I had the suspicion, when I ordered Anita Moorjani’s memoir Dying to Be Me, that it was going to be a book that I needed to own in hardback. Something told me it would become one of those books I would keep on my shelf for years as a souvenir of an important spiritual and intellectual turning point. And, after reading it this weekend, I have to say that it has turned out to be even more life-changing than I anticipated.
Moorjani’s memoir tells the story of her near-death experience and her complete healing from cancer that immediately followed. On Feb. 2, 2006, she was admitted, unconscious, to the hospital with lymphoma in stage 4B. She was barely able to breathe, with her essential organs in the process of failing and her body so emaciated that the nurse didn’t even see a point in trying to find a vein for an IV. She was in a coma for twenty-four hours, during which she found herself in a state of blissful super-consciousness. She felt no pain, only overwhelming love for herself and others. And she was able to see and experience events going on in many different places simultaneously. She even found herself communing with her deceased father and her deceased best friend. At first, she didn’t want to return to her body, but then she realized that, after having this experience of pure love, when she went back to her body, it would be healed. And so, on Feb. 3, 2006, she returned. And, to the astonishment of her doctors who had already informed her family that she was dying, she began a sudden recovery to full health. When the doctors ran tests to determine what sort of continuing cancer treatment was appropriate, they discovered that there was no longer any trace of cancer in her body. Even the skin lesions that the doctors said would not be able to heal without skin grafts healed on their own before the doctors even considered her strong enough to undergo surgery.
All of this is remarkable: in fact, it’s the most remarkable near-death experience (NDE) and spontaneous healing I’ve ever read about. And the facts themselves are enough to make a person expand their beliefs about the nature of the physical world and what lies beyond. But what I found most striking about Moorjani’s book was its spiritual maturity and wisdom.
There’s no way I can do justice in this short post to the numerous spiritual insights Moorjani shares, but let me choose just one. Moorjani emphasizes the importance of allowing yourself to be your own spiritual guide. This may sound too “New-Agey” for some people’s tastes. I used to be wary of this kind of talk myself until I realized through personal experience how true and essential this point is. Moorjani tells us that she was always very interested in alternative medicine, in alternative methods of healing cancer. And she tried a number of them, without success. (She pursued more conventional medical treatments such as chemotherapy as well.) After her spontaneous healing, she reflected that the problem with her previous efforts had been that she was looking to something or someone outside her to give her the guidance and help she needed, when in fact her difficulties stemmed from having spent her whole life deferring to others and never listening to herself. Her near-death experience showed her that her inner self was full of love and wisdom, and that it was meant to be expressed, not hidden in deference to the views of those around her. When she recognized this in her soul, her body reflected it.
Moorjani emphasizes that no one should take her as their guru. She doesn’t see herself as handing down wisdom from on high. Instead, she wants to make each of us aware of what is already inside of us: a magnificent self that, at its core, is pure love. She wants us to pay attention to what we already know, somewhere deep inside our hearts.
What I find so valuable about Moorjani’s book is precisely that her experiences and reflections help me to understand better my own experiences. I have never had an NDE, but a few years ago, I went through a period of suffering and grief that led to an astonishing experience of love, an experience that had many of the characteristics Moorjani describes. I knew with perfect conviction that I was thoroughly and completely loved, by myself and by God. It was a love that seemed to come from both inside me and outside at the same time, as if there were really no distinction between the two. Moorjani’s book reaffirmed what I already knew about the importance of that experience. I recognize the things she writes as true and sincere because they reflect what I know in my heart. And at the same time, hearing her story helps expand that knowledge. And it keeps my heart open to whatever is to come.
I heartily recommend Anita Moorjani’s book.
You might also want to check out this interview with Moorjani by Bob Olson of AfterlifeTV.