Last night we had dinner with our friend Dr. Raymond Moody, the internationally renown psychiatrist and discoverer of the near-death experience in the early 1970’s. One of our mutual friends calls him The Sage of Alabama, and he truly is a treasure-trove of experience and wisdom in matters of the human experience. He has published many books, the most famous being Life After Life, detailing his research on the experiences of people who were resuscitated after dying. He is also the recipient of the UN’s World Humanitarian Award for his work with the dying.
Raymond holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and an M.D., an interesting and invaluable double-whammy when your area of expertise is death and dying. These days he spends most of his time on the international lecture circuit, and the rest as a grief counselor helping both those who are dying and their families.
We met him at a conference in the Bahamas some ten years ago and discovered we had mutual friends. Over the years he has been a regular visitor to our home whenever he’s in town on a lecture. Last night we had dinner at a marvelous little restaurant called Les Deux Singes de Montarvie (The Two Monkeys of Montarvie), a modern French bistro specializing in creative “cuisine de terroir” – market cuisine featuring local ingredients and private wine importations. Well worth the visit BTW.
During diner we got on to the topic of fundamentalist religions. Raymond remarked that in his experience, one sure sign of psychological trouble is the certainty with which people hold their beliefs to be absolutely true. This is especially so with respect to ideas around God and the Universe. Certainty usually signals discomfort with ambiguity, and since ambiguity is the very stuff of life, de facto, it implies discomfort with reality itself.
Think about that next time someone tells you something is absolutely true.