An Unbelievable For Many But Yet A Real Event
A lot of us call our century (I mean the 19th one as the 20th is too young to be honored and considered a century) “a century of denialism” and justify this particular trait by its spirit of the age.
I am not sure if these kinds of epidemics and crazes are even possible, but, undoubtedly, apart from these, let’s call them, epidemic of denialism, we indeed have plenty of those that had grown on the soil of our own levity.
We often deny what we don’t know, and the things we heard of are left ill-conceived and denied. And these ill-conceived things are piled up in a heap leading to an unimaginable chaos in our head: some shattered parts of controversial teachings, theories that leave us with obscurity and unclearness up to total confusion instead of wholeness and consistency.
Who we are; what we believe in; which ideals we carry within us, whether we even have ones or not – for many of these things are unknown for us akin to the outlooks of some Patagonians or Bushmen. A great peculiarity is here: it seems that people were never that keen on discussions like they are in our “enlightened” age, but at the same time they are reluctant to look deep into themselves. I am saying this based on observing the others and according to my own perception.
I won’t go into the characteristics of my personality here, as it barely relates to the issue, and will try to introduce myself to a reader in term of my relationship towards the domain of religion. Raised in an Orthodox and pretty devout family but later graduated from institution, where the disbelief wasn’t viewed as the sign of student genius, I didn’t end up being a militant, avid denier unlike the majority of youth in my time.
In fact, I ended up being something uncertain: I wasn’t an atheist and couldn’t consider myself as a religious person by any means. And since neither was rooted in my convictions, but sprang from the known environment, I am asking the readers themselves to come up with the definition of my personality regarding this matter.
Officially I was a Christian, but, undoubtedly, never considered if I indeed had any rights to be named as such for I had never even thought to check – what Christianity expected from me and whether or not I met the expectations. I always said that I believed in God, but in case they asked me how I believed, and how the Orthodox Church, to which I belonged, taught to believe in Him, I would surely be stumped.
If they thoroughly and consistently asked me, if I believed, let’s say, into the Salvation due to incarnation and suffering of the Son of God, into His second coming as the Judge, about my opinion regarding the Church, if I believed in necessity of its teachings, in holiness and salvific of its sacraments and so on, – I could only imagine the absurdities I would say as an answer.
Here’s an example: One day my grandma, who always strictly kept the fast, reproached me for the fact that I didn’t do the same. – “You are still strong and healthy, you have a great appetite, therefore you can easily eat the food of lent. How can we not follow the rules set by the Church, the ones that are even easy for us? – But, grandma, those are the futile rules, – I objected. – After all, you eat like this as habit, but no one will follow these rules meaningfully.
– Why are they futile? My grandma asked.
– Does God really care what I eat: a ham or balyk? What a great depth of educated man’s understanding regarding the essence of lent!
– How come you are saying this? – the grandma kept on going. – How can one call the rules futile, when the Lord Himself was fasting? I was quite surprised by a statement like this, and only with my grandma’s help I recalled the evangelic story regarding this circumstance.
But the fact that I forgot about it, didn’t prevent me from jumping into objections, moreover – using the arrogant tone of voice. And don’t think, reader, that I was more empty-headed and thoughtless than other young folks in my social circle.
Here is another example for you. One of my co-workers, who had a reputation of a well-read and serious individual, got asked if he believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He claimed he did, but the following conversation instantly revealed that he denied the Resurrection of Christ.
– Excuse me, you are saying something really weird, – one old dame objected.
-What, according to you, has happened to Jesus Christ then? If you believe in Him as God, how can you assume that He could simply die, that is to cease His existence?
We were all waiting for some crafty reply from our smart guy, some subtlety in the understanding of death, or a new interpretation of a stated event. No, not at all. He simply answered: – Oh, I haven’t thought about that! He said whatever he felt like saying.
This very absurdity got rooted and, by negligence, solidly nested in my head.
I believed in God, as if, in a right way, which meant: I considered Him as Person, the omnipotent one, the eternal one, I assumed a man being His creation, but at the same time, I didn’t believe in the afterlife.
A decent illustration for levity of my relationship to both – the religion, and my inner organization could be the fact that I wasn’t aware of this unbelief inside me, till the moment it got accidentally revealed likewise it happened earlier with my co-worker.
The fate led me to one acquaintance with a particular serious and intelligent man; in addition to this he was very amiable and solitary, so from time to time I visited him.
One day I came to his place and caught him reading the catechism.
– How come you are reading this, Prokhor Alexandrovich (that was his name), or are you planning to become a professor? – I asked surprisingly, pointing to the book.
Oh come on, baten’ka moi, professor for goodness sake! I can only dream about being amongst the diligent school boys. How can I even think about teaching others! I myself have to get ready for an exam. You see, the grey hair is growing day by day: I am about to be called for an examination – he said this with his usual warm smile.
I didn’t take his speech in its true meaning, having thought, that he, being a well-read man, needed some reference in catechism. But he, as if wished to explain the peculiarity of such reading, claimed:
__Nowadays, we are forced to read some gibberish, so I am checking myself to stay on the right track. For the exam we have to pass is fearsome, fearsome at least for the fact that we won’t be given any extra attempts.
– Do you seriously believe this?
– How can one not believe it? What else can I do, you may ask me? Am I going to end up returning to dust? Well, if I am not, then there’s no shade of doubt that I will be held responsible. I am not a lifeless stump, I have a will and mind, I consciously lived and…sinned.
– I don’t know, Prokhor Alexandrovich, how exactly faith in the afterlife got formed in us. Methinks, a man is dead – and this is the end for all. You see him lifeless; everything is rotting, decaying…So how can we even imagine some sort of life here? – I said, expressing how I felt and how I, perhaps, came to this imagination.
– Excuse me, but what do you want me to do with Lazarus of Bethany? This is the fact. And he is the same human being as us, made from the same clay as myself.
I was watching my interlocutor with unhidden astonishment. Did this educated man really believe in improbabilities like these?
But Prohor Alexandrovich, in his turn, gazed me attentively, and then, having lowered his voice, asked:
– Don’t you believe?
-No, why? I believe in God – I answered.
– Don’t you believe God-revealed teaching? Anyways, nowadays even God is understood differently, and the God-revealed truth is changed by almost everyone like they wish; some new classifications are being introduced: Say, you can believe this, but that – you don’t have to believe, but in that one – you shouldn’t believe at all! As though we have a lot of truths, not just one. They don’t even understand that they believe in products of their own mind and imaginations, and in this case there’s no space for the faith in God.
– But you cannot just believe everything. Sometimes you come across such weird things.
– You mean, incomprehensible? Force yourself to comprehend. If you fail – then know, that you are to blame, and surrender. Should your start explaining to a peasant the square of a circle, or some other cleverness, he won’t understand anything; but this doesn’t mean that we have to deny the science. Obviously, the denial is easier, but not always…fair.
Think, essentially, about the incongruity that you are talking about. You are saying that you believe in God, but not in the afterlife. But God isn’t the God of the dead, but the living. Otherwise, what kind of God is He? Christ Himself was talking about the afterlife, how can he say what is untruthful? Let alone, have His worst enemies incriminate Him for this. And why did He come and suffer, if we end up being crumbled into ashes?
No, it cannot be left like this, this has to be surely, surely – suddenly he started speaking fervently – Has to be fixed. Just try to understand how important this is. Such faith has to shine a different light upon your life, to give it a different meaning, to direct your activities to a different way. This is a whole moral metamorphose. In this faith you get reins, and consolation, and a support to tackle domestic turmoil, inevitable for any man.
I understood the logic behind the words of the deeply-respected Prokhor Alexandrovich, but, of course, a few minutes of conversation were unable to plant the faith. Thus our conversation, in essence, led to finding out my point of view regarding one known circumstance, – I had the point of view which I didn’t know well, as I didn’t have a chance to express it, let alone ponder upon.
But, apparently, Prokhor Alexandrovich was seriously troubled by my disbelief; he returned to this topic few times during the evening, and when I was about to depart from his place, he hurriedly picked a few books from his large library, and handed them out to me, and said:
– Read them, read them by all means, because this can’t be left like it is. I am certain that you will soon realize the total baselessness of your disbelief. But it’s necessary to transfer this conviction from your mind to your heart, it’s necessary that your heart understands it, otherwise it will last an hour, or a day – and then it will fade away again, as your mind is a sieve, that sifts lots of different meditations, but the storeroom for these meditations is not there at all.
So I read the books, I wasn’t sure if I read all of them, but a habit was stronger than my mind. I admitted that everything written in these books was convincing, evidence-based ( due to scarcity of my knowledge in a religious domain, I couldn’t make even a remotely weighty counterargument against the reasoning stated there), but I still failed to come to faith.
I was aware that it wasn’t logical, I believed that everything written in books – was the truth, but I didn’t get the feeling of faith; and the death remained in my understanding of the absolute final of human existence which was followed solely by the destruction.
To my sorrow, it happened that after the mentioned conversation with Prokhor Alexandrovich I moved out of town where he lived, and we didn’t see each other afterwards. I didn’t know if he, having the charm of a deeply convinced person, would be able to deepen my views and my attitude towards life in general. But, being left to myself, and not being a particularly insightful and serious young man, I wasn’t interested a single bit in abstract questions, and following my levity, I didn’t bother pondering upon the words of Prokhor Alexandrovich about the importance of the lack of my faith and the need to get rid of it.
And then the time, the change of places, acquaintances with new people, aired this matter out of my head. The same happened with our talk with Prokhor Alexandrovich, even with his very image and our brief friendship with him.
Years passed by. To my shame, I barely changed during this time in terms of morality. Even though I reached my mature age, the middle age, to be precise, there weren’t many seriousness added to my attitude towards life. I didn’t learn life. Some sort of wise self-cognition remained the same “chimerical” fabrications, likewise ponders of a metaphysician in a same-name fable. So I lived, driven by my old rough, empty interests, by the same deceitful and somewhat mean understandings of life’s meanings, similar to those pertaining to the majority of secular people of my generation and education.
My attitude towards religion stood at the same spot, but like before I wasn’t an atheist, nor was I a bit meaningfully devout individual. I, like before, went to church out of habit, fasted for a day in a year, crossed myself out of habit, when it was needed – and that was the limit. I wasn’t interested in any religious matters, except the most basic, alphabetical concepts; I had no clue, but it appeared that I knew everything very well and that it was all too simple, “unsophisticated”, that “an educated” man like me didn’t have to puzzle over whatsoever. This naiveté was hilarious, but, very pertinent to the “educated” people of our age.
Obviously, having this sort of attitude, there could be no way of progressing in my religious sentiments, or the broadening of my knowledge in this domain.
And in that time I happened to be on a service trip in K. where I got seriously ill.
As I had no relatives, not even servants in K., I was forced to get hospitalized. Doctors diagnosed me with pneumonia.
At first I felt myself so well, that for several times I thought that such a trinket wasn’t even worth staying in hospital, but as the sickness progressed and temperature started to rise quickly, I realized that this “trinket” wasn’t fascinating enough to solitarily lie in the bed of a hotel room.
Especially annoying moments for me in the hospital were long winter nights; a fever didn’t let me sleep at all, sometimes I couldn’t even lay down, moreover sitting on a bed was awkward and exhausting; I didn’t feel like getting up and walking around the room, and sometimes I couldn’t do it at all. That made me revolve and fidget in my bed: I was either lying, or sitting, or hanging my feet, or resorting to sitting straight and listening closely: Oh when will this clock beat! I am waiting and waiting, but they, as if in spite, will ring two or three times only, which means there is an eternity ahead until the dawn. And how woefully these omnipresent sleepiness and nocturnal silence affect a patient! As if the living one got amid the dead ones.
The further the matter moved towards its critical state, the more I, obviously, felt worse and more uneasy. Oftentimes I experienced complications so strong that I couldn’t think about anything else. Thus I didn’t notice the languid caused by the never-ending nights. But I didn’t know what exactly I could contribute it to: either the fact that I had always been healthy and robust, or the fact that I had never been seriously sick until that very moment. Despite the sorrowful thoughts that usually get invoked by a serious illness, despite my overall miserable feeling and brutal onsets of the disease, the thought of death had never crossed my mind.
I was anticipating with confidence that the day or the day after there would be a turn for the better and impatiently asking about my temperature, each time they removed the thermometer out of my armpit. But, having reached the known temperature, it froze at the same spot, and each time, I always heard this to the answer to my questions: “Forty and nine tenth”, “forty one”, “forty and eight tenth”.
– Ah, what a long rigmarole! – I exclaimed with disappointment and then asked the doctor – So what now, even my recovery will move with this turtle pace?
Seeing my impatience, the doctor consoled me and said that I had nothing to be afraid of. Considering my health and age, the recovery wouldn’t take long; and it was possible to get rid of any disease virtually in few days while being in great conditions that we had there.
I pretty much believed it and fed my patience with a thought, that I had to make it somehow to a critical point, and then it all would vanish without a trace.
One night I felt exceptionally bad; I was tossing from fever, and my breath was extremely obstructed, but closer to the morning I felt so much better that I couldn’t fall asleep. Upon waking up, the first memory of the night suffering was: “Well, that’s possibly the breaking point. Perhaps, this is the end to this unbearable fever.”
And, seeing the young paramedic entering the next room, I called him and asked to take my temperature.
– Well, my dear sir, now the things are getting better – he said gleefully, removing the thermometer after the right time, – your temperature is normal.
– Really? – I asked gladly.
– Here, please care to take a look: thirty seven and one tenth. And coughing seems to be bothering you way less
At nine o clock the doctor came. I told him about feeling bad during the night and regarding my assumptions that it perhaps was the critical point, but then I felt myself pretty well and even could fall asleep for few hours before the morning.
Awesome – he said and walked to a table to take a look at some signs or lists lying upon it.
– Do you want me to take the temperature? – the paramedic asked meanwhile – they have normal temperature.
– How come it’s normal? – The doctor asked, having quickly turned his head away from the table and surprisingly looked at the paramedic.
– That’s right, I have just checked it.
The doctor asked to take the temperature again and even checked whether the thermometer himself whether it had been placed properly.
This time the thermometer didn’t even make it to thirty seven: it turned out to be two tenths to complete thirty seven degrees.
The doctor took his thermometer from his frock coat, shook it, tossed it in his hands, obviously making sure that it was working, and put it in.
It showed the same as the first time.
To my surprise, the doctor didn’t express a tiny bit of gladness about this circumstance, not having made even, for the sake of politeness, some kind of glad countenance, and, having fussily and vainly moved around the table, left the room; and in a minute I heard the phone ringing.
Soon the senior doctor showed up; they both listened to me, examined me and ordered to cover my back with leeches; then, having prescribed me a mixture, they didn’t place the prescription paper amongst the others, but let the paramedic deliver it to the pharmacy right away, apparently, to get it ready right away skipping the queue.
– Listen, why did you decide to put leeches now, when I am feeling very well? – I asked the senior doctor.
It appeared that the doctor got confused or upset by my question, so he impatiently replied:
– Oh my goodness! How can we abandon you to this disease, just because you feel slightly better! It’s necessary to get this nastiness out that accumulated there during all this time.
In about three hours, the doctor visited me again, he estimated the condition of leeches, and asked about the amount of mixture’s spoons I had taken. I said: three.
– Were you coughing?
– No – I answered
– Not a single time?
– Not a single time.
– Tell me please – Upon the departure of the doctor, I started talking with the paramedic, who was fussing in my room – which filth is inside of this mixture? It makes me puke already.
– There are various expectorants, also a bit of ipecac. – He clarified.
In this case I acted similar to the nowadays deniers in religion matters, namely, being absolutely not aware what was happening, in my head I judged and admonished the doctor as being ignorant: They gave, say, expectorants when I had nothing to puke out.
Meanwhile, after an hour and a half or two after the doctors’ last visit, three of them appeared in my room this time: two familiar ones and the third one who came across as important and well-postured.
For a long time, they tapped my back and listened to my heartbeat; the oxygen bag appeared as well. This last circumstance surprised a little bit.
-Why on earth is it here for? – I asked.
--We need to filter your lungs a little bit. I bet, they are totally baked – the unknown doctor said.
--Tell me doctor, how come you are so fascinated by my back, since you are fussing so hard above it? It’s already the third time you are tapping it, you completely covered it with leeches.
I felt so much better, compared with previous days, which was the reason my thoughts were so far from anything sad, that no accessories were able to bring me to some tokens about my real condition; even the visit of the strange important doctor I explained as some sort of revision or similar to this, not suspecting that he had been called here for my sake, as my condition required a council. The last question I asked with such a playful and cheerful tone, that, perhaps, none of my doctors had the guts, to make me realize, even using the slightest hint, the coming calamity. Indeed so, how could one tell this to a man, full of joyful hopes, the he, perchance, had only few hours to live!
– Now it’s the right time to be fussing around you – The doctor vaguely replied.
Nevertheless, this answer I also took in a wishful meaning, namely – that it was the very time of the breaking point when the strength of the disease would weaken; and it was possible, needed and convenient to use all the means to fully kick the disease out and promote recovering of everything that it had affected.
I remember around 4 o’clock I felt some light fever and, wishing to get warm, I covered myself tightly into the blanket and was about to lay in bed, when I suddenly felt exceptionally bad.
I called the paramedic; he approached, lifted me up from the pillow and gave me an oxygen bag. The phone rang somewhere and in few minutes in my hospital room the senior paramedic arrived, and, latter, one after another, did both of our doctors.
If it was a different time then an unusual meeting of the entire medical personnel and the overall quickness, undoubtedly, would surprise and confuse me, but at that particular moment I treated totally indifferent, as if it had nothing to do with me.
A weird change befell in my mood! A minute before I was optimistic, and now, even though I saw and perfectly understood everything that was occurring around me, but in addition to all of these I suddenly got such an unconceivable estrangement, that, I thought, wasn’t to any extent incompatible with any living being.
All my attention got concentrated on myself, but in this case, nevertheless, there was a peculiarity, a some sort of separation: I pretty clearly and definitely felt and was cognizant of myself, and the same time I treated myself so indifferently that It seemed like I had lost the ability of any physical perception.
I saw, for example, the doctor reaching his hands to me and measured the pulse, and understood what he was doing but I didn’t feel his touch. I saw and understood that doctors, having raised me up, were doing something with my back and tapping it, as it seemed there happened to be a swelling. But wherever they were doing – I didn’t feel it, not that because I had lost my ability to sense anything, but rather to the fact that I didn’t have the slightest interest in it at all. Rather because I went into myself and barely harkened or watched to everything that they were doing with me.
In me there were revealed two beings: the first one – the one hidden somewhere deep and being in fact the most dominant; the second one – the external one, less important; and now, as if their connecting train got burned out or melted, and they split. The most powerful one was felt brightly and definitely, and the weakest one was neglectful. The weakest one was my body.
I could imagine, how, perhaps, only few days ago, I would be astonished by the revelation of my inner being, hidden until that moment, and the realization of its dominance upon my other side, that, according to my understanding, composed the complete human, but the one that I barely noticed now.
Remarkable was this condition: to be living, to be hearing, to be listening and understanding and, at the same time, as if not seeing, and not understanding anything, while feeling great estrangement towards everything.
Here the doctor asked me a question; I was hearing and comprehending what he was asking, but I didn’t give an answer, as there was no need in speaking with him. And he was fussing around, worrying about me, but only about that side of me that had lost any significance to me, the one I couldn’t care less about.
But all of a sudden, it manifested itself – harshly and unexpectedly!
I suddenly felt being pulled somewhere below by an unleashed force. For the first minutes, this feeling was similar to the feeling of heavy multi-pounding weights hung by my limbs, but soon this comparison ended up being unable to properly express my sensation.
No, here what was effective was the gravity of some monstrous force.
It seemed for me that not only was it me, but the whole member, every single hair, the thinnest sinew, each cell of my organism – was all pulled somewhere with the same inevitability, likewise a potent magnet attracting pieces of metal.
And despite the strength of this sensation it didn’t hinder me from thinking and cognizing the reality, that I was lying on my bed, that my room was on the second floor right above a similar room; however, at the same time, according to the strength of my sensation, I was sure, that as if there were not one, but ten rooms piled on top of each other, all of them would instantly step aside before me to let me go in…but where?
Somewhere further, deeper, into the ground.
Yes, precisely in the ground, and I wanted to lay on the floor. I made an effort and fidgeted.
Agony – I heard the word that the doctor said right above me.
As I wasn’t speaking, and my gaze looked deep inside himself, perhaps, expressed nothing but complete indifference towards the surroundings, doctors decided that I had been unconscious and were speaking about me without any shame. And at the meantime, I was understanding everything perfectly fine and couldn’t help but think and observe in one particular direction.
“Agony! Death!” – I thought, having heard the voice of the doctor. “Am I really dying?” – I asked myself, loudly speaking; but how? Why? I couldn’t explain it.
I suddenly recalled the discourse of doctors that I had read long time ago regarding whether death was painful or not; and, having closed my eyes, I looked deeper into myself, into everything that was happening in me.
No, I didn’t feel any physical pain, but, undoubtedly, I was suffering, I was feeling at unease and languish. From what? I knew from which disease I was dying from; was I being suffocated by the swelling, or did it obstruct my heart activity and make me languid? I didn’t know, maybe, it was the definition of the coming of death according to those people of the world which was so strange and far from me at that moment. In my turn, I felt the insurmountable urge for somewhere, maybe the above-mentioned attraction to something.
And I felt this attraction growing stronger that I was about to come to that moment where I almost reached the magnet that was attracting me and by touching it, I would get merged into it; join it fully where no force would be able to tear me from it. And the more I sensed the closeness of this moment, the more terrible and terrifying it was, because the protest grew stronger in me altogether and so did the awareness that I couldn’t be merged fully because something had to be detached from me, and this something was rushing away from the object of attraction with similar strength that another thing was rushing towards it. This fight caused my languor; suffering.
The meaning of the word “agony” that I heard was pretty clear for me, but everything in me got turned upside down due to my attitudes, feelings and understandings.
Undoubtedly, if I would hear this word when the three doctors were taking my vital signs, I would be unspeakably terrified by it. Undoubtedly also, if I didn’t experience such a turn and stayed in a condition of a sick man, I would still understand that in this given minute, death was about to occur and would treat everything that was unfolding differently. Nevertheless, doctor’s words now surprised me, without invoking any of the fear that people associated with death, but instead it granted unexpected interpretations in comparison to the one I had before regarding the condition I experienced.
“There you are! This is the earth that pulls me like this” – It suddenly popped up in my head. “Meaning – not myself, but whatever belonged to it, whatever it lent for me. Was it the earth that pulled it, or the lent thing that was headed back towards it?”
And all that seemed so truthful and natural to me, namely, that the fact that upon death I would turn to dust because it now seemed unnatural and impossible.
“No, I wouldn’t be wholly gone, I can’t” – I almost shouted it loudly, and, having tried to break free, to free myself from the power that was attracting me, I suddenly felt so free.
I opened my eyes, and in my memory I pictured everything I saw that minute with greatest details and perfect clarity.
I saw that I was standing amid in the room, on my left, the whole medical personnel were crowded, having surrounded something in a semicircle, the whole medical personnel were crowded; with hands behind their back and attentively gazing something that I was unable to see; the senior doctor. Next to him stood the junior one; paramedic, the old man was hesitantly dragging his feet while holding the oxygen bag, as if not knowing what to do with it – to either bring it back, or keep it, perhaps, for the further use; the younger one, having leaned over, was holding something. Only the edge of a pillow could be seen from over his shoulder.
I was perplexed by this group of people: at the place where it stood there was my bed. But what exactly caught the attention of these people; what were they looking at when I was no longer there, when I was standing in the middle of the room?
I moved forward and looked wherever they were looking.
There it was, me who laid in the bed.
I didn’t remember that I sensed something similar to the fear at the sight of my twin; I was seized by confusion instead: “How come? I feel myself here, but at the same time – it’s me who is there?”
I looked at my body, standing in the middle of the room. Yes, undoubtedly, it was me.
I wanted to perceive myself, to grab the left hand with the right one, but my hand went through; I tried to grab my waist – but the hand again went through my body likewise through the empty space.
Astonished by such a weird phenomenon, I wanted to get help in sorting it out, and, having made few steps, I reached the hand, wishing to touch the doctor’s shoulder, but felt the following: I was walking in some strange way, not feeling the touch of the floor. My hand was unable to reach the doctor’s figure, it didn’t matter how hard I tried. Remaining was simply an inch or two of space, but yet – I couldn’t touch him.
I made an effort to stand firmly on the floor, but, although my body obeyed my efforts and moved down, the reaching of the floor was still impossible and likewise the body of the doctor. There was also a tiny space left, but I was unable to overcome it.
Here, I lively remembered that a few days ago, the nurse who wished to preserve my mixture from spoilage, put the bottle into the jar of cold water. However, the water was abundant in the jar that it immediately pushed the light bottle to the top; and the old lady, being unaware what was going on, time after time pushed it on the very bottom of the jar and even pressed it down with her finger, hoping that it would finally stay there. However, as soon as she lifted her finger, the bottle made its way to the surface again.
Thus, obviously, for the present self, the air was too dense in the same way.
What happened to me?
I called the doctor, but the atmosphere where I was, happened to be absolutely unsuitable for me; It didn’t produce or transmit any sounds of my voice; and I realized my total disconnection to the surrounding world; my peculiar solitude. The panic fear seized me. It was indeed something unspeakably terrifying in this unusual solitude. Let a person be stranded in the forest, drowned in the depth of the sea, being burnt in fire, or being in a solitary confinement – they would never lose hope that they would be understood as long as his summon reached somewhere, his cry for help. They understood they would last until the moment when they would see a living creature, when the guard would enter their dungeon so they could speak to him, to tell him what they wished; and he would understand them.
But seeing people around me, hearing and understanding their speech, knowing at the same time that no matter what happened to you, you were unable to make them aware of you, or expect help from them in a case of need, – from this type of solitude, your hair would stand on end, the mind numbed. It was worse than being on a desert island, as there is at least nature perceiving the presence of your persona, but here, in this inability to interact with the surrounding world which was unnatural for a human being, was so much of a lifeless fear, of such realization of helplessness, that couldn’t be experienced in any other situations or expressed by words.
I, of course, didn’t give up right away: I tried to reveal myself in any way possible, but my attempts just brought me to the fullest despair. “How come they are not seeing me?” – I thought in desperation and, again and again, I approached a bunch of individuals standing above my bed, but no one turned around, didn’t pay any attention to me. I observed myself in perplexity, not understanding why they couldn’t see me, as I was the same like I used to be. However, I tried to touch my body, but my hand just dissected the air.
“But I am not a ghost, I feel and cognize myself, and my body is a real body, not some sort of deceiving illusion” – I thought while I was observing myself and making sure that my body was indeed mine as I could observe it form a different angle and see the tiniest mark on it. The exterior remained the same like before, but the property, apparently, changed: it became unavailable for the perception, and the surrounding air became so dense that it prevented it from touching any objects.
“The astral body. Is that how it is called?” – It popped into my head. “But what exactly had happened to me?” – I asked myself, trying to remember if I ever heard some stories about such conditions, some weird transfigurations during diseases.
No, nothing was left to do! It’s all over – Having hopelessly waived my hand, the junior doctor said in the meantime and stepped away from the bed where I laid.
I felt inexpressibly sad when all of them were debating and fussing over my previous “self” that I didn’t sense, not even a little bit, that didn’t even exist for me, but at the same time they ignored the other, the real me, the one who was realizing everything and, being tormented by the fear of the unknown, required their help.
“Aren’t they going to look for me, don’t they understand that I am not there?” – I thought with disappointment and, having walked towards the bed, looked at my previous self, who to the detriment of my real “me” attracted more attention of people inside the room.
I looked and this thought for the first time crossed into my mind: “Didn’t the exact same thing occur to me, the one that we, using the language of the living people, define as “death”?
This came to my mind, because my body on the bed looked completely dead: without movement, breathing, with a face covered with some peculiar paleness, with a tightly shut, slightly blue lips. The body reminded me of the dead men that I had seen. At once it could appear weird that only in the sight of my lifeless body I realized what exactly had happened to me, but, having understood and traced, whatever I felt and experienced, such confusion, weird at the first glance, would be clear.
In our concepts, the word “death” was inextricably connected with some sort of destruction, the end of life. But how could I thought that I died, when I hadn’t lost self-awareness for a little bit, when I felt myself similarly alive, hearing everything, seeing everything, able to move, think and speak like before? Even the words of the doctor that “everything was over” didn’t get any of my attention and didn’t arouse a hint about what happened – how different was our idea of death in comparison to whatever happened to me!
The separation from all the surrounding people, the split of my persona could rather give me the understanding of what happened if I believed into the existing of a soul, or was I the religious man. But I wasn’t, and I was directed by whatever I felt, and the feeling of life was so clear, that I only wondered upon the weird phenomena, being totally unable to reconcile my sensations with traditional understandings of death, namely, being cognizant of myself, experiencing feelings and thinking that I didn’t exist.
Subsequently, I happened to hear from religious people, people who didn’t deny the existence of a soul and the afterlife, such an opinion or suggestion, that the soul of a man, once having gotten rid of the mortal flesh, becomes some sort of all-knowing creature, that there is nothing incomprehensible and marvelous in the new spheres, in the new form of being. That not only it enters into the laws of the newly unfolded world and its own modified existence, but that everything is so familiar to it that transition feels like coming to its real fatherland, returning to its natural state. Such suggestion was mainly based on the fact that the soul is a spirit, and the spirit cannot be contained by these limitations, that exist for a fleshly man.
Such assumption was absolutely wrong, obviously.
From everything described above, the reader sees, that I came into that new world absolutely the same when I left the old one, thus with almost the same abilities, understanding and knowledge that I possessed while being on Earth.
Thus, when desiring to assert myself, I resorted to the same actions that usually all the living people use, namely: I tried to touch, to push something; having noted the new property of my body, I found this strange. Therefore, my notions remained the same; otherwise it wouldn’t be strange for me, and, wishing to make sure of my body’s existence, I couldn’t help but resort to the same means, that I had been used to, as a human being.
Even having understood that I had died, I didn’t conceive the change in me and, being confused, I either called my new body “astral”, or the thought raced through my mind that the first man had been made with the same body, and the garments of skin that he received after his fall; the ones that had been mentioned in the Bible were nothing else but that transitory body that laid on the bed and would turn into dust sometime soon. In a word, when trying to comprehend what had happened, I gave it explanations that were accessible and known to me according to my earthly knowledge.
And it was natural. The soul, no doubt, was a spirit, but a spirit, created to live within a body; therefore, how come the body could be some sort of a prison for a spirit, some sort of chain, keeping it together with an existence that seemed to be unnatural for it?
No, the body is a legitimate dwelling rented to a soul; therefore, a spirit would enter the new world being in the same state of development and maturity that had been achieved during the cohabitation with a body, as a normal form of existence. Obviously, if an individual was spiritually developed and tuned during their lifetime, a lot for his or her soul would be more comfortable and, as a result, more understandable in this new world, in comparison with souls of those who lived having never thought about it. The first one, so to say, would be able to read there right away, perhaps not that fast, but with stuttering; however, the second one would be forced to start with letters of the alphabet. It would take time to comprehend the facts that it had never thought about, and the country where it ended up at, the one she had never traveled to in its thoughts before.
When subsequently recalling and pondering upon that condition, I noticed that my cognitive abilities had such an astonishing energy and quickness, that it seemed not even the tiniest speck of time was required to make an effort in understanding, comparing, recalling something; once anything appeared before me, then my memory instantly, while digging through the past, excavated from there some forgotten shards of knowledge on this subject and everything that, undoubtedly, would make me puzzled at another time – now all came across to me as known. From time to times with some sort of hunch, I predicted even the unknown for me, but not fully until it appeared before my eyes. That was my abilities’ only peculiarity apart from those who were the result of my changed nature.
I am now moving forward to some storytelling about further circumstances of my accident.
Unbelievable! But if the accident seemed impossible until now, then the further circumstances would come across as so much “naïve” for educated readers, that, perhaps talking about them wasn’t worth it. But, it could be that for those who would wish to take a look at my story differently, the same naivety and scarcity would serve as proof of its truthfulness for if I had made this up, imagined, then there would be much greater fields for imagination; and I also would come up with something wiser, more spectacular.
So, what happened to me later? The doctors left the room, both paramedics were standing and chatting about peripeteia of my disease and death, and the old nanny (nurse) turned towards the icon, crossed herself and expressed the wish, habitual in cases like mine:
---Well, may he rest in everlasting peace…May God grant him the Kingdom of Heaven.
She barely finished saying these words when two Angels appeared before me; I recognized one of them as my Guardian Angel, the other one was unknown for me.
Having taking me by the hands, Angels escorted me on the street through the wall of my room.
It was dusky already; a quiet and little snow was falling. I saw it, but I didn’t feel the difference between the room temperature and the one outside. Obviously, such things lost any of their significance for my changed body. We started rising up quickly. The higher we were rising, the more and more space that was getting opened before my eyes; and, finally, it took such a terrifying size, that I got gripped by fear from realizing my own nothingness in the face of this never-ending desert.
Some properties of my sight were revealed in this. Firstly, it was dark, but I saw everything clear; therefore, my sight got the ability to see in the dark. Secondly, I captured such a great space with my eyes, that, undoubtedly, this couldn’t be captured by my regular sight.
It seemed like I wasn’t aware about these abilities back then, but instead I realized that I failed to see anything, in spite of a wide outlook, there was a limit after all – I understood it well and was frightened.
Indeed, how natural was it for humans to appreciate their personas: I felt myself so miserable, a meaningless atom, whose appearing and disappearing was sworn to remain unnoticed in this unconfined space. However, instead of finding some sort of form for consolation in it, some form of safety, I was afraid…of being lost; that this vastness would swallow me, as a miserable speck of dust.
A marvelous resistance of a miserable speck towards global (as many would assume) law of destruction, and, an auspicious manifestation of human cognition about his immortality, his eternal personal existence!
The idea of time faded from my mind, and I didn’t know how much time we were raising up when the unclear noise was heard, and then, having floated out of somewhere, the crowd of gruesome creatures started to quickly approach us with yelling and derisions.
“Demons!” – with unusual quickness, I realized and got numb from special, yet unknown horror for me. Demons! Oh, how much irony, how much heartfelt laugh it would cause in me, some pitiful few days ago, perhaps hours, someone’s message about the potential existence of demons, let alone the claim that one had seen them with their own eyes!
As it was expected from “the educated” man of the nineteenth’s century end, under this name I would imply bad human intentions, human passions. That was the reason I thought about it as a concept, rather than an actual name for an actual thing. And all of a sudden “the abstract concept” came across as a living embodiment!
Up to this day I am unable to tell why and how I, without any confusion acknowledged this loathsome scenery as demons. No doubts, this definition was beyond any logic and natural order, for if I had imagined such scenery in another time, I would have said that it was some sort of cock-and-bull story, the disgusting caprice of fantasy – in a word, anything possible, but, there was no way I would define it as something that couldn’t even be witnessed.
But there, this definition was formed with such quickness, as if I didn’t have to think twice, as if I had already seen something long and well known for me. And due to the fact that my mental abilities were working at that time, as I said, with some sort of unfathomable energy, I figured out that this gruesome appearance of these creatures wasn’t their real face, but rather some sort of vile masquerade, created, perhaps for the sake of scaring me. Thus, for the moment some kind of pride budged into me.
I felt ashamed for myself, and for humans as well, in order to scare us, the ones who have such high opinions of themselves; other creatures would use the same methods as we practice to scare little kids.
Having surrounded us, the demons would yell and roar, demanding to surrender myself to them, they were trying to grab me and pull me out of the Angels’ hands, but, obviously, were too afraid to do it. Amongst their yelling and growling indescribably and equally disturbing for the ear, likewise they were for the eye, I sometimes caught words and entire phrases.
– He is ours, he renounced God – they almost yelled with one voice, and with such audacity leaped onto us, that out of fear any thought stopped for a moment.
“This is a lie! This is not true!” – having returned back to senses, I wanted to shout this, but my helpful memory tied up my tongue. By some inexplicable way, I recalled the small and insignificant event that, in addition to that, occurred in a long gone period of my youth, the one that I was really unlikely to recall.
I recalled that there was this one time that my friends and I gathered at my buddy’s place. After chatting about school matters, we moved to talking about more abstract and high matters – talks that were pretty common among us.
– I am not fond of any type of abstract ideas – said one of my buddies – but here it’s completely impossible. I can believe in some sort of, even in the unknown to science, some natural force. So I can assume its existence, without seeing its certain manifestations, because it can be minuscule or merging in its actions with other forces, that’s why it can be difficult to detect it. But believing in God, as a Being with personality, believing – when I have no clear manifestation of such Being – this is just absurd. They tell me: have faith. But why do I have to believe, when I also can believe that God doesn’t exist. Isn’t it true? And, perhaps, He doesn’t exist? – The friend addressed me face to face
– Perhaps, He doesn’t – I said.
This phrase was in its full sense “empty talk”: for the idle speech of my friend couldn’t make me doubt God’s existence, I wasn’t even following the conversation. But now it turned out to be that this idle talk didn’t vanish in thin air. I had to justify myself, defend myself from presented accusations. Thus, the Evangelical narrative was confirmed that even if not by the will of God, who knows the human heart, then by the will of the enemy of our salvation, we would indeed have to give the answer about any idle word.
The accusation, apparently, was the strongest argument for my demise as per demons, as though they scooped new strength for boldness of their attacks on me and with the raging howl they surround us, blocking our way ahead.
I recalled about a prayer and started praying, calling all the Saint for help, whom I knew and whose names came to my mind. But this didn’t frighten my enemies. A miserable ignoramus, a Christian just by name, almost the first time when I recalled the One who is glorified as the refuge of all Christians.
But, apparently, my urge towards Her was strong, my soul was so much filled with terror that as soon as I recalled and said Her name, all of a sudden, some sort of white fog appeared, that started to quickly cloud the gruesome demonic throng. It covered them fully, before they had the time to lose our trace. The yelling and guffaw were still heard for a long time, but as they were getting weaker and muffled, I could understand that the pursuit was backing off.
The fear I sensed gripped me completely, that I didn’t even realize if we were continuing our flight during this terrible encounter, or it completely stopped the time for us. Only when the endless air space unfolded before me again I understood that we were moving, continuing to get higher.
Having passed some of its distance, I saw the bright light over me, it was similar to, as I thought, the usual sun light, but was much brighter. Possibly, there was some kingdom of light.
“Yes, indeed the kingdom, the full dominion of light –Somehow foretelling whatever I was about to see, thanks to some special premonition, I thought – “As there’s no shadows in this light.” “But how can a light not have a shadow?” – My earthly understandings revealed themselves in form of doubts.
And suddenly we rushed into the sphere of this light and it literally blinded me. I closed my eyes and outstretched my hands in front of my face. But that didn’t help, as my hands couldn’t create a cast to the shadow. And how miserable was this form of protection here!
“Oh my God, what is this, what kind of light is this? It is the same darkness for me. I can watch it, and can’t see anything, it’s as though I am in the darkness – I exclaimed when comparing my earthly vision and, perhaps, having forgotten that this comparison wasn’t inapplicable for that I could see even in the dark.
This inability to see, to behold, multiplied the fear of the unknown for me, the natural fear during the presence in a totally unexplored world. I was anxiously thinking: “What will be next? When will we pass the sphere of light, and does it have an end, a limit?”
But there was a different thing that happened. Majestically and without wrath, but authoritatively and unshakably, the words thundered from the above – “He is not prepared!”
And then…Our rapid flight came to a sudden stop – and we started to quickly descend.
But before we left these spheres, I got to witness one glorious phenomenon.
As soon as these words thundered from above, everything in this world, even each of the specks of dust, each atom responded to them with its agreement. As if there was a multimillion echo repeating to them with the language, undetectable for ears, but comprehensible and sensible for the heart and mind, expressing its full compliance with the given verdict.
And in this unity of will, there was such a marvelous harmony; so much inexpressible and exalted joy, the one where all our earthly joys and enchantments seemed like a miserable sunless day. By incomparable music accord, this multimillion echo resounded, and my entire soul spoke, entirely responded to it by its fiery urge to merge into this total marvelous harmony.
I didn’t get the real meaning for the words addressed to me, namely, I didn’t get that I had to return to earth and live like I did before. I thought that they would bring me to some different country. So the feeling of a meek protest moved into me, when before me, firstly, as if in the morning fog, emerged the outlines of the city, and then clearly appeared some familiar streets.
Here was the familiar hospital building. Likewise, through the walls of the building and closed doors I was moved into the room, completely unknown for me. In this room there were a few rows of standing tables, and on one of them, covered in something white, I saw myself laying down, to be precise – my dead and benumbed body.
Not far from the table stood some old gray-haired fellow in a brown suit, moving the crooked wax candle upon the lines of the big fond, read Psalter; and on the other side, on the black bench along the wall, sat my sister, who had already managed to arrive after being informed about my death, and next to her – bending and saying something silently – sat her husband.
– You have heard God’s command – Having escorted me to the table, my Guarding Angel, who had been quite still that very moment, said to me – so be prepared!
After that, two Angels became invisible to me.
I had an absolutely clear memory of what happened next after these words.
At first I felt that I was constrained by something; then some sensation of unpleasant cold appeared, and the return of the lost possibility to experience such sensations, resurrected the notion of the past life. The feeling of deep sadness that I had lost something captured me (I am noting here that these feelings that were left after the mentioned event, are still with me).
The desire to get back to my normal life, even thou it wasn’t filled with something particularly sorrowful, didn’t even budge me for a minute, I wasn’t drawn to it, nothing in it attracted me.
Have you ever had a chance, reader, to see a photo that has been laid in a damp place? The picture on it is still saved, but it faded and molted. And instead of this certain beautiful image, it turned out to be a pale-ginger dreg. That is how my life faded, having turned into some fully watery image, and still remains such up to date.
I was not sure why I felt it right away – but the regular life didn’t attract me, the horror that I experienced from realizing my disconnection with the surrounding world, now had lost its peculiar meaning. For instance, I knew that I hadn’t been able to talk to the nurse. I was content enough that I was able to see her and knew everything about her, but unlike before I didn’t have a desire to make my presence known.
However, I didn’t have time for it. The feeling of being squeezed made me suffer more and more. It felt that I was being squeezed by some sort of grip. And this feeling got stronger. On my part, I wasn’t passive, I was wrestling, trying to release myself from it, or trying to deal with it, overcome it, without any effort – I couldn’t tell which one I was doing. I just remember that I felt tighter and tighter, and finally I blacked out.
I woke up already laying in my bed in a hospital room.
Having opened my eyes, I saw myself surrounded by almost the whole crowd of curious individuals, or, precisely speaking, individuals who with tensed attention were gazing me.
By the bed side, upon a moved stool, while trying to maintain his usual magnificence, sat the head of my doctor. His posture and manners seemed to be saying that it was a sort of regular thing, that there wasn’t anything marvelous. However, at the same time, tense attention and confusion blazed in his eyes, directing to me.
The junior doctor without being shy for a bit, pierced me with his eyes, as if trying to look through me completely.
At my bed’s bottom part, wearing a funeral dress, with a pale and horrified face, stood my sister, next to her – my son in law. From behind my sister glimpsed the face of the nurse, which was calmer than other faces. And behind her, further was seen the countenance of our young paramedic.
Having regained my senses, I greeted my sister after all; she quickly approached me, gave me hug and started crying.
– Baten’ka, you really gave us the real hell! – With his impatience pertaining to a youngster, the paramedic shared his impressions and observations with. – I wish you could know what was going on with you!
– Well, I clearly remember everything that happened to me – I said.
– How so? Didn’t you lose consciousness?
– Apparently, no.
– This is very weird – He said, having glanced at the senior doctor. – Weird, because you laid like a real spud, without any signs of life, not the slightest one, not at all. How could you possibly save the consciousness in this case?
– Apparently, it was possible – as I have seen and was aware of everything.
– You mean you weren’t able to see, nor hear, not feel. It is for real that you heard everything and understood? Heard how you were washed and clothed…
– No I didn’t feel any of these. Well, my body wasn’t that sensitive for me.
– How so? You’re saying that you remember everything, but didn’t feel anything?
– I am saying that I didn’t feel whatever was happening with my body, eventhough I was under a huge impression from whatever I experienced. – I said, thinking that this explanation would be sufficient to understand what I had said.
– For real? – asked the doctor when he saw me stop talking.
I didn’t even stutter for a minute, not knowing what else he wanted from me. I felt like it was already pretty clear, so I just repeated again:
I told you that I didn’t feel my own body, therefore everything that was touching it. But my body – isn’t the entire me, is it? Because the entire me was not laying here like a spud. As all, the rest was still alive and active in me! – I said, thinking that my dichotomy or the split in my personality, that now had been clearer than the broad daylight, was also known to the same extent to people whom I spoke with.
Obviously, I didn’t fully get back to my previous life with its usual point of concepts. And while I was speaking about everything I came to know and experience, without realizing myself that my words could sound almost like delirium for people who didn’t experience it but rather denied everything similar to this.
The junior doctor wanted to make an objection or ask a question, but the senior one gave him the sign to leave me alone – not sure why: whether because the peace was in fact needed for me, or because from my words he drew conclusion that my head hadn't been quiet working yet, so there was no need to talk to me.
Having made sure that my organism was more or less in a stable condition, they checked my vital signs: the edema in my lungs wasn’t there. They left the room, having given me some broth to drink, allowing the nurse to stay with me for some time.
Thinking and reminding me of what happened; evoking various terrible suggestions and assumptions, akin to being buried alive and so on, all, who surrounded and visited me, were avoiding talking to me about these topics, except for the junior doctor.
He seemed to be interested in my incident, that he came to me few times during the day, either to just take a look how the things were going, or ask few well-thought questions; sometimes he came alone, and something he took some friends, mostly students, to take a look to the person who had been in a morgue.
On the third or fourth day, having found me, perhaps, pretty strong, or, could be, having lost the patience to wait for more, he started a lengthy talk with me upon his arrival into the room.
After checking my pulse, he said:
– Miraculous: all the days your pulse was absolutely steady, without any bursts, fluctuations. Oh, if only you could know what was happening with you. Miracles, nothing less!
– I got back into my regular lifestyle, entered the furrow of my habitual existence, and understood all the peculiarity of what happened to me, realizing that I was the only person being aware of it. And those miracles that the one doctor was talking about were kind of external manifestations of the event I had experienced, some kind of curiosities from a medical point of view. So I asked him:
– When were these miracles happening to me? Prior to me coming back to life?
– Yes, right before you woke up. I am not talking about myself, as I am not that experienced, and I haven’t seen a single case of lethargy. Every elderly doctor, whom I talked to, were all surprised, you see, some even refused to believe my words.
– I think you know – well, you don’t really have to know, as it’s obvious by itself – when person experiences an average fainting, all his organs are hardly functioning; the pulse is barely detectable, the breathing is unnoticeable, the heartbeat is nowhere to be found. And here what happened with you was something unimaginable: your lungs started to puff like giant bellows; your heart was pounding like a hammer upon an anvil. No, this cannot be even expressed in words: it simply has to be seen. You understand, it was similar to a volcano right before the eruption, the frost was running down the spine, it looked terrible from the side; it seemed one more moment – and there won’t be any pieces left from you, as no organism could withstand such event.
“Hm...not surprised that I lost my consciousness before waking up” – I thought.
And before the talk with the doctors, I was confused and didn’t know how to explain this weird circumstance, that during the process of dying, namely, when everything was stopping in me, I didn’t lose consciousness for a minute, and when I had come to life, I slipped into the catatonic state. Now everything was clear for me: when close to death I felt squeezing, but at the last moment it got resolved by removing whatever caused it – the body, and the soul, apparently were unable to faint. When I was about to get back to life, I, to the contrary, had to put the body back which was subject to various physical sufferings, including faintings.
Meanwhile the doctor continued:
– And you remember, it wasn’t from some sort of fainting, but after an hour and a half of lethargy! You can only judge this power by the fact that you were nothing but a frozen spud, and after some 15–20 minutes, your members regained the agility, and in one hour the limbs warmed up. This is truly unbelievable, a fable-like material! And when I talk about this, people refuse to believe it.
– you know why it happened to be so unusual, doctor? – I asked
-According to your medical terms, you consider lethargy as something similar with blacking out?
-Well, just in the highest degree...
-Well, perhaps, it wasn’t lethargy that happened with me.
-I, perhaps, was dying indeed and returned to life. If it was only the weakening oorganism’s vital functions, than it would recover without such “bulversion”, since my body had to urgently prepare to receive the soul, then all the members had to be working extraordinarily as well.
For a brief moment, the doctor listened to me attentively, then his face formed an indifferent expression.
-Well, you are joking, but for us doctors, it’s a very interesting case.
-I can assure you, I didn’t even think about joking. I undoubtedly believe what I am saying, and I even want you to believe it as well... well, at least to investigate such exceptional phenomenon seriously. You say, that I couldn’t see anything, but if you like – I can draw the entire setting of the morgue, where I had never been before, if you like – I can tell where any of you stood and what any of you did in the moment of my death and afterwards?
Doctor got fascinated by my words, and then I told him everything that occurred, and he, with an air of a confused man, murmured:
--Hmm-well, weird. Some sort of clairvoyance...
__ Well, doctor, that just doesn’t fit together at all: the condition of a frozen pike perch – and clairvoyance!
But the highest point of amazement was reached by my story about the condition I was in during the separation of my soul and body, how I saw everything, saw how they were fussing on top of my body, the one that was as significant as garments, thrown aside, due to its insensitivity; how I longed to touch, push someone, to gain their attention; and how the air, having become too dense, didn’t allow my touch with any objects surrounding me.
He listened to everything almost agape wide-eyed. As soon as I had finished, he hurried to say goodbye to me and left to share such an interesting story with others.
Apparently, he informed the senior doctor about this as the latter one stayed a bit longer near my bed. Having taken my vital signs, he said:
-You seem to have had hallucinations during the lethargy. Just be careful, try to dismiss them, otherwise…
Otherwise I can lose my mind? – I hinted.
-No, perhaps, it’s too much, it can turn into mania though
-Are hallucinations possible during the lethargy?
-Why are you asking? You know better than I do now.
-The only case, even though it happened with me, couldn’t be viewed as evidence for me. I wanted to know the general conclusion of medical observations regarding this matter.
-But what shall we do with your case? This is the fact!
-Yes, but if all cases are put in the same rubric, wouldn’t we close doors to investigations of various phenomena, various symptoms of diseases, wouldn’t it lead to undesirable one-sidedness in medical diagnoses?
-Here nothing like this can happen. The fact that you had lethargy is beyond any doubt; therefore, whatever happened to you should be taken as possible in this condition.
-Tell me doctor; is there some sort of ground for lethargy to appear in such diseases, like pneumonia?
-Medicine couldn’t tell for sure, which ground is needed for it, as it can happen in any disease. There were some cases when a person could have lethargy without any prior disease, while being, as it seems, totally healthy.
– Can the swelling disappear on its own during the lethargy, thus during the time when the heart is inactive, and, therefore the enlargement of swelling doesn’t face any obstacles?
-Since it has happened to you – then, perhaps, it’s possible. But be sure, that the swelling was gone once you had already been awake.
-In few minutes?
-Well, not sure about few minutes though. Although, let it be. Such work of heart and lungs, that you had during your awakening, could possibly break the ice on the Volga river, let alone removing any swelling in a very short time.
-And could squeezed and swollen lungs work as hard as they did in my case?
-Apparently, they could.
-So, there’s nothing marvelous and extraordinary in whatever happened to me?
-Oh, for sure there is! This, in any way is …A rare phenomenon to witness.
-Rare, or never in conditions and circumstances like these?
-Hmmm, how can it never happen, if it has already happened with you?
-So, the swelling can be gone by itself, even when human organs don’t function, and the tightened heart and the swollen lungs can, as they please, work perfectly fine, as if it’s impossible to die from pulmonary edema! Tell me doctor, can a patient wake up from lethargy that happened during the pulmonary edema, thus getting away from two such…unpleasant predicaments?
The ironic smile appeared on the doctor’s face.
-See, there is a reason why I warned you regarding the mania – he said – You still want to classify your case as something different from lethargy, and ask question for the sake of…
“For the sake of making sure” – I thought – Who is the maniac from the two of us: is it me, who wishes to check the legitimacy of your definitions that you made regarding my condition; or you who, perhaps, despite the possibility, classifies everything under the same scientific term?
But I loudly said the following:
– I am asking questions to show you, that not everyone, while seeing the swirling snow, despite the calendar date and blossoming trees, can make a claim, no matter what it takes, that it’s winter time, just solely to the fact that snow is the attribute of winter as per scientific standards.
As I remembered to myself, the one time it was snowing with 12th May on calendars, when the trees were blossoming in my father’s garden.
This answers, apparently, convinced doctor that he had been late with his warnings that I had already slipped into “mania”. Thus, he didn’t object my statement, and I didn’t ask him anything else.
I mentioned this conversation not to be accused in unforgivable levity; that I, as to say, in flagrante delicto, failed to scientifically investigate the unusual event that had occurred with me, especially when it happened in such a favorable condition. In fact, there were two doctors who had treated me, thus two witnesses of the event, and the whole staff of medical personnel of different categories! And as of the mentioned conversation, the reader can judge how my “scientific observations” were supposed to end.
What could I find out, what could I achieve with such an attitude towards the incident? I wanted to investigate, to find out the details of the course of my illness for better understanding: was there an iota of possibility that my edema could be dissolved during the time when my heart was inactive and the blood flow apparently stopped since I had been frozen stiff? Believing the fable that it got dissolved in a few minutes after I had woken up wasn’t wise, as always there was no explanation for such functioning of heart and lungs, tightened by edema.
But after the mentioned attempts above, I left my doctors alone and stopped interrogating them, as I, myself, would fail to believe the truthfulness and objectivity of their answers.
Latter I tried to “scientifically observe” this matter, but the result came out the same: I encountered the same apathetic attitude towards independent “observations”, the same slavery of the thought, the same fainthearted fear to step outside that circle, circumscribed by science.
Ah, the science! Ah, what a disappointment I experienced here! When I was asking whether it was possible for a man, who became lethargic due to edema after pneumonia, to wake up, or were there any naturally possible medical cases where patients got fully cured during the lethargy from the disease that was meant to have predictable and natural lethal outcome, as per doctors’ opinions. Usually they were giving the negative answer right away.
But now, during my further inquiries, the confident tones were turning to a guessing one. Some different “thoughs”, “you knows” and so on were appearing. It was futile to even make the slightest hint of whatever had happened to me. As for right away, without the slightest stutter, the scientists, who kneeled before the science, were totally satisfied with the answers like “as long as it happened to you…” and so on.
And there was not the slightest bewilderment, confusion that could be pointing towards the lack of confidence and validity of whatever had been discussed quarter of an hour ago. I, not being consecrated into the subtleties of this science, but, to my own peril, accustomed to the fierce investigation, putting questions point-blank, got very mad. – But tell me please, if the lethargy of a rare phenomenon, scarcely observed, badly researched, is there at least some sort of definite answer to be found based on laws of an organism’s functioning?
But I had to make sure that this “scientific law of organism’s life” had the same unshakable ground as the hypothesis of Mars canals’ origins and flood that had been occurring there. How could I even delve deeper into the essence of essences, when even my question, if hallucinations could be occurring (I stopped asking whether they were possible or not, as my independent thinking and conclusions were required) during the lethargy, didn’t get the definite answer.
And I myself had to gather the information, approved by science. Especially during the first time, I was gathering it pretty meticulously – firstly, because I had to find out myself what could be meant by the term “lethargy” – a deep sleep, or fainting… In a word – a certain condition when the life in a person gets frozen, but never leaves him/her completely, or whether such definition was fallacious in medical terms, and in fact, anyone who ends up being in lethargy, has a similar experience as me.
And secondly, I foresaw that this, of course, mistrust (honestly speaking, totally meaningless and baseless, as it was impossible to scientifically prove the inability of such phenomenon) in my story would undoubtedly invoke even now, and, being totally convinced in reality of what had occurred with me, I wished to find the basis for my convictions and possible research of this circumstance.
So, what was the result of research regarding what happened to me? Precisely what I wrote here, that my soul temporarily left the body, and later, by God’s ruling entered back. The answer that, of course, could cause the ambivalent attitude: Without doubt, being impossible for ones, and pretty possible for others, depending on the inner disposition and one’s worldview. For those who deny the existence of a soul, there’s even the tiniest credibility for this matter. How can a soul be detached from body, if it doesn’t exist at all? However, it’s preferred that such materialists could pay their attention to the thing in a human that can see, hear, in a word, to function when a body lays stiff and absolutely senseless.
And those who believe that apart from physical composition, physical motions, there’s some sort of force, absolutely independent from them, won’t find anything peculiar in this fact. And believing this, I think, it’s more reasonable and grounded, otherwise if this force is not the one giving life to our body, and in fact the very product of the latter, then the death itself is a complete absurdity. Why would I believe in logic behind such things like aging, destruction, when the metabolism, required for nutrition and regeneration, doesn’t stop?
When I discussed my story with spiritual individuals of various hierarchal degrees, with multitude of very intelligent people amongst them, all unanimously replied that there had been nothing strange in my event, that such narrative was very common in the Bible and Gospel, in biographies of Saints, and as occurring for graceful and wise purposes.
Sometimes God permits such ascensions of a soul, and according to its powers – gives it more and less to behold from the mysterious world, where we all are fated to go. I add something from myself: that sometimes the purpose of such revelation is clear and understandable right away, and sometimes it’s hidden to such an extent that this revelation seems kind of purposeless, caused by nothing, and sometimes only after a long time or by some convoluted routes its necessity gets known.
Thus, in the literature that I read, I came across the case that turned out to be so fearsome and powerful for some great-grandson acting as a warning for him, that he without any hesitation aborted his suicide that no means could stop it otherwise.
Apparently, this bloodline had to be enlightened by knowledge like this, but no one was able to perceive it properly, apart from a great grandmother of the saved youngster, thus it was a long time frame between the revelation and its application. That was the spiritual, religious side of this circumstance. Let’s move to others. Here I encounter a lot of things that could easily solidify my faith, bearing nothing to disprove it.
First of all, from all the articles and all the literature that I read on this subject, I found out that hallucinations were in essence impossible during the lethargy; as the one who has lethargy could hear and feel nothing. Although if they feel or hear whatever happens around, then the medical term “sleep” is totally inapplicable.
This is rather some sort of rigor, paralysis, or more applicable, like our regular folks would say, “demise”, that depending on its strength, sometimes can be spread during all the lightest intoxications, on the entire functioning of the body, and, obviously there can be no talk about dreaming or hallucinations, as any brain’s activity is also paralyzed, similar to other organs.
During the weaker stage of paralysis, the patients can feel and cognize everything quite right, their brain is in an absolute sober state, likewise, the awake and absolutely sober individual, thus this terrible illness cannot, even for a bit, darken the mind, likewise dreaming or slight oblivion do.
Furthermore, the weighty proof, let it be not convincing for people of “positive” sciences, but for people with common sense and healthy attitudes, that my experience is not hallucinatory nor delirium, is its magnitude and reality. I think that anyone of us who is familiar with bright dreaming, delirium, nightmares and similar phenomena can simply check how lasting the impressions left by them are.
Usually they get pale and disperse after awakening, if we talk about a dream or nightmare, or when one is about to get better in cases of delirium and hallucinations. Once people are back at their senses, they are no longer under their influence; as they realize it was a delirium or a nightmare.
I knew about one delirious person, whom after an hour after crisis, with laughter, was retelling about the terrors he had during delirium, despite still strong weakness, he viewed his experience through the eyes of a healthy man, fully aware than it was delirium. So, these memories weren’t fearful to him at all.
The condition I am talking about is very different. I never had a single doubt that whatever I saw and felt during those hours, that lasted, talking in the doctors’ language, from my “agony” to “waking up” in a morgue, were not dreams, but reality, equally real as my life nowadays and its surrounding. A lot of people tried to drive me away from this conviction; trying to make me doubt almost in a comical way whatever was as clear as the previous day. You can try to convince anyone, that they were sleeping all day and saw dreams, when they clearly know the fact that they were drinking tea, having dinner, attending service, and seeing well-known people.
And notice that I am not an exception. Read or listen to the narrative regarding these cases, and you’ll see that such revelations of the afterlife sometimes had intimate goals, in those cases an individual was prohibited to retell to others whatever was seen (in a known part). These individuals could live decades and they didn’t reveal any secrets even to the dearest and closest people despite being spineless and absent-minded.
From it we can see how sacred was the received command, that it remained kept for a whole life, saving the feature of undeniable reality instead of the distorted imagination’s product. It is also known, that after cases like that, the most full-blown atheists become and remain deeply religious people.
What kind of peculiarity, what kind of exceptionalism is this? How come a healthy person, the one I know myself to be, can, in spite of common law concerning these things, can remain under the influence of some sort of nightmare, hallucinations, and even more than that: how can something similar change his very nature, his outlook, while even the most outrageous calamities in our everyday life are totally unable to make such shifts inside an individual?
Apparently, it’s not about lethargy and hallucinations, but in whatever had been lived through and experienced. And taking into account people’s inclination towards forgetting things, and the proverb that resulted from it: “time heals everything”, different losses, the past catastrophes, heart wounds… Doesn’t this strange unusual remembrance affirm that a person indeed crossed this frightening and significant line we tend to call “death” beyond which there will be no time, nor oblivion?
Is it necessary to repeat all other peculiarities of the incident that happened to me? However, in fact, where did my edema go – and, make no mistake, a big edema considering my immediate temperature drop and the way it spread on my lungs, that I wasn’t able to cough, despite all the expectorant, even though my chest was full of sputum? How could it disappear and dissipate when my blood wasn’t even flowing? How come my swollen lungs and heart could start working that hard when edema itself remained until my awakening?
It’s very difficult to believe considering such conditions that I could wake up and remain alive, not by miracle, but through the natural way. It’s not that common for a patient to recover from pulmonary edema, even with favorable conditions. Which I surely can’t say about my case: the medical assistance was stopped; I was washed, dressed and brought into the unheated morgue!
And what kind of phenomenon was that after all?
I heard and saw not the creations of my memory or fantasy, but whatever in fact had been happening in the room. I clearly understood everything; thus, I wasn’t delirious, but on the opposite, fully conscious, having normal cognitive abilities, I saw myself and felt split in two – I saw my breathless body, and at the same time – I saw and cognized the different me. I also realized the weirdness of this circumstance and understood all the properties of this new form of being. Then I suddenly stopped seeing what was going on inside the room.
Why? Did my cognitive abilities fully slip into real nirvana that I completely lost the consciousness? No, I kept on seeing and comprehending my surroundings, but didn’t see the action in the hospital room solely to the fact that I am not there anymore, but once I return, I am still able to hear and see everything perfectly fine, but not in chamber this time, but in a morgue, where I have never been before. How can all of these be experienced unless a person possesses a soul as an independent being?
How can a soul get separated from a body, unless something happened, something that we call “death” in lay terms? And do I really feel like talking about this incredible fact and prove its truthfulness in our day of unbelief and denial of everything supernatural, unless it surely happened with me and was so clear, tangible and undeniable? This is the need of an individual, not only who believes, but who is rather convinced in the truthfulness of the Orthodox teaching regarding death – the needs of preaching, made by the man who had been cured from baseless, fearsome disease of unbelief in afterlife too widespread in our wicked times.
By the mouth of righteous Abraham, God said in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
Let the readers ponder upon this story, and be convinced how truthful and incorruptible these words of God even in our times are. People, who don’t listen to, nor obey the life-giving God’s commandments, written in the Holy Books by prophets and Apostles, make themselves unable to believe the narrative of the man who rose from the dead. Such is the man’s heart, darkened by sin: having ears, a man cannot hear!