Seeking Jordan: How I Learned the Truth about Death and the Invisible Universe

Seeking Jordan: How I Learned the Truth about Death and the Invisible Universe

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608683734
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 830,245
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


Matthew McKay is a clinical psychologist and a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He cofounded Haight Ashbury Psychological Services in San Francisco in 1979 and served as its clinical director for twenty-five years. Currently he serves as the director of the Berkeley Cognitive Behavior Therapy Clinic. Books he has coauthored on professional and self-help psychology have sold more than 3 million copies.

Read an Excerpt

Seeking Jordan

How I Learned the Truth About Death and the Invisible Universe


By Matthew McKay

New World Library

Copyright © 2016 Matthew McKay
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-373-4



CHAPTER 1

Train to Chicago


Sunrise touches the Utah mesas, lighting high orange cliffs above the gray chaparral. The train sways through the curves and switches. Rio Grande coal cars fill a long railroad siding, ending at the broken windows of the Desert Moon Hotel.

Jordan is dead, killed by men who wanted something. Either his possessions or simply the pleasure of inflicting pain. If they hoped to find power by creating suffering, they have succeeded. By putting a bullet in his back, they took our son, and so much of what made life mean anything to us.

As the early light works through the crevices and canyons, we are on our way to Chicago to meet a man who has found a way for the living and the dead to talk. His name is Allan Botkin, and he knows how to induce a state in which those who grieve can hear directly from the ones they have lost. I don't fully believe, but it's all I have.

Jude and I sit on the edge of our narrow bunk. We have pictures and mementos of Jordan's life. The light is stronger now, the world outside the window no longer hidden in shadows. At this moment, our journey feels absurd. The clarity of light suggests the eternal separation of what can be seen from what cannot, of the physical and known from the hoped for and ephemeral.

Jordan's ashes are in the closet of his room back in Berkeley. They weigh about the same as he did when I first carried him from the nursery to his mother. And now we are trying to find him, to reach past every empty place to hear his voice again.

In Chicago it is gray, with wind careening off the Great Lakes. Allan Botkin practices, weekends only, in the office building of some large corporation. We meet with him in a conference room situated within a rabbit warren of work cubicles.

Botkin explains that the procedure he uses for induced after-death communication (IADC) was discovered by accident. As a psychologist with the Veterans Administration (VA), he often treated post-traumatic stress disorder with core-focused EMDR, Botkin's own variant of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), developed by Francine Shapiro. It's a simple process that encourages patients to visualize a traumatic scene and then move their eyes back and forth. The eye movement serially stimulates opposite sides of the brain, inducing a gradual reduction of emotional pain. A large body of scientific literature documents the effectiveness of EMDR; it works with about 75 percent of trauma patients. I am a psychologist. I have used EMDR myself, hundreds of times, primarily with people suffering the effects of early sexual abuse.

Botkin stumbled into his induced after-death communication protocol with Sam, a veteran who had never recovered from the death of Le, a young Vietnamese girl he had planned to adopt. Botkin guided Sam through numerous sets of eye movements as the man focused his attention on his sadness and on the memory of Le lying dead in his arms. When Sam reported that the pain began to subside, Botkin did one more set of eye movements but with no specific instructions. Sam closed his eyes and fell silent. Then he began to cry. When Botkin prompted the man to describe his experience, he said, "I saw Le as a beautiful woman with long black hair. She was in a white gown surrounded by radiant light. She thanked me for taking care of her before she died. ... Le said, 'I love you, Sam.'"

Botkin realized he had witnessed what might be an after-death communication — made possible by a simple variant on the EMDR procedure. He set out to discover if Sam's experience was replicable. Over the next several years, Botkin initiated the new procedure with eighty-three patients at the VA. All were suffering profound grief. None were told what to expect, other than a general description of EMDR and its effectiveness with trauma and grief. Eighty-one out of those eighty-three patients experienced an after-death communication — 98 percent.

Once Jude and I are settled in the conference room, Botkin interviews us together. Later, we each come alone for the EMDR procedure. When it is my turn, I notice that Botkin's face seems etched with some residual of the pain he's witnessed. He moves slowly, as if his limbs carry an invisible weight. To guide the eye movement, he uses a wand made from a thin PVC pipe edged in blue tape. "It works," he says, beginning a steady movement of the wand.

He asks me to imagine the scene in which I learned of Jordan's death. It began with a call from the San Francisco medical examiner. "I have the worst news anyone can get," the man said. "Your son was riding home on his bike late last night — around one thirty — and he was attacked on the street. He was shot. I'm sorry to say he died at the scene."

And then I had to make my own phone calls. "We lost Jordan," I would say after apologizing for having sad news. At the time, the meaning of the words had hardly sunk in, but as I sit with Botkin they burn like acid, and I can barely stand to think of them.

During the EMDR, I focus on the sound of the words: "the worst news ... we lost Jordan." Over and over, my eyes follow the wand moving. I see Jordan slumping in the doorway where he died. Botkin continues until an odd numbness sets in, a lifting of the weight.

This is the way EMDR works. I have seen it so many times with my own patients — how they begin to let go of the pain, how the frozen images and feelings start to soften.

"Close your eyes," Botkin finally intones. "Let whatever happens happen."

Nothing. A distant panic starts — that I have come all this way for silence. That my beautiful boy is unreachable; I will never hear from him again. I wonder if the fact that I use EMDR in my own work, and know what to expect, is getting in the way.

I open my eyes. Then Botkin moves the wand once more and I follow it. Again he enjoins me to close my eyes, to let go to whatever happens.

And now, quite suddenly, I hear a voice. Jordan is speaking, as if he were in the room. He says:

Dad ... Dad ... Dad ... Dad. Tell Mom I'm here. Don't cry ... it's okay, it's okay. Mom, I'm all right, I'm here with you. Tell her I'm okay, fine. I love you guys.

Those are the exact words. And they convey the two things I most needed to know: that Jordan still exists and that he is happy. The pain of his last moments is long over, and he is in a place that feels good.

The next day we leave Chicago. Jude, despite all our hope, hasn't heard Jordan's voice. For her, the silence of the dead remains. All I can give her are words that only I heard. But I feel a sense of reconnection. What had been severed is again whole; what had been lost has been given back to me. I heard my boy. I learned that on different sides of the curtain of death we still have each other.

On the train home I feel lighter. But as we cross the gray waters of the Mississippi, I have a familiar thought: that Jordan can't see this, that all I experience — and all I feel — is unknowable to him. I touch the window as if reaching for something. Then I remember his words: "I'm here with you." Moments later, light fades on the old brick facades of Burlington. I imagine showing it to Jordan.

CHAPTER 2

Beginning the Conversation


When we came home, Jude and I resolved to listen and look for Jordan in any way we could. I wrote in my journal:

The left hand doesn't know the right hand. The conscious mind doesn't remember what the unconscious holds. All around, the voices of the dead are speaking. But we are afraid because it's considered madness to listen.

On the right side of the brain we can listen — because that's where we intuit; that's where we know wisdom. On the left side, we make up the story of being alone. Invisible.

Our hands join in prayer. But the prayer is speaking without listening. The mind finds words for love. Describing it. Seeking the beauty of being known, accepted. But we remain deaf to the chorus that bathes us. Holds us. Takes each step with us.


* * *

Time moves us downstream from each loss. The living relationship is further away, left on the bank where we last embraced, where the last words were spoken. Across that distance stretches silence, the helplessness of what can't be fixed or undone.

The last time I saw Jordan was at lunch at Saul's, a deli he was fond of. I can't remember what we spoke of. He was doing well — a job he liked, a lovely young woman he'd recently moved in with. I do remember the corner where I hugged him goodbye, feeling his thick, wiry hair against my cheek, his strong arms around me. I said, "I love you," as I had thousands of times, and then I began half-running to my car, late for something.

I had no inkling this was the moment we were leaving each other, and that every moment since would bear me further from his arms, his eyes, his sweetness. It was so ordinary, so embedded in our daily lives, that it held no portents of loss. And when I look back, I feel as if we are still there, still hugging on that corner. I can feel him holding me, and sometimes I can believe the embrace still exists — that I can have it, reenter it anytime I want.

But time moves us downriver. I craved more than memory, more than the few words I'd heard in Chicago. I wanted a two-way conversation, like we'd had at the deli. I wanted to ask questions and hear answers. I wanted to know my boy again.

In hopes of having that conversation, I consulted Ralph Metzner, a psychologist who has learned the art of channeled writing — an ancient technique for reaching across the divide of death and communicating to souls in the spirit world. Ralph himself lost a son, and he spent years searching for ways to reach him.

There was another connection: Jordan and Ralph's stepson, Eli, had been best friends. I knew instinctively that anyone I connected to through Jordan could be trusted. And Ralph had known Jordan well.

* * *

His office is set up in the former dining room of an old Victorian. High mahogany wainscoting reaches to a shelf near the ceiling; there is a crystal chandelier. Ralph, a thin man with wispy white hair and eyes that have a wounded look, explains the process so I can learn the steps and do it at home. Channeled writing works best when it is done in the same place with a set ritual. It helps to have an object that connects you to the dead, and it is also beneficial to first engage in a practice that helps you enter a receptive state. Breathing meditations work well, as do candles for focusing attention.

"How will I know I'm not making it up?" I ask him.

"You can't escape uncertainty," Ralph replies. "There will always be doubt. Just listen to Jordan; see what he says. Your feelings about it will guide you."

* * *

I have a desk that my parents gave me when I was eleven. Whenever I sit at it, I feel how objects connect us to people who are gone, and sometimes to an earlier version of ourselves. I sat here as a child, doing homework, distracting myself with small toys, and looking into the enticing darkness of my backyard.

Now I sit here alone, assembling objects: A cobalt blue glass mask, with a lit candle behind it, that my daughter, Bekah, brought from Mexico. And a blue business card Jordan created while he was in high school. It reads, JORDAN MCKAY, CEO, OMEGA TECHNOLOGIES. There was no Omega Technologies, but it got him into countless trade shows for Apple and other technology giants.

I begin with my breath, counting the exhalations till I reach ten, then starting over. I focus on my diaphragm, the genesis and center of the breath. Some spiritual traditions recognize this spot as the locus of "wise mind," where we can access the deepest truth of our lives. When thoughts arise, I notice and label them — "There's a thought" — and return attention to my breath. After a while my mind settles, and a calm begins that touches every part of my body.

I suddenly wonder if this is some kind of hokum I've fallen prey to. Then I worry that I haven't done it right, that I haven't prepared sufficiently to hear Jordan's words. "There's a thought ... and another thought."

I stare at the flickering candle behind the mask. I imagine that it is Jordan's presence, like the sanctuary light in the Catholic churches of my childhood. And now my mind begins to quiet again. I open my notebook and write the most urgent question: Are you happy?

The answer is instantaneous; it arrives before I've finished the question. It comes in the form of a whispered thought, with the timbre and pitch of Jordan's voice. I write:

More than you can know.

Then I write more questions and record the answers.


Do you miss me? I have you with me.

What are you doing? Studying. Learning things. Getting ready for what I have to do next time.

Next time? I'll be back soon. I want to help the planet. Last time I wasn't going to have time to do anything, so I practiced focusing my will, finding beauty.

How can I connect to you? Watch for me when I come to you. Watch the signs. Feel me inside. Trust that feeling when you sense I'm with you. The circle stays strong with love. Just remember your love for me. Open the channel so you can hear — just like you're doing now. This is the circle, letting me through. I love you, Dad. That's how it is. I'm right with you. I'm here with you and Mom. Just feel it. It's real. My arms are around you. Always.

What is the circle? The practice of love keeps the circle. It's like a discipline. Practicing love isn't collecting sad memories. It's feeling the whole person, without thought, without judgment. It's holding all of them at once.

The circle is all of us, living and dead. All connected, all talking to each other. It's no different now than when we talked at Saul's. Our relationship is the same, Dad.


I'm exhausted; I blow out the candle. I want to believe everything I've heard, but I hate self-deception. It's a response I inherited from my father, a man who despised the ways people lie to themselves to justify their needs and actions. But suddenly it's clear: I will have to live with that remembered contempt in order to keep listening. If I want to open the channel so my boy can talk to me, then I'll also have to live with doubt, perhaps even ridicule.

* * *

I have had more than a hundred conversations with Jordan since that first time. I share his answers to my questions with Jude, who, with the assistance of the spiritual medium Austyn Wells, eventually found a way to receive his answers to questions of her own.

The relief of feeling Jordan on the other side — answering me — has been enormous. Yet so has the doubt, the sense that I am violating all my commitments to science and reason. To ease my misgivings, I asked Jordan why anyone should do this. What can be gained and lost? His immediate answer was that nothing is lost by opening to the circle with the dead. Nothing. But here is what such conversations can gain us.

• First, and most important, we preserve a connection across the life-and-death divide; we break the silence.

• Next, we are able to receive support from the dead. We know we are not alone here without their love and counsel.

• We also can learn things that only the dead — liberated from the amnesia of physical life — can know. This includes knowledge about life purpose (why we have come here) as well as information about what happens to the soul after death.

• We can find greater acceptance for the pain in life. The conversations with Jordan have provided me with a long view of the cycle of life and death, a sense that death is a minor transition that doesn't change soul relationships.

• Finally, such conversations allow us to give support to the ones on the other side. We can hold and love each other, knowing that the embrace never ends. I believe that Jordan can feel my love as an active intention and that it strengthens him.

* * *

The meaning of our last words, that last touch outside of Saul's, has changed for me. This is how Jordan put it in a recent conversation:

There will never be a last thing we say to each other. We have been learning from each other for centuries. We have been guiding each other across many lives. Why would we stop when we hugged each other goodbye on Shattuck Avenue? Dad, we will never stop loving and learning. I promise.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Seeking Jordan by Matthew McKay. Copyright © 2016 Matthew McKay. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Ralph Metzner, PhD,
Preface,
Chapter 1. Train to Chicago,
Chapter 2. Beginning the Conversation,
Chapter 3. Listening,
Chapter 4. What Is Death?,
Chapter 5. The Other Side: Landings, Recovery, Review,
Chapter 6. Reunions,
Chapter 7. All Together: The Living and the Dead,
Chapter 8. Why Things Happen,
Chapter 9. The Lessons of Uncertainty and Loss,
Chapter 10. How Spirits Help Us,
Chapter 11. What We Do When We Know Where Home Is,
Chapter 12. The Cycle: Lessons Learned and Not Learned,
Chapter 13. Another Journey,
About the Author,

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Seeking Jordan: How I Learned the Truth about Death and the Invisible Universe 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it. It brought more truth to my already knowing self. It inspires me to live with more love in my life. Fear falls away. I'm grateful to all spirits that created this special book. Thank you.