I had a near-death experience at age 25, during a minor surgery. I awakened from the surgery, blinded by a river of white light. I thought it was an aftereffect of the general anesthesia. I thought it was odd that it pushed beyond my optic nerve and went through my entire body. I immediately rose to my feet, and looked at the nurse who had helped me up. She wasn't a nurse. She was clothed in light, extraordinarily beautiful, and loving. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and I almost cry when I think about it. I fell in love the instant I looked at her. I was in ecstasy. She wore a loose-fitting, white gown, and it gave off light of its own. Her light was golden and white. She was thin, blond, with shoulder-length hair. She was about 5'7", and fair but golden in her skin hues. She was definitely female, but radiated power and intelligence, as well as love and care. She was responsible and carried massive authority.
I looked behind me, and saw my body still asleep in a post-operative rest area. She said not to worry, that I wasn't dead. My heart was still beating. I could see into it. She was concerned about my breathing because the anesthesia was too strong for my central nervous system. It was depressing my respiration. She was there to stabilize my respiration and watch over me.
Not a word was spoken -- all communication was by shared thoughts and feelings.
She told me that my life was too important to take any chances on my survival, and that’s why she was there. I had to be guarded. I was too important to risk.
She led me off to the side, and I realized that we were looking through a wall at my sleeping body, from another room. After calming me, which didn't take long, she showed me some amazing views. There was a curtain of light around her, a veil of energy behind her. I wasn't allowed to pass through that veil. I was in a resting area between worlds. to our sides, there was a multi-colored halo of glittering lights in geometric shapes. They seemed electrically charged, moving, and shimmering, like a ragged border between her world and mine. Through a fog-like mist, we peered into the physical world.
I felt wonderful, and not too surprised -- this was not the first time I had met someone like her. Her light was a signature that identified her, and I had seen that light before. To see her was to fall in love with her instantly. I never wanted to leave her. It may be that she felt the circumstances provided an unfair comparison with my wife. She showed me some details about my children, and revealed a view of another woman even more lovely and desirable -- the wife I was married to. She then said it was time to return, that my breathing had stabilized, and that my nervous system was able to work on its own.
People told me it was a hallucination caused by the drugs. I've had Sodium Pentothal before, and never had such an experience. In fact, it wasn't pleasant the first time I had it. My wife was very frightened by the words I spoke as I re-entered my body. When I woke up in her arms, the light was still pouring through my head, and slowly withdrawing from me. I stammered out some expressions of love and admiration that were almost worshipful to my wife, and she said she was very shocked and frightened by the intensity of expression. "I'll never be able to live up to what you see in me", she said.
I had other experiences like this one, only more intense, and not connected with respiratory arrest. I was awake during these experiences, and I remember the details well. There were no drugs involved, and no lack of oxygen to the brain. I had one at 16, two at 19, one at 21, and a very powerful one at 23. The light was so bright, that the tropical, summer sun appeared faded as a dim light compared to this brilliant light.
AKASHIC RECORDS, May 2001
I was visiting an Ashram situated between three Indian reservations. We were in a beautiful valley hidden from view. The community around us was old. The Spaniards put their flag there in 1536.
My host and I were discussing Krishna consciousness, and spiritual cultivation. I was trying to feel the spirit of the place, and synchronize my own spirit to the ground under my feet. I drifted off into another world while my host was talking about a more advanced spiritual path that could open up new perceptions, and cultivate a new awareness.
“Are you able to see into the past, and read the spiritual records out of the ground?” I asked. He replied, “There are some great teachers, back in India who were able to do that, but they passed away some years ago. But it took them a many years of study to reach that point.”
“What’s the spiritual history of this piece of ground?”
He felt I wasn’t paying attention to the importance of what he was trying to tell me. Off in the distance, I saw children running, chasing each other and laughing freely. They were barefoot. They wore sun-dresses and tied their long black hair back off their brown shoulders The sun was warm. Their mothers were close by me – just a few feet away, chatting about the day’s tasks, and the meal they were preparing of ground acorn flour, wild buckwheat, and arrow-root. They were also preparing gourds. They were kneeling, bent over, hand-grinding flour and seeds on a stone grind stone.
The children had died 150 years ago – they had moved on. This was not sad, it was the natural order of things. This was not their spirits I was seeing, just a shadow of their lives recorded in the soil, on a happy day.
Again, I asked my host, “Do you find many Indian artifacts on the ground here?”
“Yes, we often do,” he replied.
“Any grindstones or articles used in gathering and preparing food?” I asked.
And he pulled back a low branch on the tree nearest to where we were standing, and there at my feet was the grind-stone that I had seen the women using to prepare flour for the evening meal.
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event?
God, Spiritual and Religion:
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
After the NDE:
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Voltaire - Treatise on Tolerance
Voltaire was born Francois Marie Arouet in Paris, 1694. He died in 1778, at the age of 84. Two years prior, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
Benjamin Franklin, ambassador from the United States, and one of Voltaire's admirers went to see him just before he died. An alliance was made that year between the United States of America and France. Nine years later, the American Constitution would be signed.
At the time of Voltaire's birth, his father was a counselor to the King. Alexandre Dumas, in his book "Les Trois Mousquetaires" (The Three Musketeers) pens an authentic literary description of what life in France was like at that time. The movie "The Four Musketeers" conveys the feeling of the times honestly.
As a successful playwright, Voltaire offended the church and the aristocracy frequently. He was imprisoned in the Bastille more than once for his outspoken ways.
Voltaire was trained by the Jesuits in the arts of logic: he learned the semantic tools to prove that black is white and white is black. He put these skills to good use as a Deputy Attorney for the Crown of France.
The day came when he said couldn't live with himself any longer --"je ne voulait etre une consideration qu'on achete." [I didn't want to be the kind of friend you could buy], so he resigned, and took a job as a librarian for a Duchess.
In those days, if a woman of common class owned a heretical book, she would be burned along with the book. But a duchess was above the law, and could own and read any book she pleased. This one did. Her library included the Teachings of Buddha, the Sayings of Confucius, the Gita, Protestant arguments, and a long list of other books that would have gotten anyone of lower station sentenced to the flames by the inquisition. Voltaire as her authorized librarian, read all of these.
One night, the Duchess lost the library as a bet during a card game with the Queen. She asked Voltaire to pack up the books, and he lost control of himself. "Don't you know, you were playing with Fools!" Insulting royalty was a hanging offense, and Voltaire didn't wait to see what the Duchess would do. He ran for his life, and didn't stop until he was in England. Some Quaker gentlemen took care of him. He learned English, and proceeded to read everything the country had, from Shakespeare to Newton. He wrote letters on every aspect of English Culture (see Lettres Philosophiques). He began to write an encyclopedia on the world's religions.
When Voltaire was 44 years old, he had a vision, or a visit by a celestial being of light. A vision is a transforming experience, and this transformation began with his writing, and extended to his legal and political activities. He gradually began to write against religious oppression until he nearly broke the hold that the Catholic Church had on Europe. He lived in exile on the Swiss border.
In this vision, a being of light explained to him that Liberty is a divine right, inalienable, and given to all mankind by God for their happiness. Further, he was told that all people are God's children. He was advised that the surest and shortest road to happiness was to share his gifts with others and to work for their happiness. The celestial visitor advised him to avoid arguments with religious tyrants and fanatics, and to regard them with compassion, and to live his faith alone if necessary.
He then offered examples of how liberty allows men to act contrary to the will of God. Liberty was meant to be a gift to allow men and women to pursue happiness. The most painful thing in the sight of God is to watch religious fanatics kill each other in disagreements about the best way to worship God.
At the close of the vision, Voltaire was about to ask him about Spiritual matter, physical matter, the structure of the universe, and the nature of light, but the being of light interrupted him with this council: "Be Happy.", and returned to the heavens.
Voltaire wrote a series of papers on the subjects of Liberty, God, Virtue, Tolerance, Torture, Tyranny, and on ways to improve the human condition. For example, He wrote one on the Abbey, where he described a priest as a man who lives on the labors of poor men and governs them by fear and prevails as long as there is ignorance. During the height of his fame, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin by turns lived in France. They were both influenced by Voltaire's writings.
When he was 83, and his health started to fail, he returned to Paris to die. Benjamin Franklin came to his hotel room to meet him. Franklin brought his grandson with him. He asked Voltaire to give his son a philosopher's blessing. Voltaire put his hand on the boy’s head and said “Dedicate your life to God and to Liberty".
Calas was a Protestant accused by the Catholic Inquisition of having murdered his son for joining the Catholic Church. Evidence later showed that his son had hung himself after his business went bankrupt. The son weighed over 200 pounds, and the elderly father was too Arthritic to subdue him or lift him into the noose. But the Inquisition confiscated all of the family's property and sentenced Calas to die on the 'wheel', an instrument of torture.
Voltaire took up the family's defense and appealed to the authorities in writing. When this proved ineffective, he began a publicity campaign against the trial. He wrote editorials in the newspapers, pamphlets, and letters until people were rioting in the streets. The judges reinstated the Calas family, out of fear of the public.
This was one of the final appeals by Voltaire on the trial of Calas.
On Universal Tolerance
Oeuvres Philosophiques (LaRousse) p. 53-54, on the Trial of Calas
Oh, you sectarians of a clement God! His entire law consisted in these words: Love God and love your neighbor, and you have burdened this pure and simple law with sophisms and incomprehensible disputes. You have created disputes, at times, over a single new word, or even for one single letter of the alphabet. You have attached eternal punishment to the omission of a few words, or sentenced people to Hell for missing a ceremony that they may not even know about.
I would tell you, in spreading my tears over all of humanity: Transport yourselves into the future with me to the day when all mankind will be judged, and where God will reward each one according to his works.
I see all the dead of past centuries appear before him to be judged of him. Are you certain that our Creator and our Father will say to the wise and virtuous Confucius, to the lawgiver Solomon, to Pythagoras, to Zaleucus, Socrates, Plato, to the Antonins, to the good Trajan, to Titus, to the finest of the human kind, Epictitus, and to so many other models of virtuous thought and good example:
"Go from me, you monsters, and suffer the chastisements of infinite and eternal punishment. And may your punishments be as eternal as I am. "
"And to you, my beloved Jean Chatel (tried to assasinate Henry IV), Ravaillac, Damiens, Cartouche, etc., (a list of murderers), who died with last rites and met the prescribed formula, come share with me forever my power, my kingdom, and my eternal happiness."
You will recoil in horror at these words. And having said this, I have nothing more to say.
Prayer to God
I appeal no more to man, but to Thee, God of all beings, of all worlds, and of all times: If it is permitted for weak creatures such as ourselves, lost in the immensity of space, and imperceptible to the rest of the universe, to dare to ask of Thee anything, to Thee who hast given us all we have, to Thee whose decrees are at once unchangeable and eternal,
Please look with pity upon the weakness inherent in our nature; let these weakness not destroy us. Thou hast not given us a heart to hate, and hands to cut one-another's throats. Let us bear one another's burdens in this pitiful life of short duration. Let the small differences in our clothes, which cover our weak bodies, and the differences in our insufficient languages, our ridiculous customs, and our imperfect laws, and the differences in our uneducated opinions, and the differences between our economic conditions, which seem so important to us and mean so little to Thee -- Let not these small differences be a source of hatred and persecution.
Let those who light a candle at mid-day to celebrate Thee tolerate those who rejoice in the light of Thy sunshine; Let those who cover their robe with a white towel to say they love you not detest those who say the same under a mantle of black wool; Let it be acceptable to worship you in an ancient dialect of Latin which no one uses anymore, or in a modern language which men understand. Let those who dominate a small piece of ground on this great mudball, and who have a few round, pieces of metal enjoy without arrogance that which we call "Greatness and Wealth", and let other who don't have this view them without envy: for Thou knowest that there is nothing in these vanities to envy nor to boast arrogance.
May all men remember that they are brothers! Let them have a horror of the tyranny exercised over their spirits as they remove the thievery that deprives by force the fruits of peaceful industry. If wars are inevitable, let us not hate one another. Let us use this short existence to bless Thee equally in a thousand different languages, from Siam to California, for Thy kindness in giving us this momentary life.
Voltaire’s interview with an angel – 1733
Topics: Inalienable rights of Life Liberty, and the Persuit of Happiness
Discourse on Liberty
Written in 1738 (Voltaire was 44 years old)
During the passage of our brief and narrow lives, If the happiness that we seek is the goal of true wisdom, Who can give me this precious treasure?
Does it depend on my own efforts? Is it a heavenly gift? Like beauty, spirit, and aristocratic birth, Is it independent of human effort?
Am I truly free? Or are my body and soul The blind vessels of another's will? Finally, my will, which moves and leads me, In the palace of the soul, is it a slave or a king?
Darkly submerged in this cruel doubt, My eyes, full of tears, turned to heaven When one of these spirits that the Supreme Being Placed near his throne, made to know him, Who draw their breath from Him and burns with His fires, Descended from the vault of the heavens toward me.
For at times, one may see these beings of light Enlighten and transform a simple and crude soul such as mine While obstinately refusing the proud, learned doctors Who, seated in their high-backed chairs, believe themselves above them, With their brains troubled with the vapors of a system of philosophy Who take these fogs for the light of heaven itself.
“Listen,” he said, quickly comforting me, “That which you can comprehend will be revealed to you.” I have pity for your trouble. And your sincere soul, Because it knows how to doubt, deserves to be enlightened.
“Yes, man on Earth is as free as I am. This is the most beautiful present of our common King. The liberty he gives to every being who thinks, Give to every single spirit it’s life and essence. This is the divine attribute of the All-Powerful Being. He shares this with his children whom he loves. We are his children, shadows of himself. Whosoever conceives, desires, acts, is free in acting. This is the divine attribute of the all-powerful being. He conceived, he willed, and the universe was born. In like manner, matter obeys your will. Sovereign on the Earth, and king by your thoughts. You will it, and under your hands, nature is forced. You command the seas, harness the zephyrs, and they carry you to your desires.
So without liberty, what then would our souls be? Mobiles, driven by unseen fires. Our wishes, our actions, our pleasures, and disgusts, Our very being, in a word, nothing would be ours. Powerless machines made by a supreme craftsman. Thinking puppets, moved by divine hands We could never be more than a walking lie. Vile instruments of a God who would have betrayed us. How, without liberty, could we be made in his image? And what would he get out of such crude works?” One could neither please nor offend him. Nothing to punish, nothing to reward. In Heaven or in Earth, there is no more justice. Pucelle [honest statesman] is without virtue, Desfontaines [a deceiver] without vice. Destiny would lead us to our horrible inclinations, And this chaos of the world is made only for the evil ones. The defiant oppressor, the greedy usurper, Cartouche [famous bandit], Miriwits [famous assassin] or another barbarian More guilty than they were, even a slanderer or character assassin, would say:
‘I have done nothing of myself. God is the author of it.’ Or, ‘It is not I, but it is he who is betraying me ‘Who strikes through my hands, who burns, pillages, and rapes.‘
And thus the God of justice and peace Would be the author of trouble and the God of frauds. The sad proponents of this frightening doctrine, Could they say more if they worshipped the devil himself?
On hearing this, I felt like a drunken man Who awakens with a start, in the brightness of full day, As his weakened and squinting eyelids, Still allow him to scarcely discern the light.
Holy Interpreter of eternal laws, If a man is free, why does he have so many weaknesses? What good is the flame of his vain wisdom? He follows it and gets lost. Forever fought-against, He embraces crime while loving virtue. Why is this king of the world, both so free and so wise, Suffer so often to such harsh slavery?
The comforting spirit replied to these words: “What unjust pain burdens thy spirit? You say your liberty is sometimes taken from you. God has decreed your liberty an inalienable right, infinite, Equal in all conditions, in all times, and in all places. Your destiny is that of a man, but your will is that of a God. Like an atom [of water] in an ocean, who says, The immensity should be my share.“
“No, you have weaknesses in you, you are changeable and limited in your strength, your spirit, your beauty, and you talents. In all things, nature has set prescribed bounds, and you would have it that only human power would be without limits.“
“But tell me, when your heart filled with passions, Yields itself despite your better judgment, When it feels it's liberty vanquished in a fight,, You therefore must still have it within yourself, because you feel that you lost it.
“A burning fever attacks your resiliency, Creeping in to undermine your weak body: But so what? By this threat to your life, Your health is not forever lost; You return from death's door, More strong, happier, more temperate, more firm. You appreciate more what you nearly lost. “
“The liberty of man is the health of his soul. One loses it sometimes; thirst for greatness, Wrath, pride, love lost where you tried to buy someone’s affections, From a curious desire, the deceptions project from their origin point. Alas! How fallible is the human heart!”
“But against these assaults, you will develop strength: Pick up a good book, seek the counsel of a friend. A wise man recognizes a friend as the true gift from heaven. Look at Helvetius, Silva, and Vernage [Three famous French physicians], That the God of humanity, quick to rescue, has sent to people at the point of desperation. Is there a single mortal, no matter how foolish his soul, When in danger, has any other thought?
Behold, from liberty, this mutinous enemy, Blind partisan to a blind destiny: Listen to him him consult, approve, deliberate, Listen to how much he covers his adversaries enemies with rebuke. See how he seeks to revenge against a rival, How he punishes his son, and wishing to correct him. Does he believe himself free? Yes, no doubt, and he himself Belying with each step his own morbid system of belief, He lies to his own heart in wishing to explain This dogma, so absurd to believe, so absurd to practice: He sees in himself, the feelings he rages against [in those close to him]. [His own internal doubts fuel the rage against the doubts he suspects in others] He acts as if free, and speaks as a slave.
Sure of your liberty, brought back to it’s author, This gift made for you by his goodness, for your happiness-- Command your reasoning powers to avoid quarrels with Tyrants of spirit over immortal disputes. Be firm in your feelings, and simple in your heart.“
Love the truth, but forgive error [ in others]; Flee the danger of being carried away by harmful zeal. This mortal who has lost his way is your brother: Be wise for yourself alone, but be only compassionate with him. [Apply wisdom and discipline in your own life, but don’t force it on others] Find your own happiness by creating the happiness of others.
Thus spoke the voice of Supreme wisdom. His discourse lifted me above myself; I was going to ask him, indiscreet in my yearnings, About the secrets reserved for celestial people; On the nature of spirits, of space, of matter, Of eternity, of time, of dynamics, of light: Strange questions that often confound the deep 'S Gravesande [celebrated physicist], the subtle Mairan [Secretary of the Academy of Sciences] and even he who failed in explaining these elusive subjects: The author of Ether and Vortices of Energy [des Cartes], who hardly anyone believes anymore.
But he withdrew from my fascinated eyes, And flew to the realm where the Truth shines.
He didn’t come down to teach me Secrets of the Most High which I could not understand. My eyes should have been wounded by the great brilliance of the light. He said to me: "Be Happy". He said enough.
Spiritual Event recorded by Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire), in 1763
From the Philosophical Dictionary (Ouvres Philosophiques) by Voltaire, an entry written in 1765, titled simply, Dogma:
In a vision of this type, the conversation typically takes place by instantaneous, direct transfer of knowledge. Studies of similar visions indicate that most of the interview time is occupied while the being of light calms and comforts the astonished listener, while waiting for the listener to adjust to the new experience. Once the two minds become one, the actual transfer of information takes far less time than it takes to read this account. Telepathic conversation is the closest approximation in common usage for this process, but it is more extensive than telepathy. A tremendous amount of knowledge can be transferred in one of these experiences – more than the gentle reader can have the patience and time to read. So Voltaire probably had to abridge and articulate the feelings, intents, and emotions in his own current language and to render it in the popular style of the day.
Structural and energetic changes take place within the person during this process. You don’t come out of this experience as the same person you were. It may be that you re-assume a personality that pre-dates your birth by billions of years.
Voltaire was 69 years old when this event happened. Here were the events surrounding the author’s life up to this time:
Voltaire had gone through a period of ill health and disillusionment during his 50’s and 60’s. His lover, Lady Chatelet, had lost interest in him during this period. About age 39, she took a younger lover, an athletic soldier, and died giving birth to his child. (1749). Feeling an acute loss of love and absence of purpose, he left for Prussia (1750) to work as a counselor to Frederick II who declared himself a pacifist. Not long after (1756), Frederick invaded Silesia, on a very thin pretext, and began the Seven Years’ War (1756 - 1763). While Voltaire served as an intermediary between Frederick and the French government to negotiate peace, Frederick was ravaging and burning villages. His soldiers left a trail of atrocities and destruction, while Frederick thanked God for his victories. Voltaire was horrified by this, and his feelings toward Frederick worsened with time. Voltaire finally left Frederick’s service without asking for leave, and went to Ferney in 1758.
Between 1762 to 1764, Voltaire took on the defense of a Protestant merchant named Calas who was falsely accused of murdering his Catholic son. Calas was killed in a torturous execution by the Catholic church in 1762. There was no evidence at all against Calas. Voltaire applied his time, reputation, and his writing skills to defend this family. He incited a public outcry against the judgment that was so severe that the church overturned the conviction. This meant they restored the confiscated lands, bank accounts, and possessions to the widow and surviving children of the executed man.
The Catholic Church was at the height of her wealth and power. Religious authorities had tortured and killed the man he was defending with no evidence or legal grounds. He knew he was challenging the authority of a large and deadly enemy with nothing but his pen and his force of reason. In the middle of this period, Voltaire had the following experience:
During the 18th of February, of the year 1763 of the current era, with the Sun entering the sign of Pisces, I was transported to heaven, as all my friends know.
It was not the Mohammedan oath of Borac which caused my ascent; it was not the flaming chariot of Elijah that served as my vehicle; I was not carried there by the elephant of Somana-Khodom, the Buddha of Siam, nor on the horse of Saint George, the patron saint of England, nor on the couch of Saint Anthony: I avow with plainness and honesty that I don’t know how my passage was made.
Some really believe that I was only dizzy or faint; But what they don’t believe is that I saw the judgment of all the dead.
And who were the judges? They were, if you can accept it, the ones who had done good to their fellow men, such as Confucius, Solomon, Socrates, Titus, The Antonies, Epictitus, Charron [author of the essay on wisdom, friend of Montaign’s, (1541 - 1603), De Thou [friend of Cinq-Mars, decapitated with him in 1642], the chancellor of the Hospital: all the great men who, having taught and practiced the virtues that God requires, were alone in pronouncing his decrees.
I will not dwell on the nature of their thrones on which they were seated, nor on the millions of celestial beings that were prostrated before the eternal architect of all the worlds, nor on the huge crowd of inhabitants of innumerable worlds which presented themselves before the judges. I will not render an account here of the many small particulars and interesting details which struck me.
I noticed that each dead man who pleaded his case and exhibited his good intentions, had at his side all the testimony of his acts committed during his lifetime. For example, when the Cardinal of Lorraine [Charles of Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine, 1524-1574] boasted of having adopted some of the opinions of the Council of Trent [1535-1563] 1 , and that as a reward for his orthodox views, he asked for eternal life. No sooner had he done this than there appeared around him twenty courtesans or ladies of the court, wearing on their foreheads [faces] the number of their romantic rendezvous with the cardinal. One could see those who had assisted the cardinal in laying the foundations of the League2 [conspiracy to overthrow King Henry III, 1576]; all the complications of his perverse designs came to surround him there.
Facing the Cardinal of Lorraine was John Calvin [Jean Chauvin, French theologian, 1509-1564], who boasted, in his thick accent, of having kicked at the rubble of the papal idol, after others had already knocked it over and broken it.
“I wrote against painting, and sculpture, he said. I proved that good works accomplish nothing at all, and I have proven that it is diabolical to dance the minuet: run the Cardinal of Lorraine out of here, and place me along side Saint Paul.
As he spoke, one could see next to him an instrument of torture, a shocking spectacle, attached to the neck by a Spanish Collar [screwed into the flesh of the neck], half burned, and coming out of the flames with frightful screams. “Monster!”, he cried, “Detestable Monster! Behold Mich'l Servetus 3 [executed in 1553] who you caused to be burned as a heretic, merely because he argued against you on the manner of how three separate beings could compose one single substance.”
Then, the judges ordered that the Cardinal of Lorraine be cast into the abyss, but for Calvin, they saved a more rigorous punishment.
I saw numerous crowds of dead ones who said: “I believed, I believed; but on their foreheads, it was written: “I have done”, and they were condemned.
The Jesuit Le Tellier (Louis XIV’s confessor since 1709, famous for his hatred of Jansenism, which his edict Unigenitus, condemned in 1713), with his edicts in his hand. But suddenly, at his side, there arose a heap of letters of authorizing torture by the Inquisition. A Jansenist4 prepared the fire, and Le Tellier was burned until he was bones; and the Janseniste, who had been no less vigorous than the Jesuit in his persecutions, shared his fate in the fire.
I saw troupes of holy men arrive on my right and left: fakirs, talapoins, buddhas, black monks, gray monks, and white robed monks, all believing that their way was the only way to approach God -- that it was necessary to chant a certain prayer, pass a certain ritual, or march naked. I heard a terrible voice question them:
What good have you done for your fellow man?
At this voice there was a profound silence; none dared answer, and all were led to the prison houses of the Universe; this was the most immense building one could imagine.
One cried: “It is the metamorphoses of Sakya Buddha that one must believe to be saved; another: It is by the miracles of Somana-Khodom. Bacchus stopped the Sun. and the moon, another declared. The gods revived Pelops [Greek Mythology], said another.
“Behold the edict In Coena Domini, [contained the names of Catholics who could never be forgiven or pardoned as long as they lived], said a newcomer:” And as he spoke, the judges cried: To the prison house with him, to the Prison House!
When all of these trials were finished, I heard the decree of God:
Of and by the eternal, the Creator and Savior and Redeemer, the avenger and forgiver, etc. :
Be it known to all the inhabitants of billions of trillions of worlds that it pleased us to form, that we never judge any of the inhabitants of these worlds by their ideas, but only upon on their actions; for such is our justice.
I swear that this as the first time I had heart such an edict: all the ones I had read [as an attorney for the crown] on this little grain of sand where I was born had these words: For such is our pleasure [last line of all royal edicts in France at that time].
Steve's Note re: possible NDE
This may be a full NDE. He suggests that it was, that he was out of body and transported to heaven. He mentioned that he saw and experienced many things, but only reports on one particular: how heaven will conduct the judgment of the dead. At the time he had this experience, he was litigating with the Inquisition, or basically, in his mind, suing the devil for human lives.
He had seen a 17year old boy tortured -- tongue cut out, feet to the fire -- for singing barroom song lyrics ridiculing priests. Voltaire had also spent some time in the Bastille for something he said, so he may have felt his life was in some degree of risk, and his soul certainly was in play.
His main client had already died during the interrogation -- they broke him on the wheel, or tied each limb to a draught horse, and tore him apart. He still had the man's widow and orphans to protect -- their citizenship had been revoked, their lands and bank accounts were confiscated, and they were prohibited from engaging in any honorable trade.
During the case, a duchess offered him a Cardinal's office and a large sum of money if he would simply give up the case. The case became intense, and he was in his sixties, in ill health when he fainted and found himself in front of the throne of God.
He wanted, desperately, to know how the authorities of heaven choose their judges, and on what criteria they judge a human soul. The answer was, "not on what they said they believed, but on what they actually did . . . what good have they done for their fellow man?" Belonging to the correct religious movement or giving credence to the correct doctrine didn't excuse them for their actions.
He is fixed his attitudes and knows who he is at this stage of life -- very confident. He is 73 years old, and has lived hard and well. He had a light experience at age 44, so his fear of death is very low, and at the time, he was told that (what we now call) human rights were had divine authorization, and were not for kings or popes to tamper with.
So he writes unapologetically that he saw God, saw the architectural spendors of heaven, and understood that there were trillions of earths inhabited like this one, and everyone was populated with people who would be asked: "What good did you do for your fellow man?"
Note that those who tortured people whose search for faith did not conform to their standards, and those who incited holy wars were confined to an immense prison house, and were not let loose on humanity again.
When I first read the story, I made a list of the names Voltaire mentions as judges of humanity: Confucius, Epectitus, the Antonins, and so on. I read their biographical notes in the Larousse Encyclopedia, and later, bought copies of their master-works -
- Marcus Aurelius (Antonin), "Meditations", Roman Emperor who ruled without ambition or greed for power.
- Epectitus, "Art of Living", main teacher of the Stoic school
- Confucius, "Analects",
It was a worthwhile reading list. They were true saints, and as Voltaire noted, many were born outside of the "right church".
1. Council of Trent [1535-1563] The 19th ecumenical council convened in Trent, Italy as a movement to counter the Protestant reformation and reinforce Catholic standards and traditions. The council sought to reform the uncontrolled sale of indulgences by local priests, and to standardize certain dogmas. Among other things, it held that Tradition was declared equal to scripture as a source of spiritual knowledge. The council produced an Index of Forbidden Books, which were considered heretical. This Index was enforced by the Inquisition and stood until the Second Vatican council, of 1962 - 1965. This council also sustained the sale of indulgences, but put tighter controls on the practice. It was the abuse of the sale of indulgences which motivated Martin Luther to publish his 95 Theses against the Catholic priesthood].
2. The Catholic League Henri III was the last Valios king of France. When he made peace with the Huguenots (Protestants), a fanatical Catholic faction formed under the leadership of the House of Guise (Francois and Charles). Charles of Guise, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and his brother founded the Catholic League which forced the king to ban the Protestant religion again in 1585. They attempted to obstruct Henri de Navarre (Henry IV) from ascending his throne because of his Protestant beliefs. Then, to remove Henri III, they incited a revolt that drove him from Paris. Henri III retaliated by having the Cardinal and his brother murdered. The League and the Pope later declared Henri III deposed. Henri III formed an alliance with Henri de Navarre, and advanced toward Paris in 1589. He was assassinated in Saint Cloud by a Catholic fanatic named Jacques Clement [Jack the Merciful] .
3. Mich'l Servetus Spanish Theologian, Physician, and Lawyer (1509 - 1553), published a thesis called "Christianismi Restitutio" that was condemned by Catholics and Protestants for questioning the doctrine of the Trinity. He was arrested by the Inquisition for his writing, and escaped to Geneva, seeking refuge of John Calvin. Calvin ordered him arrested. He was tried and burned as a heretic.
4. Jansenist Cornelius Jansen, Flemish Bishop of Ypres, wrote a letter that was post-humously published on his theological ideas. He believed in absolute predestination, and that humans are incapable of doing good without God's unsolicited grace. Only a few chosen ones are saved. This divided the Catholic church; The Jesuits were fierce enemies of the Jansenists and considered their ideas dangerous to the Catholic faith. The Jansenist faction considered themselves good Catholics. Their doctrine on predestination was the same as John Calvin's.
Jansenism was supported by several French intellectuals and nobles. Their center of spiritual learning was in Port-Royal-des-Champs. They advocated an austere form of piety and a rigorously puritanical morality. In 1713, under intense pressure from King LOUIS XIV, Pope CLEMENT XI issued the bull Unigenitus condemning 101 propositions in a treatise by another French Jansenist, Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719).The French king closed Port-Royal-des-Champs in 1709 and had it razed to the ground in 1710