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Bernie Siegel

my finger it heals, and if there was no love in it, then I would bleed to death. Ice floats, which defies the laws of physics, because when the water gets more dense it should get heavier and sink. But instead–bloop–it floats. So our planet stays alive. These are things people don’t think about, but this evidence is meaningful.

I often say to people that I’m on the board of directors of heaven as an outside consultant. So I say to God, why would you make a world with all these troubles, diseases, and inflictions? See, this was very important for me as a doctor. I have to say this bothered me as a doctor, especially as a medical student. You’d watch all this suffering and wonder why? Why?, So I’ll give you another test. (laughter) Another one of my questions is Why would you want to be God? If I said you could be God for a day, tomorrow, why would you want to be God?

David: I guess so that I could help raise consciousness and reduce suffering in the universe.

Bernie: Yes, like yourself, most people say that they would change things. I always say that the right answer is: So that I would understand why.

Now, in order to understand I go to God and I say, “Why didn’t you make a perfect world?” And the answer is: A perfect world is a magic trick. It’s not creation. It has no meaning. We’re here to live and to learn. Life is a school. And once we really become co-creative, compassionate, and loving, think about what a world we would have. Yes, you’ll still have a world with disease and death–but those who are suffering will have compassion and love, and we won’t be killing each other. One of things I’ve always mentioned as a surgeon is that we’re all one family. As a surgeon I know we are all the same color inside, and our external differences are for recognition, not for wars and destruction.

David: What do you think happens to consciousness after death?

Bernie: What I am sure happens to consciousness after death is that it continues on. I don’t see it in a sense of saying, Oh, I’m going to be reincarnated. No, your body is gone, but what you have experienced and are aware of will go on. So somebody will be born with your consciousness, and it will affect the life they live.

I know people who see life’s difficulties as a burden and say Why is God punishing me? and Why am I going through this? Maybe these people ought to be asking What am I here to learn, experience, and change? Rather than sitting there whining and complaining. What can I do? and What am I here to learn? Now, I don’t criticize these people because I remember Elizabeth Kübler-Ross saying that if your in high school you don’t get mad at somebody in first grade. So I think we’re at different levels of consciousness based upon our experience and what we are born with.

But I personally believe from my experience, for instance, that one of the reasons I’m a surgeon in this life is because I did a lot of destruction with a sword in a past life–killing people and animals. This is not conscious, like the answers I gave you earlier, but at a deeper level I chose to use a knife in this life to cure and heal with, rather than kill with. I often say to people Think about things that effect you emotionally that you have no explanation for. This may be due to some past life experience, and that is why you’re acting the way you’re acting. Now, whether I’m right or wrong, I have to say that, as long as it’s therapeutic that’s what I’m interested in.

But on a personal level, I believe that consciousness in nonlocal, and it can be carried on and picked up by people. I think this shows in animals too. There’s a certain wisdom that they have. Oh, I forgot his name. In England…

David: Rupert Sheldrake?

Bernie: Yes, Rupert Sheldrake. He was here not too long ago, and I sat with him a little bit. I’ve always loved some of the things that he shows. I live in a house full of animals.

David: I worked with Rupert for around three years on a number of different research projects. We coauthored several papers together, and I did the California-based research for two of his books, including the one on pets that anticipate their owner’s arrival.

Bernie: Oh, one personal experience. A friend of mine, Amelia Kinkade, who I met in California, is an animal-intuitive. She has written some books. But to make a long story short, we had a cat that disappeared here in Connecticut, and Amelia sat in Los Angeles and told me where to find the cat. She said “I’m looking through it’s eyes. I know it’s not dead.” And I was sure this cat, which had gotten out of the house, had been killed in the woods by some predator. But she said “No, I can see the moon,” and then she went on to describe the house, the yard in detail, the other animals who were there, and where this cat was. Then I got the cat the next morning. So do I believe that consciousness is not local? You bet. (laughter)

Jung said a long time ago, it’s not about beliefs, it’s about experience. So if you have an open mind, and you experience something, you don’t need to believe it, but you shouldn’t dismiss it either. What I often find with physicians is after if I’ve told them something they say that they can’t accept it. And I say, “Excuse me, this happened to a patient.” And they’ll say, well, I can’t accept it. So I say, “Why don’t you answer, I can’t understand it or explain it?” But they literally block it out of their conscious system because they don’t know how to deal with it. It wasn’t taught to them. They have no explanation. And I’m open-minded. See, it’s like saying, hey, how’d the universe get created? Well, I don’t know. All right, but you don’t commit suicide because of it. So I’m willing to experience things that I can’t explain. That’s why I hear a lot of things from patients that they wouldn’t tell somebody else.
David: What are you currently working on?

Bernie: Oh, I keep writing about my experience, and all kinds of things. I’ve written children’s stories, as well as stories for adults. One of the little stories I’ve written recently  has to deal with loss. I use some metaphors and symbols that struck me, like each life is a candle. If we see ourselves as candles, then we see that we are each here for a certain period of time and the candle will ultimately burn out. I also see that if we grieve excessively we put out the candles of our loved ones who have died, and are walking around with a beautiful candle in their hand. So it’s constantly working on loss, and writing about that. I tend to write more books now with titles like Prescriptions for Living or Prescriptions for the Soul, which are about the age-old eternal messages that most people have never been truly educated about.

We get information but we don’t get an education. We’re not taught how to deal with difficult situations. So I’d say more of what I work on now is to help people deal with life–not just some specific illness, but how does one get through life with all it’s troubles? I want people to realize that there isn’t anything that I have to say that hasn’t been said by the great sages of the last two thousand years. There’s Buddha, Jesus, the Talmud, and the Kabbalah. There is a lot of great stuff out there you ought to read. What I find is, I keep giving them these same messages, but in modern up-to-date stories related to my life and family. So it’s easy for people to say, Oh, I get it, rather than reading some mystical text that was written a thousand years ago.

Something just struck me the other day when I was reading. It said “If you meet the Buddha on the road kill him.” I’ve read that a million times, and never really understood it. But as I continued reading it became clearer. It said, “and if you meet your parents kill them, and if you meet your teacher kill your teacher.” Then it went on to say that you shouldn’t give them all the credit, that all the genius and inspiration that you see in them is also in you. So honor yourself. It’s okay to kill all these images and honor yourself. I think that’s what I try to get people to do, and if they haven’t ever been honored, to have them “re-parent” themselves. “Re-parenting” is a term I use that means that we each need to be that kind of loving parent for each other.

David: Is there anything that we haven’t discussed that you would like to add?

Bernie: If you’re on a radio program they always say, Oh, we’re running out of time. So I say, “You’re right.” I always say that most important message to people–that we’re all here for a limited time. So I think death is a great, great teacher. I always say to people, don’t try to not die, because it doesn’t work, and you’ll get very upset with yourself. But try to enjoy living. I think when you know you have limited time you don’t let a lot of things bother you, drive you crazy, or take up your time. It really empowers you to chose joy and happiness.

I was reading a book some psychiatrist wrote about how a young man had enlightened him. This was an unhappy boy, from a very wealthy family, who’s trying to be successful, and he’s a mess. The psychiatrist said one day the kid came in and said, “I think I got it.” “What is it?” He said, “If you’re successful you may not be happy, but if you’re happy you are a success.” It was like a light went on in the kid’s head. So his job from then on was to find what makes him happy. That’s something I grew up with up. Any decision that we had to make, my mother’s wisdom was: What

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