There and Back Again ..... Near Death Experiences and Light

“One thing I learned was that we are all part of one big, living universe.  If we think we can hurt another person or another living thing without hurting ourselves we are sadly mistaken.  I look at a forest or a flower or a bird now, and say, “That is me, part of me.”  We are connected with all things and if we send love along those connections, then we are happy.”  

Observation from a 62 year old businessman who had an NDE during a cardiac arrest.

Most people have heard of the near-death experience, or NDE’s, incidents in which individuals are declared clinically “dead”, are resuscitated, and report that during the experience they left their physical body and visited what appeared to be the realm of the after-life.

These experiences were publicized and discussed in 1975 when Raymond A. Moody, Jr, a psychiatrist who also had a Ph.D. in philosophy published his best-selling investigation of the subject “Life after Life”.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross also had simultaneously conducted similar research and had duplicated Moody’s findings.

Already in 1981 a Gallup poll found that eight million adult Americans had experienced an NDE, or roughly one person in twenty. It was becoming increasingly clear that NDEs were not only incredibly widespread but provided the most compelling evidence to date for survival after death.

Like OBE’s, NDEs appear to be a universal phenomenon.  They are described at length in both the 8th century Tibetan Book of the Dead and the 2’500 year old Egyptian Book of the Dead.  In Book X of “The Republic” Plato gives a detailed account of a Greek soldier names Er, who came alive just seconds before his funeral pyre was to be lit and said that he had left his body and went through a “passageway” to the land of the dead.  The Venerable Bede gives a similar account in his 8th century work “A History of the English Church and People”, and in her recent book “Otherworld Journeys” Carol Zaleski, a lecturer on the study of religion at Harvard, points out that medieval literature is filled with accounts of NDEs.

NDEers also have no unique demographic characteristics. Various studies have shown that there is no relationship between NDEs and a person’s age, sex, marital status, race, religion and / or spiritual beliefs, social class education level, income, frequency of church attendance, size of home community, or area of residence.  NDEs can strike anyone at any time.  The devoutly religious are no more likely to have an NDE than nonbelievers.

One of the most interesting aspects of the ND phenomenon is the consistency one finds from experience to experience.  A summary of a typical NDE is as follows:

A man is dying and suddenly finds himself floating above his body and watching what is going on.  Within moments he travels at great speed through a darkness or a tunnel.  He enters a realm of dazzling light and is warmly met by recently deceased friends and relatives.  Frequently he hears indescribably beautiful music and sees sights – rolling meadows, flower-filled valleys, and sparkling streams – more lovely than anything he has seen on earth.  In this light-filled world he feels no pain or fear and is pervaded with an overwhelming feeling of joy, love and peace.  He meets a “being (and or beings) of light” who emanates a feeling of enormous compassion, and is prompted by the being(s) to experience a “life review”, a panoramic reply of his life.  He becomes so enraptured by his experience of this greater reality that he desires nothing more than to stay.  However, the being tells him that it is not his time yet and persuades him to return to his earthly life and reenter his physical body.

This is just a general description and not all NDEs contain all the elements described.  Some may lack some of the above mentioned features, and others may contain additional ingredients.  The symbolic trappings of the experiences can also vary.  For example, although NDErs in Western cultures tend to enter the realm of the afterlife by passing through a tunnel, experiencers from other cultures might walk down a road or pass over a body of water to arrive in the world beyond.

Nevertheless, there is an astonishing degree of agreement among the NDEs reported by various cultures throughout history.  For instance, the life review, a feature that crops up again and again in modern-day NDEs, is also described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, in Plato’s account of what Er experienced during his sojourn in the hereafter, and in the 2000 year old yogic writings of the Indian sage Patamjali.  The cross cultural similarities between NDEs have also been confirmed in formal study.  In 1977, Osis and Haraldsson compared nearly nine hundred deathbed visions reported by patients to doctors and other medical personnel in both India and the United States and found that although there were various cultural differences, for example, Americans tended to view the being of light as a Christian religious personage and Indians perceived it to be a Hindu one – the “core” of the experience was substantially the same and resembled the NDEs described by Moody and Kubler-Ross.

Dr Kenneth Ring, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut and one of the first NDE researchers to use statistical analysis and standardized interviewing techniques to study the phenomenon.  In his book “Life at Death” he notices the tendency of experiencers to describe the world beyond as a realm composed of “light,” “higher vibrations,” or “frequencies.”  Some NDEers even refer to the celestial music that often accompanies such experiences as more “a combination of vibrations” than actual sounds – observations that Ring believse are evidence that the act of dying involves a shift of consciousness away from ordinary world of appearances and into a more holographic reality of pure frequency.  NDEers also frequently say that the realm is suffused with a light more brilliant that any they have ever seen on earth, but one that, despite its unfathomable intensity, does not hurt the eyes, characterizations that Ring feels are further evidence of the frequency aspects of the hereafter.

One of the most commonly reported characteristics of the world beyond is that it is a dimension in which time and space cease to exist.  “I found myself in a space, in a period of time, I would say, where all space and time was negated,” says one NDEer.  “It has to be out of time and space.  It must be, because … it can’t be put into a time thing,” says another.  

As with OBEs, when NDEers are out-of-body, they are able to report details they have no normal sensory means of knowing.  For example: Moody reports a case in which a woman left her body during surgery, floated into the waiting room, and saw that her daughter was wearing mismatched plaids.  As it turned out, the maid had dressed the little girl so hastily she had no noticed the error and was astounded when the mother, who did not physically see the little girl that day, commended on the fact.  In another case, after leaving her body, a female NDEer went to the hospital lobby and overheard her brother-in-law tell a friend that it looked like he was going to have to cancel a business trip and instead be one of his sister-in-law’s pallbearers.  After the woman recovered, she reprimanded her astonished brother-in-law for writing her off so quickly.

They have even found patients who are blind, and have had no light perception for years, can see and accurately describe what is going on around them when they have left their bodies during an NDE.  Kubler-Ross has encountered several such individuals and has interviewed them at length to determine their accuracy. “To our amazement, they were able to describe the colour and design of clothing and jewelry the people present wore,” she states.

Another researcher Dr Melvin Morse, a pediatrician in Seattle, first became interested in NDEs after treating a 17 year old drowning victim.  By the time the little girl was resuscitated she was profoundly comatose, had fixed and dilated pupils, no muscle reflexes, and no corneal response. In medical terms this gave her a Glascow Coma Score of 3, indicating that she was in a coma so deep she had almost no chance of ever recovering.  Despite these odds, she made a full recovery and when Morse looked in on her for the first time after she regained consciousness she recognized him and said that she had watched him working on her comatose body.  When Morse questioned her further she explained that she had left her body and passed through a tunnel into heaven where she had met “the Heavenly Father.”  The Heavenly Father told her she was not really meant to be there yet and asked if she wanted to stay or go back.  At first she said she wanted to stay, but when the Heavenly Father pointe doubt that that decision meant she would not be seeing her mother again, she changed her mind and returned to her body.

Morse was skeptical but fascinated and from that point on set out to learn everything he could about NDEs.  At the time, he worked for an air transport service in Idaho that carried patients to the hospital and this afforded him the opportunity to talk with scores of resuscitated children.  Over a 10 year period he interviewed every child survivor of cardiac arrest at the hospital, and over and over they told him the same thing.  After going unconscious they found themselves outside their bodies, watched the doctors working on them, passed through a tunnel, and were comforted by luminous beings.

Morse continued to be skeptical, and in his increasingly desperate search for some logical explanation he read everything he could find on the side effects of the drugs his patients were taking and explored various psychological explanations, but nothing seemed to fit.  “Then one day I read a long article in a medical journal that tried to explain NDEs as being various tricks of the brain,” says Morse.  “By then I had studied NDEs extensively and none of the explanations that this researcher listed made sense.  It was finally clear to me that he had missed the most obvious explanation of all – NDEs are real.  He had missed the possibility that the soul really does travel.”

Moody echoes the sentiment and says that 20 years of research have convinced him that NDEers have indeed ventured into another level of reality.  “I have talked to almost every NDE researcher in the world about his or her work.  I know that most of them believe in their hearts that NDEs are a glimpse of life after life.  But as scientists and people of medicine, they still haven’t come up with “scientific proof” that a part of us goes on living after our physical being is dead. This lack of proof keeps them from going public with their true feelings.”

To surmise, when all these facts are considered together – the wide-spread nature of the NDE, the absence of demographic characteristics, the universality of the core experience, the ability of NDEers to see and know things they have no normal sensory means of seeing and knowing, and the occurrence of NDEs in patients who have flat EEGs – the conclusion seems inescapable: People who have NDEs are not suffering from hallucinations or delusional fantasies, but are actually making visits to an entirely different level of reality.

Given that both OBEs and NDEs offer ample evidence that the mind can exist independently of the brain.  Thus when the mind is in the “higher” frequencies of the near-death dimension, it continues to do what it does best, translate those frequencies into a world of appearances.  As Ring puts it “I believe that this is a realm that is created by interacting thought structures.  These structures or thought-forms combine to form patterns, just as a holographic image appears to be fully real when illuminated by a laser beam, so the images produced by interacting thought-forms appear to be real.”

Dr Elizabeth W Fenske, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Philadelphia, announced that she, too, believes that NDEs are journeys into a holographic realm of higher frequencies.  She agrees with Ring’s hypothesis that the landscapes, flowers, physical structures, and so forth, of the afterlife dimension are fashioned out of interacting (or interfering) thought patterns.  “I think we’ve come to the point in NDE research where it’s difficult to make a distinction between thought and light.  In the near-death experience thought seems to be light,” she observes.

Einstein banishes from our cosmos every fixed reality except that of light, to Einstein everything is just light and information.  The atom is energy not matter. 

In Yogananda’s book “Autobiography of a Yogi” there are many references to light, Divine light and Eternal light throughout.  Yogananda writes “As steps in man’s awaking, the Lord inspires scientists to discover, at the right time and place, the secrets of His creation.  Many modern discoveries help men to apprehend the cosmos as a varied expression of one power – light, guided by divine intelligence.”  Yogananda also explains “A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land.  Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire or air.  Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light.”  In this fabulous autobiography Yogananda describes an experience he had while writing his autobiography. “Lifting my gaze, I noticed that the ceiling was dotted with small mustard-colored lights, scintillating and quivering with radiumlike luster.  Myriads of penciled rays, like sheets of rain, gathered into a transparent shaft and poured silently upon me.  At once my physical body lost its grossness and became metamorphosed into astral texture.  I felt a floating sensation as, barely toughing the bed, the weightless body shifted slightly ……I looked around the room; the furniture and walls were as usual, but the little mass of light had so multiplied that the ceiling was invisible.  I was wonder-struck……. A voice spoke as though from within the light ……. “ Behold, your form is nothing but light!”  I gazed at my arms and moved them back and forth, yet could not feel their weight.  An ecstatic joy overwhelmed me.  This cosmic stem of light, blossoming as my body, seemed a divine replica of the light beams streaming out ……. As my illusion of a solid body was completely dissipated, and my realization deepened that the essence of all objects is light……”

In an article in the New York Times in 1937 the American Association for the Advancement of Science stated the following: “The crystalline structure of tungsten, hitherto known only indirectly by means of X-rays, stood outlined boldly on a fluorescent screen, showing nine atoms in their correct positions in the space lattice, a cube, with one atom in each corner and one in the center. The atoms …. appeared on the fluorescent screen as points of light, arranged in geometric pattern.  Against this crystal cube of light the bombarding molecules of air could be observed as dancing points of light, similar to points of sunlight shimmering on moving waters… “ 

“The stream of knowledge,” Sir James Jeans writes in “The Mysterious Universe” “is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.”

“Fait lux!  And there was light.” God’s first command in His ordered creation in Genesis 1:3.

“The King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.” Timothy 6:15-16.


More Extracts from NDEers

One near-death survivor says that when he first emerged from his body he looked “something like a jellyfish” and fell lightly to the floor like a soap bubble.  Then he quickly expanded into a ghostly three-dimensional image of a naked man.  However, the presence of two women in the room embarrassed him and to his surprise, this feeling caused him to suddenly become clothed (the women never offered any indication that they were able to see any of this).  The clothing he materialized was so meticulously detailed that he could even make out the seams in the material.

Another man said they were “composed of light with tiny structures in them” and when he looked closely he could even see “the delicate whorls of his fingerprints and tubes of light up his arms.”

One subject believed that the life review was to refresh their memories so they could more mindfully plan their next life, a process in which beings of light gently and non-coercively assisted.

Another man said that if he stopped thinking he was merely a cloud in an endless cloud, undifferentiated, as soon as he started to think, he became himself.

Several said that they did not have any bodies at all, some were not aware of any form and were simply “themselves” or “their mind”.  Others have more specific impressions and describe themselves as “a cloud of colours”, “a mist”, “an energy pattern”, or “an energy field”, some suggest that we are all ultimately just frequency phenomena, patterns of some unknown vibratory energy enfolded in the greater matrix of the frequency domain.  Some NDEers asset that in addition to being composed of colored frequencies of light, we are also constituted out of sound. “I realized that each person and thing has its own musical tone range as well as its own color range,” says an Arizona housewife who had an NDE during childbirth.  “If you can imagine yourself effortlessly moving in and out among prismatic rays of light and hearing each person’s musical notes join and harmonize with your own when you touch or pass them, you would have some idea of the unseen world.” 

NDEers like OBEers report being able to see in all directions at once while in the disembodied state.  After wondering what he looked like, one man said he suddenly found himself staring at his own back.  A World War II veteran temporarily retained this ability even after he returned to his physical body.  He experienced 360o vision while running away from a German machine-gun nest, not only could he see ahead as he ran, but he could see the gunners trying to draw a bead on him from behind.

Frequently after arriving in the world of light NDEers are told “it is not their time yet.”  This remarks clearly implies the existence of some kind of “life plan”.  It is also clear that NDEers play a role in the formulation of these destinies, for they are often given the choice whether to return or stay.  There are even instances of NDEers being told that it is their time and still being allowed to return.  In one case a man started to cry when he realized he was dead because he was afraid his wife wouldn’t be able to raise their nephew without him.  On hearing this the being told him that since he wasn’t asking for himself he would be allowed to return.  In another case a woman argued that she hadn’t danced enough yet.  Her remark caused the being of light to give a hearty laugh and she, too, was given permission to return to physical life.

On occasion NDEers are shown glimpses of their own future.  In one particularly striking case a child NDEer was told various specifics about his future, including the fact that he would be married at 28 and would have two children.  He was even shown his adult self and his future children sitting in a room of the house he would eventually be living in, and as he gazed at the room he noticed something very strange on the wall, something that his mind could not grasp.  Decades later and after each of these predictions had come to pass, he found himself in the very scene he had witnessed as a child and realized that the strange object on the wall was a “forced-air heater” which was not invented at the time of the NDE.

In another equally astonishing personal flashforward a female NDEer was shown a photograph of Moody, told his full name and told that when the time was right she would tell him about her experience.  The year was 1971 and Moody had not yet published “Life after Life”, so his name and picture meant nothing to the woman.  However, the time became right 4 years later when Moody and his family unwittingly moved to the very street on which the woman lived.  That Halloween Moody’s son was out trick-or-treating and knocked on the woman’s door.  After hearing the boy’s name, the woman told him to tell his father she had to talk to him, and when Moody obliged she related her remarkable story.

In one unique instance an NDEer was shown a completely different history of the earth, a history that would have developed if “certain events” had not taken place around the time of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras 3’000 years ago.  The vision revealed that if these events, the precise nature of which the woman does not disclose, had failed to take place, we would now be living in a world of peace and harmony marked “by the absence of religious wars and of a Christ figure.” 

Even NDEers who do not experience direct evidence of the role they play in their own destiny often come back with a firm understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.

......continue to Part 2 "The Life Review, Love and Knowledge - NDE Concluded"