Given the current level of violence in the Middle East it seems difficult to temper ones grief for the victims of both sides with a hope that things will improve. While I am much saddened by the apparent inability of humankind to stop its murderous strife and instead pay homage to the creator of a universe that is a most awe-inspiring miracle, I do believe that, as part of that miracle, death cannot destroy us. What God has made cannot be unmade by the illusionary powers of man. The Palestinian suicide bomber is as much a part of that miracle as are his Israeli victims and they have eternity to recognise their Oneness.
I do not believe in chance; the life into which we are born is the one that gives us the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. Thus those who seek solutions to their problems in acts of violence are really living through the experience that will release their spirit from that delusion. Were our life on Earth to be the totality of our existence then there could be no meaning and no justice in what I have just written, but I have no doubt whatever in our immortality. We may need eternity to fully express the miracle of our Being but that we have.
So I put my trust in a Divine providence in whose eyes we are all precious and who values an Afghanistan child killed by an American drone just as much as it does those who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers. Since death is not the end of life, all has meaning.
The following is a fictitious story that illustrates a possible consequence of what I have written above.
The soldier's story
The soldier, seated on an outcrop of rock, looked up to see who had spoken to him. He saw a man of about his own age dressed like an arab wearing a haik and sandals. Almost instinctively the soldier reached for his gun, only to find it was not by his side. The 'arab' interpreted his action and smiled. “You don't need a gun here” he said “and it would not be of any use if you did have it.” The soldier was puzzled by the comments. “Who are you? And where am I anyway?”
“Well, I'm a sort of tour guide came the reply, but that is a bit misleading. Call me Mike. I know its not very precise but this is not the time for long explanations. As for where you are, you are where you are meant to be.” The soldier felt he should be annoyed by these rather unhelpful answers but he surprised himself by feeling quite relaxed instead.
“There are many of your old friends who are waiting to see you, but first I want you to meet someone you have met only briefly once before.” Mike said. “Please come with me.”
The soldier stood up and walked by the side of his guide towards another arab he could see some quarter of a mile away. Only when they were a few yards apart did he recognise the stranger. In a sudden flash-back he saw the stranger, wearing a bulky jacket walking towards him. There was a vivid blinding light followed by darkness that only slowly abated. He became aware of much activity around him; one of his mates seemed to be trying to apply a tornique to his leg. He reached down to where his leg should have been only to find his hand encounter nothing. Darkness closed in again and he was unaware of how much further time had passed before he found himself sitting on the outcrop of rock. Strangely he could clearly see both of his legs now with no sign of injury. He looked at the arab again; for a suicide bomber he was also remarkably lacking in wounds.
The soldier turned to Mike. “I'm dead, aren't I ?” Mike had a smile on his face as he said “Well, yes and no. In as much that your spirit no-longer has a material body you appear dead to those who are in their incarnate state of being. But of course your spirit is not, nor can be, dead. You don't feel dead, do you?” The soldier was very tempted to ask how was he supposed to feel if he were dead. Mike's grin widened confirming in the soldier's mind that there was telepathic communication between them. I shall have to be careful what I think the soldier told himself. He looked again at the Arab who was now talking to him. “ I expect that you are feeling angry with me for killing you but ….” Mike interupted. “You are both here because you needed to be. The fact that you were both prepared to take life, at least as you understood it, showed that your different ideologies blinded you to your common humanity.” The arab nodded and turned to the soldier. “I would like you to meet my young sister.” The soldier noticed for the first time that they had been joined by a child dressed in rather colourful loose-fitting clothes. She seemed to be about eight years old and was very pretty with the large, dark eyes of her race. The arab was speaking. “She is here because one of your bullets sent her here. “ The soldier tried to protest. If he had shot her it was in error. He began to recall an incident of a few weeks earlier when they were on patrol through shoulder high vegetation, the perfect conditions for an ambush. He had seen a movement at the extreme right of his vision and had turned and fired almost as a reflex action. It was too dangerous to investigate who or what had been shot, but now he knew. The child, whose name was Nahal, now spoke. “Mike, will you explain, these two young men may not believe me.” “Well” said Mike”I'm not sure they will believe me either, or not so soon anyway. However, I shall try.” He turned to the two young men. “In the physical world that you have both recently left age is not measured correctly. Only the age of the body is considered, whereas the soul is always older. Some souls are very old and 'young' Nahal here is a truly old soul. She knew that the two of you were willing to kill or even die for what you believed in; you both believed that by taking life and losing your own you could do good. Nahal wanted, out of the goodness of her heart, to show that, far from being deadly enemies you were actually kindred spirits. To do that she decided that she had to bring you here together. Of course, you both unwittingly cooperated, one of you by shooting her and the other by becoming a suicide bomber in an attempt to destroy her 'killer'. As I said, Nahal is an old soul and has 'died' many times before. She considers it inappropriate that you should feel any grief for her. Rather she wants this whole episode to be one that makes you both realise the folly of your ways.”
Indeed, both young men were feeling very foolish and wanted desperately to make amends. Once again Mike read their thoughts. “Your chance will come” he said to both of them. When you are ready you will again be born into the material world, but this time you will work for peace and reconciliation. It will not be easy. The term 'homosapiens' does not yet really apply to the majority of humankind, but there is the whole of eternity to allow the souls of men to mature.”
After this very serious period Mike and Nahal sought to lift the spirits of the two young men whose faces reflected the solemn nature of their thoughts. Mike pointed, “Over there you can see a group of people. They are your friends and loved ones that I told you are waiting to meet you, so you had best go to meet them. I'm sorry to say that the Christians and Muslims in the group are still behaving rather as they were strangers. Both of you go and talk to them and tell them what you have learned today.
Mike, the soldier, the suicide bomber and the young girl warmly embraced one another and then the two young men left Mike and Nahal and walked towards their waiting friends.
(Don gained a 1st Class Honours degree in Physics from University College, London in 1957 and worked for the following 10 years for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell and Culham. He then left the UKAEA to study medicine at Oxford University. Mr Mascon retired in 2002 as Emeritus Professor of Immunology at Oxford. Since retiring he has written a short history of his family and has written a book, Science Mystical Experience and Religious Belief which was inspired in part by his scientific studies and part by the fact that his mother was a psychic.)