Heaven Can’t Wait, Or How I Earned My Wings In The Mile High Clubsam
By Vaishâli, author of You Are What You Love® and Wisdom Rising
When you are a Spiritual teacher, you know intellectually that no one ever dies, so you show up for life fearlessly. The body may give out, but the Spiritual identity, the essence of a person, cannot, will not ever cease to exist. It is timeless and immortal. As the human embodiment of Divine Love, I cannot create any learning experience I do not need. Anything that touches my life here on Earth appears for one reason only… it facilitates my growth and expansion. Therefore I can release any regrets, unburden any sense of remorse, and just get down to the business of getting the most out of this lifetime.
All of this works great in theory, but the hard part has always been the practical application. How can I be sure that this enlightened wisdom is a knowing that extends beyond merely an intellectual storing of data? How can I be sure I have completely embodied this truth, taking it beyond the gray matter of the brain? How can anybody, for that matter, be sure they are not mentally deluding themselves with intellectual visions of self-imagined Spiritual grandeur? Right relationship with one’s Divinity must be lived, not just an action isolated to collecting frontal lobe facts and information. Even a bookshelf can accumulate vast cannons of factoids, none of which, however, extend beyond the shelf they reside on and permeate into the whole of real life.
Little did I know when I boarded a plane for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my boyfriend, Elliot, and his business partner, Stephen and wife, Kristin, that I would find myself entering a Spiritual Twilight Zone. I was soon to find myself in a first class seat to an unscheduled destination, an inner place of naked honesty, independent of what my brain knew to be true, before continuing on to our final destination in Mexico.
The flight started out routine enough. After a beverage, the flight attendants passed around a lunch of turkey sandwiches and potato salad. Elliot and I both laughed when he joked that he hoped that the Pilot and Copilot where not eating the potato salad – every bad airplane film he had ever seen always ended up with the cockpit crew dying of food poisoning from eating the potato salad, leaving no one to fly the plane. We continued to joke that it would certainly be a cruel death if it turned out this was in fact our last meal… and we didn’t touch the potato salad.
The flight was smooth, not a bit of turbulence and the bright blue sky seemed to promise that a trip to sunny, warm Mexico was just the ticket for a cold January vacation. After the lunch plates had been collected, and we had just passed out of US air space, the unthinkable happened. It started out simple enough. The Chief Purser got on the intercom and asked if there was a doctor on the plane. Nothing too unsettling. After all people get sick on planes all the time.
As fate would have it there were four doctors onboard, including a heart specialist. Elliot and I were in the third row, so we had a clear view as the Purser opened the door to the flight deck and the line of doctors entered the cockpit. Next the Purser asked if anyone onboard knew how to fly a plane. Elliot and I looked at each other, and Elliot said, attempting to lighten the moment, “That’s not good. I guess the crew really did eat the potato salad. I’ve already seen this movie! I wasn’t thrilled about the ending either.”
Planes are cramped quarters at best, and the most surface area to lay a person out was in the first class galley. Elliot and I watched the doctors pull the Captain out and lay him on the floor, as a flight attendant ran past us with the onboard defibrillator. We watched the Copilot move over into the Captain’s seat as the doctors worked intensely on the Captain’s immobile, prone body.
As this was going on, the four private pilots on the plane, including Elliot’s business partner, Stephen, had gotten together to see who was best prepared to copilot a 757, not an easy transition from the small propeller models these pilots traditionally flew. It turned out Stephen was the man. We watched him walk nervously by us, stepping over the Captain’s apparently lifeless body to enter the flight deck. As the minutes clicked away we felt the plane bank hard to the left, returning us back into US airspace. The Purser announced that we would be making an emergence landing at the McAllen Airport.
After about five to ten minutes I felt a profound energetic shift. It was a feeling of freedom and great expansiveness. I turned to Elliot and asked, “Did you feel that?” “Feel what?” he answered. “The Captain… he just died… I felt him leave. It was actually quite beautiful, very peaceful and loving.” The doctors continued to work on the Captain for the remainder of the thirty minute flight back to Texas, although it was clear the man was gone. The Purser then asked if there were any nurses on board. And again, as fate would have it there were four nurses, who rushed up to be of assistance.
It was a long thirty minute flight back to McAllen. The Captain had just died right in front of our eyes, and now the next challenge was the actually landing. McAllen Airport is not designed to land a commercial jet of this size. We were going to be pulling a big dog in on a short leash. People around us were understandably upset. No one panicked or screamed or made a scene. I could hear some people behind me quietly sobbing and praying. It was hard to tell if the emotion was for the dead Captain, or the anxiety about a potentially tricky landing, or a combination of the two.
Elliot and I had been talking about how accidents are usually the result of a variety of unexpected elements that come together. We knew the Copilot-turned-Pilot was perfectly capable of landing the plane by himself. With the computers on planes these days, the planes actually land themselves under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. It was not hard to imagine that the Copilot might be just a tad distracted by the fact that his co-worker had just suffered a massive coronary and suddenly slumped over the controls, dying right before his eyes. We were now going to attempt an emergency landing on a runway not long enough to accommodate our plane.
Elliot suddenly turned to me and asked, “Are you okay with all this?” “Yeah,” I said, “I’m surprised how totally and completely relaxed and calm I am. You and I know we can’t die, so I’m okay. If it turns out that we just move on to the next phase of our existence without a body, instead of vacationing on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, I won’t feel cheated. I suspect that God has a lot more work to get out of my butt, so I feel confident that everything will be just fine. But let’s just suppose for a minute that I am over-estimating my importance in God’s plan and that it really is time to punch the ticket and return home… I’m really good with that. You know,” I told Elliot very sincerely, “I’m really grateful we are on this plane and getting this ‘keep it real’ experience, because it is showing us that we have fully integrated what we know Spiritually. We live it. It is not just a superficial, intellectual condition. The truth, we know, is embodied and it is comforting and strengthening, and yes, liberating, experientially being able to claim this was well worth the price of admission.” Elliot remarked, “I knew we shouldn’t have prepaid for the rooms!”
The mind can have a nasty habit of lying to us. If I had been telling myself that I was at peace with the unfolding events, yet at the same time noticed I was white-knuckling it, or on the verge of tears like those around me, I would have known the mind was not telling the entire truth. But the body was not tense or stressed in any way. The physical and emotional feedback all confirmed full disclosure. My emotional body was keeping it real. The well-practiced habit of identifying with my Divinity as pure love was officially senior to my fear of any physical mortality. This experience was bringing me the validation that real mastery had taken place, that my relationship with the truth had in fact set me free. Here I was on the same plane as everyone else, yet I was not having the same experience as everyone else. Knowing that I cannot die was and remains more real than whatever the world can throw at me.
I have a motto: if the wisdom you have is not pulling your butt out of the fire, then it is meaningless. If the inner guidance that you operate from is not empowering your movement through life, it is nature’s way of saying, “Let it go.” The good news is that it is never too late to make a liberating upgrade. You will know you have embodied the truth, because it will set you free. And you will know if you are investing in illusion, because it will not set you free. No one is immune to life’s many firestorms. They have a way of finding you, inviting you to keep it real. Every experience in our lives occurs because it offers us vital wisdom that serves us.
This plane trip gave me the opportunity to claim the knowledge that I needed to know, in an arena I could not fake: that my relationship with my immortality was real and not just mental masturbation.
The touchdown and landing went smoothly – executed with textbook precision. Instead of the usual landing where the plane slowly taxies up to the Jetway, our plane came screaming up to the gate, finally coming to a complete stop right in front of the building. The passengers exploded in applause and shouts of relief and gratitude.
We remained at McAllen Airport another five hours or so, as local and federal officials examined the plane and took statements from the crew. The crew, by the way, could not have handled the situation better. They were all the picture of professionalism. The heart specialist, who treated the fatally ill Pilot, told us he learned that this was the dead man’s first day as a full Captain. He had just been promoted. Since no one can create a learning experience they do not need, this man Spiritually required the experience of being made Captain before his life’s mission was complete. No one can go before their time. As it turned out, the flight attendant with the defibrillator had recently lost her son. I am sure this event was especially emotional for her, but she handled herself so well, no one without prior knowledge of her life would have been able to tell. In situations like these there is also a tangible post 911 maturity – we know how to focus ourselves and work together for a greater purpose.
At the airport, Stephen and his wife were sitting at the bar, she was getting a well deserved drink, when I asked him if it was exciting, as a private pilot, to have had the opportunity to land a 757? “Oh, yeah, sure, real exciting,” Stephen said sarcastically as Kristin squeezed a lime into her beer. “First I have to step over a dead guy to get in the cockpit, now suddenly I have over two hundred lives on my hands I didn’t five minutes before, and I’m at the controls of a commercial jet instead of my Cessna. Real exciting. Just how I wanted to start my vacation!” Stephen said to make matters even more stressful, the cloud cover was so low, he could not see the ground until an instant before the plane actually touched down. Stephen went on to explain that the planes voice activated computer system was announcing the landing time. It started with a minute, thirty seconds till touch down, Stephen could not see the ground at this point. Then one minute to touchdown, still no ground visibility. Finally when the computer announced thirty seconds till touchdown, and still no sight of the runway, Stephen turned to the new Pilot and said, “The computer’s joking, right?” I can only imagine what was going through the Pilot’s mind when he had to explain, “No, Stephen, the computer doesn’t make jokes. We are sitting two stories high, not five feet off the ground like in your plane.” Elliot pointing out the upside to whole drama remarked, “But Stephen, this will look really good on your résumé.” Everyone laughed.
During the many hours we all spent sitting around the McAllen Airport waiting to continue our journey to Mexico, we all had time to process the event. Many people were concerned about the Captain’s family, and what they would be going through. I heard several women talking about how terrible the Captain’s death was. Being a Spiritual teacher, I felt I could offer more helpful insight on the subject, so I offered a different point of view. “I know it is always shocking and unexpected when someone just drops dead in front of you, especially when it is the Captain of the plane you’re on, but let’s really examine this. All of us will die some day. It is not of matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when’. This man died doing what I presume he really loved. He did not suffer long. He got immediate medical attention so his family does not have to wonder, if this had happened at home, and if the ambulance had gotten there sooner might he have lived? As a matter of fact he could only have gotten faster medical treatment if this happened in the emergency room of a hospital. He did not have a heart attack on the freeway on the way to work, possible killing other people. He crossed over surrounded by over two hundred people who were wishing him well and praying for him and his family. I only hope that when my time comes, I manage to exit as graciously as he did. After all, we were on our way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He was already half way to Heaven. And how many people can say when they crossed over they were still in a body for the first 30,000 feet of their ascension to the other side?”
As on Oprah & Friends XM, Vaishali is the author of Wisdom Rising (Purple Haze Press 2008) and You Are What You Love (Purple Haze Press 2006). She is also national health & wellness speaker, radio host on KTLK 1150am 11-noon Sundays (greater Los Angeles) and KEST (San Francisco). Vaishali is a certified practitioner of Chinese Medicine and East Indian Ayurveda medicine. Vaishali is a faculty member of The Omega institute and The Kripalu Center. Her articles have been published in over a hundred publications worldwide. Visit www.purplev.com or email [email protected]