One of the most controversial subjects discussed among the great philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders of our day is the near death experience (NDE). The similarities that exist within 80% of all documented near death experiences make some scientists rethink theories of human consciousness.
Near-Death Experience, is a phenomenon reported by some people who have been clinically dead, then returned to life. Descriptions of the experience differ slightly in detail from person to person, but usually share some basic elements: a feeling of being outside one's body, a sensation of sliding down a long tunnel, and the appearance of a bright light at the end of that tunnel. The light is sometimes described as a benevolent "being of light" who directs the person in a review of his or her life so far and ultimately prevents the person from crossing some sort of boundary that signifies death. Most people who have had a near-death experience report that it strongly influences their subsequent lives, relieving anxiety about death and increasing their sense of purpose and their sensitivity to others.
Research into the near-death experience was pioneered by Raymond Moody, who published Life After Life in 1975 after studying 150 people who had had such experiences. He and other scientists, such as cardiologist Michael Sabom, found that possible physiological and psychological causes for the phenomenon, including lack of oxygen to the brain, the influence of anesthetics, disruptions in neurotransmitter release, and prior expectations, could not sufficiently account for the experiences these people described. Their findings and a belief in a spiritual explanation for the phenomenon have been supported by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who pioneered the study of death and dying in the United States beginning in the late 1960s.
Near-death experience is an emotional issue, believed to be a profound spiritual experience by some and criticized as wish fulfillment by others. Many skeptical scientists believe that it is a simple physiological event misconstrued by people who have a compelling psychological need or who are comforted by interpreting the experience in terms of their religious or spiritual beliefs.
The near-death experience varies with each individual, but characteristics frequently include hearing oneself declared dead, feelings of peacefulness, the sense of leaving one's body, the sense of moving through a dark tunnel toward a bright light, a life review, the crossing of a border, and meetings with other spiritual beings, often deceased friends and relatives. Near-death experiences are reported by about one-third of those who come close to death. Cultural and physiological explanations have been offered, but the causes remain uncertain. Typical aftereffects include greater spirituality and decreased fear of death.
Near Death Experience Stories
Returned for Her Children
My father passed away from cancer on April 20, 2005. My story isn't about him, but about a story that he once told me. He was a cardiologist. He told me this story on the night after he revived a woman from a heart attack.
The woman, after recovering quickly, began telling my father about her near-death experience. She felt herself float up towards the ceiling, and then she could see her physical body and all the doctors and nurses around her trying to revive her. After she was revived, she told my father everything he and the nurses had done, even though she was clearly not conscious during this time.
Then she saw a bright light at the end of a tunnel. She went towards it and saw a bridge. At the end of the bridge, the most handsome man she had ever seen was bathing in a lake. He told her to come back home into his arms. She didn't have even a doubt in her mind that she wanted to be home. She felt an overwhelming sense of peace and happiness that could never be described with words.
As she was walking towards the bridge, to go into the lake, she heard her little kids' voices crying, begging for her to come back, because they wouldn't be able to survive without her. It took every single ounce of will power she had to back away from the lake where she longed to be, but she couldn't leave her children. As she backed away from the bridge, back into the tunnel...she was revived.
I wrote this in memory of my father. I know he's in that lake, happy, well, and peaceful. It's comforting to know that there is life after death. RIP Daddy.
A Brand New World
In 1976 I was in a motorcycle accident in which my left leg was snapped off at the knee by a tree. Still conscious and waiting for an ambulance, I was able to stop the bleeding for a short time before I had to let it continue because of the pain. This went on until help arrived. I had lost so much blood by the time I got to the hospital that I recall losing consciousness as I was carried out of the ambulance.
I could hear the medics' voices for just a short time, and then I was feeling weightless. No pain, no hot or cold, no body. My essence, my spirit, "I" was slowly drifting towards a faint and distant light. I could see planet earth, small, off in the distance to my right. There seemed to be an invisible wall between me and the life dimension I had just left. I knew with certainty that I could not return that way. Nor did I have any desire to go back.
Questions arose in my mind quickly and were answered just as quick by myself, as if I had some new kind of knowledge. I seemed to know everything. I knew without a doubt that I would see my family and loved ones when they passed. Not years from then, but as soon as I got to where I was headed. Time as known on earth, such as a human's life span, was a mere grain of sand on a large beach. We all, humans, had no need to worry. It was as if earth were just a level we all had to pass through on our way to a peaceful and more beautiful plane of existence. It was serene, all loving, all knowing, like being born to a brand new world, not as an infant, but as a knowledgeable, understanding being.
Then, without a signal, sign or thought, I found myself on a stretcher with a medical crew working on me. Pain, fear and awe all surrounded me at the same time. To this day, I have never felt anything even close to what I felt in that moment. No joy or drug on earth could even compare with the feeling of security and confidence I had then.
Sometimes I feel like I can't wait to go there again, but I know I have to wait until my existence here is finished. I do not fear death for I know partially what waits beyond. The only aspect of death I may fear is how it will come about, and even then, it will be just a tiny event in the scheme of my existence.
Mr. William Brennan
A Glimpse of Home
I was in the hospital to have my fourth child. Number three baby had been a difficult delivery, but this one was the easiest of the four. After three boys, we were utterly euphoric to have a daughter. The morning after was still magic. Flowers, phone calls, friends.
Then, about 4:45, pain like a bolt ripped through my interior. I called the nurse, who was passing dinner trays, who was irritated at being summoned, who was young and inexperienced. For a variety of reasons, I endured the agonizing pain for five hours before the nurse made her final rounds prior to going off duty. I had felt a huge protuberance on my left groin and I asked her to check it. It was a hematoma the size of a child's football.
Next recollection: coming to following surgery, wrapped up like a mummy, and the pure bliss of no pain. I remember my pastor holding my hand as I awakened one time, and he was crying! He was deeply touched at the "close call that nearly took this young mother from the family that so needed her."
My strength slowly increased. Everything was looking up. The baby was enchanting, our joy in her was heartfelt, and I was looking forward to going home. But something was desperately wrong. I realized that I was "homesick," homesick for something more than home. The feeling was utterly irrational, devastating and grievous beyond all reason. Why should I feel that way, when I had everything-the love of husband and family, a secure home, faithful friends?
Then, in the next twilight, a tiny knowledge was given to me to help my conscious mind understand the transcendent experience that my inner mind-my soul-knew and grieved for. I cannot say whether it was a vision or an out-of-body experience, but it was more real than life, and it changed me forever.
The restored fragment of my vision, like the sudden memory of something long-forgotten, was this: I saw myself in another time and place! And I experienced Joy! Not mere happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, amusement-this was a soaring, vaulted, surging rejoicing that made bubbles in my being and opened my heart in knowing. I was running, and it felt marvelous. Every cell of this body was glad, every sense heightened. The air-take the best, sweetest summer morning freshness and raise that sweetness by tenfold. Hearing, smell, feel-all my senses were perfected and I knew that this was a restoration-this was "the missing" piece being replaced.
I was running along a meadow-like area on a hillside, and at the "Y" of two paths someone waited for me whom I knew. I have never known such a release of satisfaction and certainty as I threw myself into waiting arms. And all the questing was fulfilled. That completeness still lies in my being like brandy-a warmth, a light that time has tested, invincible to doubt and stress.
I recall one other visual impression: of a city on the hill's crest-white, domed, futuristic and luminous like the setting sun on whipped cream clouds. I've turned the experience over and over in my mind seeking more: the waiting figure-I didn't see it as deity or what I might imagine an angelic presence to be, but I am certain that whoever it was was known and beloved and fulfilling. We do not go as strangers to another place but as glad pilgrims to a homeland.
My fragment has precious clues: identity-my "is" stays me. And much more than me, a vibrancy with every sense magnified. A perfection of place, and great waves of joy in being there again. So I knew why my heart, amidst this world's blessedness, was desolate and yearning. I longed for "home." My true, spiritual home. But the miracle of that recalled fragment was so precious and promising that I was dazzled and puzzled instead of grieving.
I've never had any clear insight into why the recall was given. Occasionally I'll read something that reveals that this knowing has been given to others also. But it left me one special gift. The death of a loved one may leave you in depths of aloneness and grief. But it also brings a great rejoicing for the one who now knows the wonder and completedness of that other place! And for myself, a glad expectancy-a certainty of wonder, waiting on my day of reunion.
Pat P., New Castle, PA