciousness in my physical body, and then warm again as I transitioned into non-physical form. It was dif- ferent from feeling warmed by an outside source, because this warmth came from within. I was surprised that I kept breathing; I thought breathing was limited to the physical body.
Irene: You kept breathing?
Jerry: It surprised me, too. Breath is a function of life, and the nature of life is expansion. It’s the nature of life to expand itself into greater and more creative versions of itself.
Irene: What about contraction?
Jerry: Contraction is necessary in order to receive the energy that expands us further. Breathing in causes the diaphragm to contract; breathing out relaxes and expands the diaphragm. We’re always changing, growing, and moving into a greater, more expanded version of who we are. With every inhalation we receive the energy of life, and with every exhalation we contribute. That makes our next inhalation a new experience. No two breaths are ever the same. Every moment is a new one.
Irene: What are you breathing in?
Jerry: Life force. Pure potential. It’s the raw material of creation, the fuel for the manifest result of thought. On a non-physical level, breathing isn’t for the purpose of maintaining the spirited body; it serves the purpose of connection: inhalation is receiving the oneness and exhalation is giving back to the oneness. It’s a unifying process.
Irene: I never, ever, considered the possibility that we’d continue to breathe after transitioning. (Pause) I’d like to look something up in the dictionary. Can you give me a minute?
Jerry: (Laughing) I can’t give time or take time, but you can take all the time you need.
Irene: (Pause) I looked up the word spirit, and—guess what? It originated from the Latin spirare, breathe.
Jerry: Truer words were never spoken.
Irene: Jerry, do you remember the actual moment you left your physical body?
Jerry: No. It was like moving from one room to another through a doorway. I wasn’t conscious of the doorway, only of having changed rooms.
Irene: What happened next?
Jerry: I became aware that I could propel myself upward, and I did.
Irene: Were you in a body?
Jerry: It was a contained form, but not the spirited body I’m in now. I’d describe it as a loosely contained, yellowish-white light. It was pure energy.
Irene: Then what happened?
Jerry: I realized I wouldn’t be seeing my body again. I returned to look at it, studying it as if I were going to draw it: the way my flesh outlined my bone structure, light giving way to shadow, and the lines carved on my face, sculpted by a lifetime of laughter and worry. I observed the position of my head and thought, I will never be able to move my head again; it will have to be moved. I felt sad that I wouldn’t be able to breathe that body again, but it didn’t last long because I felt the presence of someone—an old friend. We came together as one in a profound depth of love I’d never felt while in a physical body.
Irene: Can you describe it further?
Jerry: The illusion of separation disappeared. We merged, becoming one unified being with a greater capacity to love.
Irene: What was that like?
Jerry: The closest earthly reference I have is when I looked into the eyes of my newborn daughter, fresh from the world of Spirit. I connected with her wholeness, creating an unconditional bond. The depth of love I felt with my friend was also an unconditional bond. We looked at my body—laughing at the temporary state of the flesh—and then propelled upward and out into a great light with which we became one.
Irene: What did that feel like?
Jerry: I still felt like myself, but I also felt like the light. Vast and expansive, I was no longer limited by the boundaries of form. This is the union that we experience in Spirit; it is the ecstasy of rejoining the whole, of coming Home.
Irene: There was no individuated you?
Jerry: No. There is no individuated form—physical or spirited—that could possibly experience this Power.
Irene: Can you describe the ecstasy of rejoining the whole?
Jerry: How do you describe being consciously aware—all at once—of everyone and everything, while simultaneously feeling unconditional love and beneficence of a magnitude so great that it’s beyond the comprehension of the physical mind?
Irene: I can only begin to imagine. (Pause) What happened then?
Jerry: In order to focus, I pulled myself back into the same loosely contained light form I’d initially experienced.
Jerry: (Laughing) Shift happens. The process is difficult to describe because knowing how to shift one’s focus is instinctual. It’s like having a great conversation with friends: there are some moments during the conversation when you’re focused out- wardly on your friends, and other moments when you’re focused within— contemplating, perhaps, what someone said or relating what they said to your own experience—a shift in focus.
Irene: I can relate to that. You mentioned you’re in a spirited body now. How would you describe it?
Jerry: It’s similar to a physical body, but it’s translucent and much lighter; it responds easily and naturally to my thoughts, and I can change form quickly. Having a spirited body that closely resembled the physical form I’d just left was comfortable; I still thought of myself as Jerry, and form follows thought. In that instant of changing form, I remembered I could do it because I’d done it in Spirit many times before. In every seemingly new experience was the remembrance of having done it before.
Irene: Given that form follows thought, were you thinking about being a loosely contained energetic light form after leaving your physical body?
Jerry: My thought was one of freedom, but it was more than just a thought; it was a feeling of being unrestricted and free of physical form. I found myself in this somewhat formless state because I was focused on freedom.
Irene: What happened after you pulled yourself back into a form?
Jerry: The friend who had greeted me took me on a tour. We visited an expansive library, and as we walked down corridors with rooms on either side, I could hear bits and pieces of tele- pathic conversations between people. I became aware that I was feeling the immense joy that they were feeling. It was overwhelm- ing; everyone was enthused and excited about life. The heaviness, sadness, and stress I’d experienced in my physical life were gone.
Irene: What do spirited beings look like?
Jerry: As Physical Jerry, I’d imagined that everyone in spirited form would look similar. What I noticed, though, was diversity in appearance—different ages, skin colors, and sizes; some even appeared overweight. That surprised me. I later learned that choices are based on personal comfort, and some spirited beings are more comfortable appearing overweight. (Laughing) There’s no such thing as being out of shape when you’re in a spirited body. Any shape is in shape.
Irene: (Laughing) A lot of people are going to be happy to hear that. Do spirited beings appearing overweight feel overweight?
Jerry: No. The strain of carrying weight is limited to a physical body; there’s no strain on a spirited body.
Irene: Please, continue with the tour.
Jerry: I visited learning centers where I saw groups of individuals reading, studying, and talking. Throughout the tour, I passed people who were engaged in recreational activities—dancing, singing, and playing. It was like visiting a college campus and walking from one building to another, seeing students lying on the grass—eating, listening to music, playing cards, throwing a Frisbee—like that. I also saw beings who were experiencing various self-created scenes: sitting on the beach near the ocean or meditating by a stream. It was truly Heaven: Home of God, my Home.
Irene: What do you mean by self-created scenes?
Jerry: Rather than going to a place called the ocean, those wanting to be near the ocean brought the ocean to where they were.
Irene: Is this a mini ocean?
Jerry: No. It was a scene like you’d see if someone were sit- ting on the beach by the ocean. There were others on the beach, as well.
Irene: So, you’re going along on this tour, visiting the library and learning centers, and people are outside, like on a college campus. That all sounds pretty similar to what I might experience here. But then you’ve got a full-blown scene of someone
sitting on the beach by the ocean or someone else sitting by a stream. I’m having difficulty seeing how that fits in.
Jerry: That’s because the physical world and your relation- ship to it have their limitations. When you have a desire to visit the ocean, you’re subject to physical laws. Given the way your life is structured, maybe you feel limited by time, so it requires that you create the time for your ocean experience. If you live a hundred miles from the ocean, physical law requires transportation; your mind isn’t capable of physically bringing the ocean to you because the ocean itself is subject to physical laws—and your neighbors wouldn’t appreciate tons of water appearing in the yard. Because creation here doesn’t require material, it comes into form quickly. If someone wants to be near the ocean, they think about being near the ocean, and there it is in front of them.
Irene: I can close my eyes and imagine myself at the ocean, but what I’m hearing you say is that you have the thought of the ocean and it is the ocean.
Jerry: Yes, yes, yes. And that’s because the ocean exists as pure energy. If I were to wade into it, it would feel wet because I’d expect it to feel wet and because both the ocean and I are non- physical. If I wanted to experience the mountains on the tour and they weren’t available through someone else’s experience, I’d have to focus on my desire in order to manifest and experience them. It’s not that I’m bringing the mountains to me. It is travel, but it’s travel through thought, not over distance.
Irene: So, back to the people on the beach who had mani- fested the ocean through thought: if you were to jump in, would you be jumping into their thought of the ocean?
Jerry: No. With their permission, I’d be jumping into the manifest result of their ocean thought. It was their thought that made the experience of the ocean available.
Irene: Might you see someone creating a scene that conflicts with someone else’s creation?
Jerry: Given infinite space, it would be disrespectful to interfere with someone’s creation.
Irene: Why would someone create an ocean scene by the learning center?
Jerry: It wouldn’t be here if it weren’t a harmonious creation. Everyone’s aware of being connected. If human beings were aware of their connection to each other, they’d know it isn’t harmonious to play a boom box near someone who desires serenity. If they were aware of their connection, they’d take the boom box and play it next to someone who would enjoy it. When you’re in harmony, you’re aware of everyone’s thoughts and desires, and you’re drawn to those who share yours.
Irene: If someone who transitions is unaware of being connected and therefore unaware of their impact on others, do they suddenly get this awareness as a result of transitioning?
Jerry: No, they don’t suddenly get it; they’re still framing life through their most recent physical perspective, which includes their beliefs. In truth, everyone is connected, and in this connec- tion, everyone is in harmony. An individual may, however, refuse to feel the oneness: freedom of choice. Based on past experiences of not feeling safe, someone might even create a structure that keeps them separate from others. Because unconditional love and harmony surround them, their fear can’t be sustained, though. The unifying truth—that there is no separation—becomes their reality.
Irene: What if their creations are a disturbance to others? What happens to their inharmonious creations in the interim?
Jerry: Not only is there a great capacity for compassion and understanding here, there is also infinite space. You can always remove yourself from an experience in which you don’t wish to participate and create something else. It’s one of the benefits of infinity.
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