Sunday, 19 August 2007

Life After Life? What Do You Want To Think?

My father was a headmaster of a school in Pengkalan Baru, near Pantai Remis for almost the whole decade of the 70s. We lived in Taiping because Pengkalan Baru was a mere 45 minutes drive away and my father commuted.

He was a voracious reader and was seldom without a book in his hand when at home. Sometimes he would be into two books at a time. I used to read a lot then and obviously picked up the habit from him.

One of the perks being a headmaster's son or for that matter, being a headmaster was that there was a school library budget. So every few months or so we would go to the Anthonian Bookstore in Ipoh to select books for the school library. We would select the books WE wanted and would read them before they were sent to the school library. Inevitably, Sekolah Dato' Idris, Pengkalan Baru, Dindings, Perak eventually had the best library that side of Dindings District!

I remember two books (selected by my father, ironically) in 1976 and 1977 that made deep impressions on me. One was "Life After Life" by Dr Raymond Moody (LAL) and "Your Erroneous Zones" by Dr Wayne Dyer (YEZ). The first book was an odd choice for an avowed atheist that my father was but the second one was probably a subtle lesson (speaks volumes about his brand of subtility!) he wanted me to learn. I was in Lower Six in 1977 and very restless about life in general.

YEZ is about living life on your own terms; including the pitfalls of self-justification and the avoidance of approval seeking mentality that society (including religions and pop culture) wants you to conform to.

LAL is about near-death-experience (NDE) and people who had been declared clinically dead but somehow return to the realm of the living to tell the tale of "life after life". It was based on Dr Moody's extensive interviews and research on such cases.

Imagine, one book telling me about how to live a life and another postulating that life may only start in earnest with death! Perhaps the few people who know me well today, can now understand me even better if they too were to read those two books!

I consider 1976 to 1979 my transitional years; from teenager to adulthood even before I was 21 in 1980 and those two books shaped much of my thinking even till today.

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