Awakening · Book Reviews

Dying To Be Me: Review

I thought the cancer was killing me, but actually I was killing myself before I got cancer. The cancer saved my life.” – Anita Moorjani

Dying to be meDying To Be Me is an inspiring account of Anita Moorjani’s near-death experience and recovery from lymphoma. She begins with a description of her life growing up as an outsider in Hong Kong, and how she felt compelled to fit in and pretend to be what she thought others wanted her to be. Despite various difficulties, she managed to create a life for herself, but then came the fateful diagnosis.

After four years fighting the illness, Anita’s body began to shut down. Her lymphatic system was overwhelmed by cancer, she had tumours the size of lemons in her neck and abdomen, and her body was wasting away. She slipped into a coma and was rushed to hospital where the doctors battled to save her life.

As her body shut down, Anita entered a near death experience and her consciousness expanded into an altered state. Despite being technically unconscious and comatose, she was fully aware of everything happening around her bed, and witnessed conversations that took place elsewhere. She could feel the emotions of those around her, and knew that the doctors had little hope of reviving her. She even saw her brother on an aeroplane, as he made his way to her bedside.

Beyond Time and Space

When she got attached to the drama unfolding around her, she also felt herself being pulled away. She became aware that there was a larger plan and that everything was happening as it should. She felt herself expand until there was no separation between her and everything else – she became one with all. The usual restrictions of time and space fell away, and she felt a great sense of freedom, joy, and unconditional love.

“It didn’t feel as though I’d physically gone somewhere else – it was more as though I’d awakened. Perhaps I’d finally been roused from a bad dream. My soul was finally realising its true magnificence! And in doing so, it was expanding beyond my body and this physical world. It extended further and further outward until it encompassed not only this existence, but continued to expand into another realm that was beyond this time and space, and at the same time included it.”

Anita’s sense of time was altered – as if everything was happening at once – and she became aware of other lives she had lived (or was living simultaneously) with her brother, Anoop: “I was aware of everything that pertained to me – past, present, and future – simultaneously. I became conscious of what seemed to be simultaneous lives playing out. I seemed to have a younger brother in one incarnation, and I was protective of him. But I knew that this sibling’s essence was the same as Anoop’s…”

Some of these other lives were clearly historical in setting, and yet she felt they were all happening now. Time only seems to be linear while we’re in a physical body:

“It seems as though our five senses limit us to focus only on one point in time at any given moment, and we string these together to create an illusion of linear reality. Our physicality also limits our perception of the space around us, confining us to only what our eyes and ears can see and hear or to what we can touch, smell or taste. However, without the limitations of my body, I took in all points of time and space as they pertained to me, all at once.”

The Tapestry of Life

During her near-death experience Anita came to understand why she had got cancer and saw clearly how her life interconnected with everyone else. She describes this as an intricate tapestry, with her experience represented as one thread woven through a vast and complex pattern. There were threads that represented every relationship, whether with a close family member or passing acquaintance – every encounter woven together to make the whole picture.

“Seeing this, I understood that I owed it to myself, to everyone I met, and to life itself to always be an expression of my own unique essence. Trying to be anything or anyone else didn’t make me better – it just deprived me of my true self! It kept others from experiencing me for who I am, and it deprived me of interacting authentically with them. Being inauthentic also deprives the universe of who I came here to be and what I came here to express.”

It was her denial of her true self that had led to her illness. Anita struggled with low self-esteem all through her childhood, and had always felt incapable of expressing her real self. With her expanded awareness she could understand how her many fears had brought her to this moment, and that it was her fear that was giving her this gift of healing. The illness happened because she had suppressed her true power and energy, so it turned inward against her body, rather than outward.

She was given a choice to return to life or go on into death. She chose to return, knowing that she had a new purpose to fulfil. That purpose was to live her life and be herself with full knowledge of who she really was – the essence of pure love – and to live her life fearlessly.

Anita came out of the coma and within weeks was up and walking around. She healed in record time, the cancer vanishing without trace. The book goes on to explore the insights she gained through her experience. It wasn’t just her body that was healed. Her whole perspective on life was transformed, and for a while she found it hard to adjust. She began to question all her previous assumptions and goals, and learned to trust her inner guidance.

“I understood that true joy and happiness could only be found by loving myself, going inward, following my heart, and doing what brought me joy. I discovered that when my life seems directionless and I feel lost (which still happens to me frequently), what it really means is that I’ve lost my sense of self. I’m not connected with who I really am and what I’ve come here to be. This tended to happen when I stopped listening to my own internal voice and gave my power away to external sources, such as TV commercials, newspapers, big drug companies, my peers, cultural and societal beliefs, and the like.”

A Healing Message

Dying To Be Me is an inspiring and thought-provoking book with a healing and uplifting message at its heart. I didn’t always agree with Anita’s interpretation of her experiences, but the book is worth reading and adds much to the literature on near-death experiences.

I particularly liked her emphasis on the importance of our physical existence. Some belief systems claim that our purpose on earth is to achieve liberation from physical existence, that Earth is a sideshow to the main act. But Dying To Be Me suggests that we incarnate to experience the full range of human emotions because these aren’t available in the state of pure awareness. We’re meant to be here, living full lives. Earth is where the action is.

“This reality is a playground of expression. It looks as though we aren’t here to learn or gather experiences for the afterlife. There doesn’t seem to be much purpose in that because we don’t need any of it there. Rather, we’re here to experience and evolve this physical universe and our own lives within it. … We don’t have to wait until we die to experience nirvana. Our true magnificence exists rights now!

She also says there’s no judgement after we die – we simply return to a state of oneness – and this applies to everyone, regardless of what they’ve done. She takes a very positive view, doesn’t believe in bad karma, and says that if you can just be true to your deeper self then everything will work out great. It’s an inspiring message, but not easy to live up to. It also seems to suggest that there are no consequences to our actions, and raises questions about how we “evolve this physical universe and our own lives within it”. Learning from the consequences of our choices and actions is what helps us to change.

Perhaps because Anita had a positive experience and there was no judgement or negativity, she assumes that it applies to everyone in all circumstances. Others have had very different NDEs and describe frightening, nightmarish experiences and encounters with what are sometimes called the lower astral realms and demonic entities. To ignore the darker side of consciousness may be naïve and simplistic, but this view may simply reflect my own limited understanding.

There’s obviously a lot we don’t know about the nature of reality, how it relates to our consciousness, and how we progress through life. Dying To Be Me contributes to our understanding, and Anita’s message is basically sound, even if reality is more mysterious and complex than her description implies. In simple terms, her message is this:

You are already what you’re trying to be. You’re true self is infinite and the entire universe is contained within you in a realm of oneness. The infinite self is what she calls your true magnificence – a state of being and awareness that embraces oneness and unconditional love. Your only task while here is to be true to yourself. Connect with your inner self and follow its guidance, and live in a way that brings out your passion, creativity, and purpose for living.

To do this you need to get into a state of pure allowing. This means developing faith in your true self. When you do that, what is yours will come to you because you’re already connected to it – it’s already part of who you are. This isn’t about positive thinking or trying to attract what you want. It’s about allowing what needs to be expressed to come up.

(Of course, it depends on what needs to be expressed!)

The quality of your experience, the tapestry you weave through your life, depends upon where you put your awareness. If you stay focused on your true magnificence you can live fearlessly and fully. You are here to be you.

“Our life is our prayer. It’s our gift to this universe. … We owe it to ourselves and to everyone around us to be happy and to spread that joy around.”

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5 thoughts on “Dying To Be Me: Review

  1. Hi Jessica! Thanks for sharing this review. I had looked a little at Anita’s web site, and your review fills in some of the things I missed. Being that I’ve traveled in these realms, it’s less of a surprise to me. Although it does seem when the connection with the body weakens, one gets philosophically more profound awareness than when one travels into these realms and the body is healthy. Also, I think she is doing a good service to get people aware of the inner realms.

    I share your belief that physical experience is as necessary as the rest of it. I encountered the “spirit is more important” attitude years ago when I first got into theosophy. That contradicts a general principle I have about things and stuff: if it exists, God made it, therefore it must have some value or purpose.

    I think from a very broad point of view, her idea of a tapestry is good. van der Leeuw (I just read this last night) saw it as a symphony, where each apparently separate thing was like a note in the symphony.

    Anyway, very nice, Jessica! Thank you!

    All my best,


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    1. I like the idea of everything being a different note in a symphony, sometimes harmonising, other times clashing. It’s all vibration or energy – I wonder what it would sound like if you could hear it?!

      Anita’s idea of the tapestry reminded me of Indra’s Net. Alan Watts said about it, “Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.”

      It’s a useful metaphor, I suppose. But music – that’s much closer to the truth! 🙂


      1. Yeah, I think it is both. Waves reflect off of one another. I just went into this somewhat in my 2nd post on the yogic view of consciousness – very much like the Buddhist view. So nice to hear from you, Jessica. -Don

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