Are Near Death Experiences
Proof of Life After Death?
Chapter One: Introduction
Since the beginning of recorded history humans have asked the questions, “What happens when we die? Is there life after death?” Many will say that no one knows. However, there is a special segment of the population that say that they do know. The thousands of documented reports of those who have had what is called a near-death experience, also known as NDE, and those who have experienced a spiritually transformative experience, also known as STE, have opened wide an in-depth discussion of this question. The intention of this project/report is to explore this question from the point of view of those who have had a near-death experience with the goal of demonstrating the clear likelihood of the existence of life after death.
This report will begin first by defining what a near-death experience is with a definition of its “sister”, the spiritually transformative experience. This project will then explore how the near-death experience has been studied and documented. Then it will look at the stages of the near-death experience. It will offer a stunning example of a near-death experience and my own spiritually transformative experiences.
In a fair effort to support the premise that near-death experiences indicate proof of life after death this project will examine the literature that poses the question as to whether near-death experiences are real or hallucination. It will examine the point of view that near-death experiences are hallucination from the vantage point of medicine and science.
Then this project will examine the point of view that near-death experiences are real from the vantage point of those who have had and/or studied near-death experiences including those of children, the blind, and adults. It will also examine the after effects of near-death experiences on those who have had them and how those effects indicate the validity of the experience as real.
This project will then offer indicators that there is life after death through the exploration of the history of the concept of reincarnation in Christianity with Jesus’ original teachings and the decisions made at the Council of Nicaea. It will also explore the teachings of the Bible, Eastern religions, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, Yogananda, The Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanishads.
This project will then comment on quantum physics and its powerful implications that life after death may be a reality.
This report will then take a close look at the powerful indicators of past-life memories of those who have had a near-death experience. This exploration will include memories of children and in particular children who are a surviving twin and children reporting pre-birth memories. This section will also include past life memories of adults.
The exploration of this topic is of vital importance to the spiritual evolution of human kind. Not only have the near-death experience and the spiritually transformative experience documentations opened the door for serious acceptance of life after death, but the recent revelations of quantum physics have indicated powerful inductive evidence to support this point of view as a reality. This project proposes that once life after death is an accepted reality that this knowledge will provide comfort, understanding, and spiritual motivation to the population living in denial and fear of death. Such acceptance can bring to many peace of mind and a motivation to explore the True Self more in-depth. The concept is exciting and stands to pose more questions that will lure the true seeker into a powerful spiritual and personal growth journey that can offer not only serenity but wisdom and the realization of the importance of learning to love unconditionally. The questions it encourages are seemingly endless. Who am I? What is the after-life like? What is the purpose of life, death, and experience? Is there a God? What are the “many kingdoms” mentioned by Jesus? These are but a few of the questions to be considered. A list of such questions would be lengthy indeed and the asking of them would aid in one’s personal and spiritual growth.
Chapter Two: Review Of Literature
The following resources are presented as in the bibliography itself in alphabetical order of each author and his or her work referenced in this paper.
Eben Alexander, M.D. is a renowned academic neurosurgeon of 25 years which includes teaching at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s and the Children’s Hospitals. His near-death experience compelled him to write Proof Of Heaven, a book that depicts his NDE journey that moved him into believing in life after death. He currently lectures widely on the subject of life after death and shares his personal experience. I use his book both as a medical resource and near-death experience resource for proof of life after death.
P.M.H. Atwater is an acknowledged authority and researcher in the field of near-death experiences. She, herself, has had three NDE’s and openly shares her experiences. She is author of the books Coming Back To Life: The After-Effects Of The Near-Death Experience, The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences, The New Children and Near-Death Experiences, We Live Forever: The Real Truth About Death, and Beyond the Light. Atwater resides in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has lectured broadly including twice at the United Nations. I use the information in these five books in defining what a near-death experience is and addressing the issues and questions of life after death, reincarnation, the after effects of NDE’s, and NDE’s and children.
David Bennett and Cindy Griffith-Bennett are co-authors of Voyage Of Purpose. David is the survivor of two near-death experiences, once as an ocean diver and once as the victim of bone and lung cancer. He lectures widely on the subject of near-death experiences and has appeared on television and on the radio. The Bennetts reside in Skaneateles, New York. I use his information in exploring the after effects of NDE’s.
Etzel Cardena, Steven Jay Lynn, and Stanley Krippner are co-editors of the book Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence. Cardena, a native of Mexico, has a Ph.D. from University of California, Davis, is a fellow at Stanford Univesity, is member and fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Lynn is a Ph.D. professor of psychology at State University of New York, is former president of the APA, and has published over 170 books and articles on hypnosis, memory, and psychotherapy. Krippner is professor of psychology at Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco, California. He is author of several books in the field of psychological hypnosis and is the recipient of many awards in the field of humanistic psychology. I use their co-authored book as a resource for research on near-death experiences from a medical point of view.
Mark Fox is an acknowledged authority in the field of religious experiences. He lectures on philosophical and religious subjects and at the writing of his book Religion, Spirituality and the Near–Death Experience speaks on these subjects at Joseph Chamberlain College in Birmingham, England. He is a member of the research committee of the Religious Experience Research Centre, a faction of the University of Wales, Lampeter. I use his research on the medical approach to near-death experiences and the blind.
Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa are co-translators of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the ancient scripture of the Nyingma or old tradition. I use their translation as a resource for religious doctrine on reincarnation.
Yvonne Kason, M.D. is in private practice as a family physician and is on staff at several hospitals where she resides in Toronto, Canada. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and is director of the Spiritual Emergence Research and Referral Clinic. Her book A Farther Shore is co-authored by Teri Degler, also a resident of Toronto, and who is an award-winning author who writes on creativity and paranormal states. I resource Kason and Degler’s book for information regarding the after effects of NDE’s and STE’s, spiritually transformative experiences.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. is a noted pioneer in the studies of death and dying, having worked with the dying and their families at her Escondido, California center. Although she did not specialize in studying NED’s her work has had potent impact on the study of near-death experiences. Dr. Kubler-Ross, who passed away in 2004, is author of the highly influential book On Death And Dying which outlines the five stages of grief. I call upon her book On Children And Death as evidence to the existence of life after death.
Jeffrey Long, M.D. is a radiation oncologist in Houma, Louisiana. He and his wife, Jody, have established the non-profit Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) and a website, www.nderf.org, designed for people to share their experiences. In his book Evidence Of The Afterlife Dr. Long draws from the research done by the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. In this book Dr. Long shares many stories of those who have survived death. His research is backed up by a vast database of testimonies. Dr. Long claims that the research done is the most compelling evidence of life after death and out does what we know about curing cancer. I use Dr. Long’s research on the blind and other relevant cases in supporting this report.
Juan Mascaro is the translator of the ancient teaching and classic The Bhagavad Gita, author unknown. Mr. Mascaro is native of Majorca, graduate of Cambridge University, and lecturer at Oxford University. In 1951 he married and had several children. He passed away in 1987. I call upon the The Bhagavad Gita as a resource for religious confirmation of reincarnation.
Sukie Miller, Ph.D. is in private practice in Northern California as a psychotherapist and is founder and director of the Institute for the Study of the Afterdeath. Her early studies in cross-cultural dimensions in the field have elevated her as an authority in NDE’s. She is also founder of the Institute for the Study of Humanistic Medicine. I use as a source of information on reincarnation Miller’s book After Death: Mapping The Journey, co-authored by Suzanne Lipsett.
Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D. may be the first to bring about wide spread awareness of near-death experiences. His best selling and award-winning book Life After Life has been an inspiration for many of the authors called upon for this study. At this writing Dr. Moody has completed fifty years of research on near-death experiences. He earned his M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia, 1976, his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Virginia, 1969, his M.A. in philosophy from the University of Virginia, 1967, and his B.A. with Honors in philosophy from the University of Virginia, 1966. He currently has a website at www.lifeafterlife.com and teaches, counsels, and lectures widely on the subject of NDE’s. I use Dr. Moody’s book as a resource for documented NDE’s.
Melvin Morse, M.D. is a graduate of George Washington University School of Medicine and is a recipient of the National Service Research Award. At the printing of his book in 1990 Closer To The Light, coauthored by Paul Perry, Dr. Morse had studied and researched near-death experiences in children for eight years. He consequently has become a recognized authority in the field of near-death studies. Paul Perry coauthored two books with Dr. Raymond Moody, the acknowledged father of near-death studies. He is the former executive editor of American Health Magazine. In his book Closer To The Light Dr. Morse explores the near-death experiences of children. I have drawn upon Dr. Morse’s research in my section on demonstrating medically that near-death experiences are real and not hallucination.
Leon Rhodes, writer, editor, and lecturer on NDE’s has a background in show business and in particular the New York stage. He is also noted for producing the first commercial in 1938. As an officer in the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) Rhodes has earned respect in the studies of NDE’s. I call upon the information in his book Tunnel To Eternity: Beyond Near-Death as a resource for the proof of existence of an after life.
Kenneth Ring is a world renowned authority on near-death experiences and is perhaps the most respected by many. He is known as the “Dean of NDE Research.” Ring is professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut and founding editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies. He currently resides in Northern California in Kentfield. I use his book Lessons From The Light as a resource in gathering information on blind children and NDE’s, the existence of life after death, the after effects of NDE’s and the actual experiences of those who have experienced an NDE. Ring shares the authoring of this book with Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, a resident of Geneva, Switzerland and author of On the Other Side of Life: Exploring the Phenomenon of the Near-Death Experience.
Paramahansa Yogananda is known by millions as a great guru and teacher of scientific meditation techniques and the true nature of reality as taught by his masters passed down through the ages. Yogananda came to the West in 1920 to establish the Self Realization Fellowship, its Mother Center located in Los Angeles, California. He is author of hundreds of books, essays, poems, and other written material including the double volume The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. I use these two volumes in my research on religious and metaphysical teachings.
Chapter Three: Personal Relevance
This project is of significant relevance to me personally. I recall back into my childhood at about age six wanting to know the reason for death and the true nature of reality. My father was a surgeon and it seemed to me that his “doctor’s bag” that he took to visit his patients in their homes held the key to some mysterious truths. I imagined that if I could take my father’s scalpel I could somehow cut a hole in the fabric of the universe and could poke my head through to the other side and see the reality that I felt was behind what my five senses observed. I was frustrated and filled with wonderment at what I knew must lay behind the delusion of the physical world.
I have dyslexia and as a child was called a “slow learner.” I often experienced family and peer rejection that weighed heavily on my heart. At six I experienced the horror of accidentally being run over by my father while he was backing his car down the driveway. Although I was not seriously injured physically I was emotionally traumatized. I thought literally, as children often do, that my father meant to kill me. By the time I was in my late teens I was, in my view, an obsessive compulsive nervous wreck believing I was alone in a loveless world with only my dog (who was later poisoned by a neighbor) for comfort. Because of my loneliness and pain I was moved by a driving desire to understand why a god would allow such pain without finding a way out of it. I desperately wanted to know the truth about things: God, death, love, the purpose of life, why there is suffering, and the true nature of reality. My parents offered little in helping me explore such questions although my mother did introduce me to the works of Carl Jung.
When I was very young my parents allowed me to go with my older brother to see my first movie in a theatre. In those days theaters were considered special places built with architectural detail aimed at creating a dramatic experience. I was very small and young and overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of the theater. I can still recall the awe I felt and the taste and smell of the root beer candies I sucked on while watching the movie. This theatre and movie were important in helping to establish a life long, to this point, fear of death. The only part of the movie I recall is a scene where a king was in bed dying and his young son, age twelve, was called to his dying father’s bedside. The king died and the boy was told that he was now the king. I felt this young boys grief at his father’s death and his vulnerability and fear in the face of his loss and the responsibility demanded by his new position as king. He felt helpless and abandoned, the way I would feel if I lost my parents and were forced to find my way on my own. I was consumed with the same fear of death that I imagined the young boy felt. That fear has driven me to ask the questions the reality of death poses: Why do we die? Is it a punishment? What happens when we die? Do we lose our identity? If there is more what is it? If there is no more then what is the purpose of life?
When I was twelve I found myself sitting at my mother’s formal Thanksgiving table with my parents, my grandparents, and my siblings. I asked my Baptist minister grandfather what the difference was between someone who is an agnostic and someone who is an atheist. When he explained the difference I claimed that I was agnostic because I wanted proof that God existed. The only proof for me was to experience God. The table fell silent as we continued with our Thanksgiving meal. Although my question was not an opening door for family discussion it was another step in becoming more conscious as to the importance of my personal quest for Truth.
My senior year in undergraduate school found me sitting in a required (the faculty took role) convocation on a Sunday morning. I dreaded those convocations. They never inspired me. I recall sitting on the hard wooden bench seat looking out at my peers when suddenly I was struck with a realization that sent me into uncontrollable weeping for joy. I knew that all any one wanted was to be loved. This realization suddenly wiped away my feelings of separateness and bonded me with all living beings in our mutual craving for unconditional love. I realized I was not alone. I was overwhelmed with joy and I started sobbing so audibly that I had to leave the convocation and retreat to my dorm where my completely confused boyfriend accompanied me. I was unable to share with him my revelation for about an hour as I could not stop crying. This simple thought completely transformed my perception. I knew we all need love, but prior to this moment I had not fully comprehended the longing and despair of all humans in their need for unconditional love. Such a need simply must be answered. All humans craving love must somehow find it. Without realizing it that day I had a spiritually transformative experience.
As a young adult and through my middle years I sought the answers to my questions about life, death, and love in therapy. I recall therapists telling me repeatedly, “You have to love yourself” and when I would ask, “How?” it seemed they had no answer. The teachings of Carl Rogers, one of my professors in graduate school, and Milton Erickson, the father of hypnotherapy and a mentor, helped give me confidence. Then one day I was sitting in one of my many therapist’s offices and I saw an image of myself as a four year old child. Suddenly I KNEW something vital about love. I realized that a key to emotional and spiritual healing could begin with compassion for the child within. I believed, and still believe, that the experience of love is what heals and that experience can begin by connecting with the vulnerable child within the self. I believe that the innocent child can be the opening door to the spirit. I am often reminded of Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
By this time I was a practicing therapist and I began to work in earnest with myself and my clients seeking to develop processes that could offer the experience of love and therefore healing. Gradually over the years the processes developed into a series of psycho-spiritual methods that have helped many. My book The True Seeker’s Guide To A Better Life and my workshop The Renaissance Experience were born of my pain and my seeking to free myself from the despair of this world.
In 1984 I found myself alone in a loveless marriage. Once again I was in despair. I was in so much pain that I surrendered and uttered an inner cry for help. In my despondency I sat by myself and asked God for guidance. Suddenly I was surrounded by a soft light that permeated and surrounded all things within my view. I was instantly filled with joy. I was in another realm, a realm of unconditional love and bliss. Then I heard in the silence the words, “All there is, is love.” This experience changed my life once again and opened up yet more questions. If all there is, is love, what is evil then? Is death a punishment for not living a virtuous life?
As seems to be common when our consciousness is raised something happens to challenge the new awareness. I was diagnosed with an incurable intestinal disease. I was terrified and my fear of dying was renewed in an explosion of dread. This sent me into a new round of pursuing Truth. I enrolled into a personal growth workshop where I once again had another blissful experience that deepened my faith and commitment to the metaphysical nature of reality. My disease is under control and I am, at almost seventy, still enthralled with my work and the search for Truth.
I am grateful for the wisdom that has come from my suffering. This study on near-death experiences and spiritually transformative experiences is central to my life’s quest. If indeed the near-death experiences of others are proof of life after death then I will have the answer to many of my questions. I will feel I am another step closer to realizing Truth.
Chapter Four: Findings
What Is A Near-Death Experience?
In the study of near-death experiences it is necessary to have a clear description of what exactly it is. A near-death experience or NDE can happen to individuals who are near death’s door or are clinically dead. Such individuals encounter an other-worldly or out-of-body experience ranging from rising up from and viewing their body and the immediate environment to finding themselves in a “heavenly” or “hellish” realm where they are given either unconditional love or experience terror. Whatever the experience those who have it return to tell of the lessons and wisdom learned during their visit to the “other side.” Typically in death the lack of oxygen to the brain can cause brain damage if denied for three to five minutes. But remarkably those who report having an NDE, even up to a reported hour of being clinically dead, return with no brain damage. On the contrary as P.M.H. Atwater claims in her book The Big Book Of Near Death Experiences, the brain is enhanced as a result of the experience. Also remarkably the experiencer can often describe happenings, conversations, and other phenomenon that only one conscious and present could describe.
P.M.H. Atwater in her book Coming Back To Life: The After-Effects Of The Near-Death Experience reports on a Gallup Poll survey made in 1982 that at that point about eight million Americans reported that they have had a near-death experience. The study reported that the experiences came as a result of a close brush with death, almost dying, or even having been pronounced dead. George Gallup, Jr. claimed that the estimate at that time would be closer to twenty-three million. Gallup’s claim indicated that number would be for the United States alone. Atwater estimates in her book, The Big Book Of Near Death Experiences published in 2007 that the estimated incidents are fifteen million. She claims that twelve to twenty percent of individuals who are dying or near dying have had a near-death experience and that over seventy percent of children close to death have a near-death experience.
Incidents of reported NDE’s have surfaced over time. Plato wrote of an incident of a soldier who had died and was left on the road with other dead but whose body had not decayed. When his family found him ten days later the soldier reported his experience on the other side. (Atwater, Coming Back To Life: the After-Effects Of The Near-Death Experience.) Many other accounts of NDE’s have been recorded throughout history.
Stages of the NDE
The NDE can be experienced in stages. Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D. in his ground breaking book Life After Life describes the various stages one can go through when having an NDE. The first stage of death may be a sense of peace and acceptance. Even though the individual may have experienced an injury they feel no pain. The next stage can be sound such as buzzing, ringing, or even beautiful music, being pulled into a dark tunnel and being lifted out of their body, the entering another realm where they may meet others or a being of light or God, being escorted to other worlds or a tour of the universe, the receiving of great wisdom and the answer to all the questions they may have had during life, given a choice as to weather to stay or return to their body, then the return to their body.
A more complete description of the fifteen characteristics Moody describes in NDE’s can be found in A Farther Shore by Yvonne Kason, M.D. (Page 62.) Briefly those fifteen characteristics are: 1) ineffability, 2) auditory awareness, 3) strong feelings of peace, 4) unusual inner sounds, 5) floating out of the body, 6) dark tunnel, 7) meeting the spirits, 8) white light, 9) life review, 10) life barrier, 11) abrupt return to the body, 12) conviction of the reality of the experience, 13) transformational impact, 14) new views of death, and 15) independent corroboration.
Although most cases of NDE’s reported by the media are positive and even awe-inspiring, some may experience going to a hellish place where they encounter demonic beings and evil sounds, smells, and feelings. Whatever the experience the one on this journey is typically profoundly moved by the experience and claims no fear of death as a result of their NDE.
Although the stages of an NDE can be extended as depicted above by Moody, Kenneth Ring narrowed the experience down to five stages as follows: peace, body separation, entering darkness, seeing the light, and entering the light. A more detailed description of Ring’s list can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience.
Similarity to STE’s
NDE’s and spiritually transformative experiences also known as STE’s are similar in that they offer the one having the episode a transformative experience. While NDE’s are the result of death or near death, STE’s are not. Often the trigger for an STE will be a deep desire to know something born of some loss or despair. It can be seen as a “religious” experience and can offer the same kind of wisdom and comfort offered in an NDE. An STE can also come in a dream. Because of their similarities the STE is also a possible source of understanding the meaning of life and death.
Research and Documentation of NDE’s
It is the opinion of many that NDE’s should be researched only by those with credentials in cognitive neuroscience. However, due to the lack of financial support in the scientific and medical profession and the passionate interest of various individuals, the current study and documentation of NDE’s had been conducted and reported primarily by academics. There is evidence of some research and interest in NDE’s in ancient literature and in the 19th century a small effort was done by the Mormons and the Swiss. A study conducted in 2005 showed that 95% of world cultures have documented NDE’s.
Among other academics included in this research, energetic commitment to the study and documentation of NDE’s have been conducted by Jess Weiss, George Ritchie, and Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D. Moody’s book Life After Life published in 1975 ignited major public interest in the NDE’s and might be considered the contemporary leader in encouraging studies, research, and documentation since. In 1981 the International Association for Near-Death Studies, known as IANDS, was established. The IANDS website, www.iands.org, posts research, education, documented studies and stories, support and resources on NDE’s and STE’s. It holds Internet conferences and live support groups all over the U.S., Canada, France, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Slovenia, and South Africa. IANDS encourages active sharing of NDE’s and STE’s. It also has its own hard copy publication, Journal of Near-Death Studies and a newsletter Vital Signs.
The formal study of NDE’s were introduced to the academic world by Bruce Greyson, Kenneth Ring, and Michael Sabom. Between 1975 and 2005 some 55 researchers reported 3500 cases of NDE’s. Melvin Morse who is head of the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness has studied NDE’s in children. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience)
The following is a direct quote from Beverly Brodsky who experienced her NDE as a result of a motorcycle accident in which she was considered clinically dead. Although Beverly’s NDE’s may vary in depth and content to others, her experience is a good example of a near-death experience. Rather than quote numerous NDE’s this report offers this one profound account as a typical demonstration of what an NDE is like.
“Somehow an unexpected peace descended upon me. I found myself floating on the ceiling over the bed looking down at my unconscious body. I barely had time to realize the glorious strangeness of the situation – that I was me but not in my body – when I was joined by a radiant being bathed in a shimmering white glow. Like myself, this being flew but had no wings. I felt a reverent awe when I turned to him; this was no ordinary angel or spirit, but he had been sent to deliver me. Such love and gentleness emanated from his being that I felt that I was in the presence of the Messiah. Whoever he was, his presence deepened my serenity and awakened a feeling of joy as I recognized my companion. Gently he took my hand and we flew right through the window. I felt no surprise at my ability to do this. In this wondrous presence, everything was as it should be. Beneath us lay the beautiful Pacific Ocean … But my attention was now directed upward, where there was a large opening leading to a circular path. Although it seemed to be deep and far to the end, a white light shone through and poured out into the gloom to the other side where the opening beckoned. It was the most brilliant light I had ever seen, although I didn’t realize how much of its glory was veiled from the outside. The path was angled upward, obliquely, to the right. Now still hand in hand with the angel, I was led into the opening of the small, dark passageway. I then remember traveling a long distance upward toward the light. I believe that I was moving very fast, but this entire realm seemed to be outside of time. Finally, I reached my destination. It was only when I emerged from the other end that I realized that I was no longer accompanied by the being who had brought me there. But I wasn’t alone. There, before me, was the living presence of the light. Within it I sensed an all-pervading intelligence, wisdom, compassion, love, and truth. There was neither form nor sex to this perfect being. It, which I shall in the future call he, in keeping without our commonly accepted syntax, contained everything, as white light contains all the colors of a rainbow when penetrating a prism. And deep within me came an instant and wondrous recognition: I, even I, was facing God. I immediately lashed out at him with all the questions I had ever wondered about; all the injustices I had seen in the physical world. I don’t know if I did this deliberately, but I discovered that God knows all your thoughts immediately and responds telepathically. My mind was naked; in fact, I became pure mind. The ethereal body which I had traveled in through the tunnel seemed to be no more; it was just my personal intelligence confronting that Universal Mind, which clothed itself in a glorious, living light that was more felt than seen, since no eye could absorb its splendor. I don’t recall the exact content of our discussion; in the process of return, the insights that came so clearly and fully in Heaven were not brought back with me to Earth. I’m sure that I asked the question that had been plaguing me since childhood about the sufferings of my people. I do remember this: There was a reason for everything that happened, no matter how awful it appeared in the physical realm. And within myself, as I was given the answer, my own awakening mind now responded in the same manner: “Of course,” I would think, “I already know that. How could I ever have forgotten!”
Indeed, it appears that all that happens is for a purpose, and that purpose is already known to our eternal self. In time the questions ceased, because I suddenly was filled with all the Being’s wisdom. I was given more than just the answers to my questions; all knowledge unfolded to me, like the instant blossoming of an infinite number of flowers all at once. I was filled with God’s knowledge, and in that precious aspect of his Beingness, I was one with him. But my journey of discovery was just beginning. Now I was treated to an extraordinary voyage through the universe. Instantly we traveled to the center of stars being born, supernovas exploding, and many other glorious celestial events for which I have no name. The impression I have now of this trip is that it felt like the universe is all one grand object woven from the same fabric. Space and time are illusions that hold us to our physical realm; out there all is present simultaneously. I was a passenger on a divine spaceship in which the Creator showed me the fullness and beauty of all of his Creation. The last thing that I saw before all external vision ended was a glorious fire – the core and center of a marvelous star. Perhaps this was a symbol for the blessing that was now to come to me. Everything faded except for a richly full void in which That and I encompassed All that is. Here, I experienced, in ineffable magnificence, communion with the light being. Now I was filled with not just all knowledge, but also with all love. It was as if the light were poured in and through me. I was God’s object of adoration; and from his/our love I drew life and joy beyond imagining. My being was transformed; my delusions, sins, and guilt were forgiven and purged without asking; and now I was love, primal being, and bliss. And, in some sense, I remain there, for Eternity. Such a union cannot be broken. It always was, is, and shall be. Suddenly, not knowing how or why, I returned to my broken body. But miraculously, I brought back the love and the joy. I was filled with an ecstasy beyond my wildest dreams. Here, in my body, the pain had all been removed. I was still enthralled by a boundless delight. For the next two months, I remained in this state, oblivious to any pain.I felt now as if I had been made anew. I saw wondrous meanings everywhere; everything was alive and full of energy and intelligence.” (Bevbrodsky.com)
Are NED’s Real or Hallucination?
The Case For NDE’s As Hallucination
Much has been written and speculated upon as to whether NDE’s are real or hallucination. This report will briefly explore some of the evidence pro and con. First, it’s important to note that science has not yet identified what consciousness is. It can be argued that consciousness is not inside the brain, in the skull. It can also be argued that certain drugs such as ketamine and LSD can cause experiences strikingly similar to NDE’s, including experiences that bring about positive spiritual transformation. A research project’s definition of what consciousness is needed and its findings would be a welcome addition to the research on NDE’s.
In Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining The Scientific Evidence edited by Caredena, Lynn, and Krippner much has been said about the NDE as being hallucination. The editors report that in an article published in 1930 by O. Pfister in Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse claimed that NDE’s were nothing more than dissociation, a form of emotional defense against the threat of death. In 1993 Harvey Irwin, an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, Australia, claimed that NDE’s are the result of a dissociation of the self-identity from bodily sensation and emotions. In the editors’ final conclusion regarding NDE’s they say, “Whereas much of the public’s fascination with NDE’s resides in their implication that humans can survive the death of the body, their significance to the experients themselves and to health care professionals rests largely on the aftereffects of NDE’s on the individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, and values and on their power to effect profound personal transformation.” (Page 345.) This statement perhaps implies that what the NDEr experiences is completely subjective and therefore subject to dismissal.
Kevin J. Drab of San Francisco, California conducted a study on the tunnel aspect of the NED. In his report The Tunnel Experience: Reality or Hallucination? published in December of 1981 in Anabiosis: The Journal for Near-Death Studies Drab wrote, “The results of this study have led me to conclude that the experience of moving through a tunnel-like space is merely an hallucinatory creation of the mind.” (Page 147.) Tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen are depleted to the eye during extreme stress and fear. Drab’s findings may rest on this fact. In addition one may extrapolate that Drab may also conclude that other aspects of the NDE are also hallucinatory.
In Religion, Spirituality and the Near-Death Experience Mark Fox comments on the evidence for NDE’s being hallucination through the point of view of neuroscience with its emphasis on the exploration of the brain’s functioning and its structures, the effects of the anesthetic ketamine producing hallucinations, the effects of anoxia, also known as hypoxia, a condition leading to brain toxicity due to lack of oxygen, the pain killer, beta-endorphin, temporal lobe seizure, and Blackmore’s dying brain hypothesis. Although later in his book Fox comments on his objections to each these theories his list of proof for hallucination is well documented.
Einstein himself did not believe in life after death and may have refuted the idea of a near-death experience as being real or valid. As disappointing as this may be to believers in NDE’s as being real, Einstein’s point of view should be considered as due respect to this great physicist.
Dean Mobbs is a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and co-author with Caroline Watt at the University of Edinburg of Trends In Cognitive Sciences. Mobbs claims that much of what near-death experiencers report can be explained biologically. Mobbs says that patients with what is called “walking corpse” syndrome, a disorder that occurs after a trauma and is linked with vital brain regions, may have the illusion that they are dead. He claims that “the parietal cortex which is typically involved in attentional processes, and the prefrontal cortex which is involved in delusions is often observed in psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience) Mobbs explains that perhaps patients are attempting to make sense out of their experience. He explains further that an individual can have an out of body experience commonly experienced by many prior to sleep or waking. He also refers to sleep paralysis, reported in 40 percent of people, as a possible cause of hallucination such as floating above one’s body. He says that patients with Parkinson’s disease taking dopamine can experience hallucinatory visions of ghosts or monsters. He claims that the hallucination of reliving one’s life may be caused by locus coeruleus located in the midbrain that releases noradrenaline. This stress hormone released in high levels during extreme trauma can likewise cause this hallucination. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience)
Many claim that NDE’s are simply a result of the brain responding to what are perceived as life threatening conditions. Skeptics say that NDE’s can be replicated by using the Hemi-Sync process that was developed by the Monroe Institute. More can be learned about this process at http://www.monroeinstitute.org/resources/the-hemi-sync-process.
It appears that there is significant scientific evidence that the commonly known elements of near-death experiences have their roots in normal brain functions malfunctioning as a result of drugs, medications, sleep phenomenon, disease, or extreme stress.
The Case For NDE’s As Real
Serious research and documentation conducted by those studied in this project indicate that although the brain can replicate many of the phenomena reported in NDE’s it does not fully explain or qualify NDE’s as hallucination. Drugs, medications, sleep phenomenon, disease, or extreme stress that can alter perception and create hallucinations that replicated NDE’s do show that there is a biological component involved in the brain. However, as noted below there is considerable evidence that NDE’s are not simply a biological function of the brain under the influence of some outside stimulus. For example, studies of hallucination inducing drugs like PCP, LSD, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and morphine show a distortion of reality, image, and time and space. Studies show that the NDE does not have distortions of reality but instead a clear perception of another reality.
One should also take into consideration that scientifically conducted studies do not take into account intuition, insights, visions, dreams, and feelings.
Although those who believe that NDE’s are hallucination caused by brain chemical reaction as the basis for the experience, the theory does not explain everything. The following are views and remarks made by some experts in the field of near-death studies.
Psychologist John Gibbs describes NDE reports over time and in a variety of cultures as being orderly, logical, defined, and predictable as compared to those experiences reported by those who have experienced hallucinations and similar phenomena as a result of illness or drugs. Gibbs mentions similar conclusions drawn as a result of the observations of Tart, Moody, and Carl Becker. He mentions the compelling evidence of those who experienced an NDE as having observations while “dead” that were later verified by others. He also mentions the observations of those in the presence of the “dead” person as witnessing such phenomena as luminosity or apparitions. Such observations have not been researched nor reported by subjects under the influence of drugs or serious illness. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience)
Yvonne Kason, M.D. writes in her book A Farther Shore, “One of the most interesting things about NDE’s is how similar different people’s experience are.” (Page 62.) As previously mentioned in this report Dr. Raymond Moody identified fifteen features common to NDE’s, eight of which tend to consistently appear in reports of NDE’s. Although not all fifteen of the features are evident in all NDE’s the consistency of their appearance is compelling. Kason points out that, for example, the fourteenth characteristic of “new views of death” include the loss of fear of death and an increased conviction that soul survives the physical body after death. The fifteenth characteristic of “independent corroboration” depicts the reports of individuals independent from the NDE as observing events that the NDEr reports having also observed while “dead.”
Neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick points out that during an NDE one is unconscious and that during the state of unconsciousness the brain cannot create images nor can the individual recall the images after recovering consciousness. He points out that when one is unconscious or “dead” the brain is non-functional. He asserts that the unconscious brain is incapable of producing what an NDE produces. And yet the NDEr reports comprehensible and coherent memories. This would be impossible for the “dead” or unconscious brain to produce. These facts are also corroborated in the same field of neurology by Eben Alexander, M.D., a practicing neurosurgeon, who actually experienced an NDE. Alexander’s experience will be discussed later in this report. Both Fenwick and Alexander point out that science cannot solve this puzzle of the unconscious or “dead” brain having such clear and lucid memories after recovery. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience)
Dr. Kenneth Ring, one of the leading experts in the study of NDE’s reminds us of the indescribably wonderful and superb feelings an NDEr has during his or her experience. He points out that drugs, medications, and anesthesia tend to cause memory loss and that the experiences of an NDEr are connected and coherent while hallucinations are irregular, disconnected, widely mixed, and often incomprehensible. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience)
Dr. Stanislay Grof says, “I had my training as a psychiatrist, a physician and then as a Freudian analyst. When I became interested in non-ordinary states and started serving powerful mystical experiences also having some myself, my first idea was that it (consciousness) has to be hard-wired in the brain. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how something like that is possible. Today I came to the conclusion that it is not coming from the brain. In that sense, it supports what Aldous Huxley believed after he had some powerful psychedelic experiences and was trying to liken them to the brain. He came to the conclusion that maybe the brain acts as a kind of reducing valve that actually protects us from too much cosmic input. So I don’t see, for example, that experiences of archetypal realms, heavens, paradises, experiences of archetypal beings, such as deities, demons from different cultures that people typically have in these states can be somehow explained as something that comes from the brain. I don’t think you can locate the source of consciousness. I am quite sure it is not in the brain not inside of the skull. It actually according to my experience would lie beyond time and space, so it is not localizable. You actually come to the source of consciousness when you dissolve any categories that imply separation, individuality, time, space, and so on. You just experience it as a presence. People who have these experiences can either perceive that source or they can actually become the source, completely dissolved and experience that source. But such categories as time and space, localization coordinates, are not relevant for that experience. You actually have a sense that the concepts of time and space come from that place. They are generalized by that place but the cosmic source itself cannot be located certainly not in the material world.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience)
Jeffrey Long, M.D. in his book Evidence Of The Afterlife, writes, “Yet despite what should be a blank slate for NDErs, they describe highly lucid, organized, and real experiences. In fact, NDErs say they are usually experiencing a more heightened state of awareness than in everyday earthly life. This is medically inexplicable given that NDE’s generally occur during unconsciousness.” (Page 46.) As an example Long points out that after a heart attack the victim of the attack would find it impossible to have clear, structured awareness of the experience.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. writes in her book On Children And Death, “Children’s inner knowledge of death has been verified to us in a multitude of ways.” (Page 126.) Kubler-Ross sites case after case of having witnessed children relate lucid and comprehensive experiences characteristic to the near-death experience while being considered clinically dead.
Remarkable studies of NDE’s and the blind tell of astonishing experiences. Kenneth Ring reports that those experiencing an NDE having been blind from birth “… tend to be indistinguishable from those of sighted persons with report to the elements that serve to identify the classic NDE pattern.” (Religion, Spirituality And The Near-Death Experience by Mark Fox, page 218.) Kenneth Ring wrote further about the blind in his book Lessons From The Light, “80 percent of our thirty-one blind respondents claimed to be able to see during their NDE…(and) often told us that they could see objects and persons in the physical world, as well as features of other worldly settings.” (Page 81.) It has often been documented that sighted people corroborate with what the blind observed in their NDE’s. Here is yet another example.
Mark Fox writes in his book Religion, Spirituality And The Near-Death Experience, “In very recent years there have been a number of extraordinary cases of out-of-body episodes during claimed NDE’s in the blind, including those of persons blind from birth.” (Page 211.) Fox concludes that in an NDE there is a special kind of sight that “transcends the usual limits of perception, even in the sighted.” (Page 224.)
The Case That NDE’s Are Proof Of Life After Death
In 1975 Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D. introduced his ground breaking book Life After Life to a public hungry for knowledge and inspiration regarding the death experience. As described earlier in this project Moody depicts the stages experienced when an individual dies then returns miraculously back to life. Moody writes, “I am not trying to prove that there is life after death. Nor do I think that a ‘proof’ of this is presently possible.” (Page 5.) In a lecture given in San Diego in the 1970’s Moody admitted that he was a Christian and tended to be very conservative, even resistant, to admitting to a life after death other than described by his religious doctrine. Although Moody does not take a stand regarding the reality of life after death as evidenced by NDErs, the remarkable conclusion of the cases Moody studied was that, setting aside the objections stated above in this study, there is life after death. At the very least the suggestion that there is life after death was introduced. This suggestion spearheaded many studies of NDE’s that followed. The door was now open for further study and for individuals who experienced a near-death to speak out more openly.
In 1998 Kenneth Ring stepped forward with his book Lessons From The Light expanding further understanding of the NDE. Ring says, “As a rule NDErs become convinced that some form of sustained conscious existence awaits them following the death of the body. Quite a few of them become more open to or believers in some form of reincarnation.” (Page 127.) Ring repeatedly writes about people’s experiences where they perceive what seems to be evidence of a life after death. For example Ring documents a woman having shared the following: “…she sees two children, long deceased, who she had befriended when they were all in a school for the blind together. Then, they were both profoundly retarded, but in this state, they appear vital, healthy, and without their earthly handicaps.” (Page 77.) Ring quotes another NDEer, Beverly Brodsky, “For those who grieve or fear, I assure you of this: There is no death, nor does love ever end.” (Page 298.)
Ring writes, “The NDE tends to vanquish one’s fear of death completely and forever. While one retains the normal fears associated with the process of dying, the moment of death itself is regarded positively as a liberating transition into a sublime state that NDErs know they have already encountered briefly.” (Page 127.) Like many of those studying NDE’s at the writing of his book Lessons From The Light Ring does not take the leap in stating directly a belief that NDE’s prove life after death. However, he does write in regards to future studies and confidence in an afterlife, “I personally have little doubt that once such a survey is undertaken, the results will be clear-cut on this point (of life after death).” (Page 278.) Ring goes on to write, “There are many books that are filled with accounts of after death communications or deathbed visions or apparent reincarnational episodes or regressions into possible states of consciousness between lives whose findings are highly congruent with the implications of NDE’s and with the hypothesis of survival following bodily death.” (Page 281.)
The study of NDE’s in children reveals some compelling evidence for the existence of life after death. P.M.H. Atwater, author of many books on the near-death experience, in her book Beyond The Light wrote that 75 percent of children who have a “brush with death” (Page 191.) have an NDE. Atwater asserts that life is a “continuum” (Page 290) in her book The Big Book Of Near-Death Experiences. Atwater writes, “The majority of near-death experiencers – children and adults – become enamored afterward with the idea of reincarnation. Some even experience reincarnational themes and past lives as a part of their near-death episodes.” (Page 288.)
In her book The New Children And Near-Death Experiences Atwater recounts the experiences of many children who in their own NDE reveal details that seem to point to life after death. For example documenting children who report having actively taken part in choosing their own DNA, entering their mother’s womb at the moment of conception, telling of people they knew in previous lives, and recounting other memories of previous lives. (Page134.) One such individual reported as an adult “I even discovered that people I had known and loved in my re-experiences actually lived – in the very same houses of my memories!” (Page 141.) One NDE child reported to his mother having met “over there” (Page 142) his deceased brother who had been aborted before his own birth. The mother had kept the abortion a secret and her son’s report of it actually caused the father to sue for divorce. Another example is of an NDE child reporting having met a yet to be born sibling who indeed was born later and fit the description he gave. Another example is of an NDE child having met a previously unknown twin. A famous case was the deceased twin of Elvis Presley. Elvis claimed to communicate many times with his twin.
Atwater refers to the research of David Chamberlain, Ph.D. and author of Babies Remember Birth. Chamberlain hypnotized children who reported pre- and perinatal awareness. Atwater also refers to Ian Stevenson, M.D.’s research on reincarnation and the documented reports of his subjects saying that what Stevenson uncovered regarding reincarnation memories was “stunning.” Atwater concludes, “What we are discovering is what we’ve previously overlooked – that other dimensions of life, other realities, have always existed. We just didn’t have the right tools before to properly identify them.” (Page151.)
In her book We Live Forever: The Real Truth About Death Atwater writes, “Domains of influence exist on the other side of death, too. These fields comprise what is commonly known as heaven and hell and are shaped in the ethers over time by the accumulated clustering of emotions, feelings, thoughts, and desires.” (Page 49.) Atwater goes on to document the heavenly and hellish experiences of NDErs. Atwater gives a summary of what NDErs report writing, “You don’t die when you die. You shift your degree of consciousness and change your speed of vibration. That is all death is. A shift.” (Page 90.)
Atwater herself experienced three NDE’s and wrote in her book Beyond The Light, “…I was propelled by an almost messianic need to preach the new gospel as revealed to me – one of love and life, eternal and ongoing.” (Page 207.)
Atwater writes in her book Coming Back To Life: The After-Effects Of The Near-Death Experience that NDE’s have been reported throughout history. Atwater recounts an event mentioned earlier in this report in which Plato wrote about a soldier who in his NDE reported to his surprised family when at his own funeral came back to life and recounted what he had learned while on “The Other Side.” (Page 5.)
Melvin Morse, M.D. wrote in his book Closer To The Light: Learning From The Near-Death Experiences of Children, “Near-death experiences are an example of a psychological experience that can be anatomically located within the brain. Since they are often profound and mystical experiences, the study of NDE’s will help to reunite the centuries-old split of science and spirit.” (Page 200.) It is interesting to note that this discovery has not been more openly acknowledged by the scientific community.
In their book Voyage Of Purpose: Spiritual Wisdom From Near-Death Back To Life by David Bennett and Cindy Griffith-Bennett, David Bennett wrote about his NDE, “Most important, I now understand that at the time of death we do not really die: we live on with a higher level of consciousness. So with this understanding I no longer fear death.” (Page 132.) Here is another example of a passionate commitment to the reality of life after death by an NDEr.
Leon Rhodes writes as a result of his research on NDE’s in Tunnel To Eternity: Beyond Near-Death, “Indeed, in the spiritual realm, we meet old friends and loved relatives, and find them very much alive. There is an unmistakable message here about people who die. People who have lived on earth in the past are now ‘alive’ in another realm, a wonderfully real world.” (Page 50.) Later in his book Rhodes writes, “The real person survives those apparently fatal diseases and injuries that stop the breath and beating heart. People survive death!” (Page 88.)
Sukie Miller, Ph.D. wrote about reincarnation and her reflections on the return-to-the-body stage of an NDE in her book After Death: Mapping The Journey, “Reincarnation is a flame that can shine a new light on every aspect of life. There will be other chances, other lives, other opportunities to advance and eventually to merge with a greater reality.” (Page 160.)
Jeffrey Long, M.D. who studied more than 1,300 cases of NDE’s wrote in Evidence of Afterlife, “I long ago quit believing that death is the cessation of our existence…There is life after death.” (Page 3.)
In his book Proof Of Heaven Eben Alexander, M.D., who was adopted as an infant recounts his encounter with death and his subsequent encounter with what he called heaven where he met his deceased sister who had also been adopted and who was unknown to him until he recovered. One remarkable fact about Alexander’s story is the fact that before his NDE as a practicing neurosurgeon and Harvard professor he was a staunch disbeliever in life after death. As a neurosurgeon he claims that having treated others with the same disease that had “killed” him can absolutely medically verify that his brain was indeed dead and incapable of hallucination or any other kind of functioning at all. He writes, “…Nothing could convince me that this (the existence of unconditional love and his experience) is not only the single most important emotional truth in the universe, but also the single most important scientific truth as well.” (Page 71.) In Eben Alexander both science and metaphysics coexist. His testimony may indeed be the most compelling of all as he is not only a scientist but a neurologist fully educated as to the functioning of the brain. Alexander considers himself to be living proof of life after death.
The Holy Bible has many quotes alluding to life after death. John 5:28-29 says, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 8:58 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (openbible.info/topics/reincarnation)
The teachings of many religions have claimed the doctrine of reincarnation. Reincarnation was embraced by Christians until the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. when Constantine defined Christianity for social and political reasons.
In 1945 near Nag Hammadi, a town in upper Egypt, a group of Gnostic texts were found in a clay jar. The most well known of these Gnostic texts include “The Gospel of Thomas,” the “Apocryphon of James,” “The Gospel of Phillip” and “The Gospel of Truth.”. (monergism.com). The discovery of these texts indicate that Jesus was himself a Gnostic, a sect in which many believed in reincarnation. Gnostics believed that the point of the teachings of Jesus was to pursue the path revealed within the self and that awareness would open the door to the realization of life after death. In Luke 17:21 Jesus advises us that the Kingdom of God is within us. (gnostic-jesus.com). Gnostics believed that you can separate from the world by focusing away from the consciousness of the physical body, and then you can finally experience the kingdom of light, peace, and life.
Brian A. Bain, M.A., author of the report Divine Encounters: Light And Ecstasy In Religious Near-Death Experiences had this to say about the 1945 discovery: “Long considered to be heretical, ancient Gnostic Christian texts unearthed this century display compelling similarities between Gnostic conceptions of life and death and modern near-death experiences. The Gnostic texts devoted extensive tracts to what readers could expect to encounter when they died. Other passages make numerous allusions to near-death-like experiences that can be realized in their life, most notably the human encounter with a divine light. The Gnostic Christian literature gives us one more example of NDE’s and similar experiences in the ancient world.” (near-death.com). Bain’s full report can be read on the website, http://www.scribd.com/doc/12880437/Brian-A-Bain-Light-and-Ecstasy-in-Religious-and-NearDeath-Experiences.
In spite of the radical change in doctrine made by Constantine, many Christians believe in reincarnation. Yvonne Kason, M.D. writes in her book A Farther Shore, “Numerous Christian authorities accept the reality of Near-Death Experiences – and many feel the stories told by Near-Death Experiencers give added credence to the concept of life after death.” (Page 19.)
Paramahansa Yogananda wrote in his two volume publication The Second Coming Of Christ: The Resurrection Of The Christ Within You the following: “The cosmic principle of reincarnation, with its dynamism of the law of karma (cause and effect, sowing and reaping), is a time-honored doctrine, embraced by the Hindus, Buddhists, the ancient Druid priests, the Essenes and Gnostics and many early Christian theologians; and also, eminent philosophers of the East and West.” (Page 36.)
The Upanishads are a collection of texts that form the basis of the Hindu religion, also known as the Vedanta. They embrace the concepts of the soul, reincarnation, and karma and have been the honored beliefs of millions over the centuries.
The Tibetan Book Of The Dead describes in detail the Bardos one passes through on their journey in the after life and gives instruction as to how a living relative can aid the dying in their journey to the after life. In this interpretation of the text Chogyam Trungpa writes about the experience of death in the Commentary section, “…impressions are so strong that someone recently born should have memories of the period between death and birth; but then as we grow up we are indoctrinated by our parents and society, and we put ourselves into a different framework, so that the original deep impressions become faded except for occasional sudden glimpses.” (Page 2.) This observation clearly implies that we would learn much if we would listen closely to the words of children regarding their NDE’s.
In the ancient writing of The Bhagavad Gita it is written, “As the Spirit of our mortal body wanders on in childhood, and youth and old age, the Spirit wanders on to a new body: of this the sage has no doubts.” (Page 49.) And, “He is never born, and he never dies. He is in Eternity: he is for evermore. Never-born and eternal, beyond times gone or to come, he does not die when the body dies.” (Page 50.)
Quantum mechanics further suggests a most compelling argument with the assertion that nothing ever dies, it simply transforms. Brother Mitranada writes at the death of C. Richard Wright, a devotee of the sage Paramahansa Yogananda, the following: “This is a time of both joy and sorrow. Even though the sadness is ours for a time, the joy is his whose spirit now has risen, for Dick lives. In the hauntingly poetic words of The Bhagavad Gita: ‘Never the Spirit was born, the Spirit shall cease to be never. Never was time it was not, end and beginning are dreams. Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the Spirit forever.’ To me this sounds like some formula of quantum physics, like the infinity loop, where matter or consciousness is ever feeding back into itself. There is no beginning, there is no end; it is a seamless, ongoing continuum – a mirror of Spirit, or Consciousness, which goes beyond our limited sense perceptions and the pseudo-reality that we take so, so seriously.” (Spring 2002 SRF Magazine; page 48.) In this observation linking quantum physics and metaphysics we once again see a corroboration of belief.
Chapter 5: Discussion
This project has cited the research, opinions, and conclusions of acknowledged authorities in the field of near-death experiences. First reviewed were the cases for NDE’s as hallucinations and for NDE’s as real. In my opinion the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of NDE’s as real. I base this conclusion on the compelling fact that the patterns found in patients suffering from reaction to medications, drugs, sleep disorders, extreme stress or disease, all show phenomena that although similar to the phenomenon of NDE’s are not fully consistent with those of NDE’s. This lack of consistency reveals to me a whole new category of experience separating NDE’s from hallucinatory responses. Also convincing in favor of NDE’s being real is that fact that NDErs have lucid memory of their experience and are clear and fully intelligible in their report of their NDE while others who have been rendered unconscious for other reasons have no clear or intelligible memory of the experience. Since the unconscious brain cannot have visions or memory the reports of NDErs tell us of another “consciousness” – an awareness that transcends the physical brain and shows us an entirely different “world.”
Another compelling fact is the passion and inspiration NDErs express. Their stories may vary and even most who experience a form of “hell” expressed gratitude for the experience and claimed to have learned valuable lessons from it. All it takes is the reading of a few of the accounts of those who experienced a near-death to realize that they are sincere and “normal” human beings who had an extraordinary experience. Their enthusiasm for and awe of their own experience coupled with their absolute belief that it was real and not hallucination is telling. The fact that there is not just one extraordinary account but many thousands documented over the millennia that is also convincing evidence as to the reality of these experiences. People who not only did not know each other but did not live at the same time consistently tell of their experiences of the tunnel, light, love, a higher power, wisdom, universes traveled, feelings of joy and bliss, communication with those already deceased, and the other phenomena consistent with the near-death experience. If we are to believe the words and writings of the great masters of the past such as Buddha and Jesus, why not believe the sincere accounts of those who had a near-death experience?
I myself have had several spiritually transformative experiences. I was subject to the presence of a light, the imparting of wisdom from a powerful source of love and energy, and the experience of bliss. I cannot deny the experience. It was real for me. So real that it dramatically changed the course of my life and my teachings as a therapist. Those experiences have been evidence of another reality which I long to explore more fully. It is evidence of a higher power, a love so powerful that it makes up for and overshadows all injustice, suffering, and wrong-doing of this physical world. It gives hope and faith in something in which we can rest when the struggles of life seem too overwhelming.
As a therapist for almost forty years I have had the honor of a number of clients sharing their own NDE’s. One such individual shared his NDE with me in the 1970’s. He had been electrocuted and was observed by the emergency crew as having no respiration nor any heart beat. Although he was considered to be dead the crew continued to resuscitate him because one of the crew knew his wife and children. After forty minutes of being dead my client returned to life. His NDE story included the stages described by Moody and Ring. And perhaps most remarkable of all, my client had no brain damage whatever. Forty minutes of no life supporting functions would normally have rendered him dead or at the least seriously brain damaged. Instead he lived to share his story with me and ignite my own passionate search for understanding the near-death experience.
And what of our intuitive abilities? Is our intuition not as valuable a tool as our ability to think, act, and feel? If we are to acknowledge our intuition as having the capacity to impart valuable information to us, can we not trust our intuitive “knowingness” in what those who have had an NDE is true? Have we not had a sense that there is something beyond this physical life we live? As I shared in the onset of this report, when I was a child I imagined that if I could borrow my surgeon father’s scalpel from his “doctor bag” I could perhaps cut a hole in the fabric of the air and poke my head through to the other side and see the reality I intuitively knew to be on the other side of physical existence.
Science is not an end all. If we believe only in what can be measured by the standards of physical existence then we cheat ourselves out of a vast body of knowledge. Albert Einstein believed in his intuition so much as to allow it to lead him to his stunning discoveries. If we would but listen to our deepest selves and trust what we intuitively know, I believe that we will not only believe the assertions of those who have had a near-death experience but revel in the message of life after death as real and all that fact implies for our brief moments on earth.
Chapter 6: Summary & Conclusion
This project has examined the near-death experiences of those who have clinically died and miraculously returned to life to tell of their experiences. This project has made an effort to prove that not only are NDE’s real but that they are a clear indication of life after death. First this report explained what a near-death experience is, the stages of an NDE, and the similarities between NDE’s and STE’s, a spiritually transformative experience. It was noted that the majority of research in the field has been done by academics and not by those credentialed in cognitive neuroscience. So the reader could have a clear idea of what an NDE is, the astounding NDE of Beverly Brodsky was quoted directly from her website.
The research presented on proving the case for NDE’s being merely hallucinations was then discussed. Some evidence in this section was presented through the research of those in the field of neuroscience. A discussion was presented regarding the difficult-to-define nature of consciousness and the conditions such as drugs, medications, illnesses, etc. that could cause the brain to give the experiencer the hallucination of another reality. Many of the phenomena experienced under those medical conditions described mimicked the phenomena of an NDE but lacked the consistency reported and documented on NDE’s. For example, there was a lack of stability in medically “induced” experiences of another reality compared to those of reported NDE’s.
The research presented on proving the case for NDE’s as real pointed out the clear differences between documented NDE’s and documented hallucinations as a result of brain dysfunction. It also pointed out that NDE reports had a consistency and a stability not seen in hallucinations. It was also pointed out that while the brain of an NDEr is clinically dead the experiencer still perceives a vivid reality in which he or she can recall after recovering consciousness. Also presented was other evidence revealed by NDE’s of children and those blind from birth describing what only the seeing person could verify.
The research presented in proving the case that NDE’s are proof of life after death revealed the studies on children and adults giving compelling evidence as to the existence of life after death. For example, NDErs describing people they had met on “the other side” who had already died who were later documented as to having indeed lived and died, the experiencer’s clear perception that they had entered a new existence that did not require their physical body but allowed for all the “senses” to remain intact, the bliss of an NDE, and NDErs who have memory of entering their mother’ womb and who had an awareness of a pre-existence. Noted was the fact that many NDErs come to believe in reincarnation as a result of their experience. Eben Alexander, M.D., esteemed Harvard neurologist who like many scientists doubted the existence of life after death, has come to believe in life after death as a result of his own near-death experience. From a religious perspective the world’s great religions dating back many centuries have embraced the concepts of reincarnation and karma. Even the Christian Bible speaks of life after death. And finally quantum mechanics with its assertion that nothing dies but only transforms more than hints at the fact that although our physical bodies may die, our essence does not but instead transforms into something else…another reality.
The acceptance of life after death can transform one’s perception of the purpose of life. And when and if it is accepted in general this transformation experienced by our leaders in politics, economics, medicine, and other pivotal disciplines will lend itself to world peace. In addition once we recognize and accept the messages of the near-death experience, we can understand that the difficulties in life have a purpose and that purpose is to teach us how to love ourselves and others. This will be instrumental in changing our behaviors and thoughts from violence to seeking peaceful and kind resolutions to life’s conflicts. Its acceptance will help us all endure the sometimes horrific tests of life and give hope for redemption. It can offer peace forever lasting.
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