By Celia Coates
In medical school Rajiv Parti was taught that, “If you can’t touch it, hear it, or see it on a monitor, send it to psych.” It was a maxim that made sense to him until he died and came back to life. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) such as the one he had, often cause radical changes in experiencers’ views about who they are and what life is about. They have a profound experience of the reality of things that cannot be seen on monitors and it changes their lives.
Parti was born in India into a family that, like many others, expected the first son to become a doctor, a successful and wealthy doctor. He did follow the track that had been chosen for him: he went to medical school, moved to America, and became a skilled anesthesiologist who practiced in California. He was living a rich, high-status life until things started to go wrong with his body. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had the initial surgery, then endured a series of complications and further surgeries. Finally, he developed a severe infection and during the time when he was once again on an operating table, he left his body. He later summed up his experience,
“Not only had I completely left my body and brain behind and gone into another realm of consciousness, I had returned with an astonishing amount of wisdom that was readily available to me. I know the place that I visited was completely real….”
Raymond Moody, the doctor who first studied and named Near Death Experiences, said that Parti had an unusually extensive NDE experience. While visiting that other realm he traveled first to a fiery hell and then to a kind of heaven; he saw his mother and sister who were alive in India and his father who had already died; and he learned about some of his past lives. At the beginning of his book Parti quotes Einstein – “The only source of knowledge is experience.” He experienced some of the elements that have become familiar in NDEs as well as some that were unique. In the other realm he met the Being of Light that others meet in one form or another and had a healing conversation with his father that created a new understanding between them. But he also met the archangels Michael and Raphael who became his guides not only in heaven but who continued to teach him long after he returned to life. It was an unusual encounter since experiencers usually meet sages, saints, or gods and goddesses from their own religion. Parti was Hindu and these angels were definitely not part of the pantheon he had been brought up with.
His book, DYING TO WAKE UP, is one to read for yourself. This description only sets the scene for discussing some of the wisdom he gained.
“How can I be in both places at once? Can I really be down there and up here at the same time, conscious while my body is unconscious? I struggled with this question but only briefly, because it was no longer a question but an actuality: there is a soul, and it can survive outside the body.”
Parti had been so focused on advancing his career and maintaining a luxurious life that he had trained himself to think only of himself – and money.
“It was a stressful life, and I didn’t take time to process my emotions. Instead I drank two or three glasses of scotch in the evening and was up at 6:00 a.m. I would drive to the hospital while I drank coffee and ate a sandwich in the car. Before going into surgery, I would check the stock market to make sure my most precious asset was on track.”
NDE experiencers often choose to live with a different set of values that involve being less materialistic, less isolated from others, less selfish. The first change the two angels had suggested he make was to overcome the demon of materialism.
Parti and his wife, Arpana, discovered it was a kind of disease that could be cured,
“In a matter of months, we had confronted our materialism and won. By talking rationally and separating our needs from our wants, we had changed the nature of our egos by 180 degrees. Rather than needing more to feel good about ourselves, we discovered the wisdom of less.”
He was able to give up his blind addiction to following the stock market and together he and his wife pushed through their fear of a “social down-grade” when they sold their giant house and their expensive cars. He talked with people who were envious of what they were doing but unable to make changes themselves.
“I wish we could do what you’ve done,” said one of my colleagues. “We’re so caught up in it that we can’t escape.”
Parti quoted another,
“Status is an illness, just like cancer,” said a friend from our soon-to-be old neighborhood.” It eats away at you and it’s hard to stop.”
The lessons about loving others – and loving himself – followed the lessons about materialism. The angel Michael taught him,
“Breaking the bonds of materialism will bring you to a higher level. … And after that you will move up through the levels by being a loving person and helping others. The more you help others, the more you help yourself.
And Raphael said the same thing,
“Yes, it’s called the ladder of enlightenment. The more you help others, the higher up in enlightenment you can climb.”
Parti made a decision to serve all religions – Hindu and Christian and the others that share a common value writing that,
“ I have learned my true religion. It is very simple. My religion is kindness and love. It welcomes all religions by looking for the sameness in them, not the differences.”
He has created his Near-Death Manifesto of 7 basic truths:
1. Consciousness can exist outside the body.
2. There is life after death.
3. We have past lives, and our experiences therein can shape our current realities.
4. We are all connected to each other because we are all made of the one and same
energy that manifests as differentiated matter.
5. Divine beings exist to help and guide us.
6, There are different levels of consciousness.
7. There is one, all-pervading, supreme love and intelligence that is the source of the
entire universe, and that love is the supreme source of creation
* * * * *
DYING TO WAKE UP: A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife and the Wisdom He Brought Back, By Rajiv Parti, MD with Paul Perry, Atria Paperback, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2016.