Transcript for Mr. Peter Panagore

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what’s up folks we are here with yet

another brilliantly crafted episode for

you guys

in this episode we spoke to mr. Peter or

pan Tagore he has quite the story to


he has been canvassing these various

radio programs he’s appeared on NBC to

tell the story and when you’re finished

listening to this episode you’ll find

out why this was a fun episode Peter is

super easy to speak to just a really

warm hearted human being I highly

suggest that you check out his book

heaven is beautiful how dying taught me

that death is just the beginning

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here but I digress thank you guys so

much for listening

the human experience is blasting through

the Byzantine conduit in your brain

making the drums in your ears vibrate as

we transition into the afterlife with my

guest mr. peter pan Tagore Peter my good

sir welcome to hxp thank you very very

much glad to be here thanks for having

me Xavier Peter your your story is

harrowing your book had me turning pages

I mean I flew through your book but

let’s set a premise let’s create the

stage for your story and start with your

education where did you go to school

Xavier I want to sink John to high

school and throughs Barre Massachusetts

which is where I learned how to meditate

from my senior year religion teacher who

had gone off to a monastery nearby and

come back with this lesson that began my

whole life as a meditator and then after

that I went off to the University of

Massachusetts where I studied English

literature I spent a year at Montana

State University on exchange and then I

did my graduate degree a master’s in

divinity at Yale University okay all

right so I mean you I mean we’re talking

about death here I mean this is the

fundamental thing that we share beyond

religion race creed geographical

location I mean invariably we are all

going to die

so I mean your your let’s talk a little

bit about your your fascination with ice

climbing because that’s how this this

experience all started for you I mean

can you tell us a little bit about ice

climbing what is involved and kind of

how it works my fascination with ice

climbing was short-lived

I had one climb my real fascination was

with mountaineering technical climbing

and backpacking but I found myself with

an opportunity to try myself on ice and

so what was involved were the skills

that I’d already developed as a

technical climb

ropes and harnesses and concentration of

my fear into courage so that I would pay

attention to exactly what I was doing

ice climbing is like a a single-minded

sport where at any moment you know that

something terrible could happen and if

it does happen some the end result could

be the end of yourself and so that type

of sporting experience focuses the mind

and a meditative way it makes you

single-minded and that’s what really

attracted me to it I wanted to prove to

myself that I had the the inner

fortitude to focus my brain and strength

to ignore the possibility of death I

mean this is a highly dangerous activity

sport right it is it’s it’s as fewer

people get hurt ice climbing than

playing football and football everybody

gets hurt and ice climbing some people

get hurt so on a percentage basis it’s

not quite as dangerous as football but

the difference is is that you tended

people tend to die ice climbing as

opposed to in football so so okay so at

the beginning of the 1980s you embarked

on an ice climbing trip that to put mod

ly didn’t go quite to plan and had

consequences for the rest of your life

including writing this book that

detailed your experience what happened

on that day

and how did it affect you I’ve been out

on a an eight day backcountry snow

caving experience with my climbing

partner Tim a fella that I got to know

very well on this backcountry experience

but previously didn’t know at all we had

planned this trip together but we got

together because of the opportunity to

take this trip together so we had only

known each other about a month before we

headed out into British Columbia and

Alberta and we finished our trip with a

one-day ice climb Tim my partner was an

a lead climber

technical on rock and on ice and I was a

technical climber but I’d never been ice

climbing before I talked him into

thinking that I could do it because I’ve

done so much rock before and it’s true I

could do it and I did do it but I made a

bravado cocky

twenty-one-year-old choice on my

equipment I chose to use an ice axe and

a hammer they’re unequal length and you

really need two hammers like you need a

hole in the head

I had one hanging from my belt and one

in my hand which really actually needed

as one hammer and two axes but I didn’t

have two axes I had two hammers and one

axe and the way that the axe works is

that it has a shaft right and has a like

a hummingbird beak on one end and a on

the top and a like a blade from an adze

on the other that hummingbird and you

you plant the hummingbird end of it into

the ice and you take the shaft which has

opinion at the bottom and you drop that

into the ice at a 45 degree angle with

the hypotenuse and there’s a strap

Midway up the shaft maybe a third of the

way up through a ring and you can put

your hand through this loop that’s

attached to the shaft and slide a bead

down the loop to lock your hand in so

you can actually let go of the ax can

plant the ax let go of the ax and dangle

on the ax by opening your hand up a

little bit and rest your arm that’s the

way it works that’s what I did with one

arm the other arm I use this much

shorter hammer that we planted in the

ice it sets the same way at a 45 degree

angle but the strap is on the bottom of

the shaft and so if you dangle on it it

automatically pulls the hammer off of

the ice so what that meant was that I

couldn’t rest mm-hmm and because I

couldn’t rest I burned myself out

rapidly and it was it Tim Tim told me it

wasn’t a great idea but we both thought

I could do it and I did do it I we

successfully climbed

it was that wasn’t the problem the

problem was that it took us so much

longer because I was so exhausted

because I used this hammer but that by

the time we reached the top of our climb

it was sunset and all the other teams on

this climb had already left the ice and

the stragglers were leaving to the

parking lot okay let’s let’s fast

forward a little bit and you know what

was that point in your mind where you

kind of had this knowing okay I’m about

to die well the first point happened

when we were at the top of the climb and

we realized that we were in serious

trouble and if we stayed where we were

which we discussed that we were going to

die there and so we decided that our

best chance of survival was to try to

get off the ice or die trying

we knew we would die we decided that we

would struggle so that we might not die

but the the moment came when we had

forced our way across and down the

mountain face to our last rappel we’re

about 150 feet up and I had gone through

the stages of hypothermia to the point

of being hot and then to the point of

falling asleep and between the point of

being hot and falling asleep with the

rope around the corner jammed and in a

place that I couldn’t get to I had one

bitter end which is at the end of the

climbing rope tying to my harness and I

had dropped the other bitter end so that

I could pull it through the the eye ring

that was way up the mountain and this

was this was in Canada right you guys

were climbing in Manitoba Canada sorry

to interrupt you Oh nuts right wasn’t

Manitoba it was north of Banff kind of

Northwest to banth and south of Jasper

and Alberta and a March and there was 10

feet of snow on the ground and it was

wicked cold it was it was very very cold

and you know cold kinky Leah and I it

wasn’t something I didn’t know I knew

that I’d been on ski patrol since I was

a maybe a sophomore or a freshman in

high school

and experienced a training and

experience with removing people from

mountains when they had frostbite and

hypothermia wasn’t the first time I’d

seen it well first time I’d seen it to

myself though scratch so you’re you’re

on this rappel you’re going 150 feet

down you’re with Tim and that is the

second time that you realized there’s

something deeply wrong or oh no no the

this was the third rappel – I sped you

up to the to the last position we were

in ok we had gone from the very top of

the mountain through a harrowing evening

of violent shakes the Rope became a

300-foot knot we descended from our

first rappel and the Rope froze and

position up above us we couldn’t get it

free Tim tried to reassigned up on a on

a free ascent with no protection from a

fall on the rope off the rock like

shimming sort of shimming up the rope

that’s not an exact description he was

using certain types of knots hitches

actually that there were friction based

but once we retrieved the rope from that

we then traversed across to our next

rappel which we descended to the last

rappel which is where this story really

begins for me in terms of my end hmm and

we were on this ledge 150 feet up it was

a couple hours before sunup the

temperature was very cold the moon was

about three-quarters it had come across

the sky we could see almost in color

because of the moon but there’s still a

million stars overhead of every

brilliant color and I could see off in

the distance the Columbia glacier and I

had I had gotten warm as I mentioned and

had unzipped my coat and I knew that

that was a bad sign all the blood rushes

into the core of the body in order to

protect the essential elements and I

knew that the Rope was stuck and I knew

we were done that’s really what happened

I I became

resigned and even peaceful thinking to

myself that it was a beautiful place to

die and that I was not going to get out

of this and that my parents and my

siblings were going to suffer as a

result but there was nothing more that I

could do and so I began to fall asleep

and would fall off my perch climb myself

back up to my perch again when I after I

hit the rock because I was harnessed in

and I wasn’t really paying attention to

temp at this point I was mostly in my

own world and and that repeated a few

times until this last time when I was

standing on the ledge again and I

watched the world fade to black like the

end of a of an old time movie I watched

my peripheral vision circle in on me and

I wondered what was going on I had never

seen anything like it before and I

thought to myself this is this is it and

I remember falling but I don’t remember

hitting the rock and I remember thinking

why am I not asleep why am I still

conscious so your body fell my body felt

I was harnessed in there’s an iron pin

and an iron ring in the mouth and that I

was clipped into so I fell only a couple

feet every time I fell off of this ledge

that’s not a bunch but I wasn’t going to

fall on hit the ground though what I

figured was going to happen is is that I

was going to be found so early in the

night and the evening before on after

our second rappel the warden provincial

park warden

where we had signed in to hit a log

because we’re going into a wilderness

area came looking for us we knew that we

were on this climb the climb wasn’t very

far off the ice Palisades Highway there

was a parking lot across the street

middle and nowhere like seriously maybe

one person per square mile you know it’s

like nobody’s there and um he had parked

across the street after our when we get

down to our first rappel to the bottom

of the first time and we

were we have lost our coordination which

is a hypothermic thing we were losing

the ability to think clearly a confusion

and our lips and our jaws were freezing

as well so we could hardly speak but he

came and we saw him across the street we

assumed that it was him and we jumped up

and down against the ice he could see us

he flashed his lights and we waved that

gave us heart to continue off to the

next rappel which was down this dark

crag out of the moonlight around the

corner onto this ledge where we now

stood so I thought as as I was dying as

I was beginning to die that the warden

would find me the next day dangling or

the or the or the early team the teams

that that got there first would see me

and probably Tim dangling from our

harnesses frozen um Wow all right

let’s let’s keep going man I mean um so

the the world had faded to black for me

and I had fallen and I didn’t lose

consciousness every time I fell asleep I

fell asleep you know and what woke me up

was I smacked into the mountain but this

time when I fell I felt myself fall but

I didn’t feel myself hit the mountain

and I still had was awake and I would

remember wondering why am I still awake

and and then spindly I could see through

the mountain MA though I knew my eyes

were closed I could see through the

mountain and I could see a vastness and

in this vastness this darkness a

amorphous grey black being that was

immense rushed toward me like like like

a tidal wave like a the wall of a river

broken from a dam

rushed right toward me and it and I knew

that it had intelligence and intent

because it communicated to me that it

was going to take me and I very clearly

that that it wanted me and it was

so infinitely powerful I didn’t want to

go I put up my willpower against it to

block it and I’d spent all night being

driven towards survival and for anyone

who’s on that listening audience has

ever been in a real serious survival

situation you will know what it’s like

to dig ever deeper and discover inside

yourself a huge amount of willpower to

survive against all the odds and I put

that barrier up against this this intent

to take me but it took me anyway as if I

was just a little twig in a river I

think my mouth and and the next thing I

knew I was in this infinite darkness

that was also illuminated I and I could

see in every direction but I didn’t have

any eyes and I didn’t have a body and I

didn’t have a brain and I remember

thinking that that because I didn’t have

a brain I was thinking so much clearer

and so much faster and that I had so

much more knowledge that I didn’t

understand where it had come from and in

front of me was a gigantic door like a

darkness well but the darkness was

translucent and transparent and there

was the proverbial tunnel which was

darker than the greater darkness and I

reached out with my being and I touched

this translucent and transparent flow it

was like a shimmer like a river flowing

down and and it was living and and and

it was as paradox I I could see that it

was I I could see was both transparent

and translucent but it didn’t really

disturb me that it was so and when I

touched it it had life in it and when I

touched it I heard my name from deep

down inside me erupt and it wasn’t my

name Peter it was the the ground of the

essence of my being this it was my

created name it was the thing that made

me me it was the name of my soul and in

that instant I knew that

I was in the presence of God it was

outside of me and next to me but I

couldn’t see God and I heard my voice I

heard the voice inside me and the voice

had knows no sound and it had no words

and it had no sex it was not male and it

wasn’t female it just was loved and and

I was in filled with love and beauty and

hope and truth compassion all wound into

one thing and I knew that instantly I

was in the presence of God and and in

the knowing of myself as a being as a

created being I knew all the pain that

I’d given everyone in my entire life I

knew all the love that I’d given

everyone but more importantly at this

time which was timeless by the way this

is a place of timelessness and no thing

and no space

we no dimensions and it I suffered all

of the pain that I’d given everyone in

my entire life it was like a life review

of all of the bad things that I had done

to hurt people and I felt their pain I

didn’t feel as if I was feeling their

pain I felt their actual pain and it was

cumulative and it was every single

person I’d ever caused pain to and

particular people stood out like my

sisters my sister Cynthia in particular

featured because I knew her longest and

best and all the times that I’d hurt her

with intent and all the times that I’d

hurt her without intent and all of it

was immensely painful to me and and I

judged myself as shameful for having

caused this pain to them because in the

presence of God it seemed so ugly to me

this pain that I’d caused and that God

was so beautiful and my humanity had

caused other humanity to suffer so this

I mean this

this being was displaying to you

reflecting back at you that the paint

you would cost and your vision is 360

degrees you can see everything around

you and your mind is capable of

absorbing all this information knowledge

and yet you’re looking back through your

human life and you’re reviewing all the

pain that you caused yes and I didn’t

cause myself to review my life it was

done to me and it was it was I know you

is what God kept saying to me I know I

know you I know everything about you

there’s nothing hidden from me about you

there never has been anything hidden

from you about me from me about you and

I had immense self-knowledge of all the

things that I had done and God kept

saying I love you I know you you’re my

beloved I forgive you because I know you

because I made you this way this is not

a surprise to me I already know you

suffered and caused suffering and I was

forgiven for that not because of

anything I had done but simply because I

was loved and while I was ashamed – I

was ashamed I mean this is such a

powerful powerful story and I’m just you

have this you have the sense of just

humbleness in your voice but you know

it’s almost like a supernatural quality

as if you know a secret that we all know

but we just don’t recognize and I mean

how did this experience I mean was there

was there something inside the

experience that that showed you what you

had to do next I mean I

I could only see myself in comparison to

the divine it wasn’t it wasn’t so much

humility as it was a recognition of the

immensity of the Divine Being and love

it’s it’s not so much humility isn’t

this I bow my head before you because

you’re my brother it’s it’s that I see

you as my equal because God is our

parent the one who made us who is so far

beyond us and and the comparison of

myself to God is like a a speck of like

a like a molecule floating in the

vastness of the universe and God is the

universe and I am just a tiny speck and

and I I said to God am i dead and this

is without language and I set it inside

my being and God said yes you’re dead

and I said well I can’t die God said why

and I said because my sister had

vanished and my parents were suffering

greatly for that my mother had had a bad

break down the family was in turmoil for

a decade

Andrea her name she was at every meal at

every Christmas but we could never

mention her name because if we ever

mentioned her name my mother would break

down my mother spent every single night

for half a decade crying standing in the

living room with the lights off staring

down the street with the curtain pulled

back looking for my sister crying

herself to sleep every single night and

we couldn’t talk about it because any

time we talked about it she’d break down

so in order to protect her we had a rule

in our house don’t ever mention Andrea

and never talk to anyone about her ever

in our city my dad was pretty prominent

where we lived and

and everybody knew something had

happened but we we were locked down and

so my parents I watched my mom suffer

and my dad get angry and I said to God I

can’t I can’t take another child for my

parents and my god swept me over to see

all of Earth I could see every single

human being on earth at once and and I

could see that every single human being

like me was beloved in particular

especially and that not one of them

could see as I could see because they

were still in the flesh and they had

this veil that prevented them from

seeing what I could see and God said to

me in the way that I love you now you’ve

always known now you now know that you

I’ve always loved you and I love you now

and I always will love you and that my

love is what you are and what fills you

and gives you beauty in and and

forgiveness and and makes you special

and beloved and I knew that eternally I

still know that I don’t know it to the M

to the immensity because I’m stuck back

in this body again but the memory of

being loved is overwhelming and I knew

that everyone was loved and God showed

me my parents in particular and the

suffering they were living in their

lives right then and and I knew that

they were beloved and because of that

love and because of where I was I knew

that all would be well God said all is

well all will be well all has been well

because of my love and he asked me you

know that don’t you and I knew that to

the core of my being that in the end the

suffering that my parents would

experience by losing me would end in

beauty and joy and love in the same way

that I was experiencing it but but I

could see their faces and I couldn’t I

couldn’t make them suffer more so this

was I mean this was the reason that you

came back you couldn’t make your parents

suffer molar loss yeah I knew also that

the length of my life was

the wink of my eye that time time isn’t

as a total delusion just like spaces and

that an eternity the length of my life

amounted to nothing and so knowing that

I figured that it would be instantaneous

for me to come back but it hasn’t been

that worked out that way and at least

not yet

maybe when I die it will feel that way

but not yet and so I I then said to God

you know I got another reason I’m and

the theatre company we’re on a tour

going on a national tour we’d been in

production for a year pre-production

going into production 24,000 miles 64

shows all over the United States went

and what the Mississippi and um I I met

a promise I made a vow to my director

that I would not be hurt because we had

no understudies and and I said God do I

have to stay here and God said no you

don’t have to stay here and I said well

if I go back can I come back here God

said yes you can come back here and for

me that meant the love and the beauty

and the joy compassion faith all wound

into this oneness and that was inside of

me that filled me and I said can I come

back here and God said yes you can come

back here and I said well then I choose

to live my life and God said you won’t

live your life and the next thing I knew

I was being screwed back in my body

again it was painful and I remember

wondering what was going on and I I swam

to consciousness inside my body but I

didn’t even know what a body was anymore

I was so disoriented I didn’t know I

didn’t know what I was let alone where I

was or who I was I didn’t even know what

matter was

huh Wow I mean why would you from I mean

how did you

how does a person process and experience

like this I mean you just touched the

divine and I mean you’re this 21 year

old kid and you’ve just died

you’ve encountered what you call God and

the lack of a better term for lack of a

better term and I mean it it just it it

blows me away I’m still processing it

it’s it’s you know happened in 1980 it’s

it’s 2016 every day I try to figure this


and how older how do you know turn in 57


no well happy early birthday thank you

thank you so I mean and I mean in in all

this time you you know you have been

sharing your story and well not quite I

kept it a secret for decades and I I

started sharing it publicly about 15

years ago to my congregation I’m a

United Church of Christ minister I so so

wait wait what what made you not want to

share it because it’s crazy so so I was

on that I came back to consciousness and

and I didn’t even understand language

and and he as I swam back up I I became

cognizant as I slowly began to process

that that I heard the words I thought

you were dead you were dead

don’t die if you die I die and and I it

was 10 my partner and he helped me back

up and I was completely didn’t know who

he was or what I was and and I don’t

know how long we stood there as I tried

to figure out what was good

we hadn’t talked all night because we

were trying to save our energy to

survive because every time we spoke

our fuel and our bodies went down

noticeably and and I pulled on the rope

which had been stuck and it came free

first pull like a miracle and we

descended we got into the tent we

treated ourselves for till after sunup

which wasn’t that long away and then we

decided we’d be warmer in the car so we

went and we got the car and we defrosted

my feet were like ice blocks my hands

were were were movable it I can’t tell

you how cold that was they had frostbite

fingertips to my toes my feet my face

and and this is after the experience is

your back yep and and to not only not

only am i trying to figure out where I’d

been up trying to save this body that

I’m in and and then I the next day it

was a terrible day as bad as that night

was it was it was almost worse the next

day and you know I don’t wanna I don’t

want to give too much wish because it’s

in the book but it was really it ended

up with me and Tim splitting up while

still in Canada and me having did at

sunup the day following hitchhike back

to Bozeman which is about eight or ten

hours away from where I was when and we

used a little money we had left for Tim

to take a bus back to Bozeman and I

hitchhiked and Tim was extremely angry

at me for for what had happened that day

not that night but the day following and

and I remember standing at Sun at

sunrise and thinking to myself as I

began to process this because most of

the day before I slept I was exhausted I

just slept in the car as we drove and

Tim drove and and I and I remember

thinking that the world to me look like

a cartoon I’ve kind of figure out it’s

like being in a two-dimensional space

I’d been in and

four dimensional space and now I’m in a

two dimensional space and it was and it

was a most beautiful place the sunrise

was gorgeous and to me it was not


nothing was beautiful anymore I wasn’t

afield the sky wasn’t beautiful the

mountains weren’t beautiful at nothing

it was all like black and what to me

like going from a color world into a

black-and-white world and I I knew that

something had happened to me but I

didn’t understand what I knew it was God

but I didn’t know where I had gone or so

it it sounds like you had a near life

experience not in your death experience

I would call it a death experience it’s

not nothing near about it when I was

when I was eight years or six years old

I went swimming in a river and I went

down for the third time and some guy

hauled me out that was a near-death I

would have drowned

I almost got knocked off the mountain by

a boulder the size of a refrigerator

another on another climb it swept by me

with inches within inches of me that was

a near-death experience if I had turned

it would have smacked me in the back and

swiped me off the mountain that would

have killed me for sure this this was

death and when I came back here to this

world this world was flat and ugly by

comparison and and most of me was still

on it’s still on the other side and but

in that in those early days I was so

disoriented and confused that I I had

enough rational capacity to understand

that if I talked about it people might

think I was crazy so so you kept it in

the closet like tit down I didn’t tell

anybody and and I my career life change

I went back to Montana went off on this

theatre tour instead of riding around in

the 15 passenger van with all of my

peers or even driving which is I was

signed up to be a driver I refused to

drive I took myself off the drivers list

we also had a pickup truck with a

trailer with all our costumes and

electronic gear I went in the back of

the pickup truck with my winter gear

and I I sat in the back of the truck I

didn’t talk to anybody and I performed

at night I had we stayed in people’s

houses and I was sociable but I I went

by myself into myself and that was that

was my next question I mean how did this

how did this affect you I mean how did

this this change your life well in a

practical sense I I come from an

architectural family my dad had a one a

one-man firm but it was a significance

outside of Boston he was big in the

National AIA our American Institute of

Architects and my whole life had been

even though as an English major my whole

life had been oriented towards going

into my dad’s firm I’ve been drawing my

whole life in his office and art classes

and was working construction as a

carpenter’s helper for three or four or

five years I don’t really remember I’ve

got my head did it for a long time with

the idea that I would go to graduate

school and architecture like my sister

who was ahead of me another sister and

that I’d be able to converse with the

blue-collar guys swinging the hammer but

I would have the Graduate School

architectural degree and the capacity to

run a successful business because I

could work both ends stick I could

design the building and talk to the guys

I came home and I couldn’t do that I

ended up going to this monastery this

that I mentioned early in our

conversation the monastery near my

Catholic school I started going there on

retreat in order to figure out if

anybody could help me and thought were

you trying to understand I’m trying to

understand this and I’ve been meditating

already you know for 3 or 4 years before

this happened that I just don’t ever do

/ in meditation became my my salvation

it became how I I with the contradiction

and the paradox of being here and not

from here it was turmoil and it was

depression and it was darkness and it

was isolation and loneliness and

alienation and nobody could possibly

understand what I’d been through nobody

could even if I told him they couldn’t

understand it and I knew that much and

and so I went to Divinity School

and I went to Divinity School applied to

Harvard Yale and Princeton and I got

into Princeton and Yale and I chose Yale

and because the Dean of Students took a

personal interest in me and when I got

to the diff school I asked her if I

could begin to study mysticism even

though it wasn’t a primary course or a

course at all a course of studies at

Yale there were a smattering of courses

around the University and she let me

take them and also she let me take

independent study with her so that I

could study systematic theological

thinking while studying the history of

mysticism of the West in order to gain

some knowledge of language and

experience of those who went before me

that I might be able to find somebody

like me right and and so I was in

Washington over the weekend this past

weekend doing a book event speaking

events and a show a great day Washington

and but my host was a div student that I

had known long ago and she’s a reverend

now and has a church down there and we

got to talking and I didn’t know her

extremely well when I was at this school

but I knew her pretty well and she told

me over the weekend that unbeknownst to

me my div school friends were talking

about me even my close friends kind of

behind my back because I was an oddity I

never went to Chapel on three years of

school I never went to Chapel but once

because there was a special speaker I

wanted to hear I I spent my Chapel time

in meditation on my own all i did at

disco was study practice meditation

practice yoga and play Ultimate Frisbee


I founded the team with my co founded it

but um I like fun

I still like fun um but I they all

thought I was stoned all the time it

because like like walking around she she

her name’s Kathleen Kathleen says you

Peter you were walking around with this

little smile in your face all the time

and and you had such an otherworldly ‘no

stu you and all you did was meditate and

wherever you were if you weren’t

studying you were meditating if you

weren’t doing meditation you were doing

yoga and and we didn’t understand what

you were and you were barefoot all the

time and we liked you but you were an

anomaly and and and they didn’t know I

mean I didn’t broadcast that I was

studying mysticism I mean how do you

relate to people after an experience

like this and did you were you did you

feel kind of isolated in after your

experience I was isolated I still AM um

the way I figured near-death experience

people like me ours were our own tribe

um we live in these two different places

all the time

and and yeah in those early days it was

very difficult

I lost my high school sweetheart over

this she she couldn’t I loved her too

much you asked me how I dealt with

people I love them and that’s that’s my

my connectivity with them but but I was

too intense for her and too distant I

especially those first few years I I

spent so much time in meditation and

that when I wasn’t in meditation I was

still in meditation were you open with

her or did you keep it from her as well

I I didn’t tell anybody no one I told my

wife the woman I married which was years

later when I was in my between my second

and third year did school um I told her

in the night before a wedding not

surprised yeah like if I have any

regrets at all and it’s that it’s that I

was completely unfair to her I mean it’s

not like she didn’t know that I was


already um it weird things had been

she’d seen weird things um like like

like one day the northern goshawk I was

out bird-watching outside of Boston

there’s a Greenbelt outside of Boston it

runs from the North Shore to the salt

shore it’s in between 128 and 495 and I

was in this very large town park forest

that was connected to all these other

state parks and town forests and it was

a big area but but I wasn’t a small part

of it Bluebird

looking for eastern bluebirds and by

myself meditating while I walked in the

woods and I got attacked by a northern

goshawk that chased me for miles knocked

me to the ground I wrestled with this

thing um good stuff weird weird animal

things weird weird other things um just

what do you mean when

from my point of view I’m back in the

infinite darkness again having a divine

experience so you still have a link to

this I still have a link to this

I can’t unlink it and by god I tried to

unlike it because it’s it’s been it’s

it’s functioned in my life is a blessing

and a curse and for most of my life it

felt like a curse on only now in the

past several years the last this past

August in particular but a couple of

events that have happened in the past

several years have made me more

integrated enough here that I that I can

stick around and not fail so bereft of I

mean what would you say to a person that

might be listening to this that has

encountered something like you

experienced I mean and are kind of

keeping keeping them keeping it to

themselves what would you say to them I

would say that it’s not 1980 anymore and

that you can talk about it you can find

people you can talk to about it because

I think that one of the things that

happened to me is that is is that by

keeping it a secret to myself it twisted

inside of me

you know one of the things that I have

lots of gay friends and we talked about

before they were in that when they were

in the closet when they’re out of the

closet when the when the culture gay

culture was in the closet and when gay

culture was out of the closet and

there’s this big huge transitioning

going on now where marriage is

acceptable culturally and socially and

so they don’t have to hide anymore and

pretend anymore and how being in the

closet come by lying living a dual life

living a dual life can twist a person

and I I got twisted a little bit by

living a dual life not telling the truth

it wasn’t that I was lying to people

other than the fact that I told people

that I believed in God which I didn’t as

a pro as a minister um because I don’t

need to believe in God I have trouble

believing in here more than I haven’t

believe that to me is the real and

this is the illusion and so to tell

someone who’s had a near-death

experience or something like that you

know maybe they were in the operating

room and they left their body and they

watch the surgery and they didn’t go all

the way down the tunnel or out into the

vastness that I went into or maybe

they’ve had an astral projection dream

where they know that they’ve left their

body and that they know that they came

back into their body again

your soul is a body and I’m thinking

that in the 21st century that’s going to

become clear through science the soul is

a real thing and those of us who live in

an energetic soul that we feel it know

that this is true and for near-death

experience people the body is the

illusion completely it’s not the real

thing and I’m hoping in the 21st or

maybe the 22nd but hopefully the 21st

century science develops a way to see

the essence of the human being

maybe it’s made up of muons I don’t know

what it’s made up of I just know that

it’s real and I hope that science can

see it and so that would give validation

to people like me

definitely definitely I mean there’s

this conversation it has flown by but

there you know there’s an experience

that you talk about in your book having

is beautiful you talk about a situation

where you you prayed over a badly

injured person there’s a car accident

you and I mean things got a little

strange right yeah how I mean well I

left out the strangest part I wrote that

part of the book after I’d written the

book when my publisher came to me and

said you know you need to add something

else in that’s a little out of this

world and so I struggled with what to

put in there and I put that in and the

the fellow who’s in the book Brian he

doesn’t live far from me one of my best

friends he still lives it was up here in

Maine still and um he came to me and he

said Peter I read

that I was there you left out you left

out the strange stuff and the strange

stuff is that what happened what

happened is this we’d been on a retreat

he was leading a retreat for kids

that was my first beginning of trying to

be a minister in the United Church of

Christ the Dean of Students talked me

into it the same Dean that let me study

mysticism she talked me into giving us a

shot and so I went on this I was a

leader on this 8th grade retreat for all

these kids statewide and um I was I kids

this is photograph of me from that time

where all these kids are clinging all

over me everybody’s leaning intimate has

radiance that that Brian was talking

about and and on the drive down back to

New Haven he said Peter I love you and I

trust you and I knew in that moment that

I could trust him and then you know

we’re driving down the road and I look

ahead and there’s a car flipped over

just happened it flipped over and it was

upside down on the medium strip on the

railing upside down raised up off the

ground on the the guardrail in between

the two you know the North and the South

Plains and there bunch of guys were

standing there I doing nothing and I

screamed at Brian to stop the car and he

pulled over I was yelling at him and he

didn’t he hadn’t seen what had happened

on the on the highway and I jumped out

of the car and I ran across the highway

and there were a bunch of guys or

softball players standing around they

all had cleats on and I I shouted out is

anybody here a medical person and they

nobody was I said well I’m taking over

the scene I’m an EMT and um I which I

technically wasn’t I was a licensed

ambulance attendant but that’s okay Oh

easier to say and and so I took over the

scene and I went over to the old man who

was lying on the ground and he was

semi-conscious and I palpated him and

and his his belly was like rock and I

knew that that meant that he had

internal bleeding and

internal bleeding and there was really

absolutely nothing I could do for her

and so I couldn’t treat him for shock I

couldn’t lift his legs up because it

hurt him too much and so all I did was I

began to pray over him and I put one

hand above his forehead and one hand

above his chest and I just dropped into

meditation and I wasn’t praying for

healing or anything else I was just

being a channel and and it was like a

lightning bolt came through me

repeatedly so at the top of my crown

opened up and this energy started

blasting through which swirled my head

and and and it just kept charging

through me and the next thing I knew the

ambulance had arrived and and the e/m

the real EMTs paramedics were asking

what was going on to me and I described

what had happened and so I I took his

head into traction while they they

collared him and backboarded him and we

lifted him on a backboard under the

gurney and they put him in the ambulance

and off you went

mm-hmm and I then ran across the street

again and with Brian who had come over

to see what was going on there’s a lot

of commotion and get back in the car and

and and I began to tell him what it was

going on on and suddenly I my interior

started to hurt incredibly like someone

had taken a knife and jabbed it inside

of my guts and swirled the knife around

and just cut everything and I started

screaming in the front seat of the car

and swear a squirming screaming like

like in agony and Brian poor Brian was

trying to figure out what was going on

and and I was screaming oh my god it

hurts so much aah and then I couldn’t I

couldn’t articulate any mortar as much

as just just primal screaming and and I

opened my eyes and I saw the steeple on

a local church that we were driving by

leap off

and strike me in the chest and take my

pain away mm-hmm and and of course the

steeple didn’t actually do that the the

cross on the top stay where it was but

that’s not what I saw and then as we

drove down Brian’s trying to figure out

what’s going on and and I close my eyes

to rest because it was exhausting me

it had exhausted me and inside of me I

was back in the utter darkness again

traveling it at light speed and in the

fire distance the very far distant

horizon allege I could see the light but

I was so far away from it and I was

traveling inside myself a bit like light

speed and and this that experience

lasted days that interior experience of

being in this other place whenever I

closed my eyes and and over the next

week prayer would strike me it was like

a hot sweet buzz and honey wood would

enter from my feet and sweep up through

my legs and and over my eyes and I would

I would collapse wherever I was standing

I was a standing in a used auto parts

store or or sitting at my desk in dr.

Kelsey glass or and I spent those three

days and it was like it was like it was

like God was praying inside me like I

wasn’t praying anymore but the prayer

was praying me and it was wordless and

and I spent the three days wandering

around completely bewildered so much so

that Brian and our friends began became

quite concerned about my mental status

and after three days the intensity of it

lessened enough so that I went back to

class and um and and then Brian

came to me and he said what was going on

and and because of the conversation that

he and I had had before the accident

where he told me that he loved me and

trusted me I decided to tell him the

truth what had happened and why why this

thing had happened to me and that I

wasn’t in control of it and that I asked

him to keep my secret because I knew

that it sounded crazy I was behaving in

a crazy way all right

and so I that’s why I was so guarded

about it for all these years and that’s

not the only thing that’s happened lots

of other stuff that was the most public

thing other other there’s been other

things that have been other divine

experiences that have been less public

but witness I mean in your in your blog

you talk about using yoga and

mindfulness to cope rather than

painkillers you had a heart attack or

you saw near death

you know once again in August I mean so

that was recently I mean did you five

months ago I I ran 5k the day before and

I was at I didn’t go out sailing I have

a small sailboat and I was going to go

solo sailing because I still like

adventure um and but the fog rolled in

and so I couldn’t go sailing

and it was Saturday morning so I went to

yoga class late and in the middle of

this yoga class because I got tired of

practicing on my own because it was

needed associate the socializing I had a

heart attack and I self diagnosed

because I’ve done on an ambulance

working on an ambulance for all those

years and volunteer and they rushed me

to the hospital and which is an urgent

care center where we live now because

the hospital closed and the doc said to

me I can shoot you up with this D

coagulant you have a hundred percent

blockage in your Widowmaker but if I

shoot you up with this it could kill you

or it could give you a serious stroke

that you’ll never recover from or it can

maybe give you a chance to survive long

enough to get to the hospital which was

hour an hour and a half away I told him

to shoot me up and so he shot me up and

I got a trickle through like a five

percent trickle through he told

and then they were going to give me

morphine for the pain because it was an

immense amount of pain in my heart and I

told them I can’t take opiates because

they make me sick and that I would

meditate my way through my pain as I

have done you know my whole life when I

can I

I used my meditation to control my pain

and so my physical pain so as I was

being wheeled out into the ambulance on

the ride to the hospital my son came

over to me he was in town for the summer

working in a college student and he

squeezed my hands and looked me in the

eye and said I love you dad

and it was only later a day later that

he told me that the doc the ER doc had

told him to say goodbye to me say his

last words to me and so I’m in the

ambulance and I have I have mime in my

right mind because I’m not on any

medication painkiller and i’m meditating

and in my meditation I see death come to

me again the same the same being nice as

I saw last time only this time it didn’t

rush at me to take me it hovered around

me and offered to take me and as I

looked at death death came toward me in

a gentle way but when I looked back in

my meditation death proceeded and inside

my meditation

I could hear my son saying to me I love

you dad and I started thinking about my

daughter and my granddaughter who had

been born sometime earlier this year and

I realized that they needed me here and

that I though I could go deaf would let

me and take me I decided to stay once

again for love and you know I’ve been

the best dad I could be I know I’m not

the greatest dad in the world but I’m

the only dad they have and they still

need me and so I chose to stick around

although I’ve been praying for my own

death God take me since the day I came

back the first time Wow

Peter I mean this is a beautiful

conversation man I I we are at the end

here ladies and gentlemen the book is

called heaven is beautiful how dying

taught me that death is just the


my guess is mr. Peter Pan tagore Peter

thank you so much for your time and your

story sir where can people find your

work your website to websites Peter

panic or calm

Peter panic or calm and daily devotions

org I work for daily devotions that’s my

work these days but Peter panic or calm

yeah man thank you so much happy

birthday thanks man and we’ll have you

back again next time the next time that

you die just kidding

God thanks so much Peter really really

great conversation all right god bless

you all love is the thing love is it

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