Experts Science

Dr. Harold Widdison and Dr. Craig Lundahl’s Near-Death Experience Research

The late Dr. Harold A. Widdison earned a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a MBA from Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. in Medical Sociology in 1979 and taught at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona for thirty-one years before retiring in 2003. Dr. Widdison became interested in the subject of death, grief, and bereavement two months before his marriage when his father suddenly died in a car a accident. He later created and taught one of the first courses on these subjects in a university setting. He also had several family members share their experiences with him one uncle had an NDE on the operating table and an adopted daughter had a visit from her dead grandfather.

Together with Dr. Craig Lundahl, Dr. Widdison documented their research in their classic NDE book entitled, The Eternal Journey. Dr. Craig Lundahl is chairman emeritus of the Department of Social Sciences and emeritus professor at Western New Mexico University. He is one of the pioneer NDE researchers and the author of A Collection of Near-Death Research Readings. Meticulously researched and exhaustively compiled, The Eternal Journey divulges mesmerizing eyewitness descriptions of the hereafter’s City of Light, incredible portraits of existence in the ensuing dimension, and enlightening information on angels in this world and the next. Dr. Widdison’s latest book, Trailing Clouds of Glory, is the result of seven years of interviewing, researching and collecting of first person accounts. The following is an excerpt of their book The Eternal Journey which deals with the various dimensions of the afterlife.

Information gleaned from individuals who have visited or been permitted to see the next world suggest that this otherworld has two major divisions. The first division has been named “Cities of Light” by Raymond Moody, Betty Eadie, Melvin Morse, and others. The other division has been variously labeled “a realm of bewildered spirits” by Moody, a place “devoid of love” by George Ritchie, a place of “earthbound/lingering spirits” by Eadie, and the “sphere of wasted, elusive, and misused opportunities” by Joy Snell.

Individuals who have had an extensive visit to the otherworld report that its structure is very complex. In the previous chapter it was noted that individuals acquired new senses in the spirit world, one of which is the ability to “know” others’ thoughts and desires. This enhanced sense seems to be a factor in the ultimate placement of each individual in the spirit world.

There is evidence that a type of judgment occurs at the time of death. This judgment involves a review of a person’s life and results in their placement in the spirit world.

Sometime after the judgment the person is assigned (in many cases this assignment is self-imposed) to a specific place or level in the other world – a place where his or her spirit feels most at ease. Eadie “understood that there are many levels of development, and we always go to that level where we are most comfortable.” This observation is supported by Barbara Ross, who “died” while being operated on after an automobile accident.

“My father looked like he had looked the last time I saw him, pretty much in the prime of his life, calm and in control. Grandmother looked harassed and harried, kind of tense. I remember her being that way before she died. I got the feeling that she wasn’t at as high a level of spiritual development as my father was. She had come from a different part of the afterworld, from a group of people who were unsettled as she was, less distinct in their appearance, and not as much in control as my father. He was benign and calm, like he had been in life.”

Arthur Ford, after meeting many friends and relatives, wondered why some were missing. When asking about them, he began to experience less light and a haze, less brilliant colors, a heaviness of his body, and earthly thoughts. This impressed him to believe that he was being shown a lower sphere, where he saw those he asked about.

There is evidence of multiple levels in the otherworld. For example, one individual saw every man and woman in the otherworld organized into several different grades. Another individual discovered that:

“There were spheres above, whose occupants could and did visit us, and we could always recognize these higher natures by the virtues which possessed them, and were apparent to us as they passed beside us. But we could not visit their spheres until we had perfectly qualified for it.

“And there were of course spheres below us, where those who had not repented of their evil ways still had to work out their redemption.

“Those in the lower spheres could not have been happy in this higher kingdom until they qualified themselves by a change of heart and mind.”

This individual went on to observe that although individuals in each sphere are aware of the others’ existence, they cannot see, let alone visit, without significant preparation.

“Those living on the higher realms of the city radiate the brightest light, being so resplendent that their glory must be cloaked so others of lower degree can look upon them. Visiting the higher levels is possible, but the spirits of lower realms must be prepared or covered so they can stand in the presence of greater glory.”

In addition to the placement of individuals at judgment, the next world is efficiently organized to help individuals adapt to their new home. Infants are taken to a place where they are nurtured and taught and where they mature. Some new arrivals are taken to a place of orientation where they rest, adjust to their new condition, and prepare to take their place in the City of Light. Daisy Dryden, the young ten-year-old child mentioned earlier, had been conversing with her six-year-old brother, Allie, who had died of scarlet fever six months earlier. Daisy could not travel into the spirit world, but Allie could and would supply Daisy with some answers to specific questions. For example:

Mrs. W., who had lost her father a short time previous, wanted to know if Daisy had seen him, and brought his picture to see if she could recognize him. Daisy told her she had not seen him and that Allie, whom she had asked about him (Mrs. W.) had not seen him, but that Allie had said he would ask someone who could tell him about him.

In a moment Daisy said, “Allie is here and says, ‘Tell Aunty her father wants her to meet him in heaven, for he is there.'”

Mrs. W. then said, “Daisy, why did not Allie know at once about my father?”

“Because,” replied she, “those who die go into different states or places and do not see each other at all times, but all the good are in the state of blessed.”

“Still others are being prepared to enter the City of Light.”

When told that a very close family friend – Dr. John Macgregor – was still working hard as a physician, the individual assumed he was working with people on Earth.

“Oh, you’re quite wrong,” he said. “We have hospitals here full of injured and crippled souls – the result of their hard faring on Earth – who need nursing back to health and building up into full stature before they can start their work up here.”

The reports of many individuals who have been permitted to see or visit the next world tell us that it is located right here on our physical Earth. If our spirit eyes were to open, we would discover we are surrounded by those who have preceded us in death. But not everyone goes to the same location in the next world. We will be acutely aware of everything we have done or failed to do in our lives. We will also know the lives of those around us and they will know ours. Therefore we will seek out those who “think” the same way we do, who “value” the same things we do. We will gravitate toward those we feel at ease with, who are like us. Judgment is more a process of self-evaluation than the product of a heavenly tribunal. The next world is segmented into spheres organized around qualities of love, service, and personal preparedness.

When Lorenzo Dow Young apparently died, he was met by a heavenly messenger who was to be his guide. Lorenzo asked for permission to speak to his wife and sister before he left (they were grieving his death) but was told no. His guide said, “Now let us go.”

“Space seemed annihilated. Apparently we went up, and almost instantly were in another world. It was of such magnitude that I formed no conception of its size. It was filled with innumerable hosts of beings, who seemed as naturally human as those among whom I had lived. With some I had been acquainted in the world I had just left. My guide informed me that those I saw had not yet arrived at their final abiding place. All kinds of people seemed mixed up promiscuously, as they are in this world. Their surroundings and manner indicated that they were in a state of expectation, and awaiting some event of considerable moment to them.

“Again my guide said, ‘Now let us go.’

“In a moment were at the gates of a beautiful city. A porter opened it and we passed in. They city was grand and beautiful beyond anything that I can describe. It was clothed in the purest light, brilliant but not glaring or unpleasant.

“The people, men and women, in their employments and surroundings seemed contented and happy. I knew those I met without being told who they were.

“My guide would not permit me to pause much by the way, but rather hurried me on through this place to another still higher but connected with it. It was still more beautiful and glorious than anything I had before seen. To me its extent and magnificence were incomprehensible.”

This man visited three unique places, a place where people were yet to reach their assigned place, a city of light, and a second city of even greater grandeur beyond the previous city of light. He pleaded with his guide to remain and was told he was “permitted only to visit these ‘heavenly cities,’ for I had not filled my mission in yonder world; therefore I must return and take my body.

John Powell had a similar experience when, in his words:

“A personage came and said, ‘Come!’ My spirit left my body and went with my guide who took me to the next planet. Here I beheld the inhabitants. The houses and trees were beautiful to behold. I was so amazed and delighted that I requested my guide to permit me to stay and dwell there, for all things were far superior and in advance of this world that I had come from. He answered, ‘No,’ and said, ‘Come.’

“He then took me to the next kingdom which so exceeded the first in beauty and glory that I was again amazed and requested permission to stay. I cannot command language to describe the beauty of the inhabitants and scenery, but my guide said, ‘No, come!’

“He then took me to the next kingdom which was far more beautiful in glory and order than the former two. The beautiful flowers, trees, gardens, people who were dressed in pure white, and so pure that I was overwhelmed with joy and most earnestly implored my guide to allow me to stay, but he said, ‘You cannot go any further, for this is next to the throne of God.’ He then said, ‘Come!’

“He then brought me again to this Earth. When I saw my body lying on the bed I did not want to enter it again for I felt so happy out of it that I could not bear the thought of entering it again, but he said, ‘Enter,’ and I had to obey.”

Darryl, [a] man who was electrocuted when his home was struck by lightning, found himself moving toward lights. As he drew closer to the lights he realized they were “cities” and that the cities were built of light.

Others have reported seeing children playing in big golden “cities” and seeing busy people in “cities,” from which it is possible to infer there is more than one city in the spirit world.

Eadie and Ritchie, as well as the Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg, each observed multiple levels in the hereafter. Howard Storm had an extensive experience in which he also observed multiple levels in the otherworld.

The Native American chief White Thunder, during his visit to the world of spirits, was shown by his spirit guides “various areas of the spirit world – some containing happy spirits and others peopled by unhappy evildoers.”

Herr Pettersson was also permitted to visit the spirit world and discovered, much to his surprise, that even the worst in heaven exceeded the best on Earth.

To Herr Pettersson the world of spirits resembled the material world. There were many countries, or “Kingdoms.” There were cities and villages, temples and palaces, flowers and animals of great beauty and variety. The people were very busy. Some were preaching on street corners and in assembly halls, and all had great congregations.

“Who are they?” Herr Pettersson asked (referring to the preachers)?

“They,” his guide answered, “belong to the church of the First born, and they have been sent here to be ministering spirits to those who shall yet becoming heirs of salvation.”

“I am afraid,” stammered Herr Pettersson, “that I do not comprehend you. Are we not in heaven? How can the world of salvation be preached here?”

“No brother!” the guide replied, “We are not in what mortals call heaven! This is Hades.”

Pettersson was ultimately permitted to visit “heaven” and its indescribable beauty. While there, he discovered that heaven also has multiple levels, and inhabitation of each level is contingent on one’s diligence on Earth and in heaven.

But no matter what level or city a person qualifies for, each city is so superior to any on Earth that it is indescribable, and each succeeding realm is indescribably better than that immediately below it. It seems that the assignment to a specific city is contingent on the actions and attitudes of the individual while on Earth. The key that opens the gate to a specific city of light is the ability to dwell in the light of that city, and this evidently depends on behaviors during Earth life.

Experts Science

Dr. Raymond Moody’s Near-Death Experience Research

Dr. Raymond Moody released his best-selling book, Life After Life (1975) which focused public attention on the near-death experience like never before. It was Moody who actually coined the term “near-death experience.” Moody is also the author of the following books, Reflections on Life After Life (1978), The Light Beyond (1989), Reunions (1994), The Last Laugh (1999), Life After Loss (2002), Paranormal (2013), Glimpses of Eternity (2016), Coming Back (2017), Making Sense of Nonsense (2020). Dr. Moody recorded and compared the experiences of 150 persons who died, or almost died, and then recovered. His research describes the results of decades of inquiry into the NDE phenomenon. He outlines nine elements that generally occur during NDEs.

Table of Contents

  1. Dr. Raymond Moody’s Nine Elements of the NDE
  2. Dr. Raymond Moody on the “Being of Light”
  3. Examples of NDEs with the “Being of Light”

1. Dr. Raymond Moody’s Nine Elements of the NDE

a. A Strange Sound: A buzzing, or ringing noise, while having a sense of being dead.

b. Peace and Painlessness: While people are dying, they may be in intense pain, but as soon as they leave the body the pain vanishes and they experience peace.

c. Out-of-Body Experience: The dying often have the sensation of rising up and floating above their own body while it is surrounded by a medical team, and watching it down below, while feeling comfortable. They experience the feeling of being in a spiritual body that appears to be a sort of living energy field.

d. The Tunnel Experience: The next experience is that of being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light. Also, although they sometimes report feeling scared, they do not sense that they were on the way to hell or that they fell into it.

e. Rising Rapidly into the Heavens: Instead of a tunnel, some people report rising suddenly into the heavens and seeing the Earth and the celestial sphere as they would be seen by astronauts in space.

f. People of Light: Once on the other side of the tunnel, or after they have risen into the heavens, the dying meet people who glow with an inner light. Often they find that friends and relatives who have already died are there to greet them.

g. The Being of Light: After meeting the people of light, the dying often meet a powerful spiritual being whom some have identified as God, Jesus, or some religious figure.

h. The Life Review: The Being of Light presents the dying with a panoramic review of everything they have ever done. That is, they relive every act they have ever done to other people and come away feeling that love is the most important thing in life.

i. Reluctance to Return: The Being of Light sometimes tells the dying that they must return to life. Other times, they are given a choice of staying or returning. In either case, they are reluctant to return. The people who choose to return do so only because of loved ones they do not wish to leave behind.

2. Dr. Raymond Moody on the “Being of Light”

The following is an excerpt from Moody’s excellent book Life After Life concerning the “Being of Light.”

What is perhaps the most incredible common element in the accounts I have studied, and is certainly the element which has the most profound effect upon the individual, is the encounter with a very bright light. Typically, at its first appearance this light is dim, but it rapidly gets brighter until it reaches an unearthly brilliance. Yet, even though this light (usually said to be white or “clear”) is of an indescribable brilliance, many make the specific point that it does not in any way hurt their eyes, or dazzle them, or keep them from seeing other things around them (perhaps because at this point they don’t have physical “eyes” to be dazzled).

Despite the light’s unusual manifestation, however, not one person has expressed any doubt whatsoever that it was a being, a being of light. Not only that, it is a personal being. It has a very definite personality. The love and the warmth which emanate from this being to the dying person are utterly beyond words, and he feels completely surrounded by it and taken up; in it, completely at ease and accepted in the presence of this being. He senses an irresistible magnetic attraction to this light. He is ineluctably drawn to it.

Interestingly, while the above description of the being of light is utterly invariable, the identification of the being varies from individual to individual and seems to be largely a function of the religious background, training, or beliefs of the person involved. Thus, most of those who are Christians in training or belief identify the light as Christ and sometimes draw Biblical parallels in support of their interpretation. A Jewish man and woman identified the light as an “angel.” It was clear, though, in both cases, that the subjects did not mean to imply that the being had wings, played a harp, or even had a human shape or appearance. There was only the light. What each was trying to get across was the they took the being to be an emissary, or a guide. A man who had had no religious beliefs or training at all prior to his experience simply identified what he saw as “a being of light.” The same label was used by one lady of the Christian faith, who apparently did not feel any compulsion at all to call the “Christ.”

Shortly after its appearance, the being begins to communicate with the person who is passing over. Notably, this communication is of the same direct kind which we encountered earlier in the description of how a person in the spiritual body may “pick up the thoughts” of those around him. For, here again, people claim that they did not hear any physical voice or sounds coming from the being, nor did they respond to the being through audible sounds. Rather, it is reported that direct, unimpeded transfer of thoughts takes place, and in such a clear way that there is no possibility whatsoever either of misunderstanding or of lying to the light.

Furthermore, this unimpeded exchange does not even take place in the native language of the person. Yet, he understands perfectly and is instantaneously aware. He cannot even translate the thoughts and exchanges which took place while he was near death into the human language which he must speak now, after his resuscitation.

The next step of the experience clearly illustrates the difficulty of translating from this unspoken language. The being almost immediately directs a certain thought to the person into whose presence it has come so dramatically. Usually the persons with whom I have talked try to formulate the thought into a question. Among the translations I have heard are: “Are you prepared to die?” “Are you ready to die?” “What have you done with your life to show me?” and “What have you done with your life that is sufficient?” The first two formulations which stress “preparation,” might as first seem to have a different sense from the second pair, which emphasize “accomplishment.” However, some support for my own feeling that everyone is trying to express the same thought comes from the narrative of one woman who put it this way:

“The first thing he said to me was, that he kind of asked me if I was ready to die, or what I had done with my life that I wanted to show him.”

Furthermore, even in the case of more unusual ways of phrasing the “question,” it turns out, upon elucidation, to have much the same force. For example, one man told me that during his “death:”

The voice asked me a question: “Is it worth it?” And what it meant was, did the kind of life I had been leading up to that point seem worthwhile to me then, knowing what I then knew.”

Incidentally, all insist that this question, ultimate and profound as it may be in its emotional impact, is not at all asked in condemnation. The being, all seem to agree, does not direct the question to them to accuse or to threaten them, for they still feel the total love and acceptance coming from the light, no matter what their answer may be. Rather, the point of the question seems to be to make them think about their lives, to draw them out. It is, if you will, a Socratic question, one asked not to acquire information but to help the person who is being asked to proceed along the path to the truth by himself. Let us look at some firsthand accounts of this fantastic being.

3. Examples of Near-Death Experiences with the “Being of Light”

Example 1: “I heard the doctors say that I was dead, and that’s when I began to feel as though I were tumbling, actually kind of floating, through this blackness, which was some kind of enclosure. There are not really words to describe this. Everything was very black, except that, way off from me, I could see this light. It was a very, very brilliant light, but not too large at first. It grew larger as I came nearer and nearer to it.

“I was trying to get to that light at the end, because I felt that it was Christ, and I was trying to reach that point. It was not a frightening experience. It was more or less a pleasant thing. For immediately, being a Christian, I had connected the light with Christ, who said, ‘I am the light of the world.’

“I said to myself, ‘If this is it, if I am to die, then I know who waits for me at the end, there in that light.'”

Example 2: “I got up and walked into the hall to go get a drink, and it was at that point, as they found out later, that my appendix ruptured. I became very weak, and I fell down. I began to feel a sort of drifting, a movement of my real being in and out of my body, and to hear beautiful music. I floated on down the hall and out the door onto the screened-in porch. There, it almost seemed that clouds, a pink mist really, began to gather around me, and then I floated right straight on through the screen, just as though it weren’t there, and up into this pure crystal clear light, an illuminating white light. It was beautiful and so bright, so radiant, but it didn’t hurt my eyes. It’s not any kind of light you can describe on Earth. I didn’t actually see a person in this light, and yet it has a special identity, it definitely does. It is a light of perfect understanding and perfect love.

“The thought came to my mind, ‘Lovest thou me?’

“This was not exactly in the form of a question, but I guess the connotation of what the light said was, ‘If you do love me, go back and complete what you began in your life.'”

“And all during this time, I felt as though I were surrounded by an overwhelming love and compassion.”

Example 3: “I knew I was dying and that there was nothing I could do about it, because no one could hear me … I was out of my body, there’s no doubt about it, because I could see my own body there on the operation room table. My soul was out! All this made me feel very bad at first, but then, this really bright light came. It did seem that it was a little dim at first, but then it was this huge beam. It was just a tremendous amount of light, nothing like a big bright flashlight, it was just too much light. And it gave off heat to me; I felt a warm sensation.

“It was a bright yellowish white – more white. It was tremendously bright; I just can’t describe it. It seemed that it covered everything, yet it didn’t prevent me from seeing everything around me – the operating room, the doctors and nurses, everything. I could see clearly, and it wasn’t blinding.

“At first, when the light came, I wasn’t sure what was happening, but then, it asked, it kind of asked me if I was ready to die. It was like talking to a person, but a person wasn’t there. The light’s what was talking to me, but in a voice.

“Now, I think that the voice that was talking to me actually realized that I wasn’t ready to die. You know, it was just kind of testing me more than anything else. Yet, from the moment the light spoke to me, I felt really good – secure and loved. The love which came from it is just unimaginable, indescribable. It was a fun person to be with! And it had a sense of humor, too – definitely!”

Experts Science

P.M.H. Atwater’s Near-Death Experience Research

P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., Ph.D. (Hon.) ( and is a near-death experiencer and one of the original researchers in the field of near-death studies, having begun her work in 1978. Sign up for her free online newsletter. Visit Atwater’s Q & A Blog and her NDE News Blog. Atwater is the author of many other wonderful NDE books including: The Forever Angels (2019), The Animal Lights Series of Children’s Books (2019), A Manual for Developing Humans (2017), Dying to Know You (2014), The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences (2014), Future Memory (2013), Children of the Fifth World (2012), NDEs, The Rest of the Story (2011), I Died Three Times in 1977 (2011), Beyond the Light (2009), Coming Back to Life (2008), Beyond the Indigo Children (2005), We Live Forever (2004), The New Children and NDEs (2003), Children of the New Millennium (1999), Goddess Runes (1996), and Beyond the Light (1994). The following are some details concerning P.M.H. Atwater and her major works on NDEs.

Table of Contents

  1. What It Feels Like To Die
  2. What Death Is
  3. What Existence Is
  4. The Realness of God
  5. The Big Picture
  6. The Four Types of NDEs

1. What It Feels Like To Die

Any pain to be suffered comes first. Instinctively you fight to live. That is automatic.

It is inconceivable to the conscious mind that any other reality could possibly exist beside the Earth-world of matter bounded by time and space. We are used to it. We have been trained since birth to live and thrive in it. We know ourselves to be ourselves by the external stimuli we receive. Life tells us who we are and we accept its telling. That, too, is automatic and to be expected.

Your body goes limp. Your heart stops. No more air flows in or out. You lose sight, feeling and movement – although the ability to hear goes last. Identity ceases. The “you” that you once were becomes only a memory.

There is no pain at the moment of death. Only peaceful silence … calm … quiet. But you still exist. It is easy not to breathe. In fact, it is easier, more comfortable, and infinitely more natural not to breathe than to breathe.

The biggest surprise for most people in dying is to realize that dying does not end life. Whether darkness or light comes next, or some kind of event, be it positive, negative, or somewhere in between, expected or unexpected, the biggest surprise of all is to realize you are still you.

You can still think, you can still remember, you can still see, hear, move, reason, wonder, feel, question, and tell jokes – if you wish.

You are still alive, very much alive. Actually, you’re more alive after death than at any time since you were last born. Only the way of all this is different; different because you no longer wear a dense body to filter and amplify the various sensations you had once regarded as the only valid indicators of what constitutes life. You had always been taught one has to wear a body to live.

If you expect to die when you die you will be disappointed.

The only thing dying does is help you release, slough off, and discard the “jacket” you once wore (more commonly referred to as a body). When you die you lose your body. That’s all there is to it. Nothing else is lost.

You are not your body. It is just something you wear for a while, because living in the Earth realm is infinitely more meaningful and more involved if you are encased in its trappings and subject to its rules.

2. What Death Is

There is a step-up of energy at the moment of death, an increase in speed as if you are suddenly vibrating faster than before.

Using radio as an analogy, this speed-up is comparable to having lived all your life at a certain radio frequency when all of a sudden someone or something comes along and flips the dial. That flip shifts you to different frequency. The original frequency where you once existed is still there. It did not change. Everything is still just the same as it was. Only you changed, only you speeded up to allow entry into the next radio frequency on the dial.

As is true with all radios and radio stations, there can be bleed-overs or distortions of transmission signals due to interference patterns. These can allow or force frequencies to coexist or co-mingle for indefinite periods of time. Normally, most shifts up the dial are fast and efficient; but, occasionally, one can run into interference, perhaps from a strong emotion, a sense of duty, or a need to fulfill a vow, or keep a promise.

This interference could allow coexistence of frequencies for a few seconds, days, or even years (perhaps explaining hauntings); but, sooner or later, eventually, every given vibrational frequency will seek out or be nudged to where it belongs.

You fit your particular spot on the dial by your speed of vibration. You cannot coexist forever where you do not belong.

Who can say how many spots there are on the dial or how many frequencies there are to inhabit? No one knows.

You shift frequencies in dying. You switch over to life on another wavelength. You are still a spot on the dial but you move up or down a notch or two.

You don’t die when you die. You shift your consciousness and speed of vibration.

That’s all death is … a shift.

3. What Existence Is

Time and space, as we know them, exist only on the Earth realm. When you leave the Earth realm, you leave such constraints.

There are realms and dimensions of existence without number, ranging from the slower, more dense vibrations of form to higher, finer streams of non-energetic currents. And there is more beyond that, realities that cannot be measured or described in the convenience of mathematics or mind-play.

Hell refers to levels of negative thought-forms that reside in close proximity to the Earth realm. It is where we go to work out, or remain within, our hang-ups, addictions, fears, guilt, angers, rage, regrets, self-pity, arrogance, or whatever else blocks us from the power of our own light. We stay in hell (and there are many divisions to this vibratory level) for however long best serves our development. There is no condemnation here, only the outworking of our own misjudgments, mistakes, misalignments, or misappropriations (what some people call sin). In hell, we have the opportunity to either revel in our folly or come to grips with the reality of consequences – that every action has a reaction, what is inflicted on another can be returned in kind. We experience the “flip side” of our despair or our demands, “living through” the extremes of whatever we dread. This is not a “punishment for our sins” but a confrontation with any distortion of our sense of values and priorities. We do not leave until we have changed our attitudes and perceptions.

Heaven is a term used to describe levels of positive thought-forms that reside in close proximity to the Earth realm. It is where we go to recognize or enjoy our worth, talents, abilities, joys, courage, generosity, caring, empathy, giving-ness, virtue, cheer, diligence, thoughtfulness, patience, loving kindness, or whatever else reveals the power of our own light. We stay in heaven (and there are many divisions to this vibratory level) for however long best serves our development. There is a sense of benefit here, as if one has found one’s true home and all is well (what some people call “recess”, or a time of rewards). In heaven, we have the opportunity to assess our progress as a soul, to evaluate pros and cons and outcomes, to remember all truths including that of our real identity. We experience the glory of love and the power of forgiveness.

This is not an end point, but, rather, the realization of our purpose in creation’s story, how we fit, and what possibilities for future growth and learning exist. We do not leave until we are ready for our next advancement either in the world of form or beyond it.

No one knows how vast creation is … only that it has always been and will always be. Shapes and embodiments change and alter, substance is recycled, but existence exists, as does energy.

Existence is life, never ending and ongoing, forever and ever eternal. Yet its only true movement (without the distortion time and space give) is expansion and contraction, as if the existence that exists were capable of breathing. What appears as a progression, a time-line of starts and stops and ever-changing variations, is but an overleaf, an illusion, that helps us to focus on whatever spot on the dial we currently inhabit so we will accomplish what we set out to do (or at least have an opportunity to), and not be distracted by The Truth that undergirds reality.

Using television as an analogy, the picture we enjoy seeing, the progression of a storyline with characters acting out a script, is but a trick of perception. What exists, what is really there, is quite literally one electron at a time (with black and white, and three at a time with color) fired from the back of the television tube to the screen to be illuminated once it hits the screen as a tiny dot. The continuous barrage of electrons-turned-into-dots creates the appearance of images, as scanning lines roll from top to bottom separating information coming in (new dots) from information fading out (old dots). You adjust the vertical hold on your set, not to remove strange bars appearing in the picture, but to place all screen activity within the range of your own perceptual preference. A television picture tube is nothing more than a “gun” that fires electrons at a screen. Your mind connects the electron dots into the picture images you think you see, while it totally ignores the true reality of what actually undergirds the operation. The way television operates, at least in our daily experience of it, is an illusion.

Existence is a lot like television. What exists, what really exists, can’t be fathomed by how it appears to operate or what it seems to be.

4. The Realness of God

God is.

God is the one presence, the one power, the one force and source of all. There are no competitors to God, no reality existent outside of God. God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere). There is no place where God is not, simply because nothing exists without God.

God is neither a man nor a woman nor a thing.

God is no one’s father or mother or benefactor. These terms are used only to help us understand relationships – ours to God – not to establish a more human type of parentage. We use such terms as a matter of convenience or because it is comforting to do so. We call ourselves children of God because we do not know what else to call ourselves, and it seems as good a term as any to use. We are made in the image of God, not in the sense of physical appearance, but with respect to the power of our souls and the potential of our minds. God is the Creator; we are co-creators. It would be more appropriate and more in line with Truth, if we called ourselves extensions of God or, perhaps, thoughts in the Mind of God. It would even be appropriate to use another name for God, like The Force, The One, The All, The Is-ness, The One Mind, The Source, or whatever conveys that sense of deity that is without limitation or boundary, beyond what can be comprehended.

While God is more than any name, protocol, hierarchy, concept, or grandiosity could describe or define; God truly is as near as our next breath – as close as our next thought. We are part of God and existent with God. A belief in separation, that we could possibly exist and have our being apart from God, is the only real sin. This belief is of our own making. God has not decreed separation; this we did ourselves by our own perception that somehow, some way, we could transcend That Which Cannot Be Transcended.

God is not dependent on our belief, for our belief or disbelief in God does not affect God – only us.

God is not a member of any church or religion. It is the churches and the religions that are members within the vastness and the glory that is God. There is no one religion just as there is no “chosen” people or person, nor any single way of regarding what cannot be fully comprehended. We are all “sons” of God in the sense that we are all souls of God’s creation, without gender, without form, without nationality, complete and whole and perfect as we explore the never-endingness of God’s wonderment. A spark from the essence of All God Is resides in each and every one of us has an unbreakable connection, that thread or cord that ensures we remain a part of That Which We Could Never Leave.

The splendorous joy of recognizing and acknowledging our special-ness, our greatness, as creations of God and as co-creators with God, is akin to being engulfed by overwhelming floodtides of God’s Glorious Love.

5. The Big Picture

There is no sense of “crime and punishment” in God’s Light, only the clear, complete, and total knowing that you are loved unconditionally and fully – right now and forever more.

Truth in this light, God’s Light, is so powerful and so piercing, there is no way you could lie, exaggerate, avoid, or deny what you have done with God’s gift to you, the gift of an embodied life in the Earth realm replete with abundant opportunities to learn and develop and grow – be the best that you can be. This gift, the Earth life God gives us, comes with a catch: We are to give the gift back.

We cannot keep the life we have on the Earth realm, not our possessions or attachments or relationships. What we can keep is our memories and our feelings of what we have integrated into our heart of hearts from the experience of being here, plus the love we have shared with others. This that we can keep enriches God’s experience of us as well as enriching our experience of ourselves and one another. How joyful this is depends on what we did about who we are.

Each gain or loss anyone makes affects everyone else to some degree. That’s because we are connected, somehow, as sparks from the Mind of God. Everything created either has a soul (independent power mass) or is capable of being ensouled (from out of the group power mass). Because human forms contain larger portions of a soul mass than many other types of form, they represent opportunities of greater diversity, challenge, and involvement. Yet even animals, minerals, plants, and planets, enfold degrees of ensoulment replete with intelligence, feeling, and volition. Density of structure or shape may seem to deny this, but the creative fire is ever-present, nonetheless.

All souls are holy in God’s Light, and all souls are loved.

And all souls have a purpose for their existence and a reason for being who or what they are.

Whatever form a soul empowers “fits” in creation’s story, for each soul has a job to do, a position to fill in the greater scheme of things.

And all souls evolve. Nothing stays as it is because nothing is static, regardless of how “otherwise” conditions may appear to be.

Evolution is not restricted to linear progression. It only seems so.

Thus, the drama of creation’s story is unbounded – neither limited by our perception of it, nor by our ability or lack of ability to comprehend it. This drama is as stupendous as it is terrifying, as awesome as it is wonderful, as miraculous as it is mysterious, as beautiful as it is the ultimate act of all-consuming love. To witness even a glimpse of such glory, to know the Real Truth of it, leaves a mark so deep and so profound you are forever uplifted and transformed.

You return from your NDE knowing we affect each other because we are all part of each other, and that we affect all parts of creation because all parts of creation interweave and interrelate with all other parts. Any sense of aloneness or separation dissolves in the Light of such knowing.

We each matter. And we are each challenged to “wake up” and realize that we matter. Once we so awaken, our task is to act accordingly.

To know is not enough. We must express that knowing. How we do that is up to us.

Although we are each connected to the other and to all others, we are individual in our choices, in the power of our will, and in the product or result or consequence of our ever having breathed a breath in the Earth realm. The responsibility we have for this totality of our being-ness is as freeing and exciting as it is humbling. And it represents high adventure.

The greatest fear we have in living out our Earth life is not what might happen to us, but what might be expected from us if we recognized who we are.

6. The Four Types of NDEs

P.M.H. Atwater has identified four distinctive types of NDEs. She discovered elements similar to those described by Moody and Ring but different patterning from what was billed as the classical version; each pattern type was accompanied by a subtle psychological profile suggestive of other forces that might be present. These four types have consistently held up throughout two decades of interviews, observations, and analysis regardless of a person’s age, education, gender, culture, or religion. In her book, Beyond the Light, P.M.H. Atwater used separate chapters to discuss each of the four types. Below is a shorter rendition of the scenario patterns.

a. Initial Experience (Sometimes referred to as the “nonexperience”)

Involves elements such as a loving nothingness, the living dark, a friendly voice, or a brief out-of-body episode. Usually experienced by those who seem to need the least amount of evidence for proof of survival, or who need the least amount of shakeup in their life at that point in time. Often, this becomes a “seed” experience or an introduction to other ways of perceiving and recognizing reality. Incident rate: 76% with child experiencers, 20% with adult experiencers.

b. Unpleasant or Hell-like Experience (Inner cleansing and self-confrontation)

Encounter with a threatening void or stark limbo or hellish purgatory, or scenes of a startling and unexpected indifference, even “hauntings” from one’s own past. Usually experienced by those who seem to have deeply suppressed or repressed guilt, fears, and angers and/or those who expect some kind of punishment or discomfort after death. Incident rate: 3% with child experiencers, 15% with adult experiencers.

c. Pleasant or Heaven-like Experience (Reassurance and self-validation)

Heaven-like scenarios of loving family reunions with those who have died previously, reassuring religious figures or light beings, validation that life counts, affirmative and inspiring dialogue. Usually experienced by those who most need to know how loved they are and how important life is and how every effort has a purpose in the overall scheme of things. Incident rate: 19% with child experiencers, 47% with adult experiencers.

d. Transcendent Experience (Expansive revelations, alternate realities)

Exposure to otherworldly dimensions and scenes beyond the individual’s frame of reference; sometimes includes revelations of greater truths. Seldom personal in content. Usually experienced by those who are ready for a mind-stretching challenge and/or individuals who are more apt to utilize (to whatever degree) the truths that are revealed to them. Incident rate: 2% with child experiencers, 18% with adult experiencers.

Note: P.M.H. Atwater has noticed that all four types can occur at the same time during an NDE, can exist in varying combinations, or can spread out across a series of episodes for a particular individual. Generally speaking, however, each represents a distinctive type of experience occurring but once to a given person.

Experts Science

Nora Spurgin’s Near-Death Experience Research

The following near-death insights are a part of the research conclusions drawn by Nora M. Spurgin, M.S.W. who studied the near-death findings of such NDE experts as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. Raymond Moody and created a very impressive quantity and quality of spiritual information gleaned from near-death accounts. Her research conclusions and spiritual insights concerning the experience after death are beautifully articulated in a way that really speaks to a person’s heart. You be the judge. Twenty-nine questions and answers from Nora’s research are presented below. These answers are presented without specific religious doctrine and dogma and are for the sole purpose of enhancing life both on Earth and beyond. This information is for those who are in the full bloom of life; for there is still time to prepare. For those who are terminally ill, it might make a difference in the quality of the final years or months and help the new arrival into the spiritual world.

Table of Contents

  1. Is there life after death? How do we know?
  2. If life continues after physical death, where is such life lived?
  3. What is a near-death experience?
  4. Is going to the spirit world automatic?
  5. What is the spirit world like?
  6. Can spiritual growth take place on the other side?
  7. Are people on the spiritual side aware of our passing?
  8. Will we know and be with our relatives and friends who have died before us?
  9. What will we look like in the spiritual world?
  10. What will we do in the spiritual world?
  11. Do we have to be religious?
  12. If we are not religious, what happens?
  13. Does the religion we believe and practice make a difference?
  14. Will we meet God and other religious figures?
  15. Of what significance are repentance and making amends before we die?
  16. What about heaven and hell?
  17. What can we do here and now to make a better transition at death?
  18. After entering the spirit world, can we return to loved ones on Earth?
  19. Why can’t people on Earth see or hear the spirit if it is still alive after death?
  20. Do our prayers for the deceased help?
  21. Is there time and space in the spiritual world?
  22. Can we still enjoy physical pleasures; for example, food, drink, and sex?
  23. What happens to one who commits suicide?
  24. Does suffering on Earth have spiritual value?
  25. What about reincarnation?
  26. Are angels different from spirits of people who have lived on Earth?
  27. Are there demonic spirits and angels?
  28. Do we pass through some kind of judgment on our earthly life?
  29. Are there marriages in the next life? If I’m married now, will our family be together?
  30. References

1. Is there life after death? How do we know?

From Plato and the early Greeks, through Jesus and Paul, through most African and Oriental cultures, to spiritualists of the twentieth century, a belief in some kind of survival of bodily death has been unequivocally affirmed. Jesus’ assertion that in his Father’s house there are many rooms, would seem to be justified by the fact that this common belief is held by such divergent peoples.

While many traditional believers tend to shy away from the topic, testimony to the existence of a spirit world actually permeates the Bible.

Prophets such as Ezekiel and Isaiah report powerful spiritual visions, as does the writer of the Book of Revelation. In the Gospels, angels speak (Luke 1:28) and on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus talks with the long-dead Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-3). Christian mystics and saints throughout history also spoke of spiritual experiences.

The proposition that life continues beyond physical death goes a long way toward explaining well-recognized and otherwise unexplainable phenomena, for example, near-death experiences, visions of deceased persons and the experience of authentic communication from the other side.

To understand what happens to us at death, we first need to understand of what we are made. Most of us tend to identify closely with our physical bodies, but this is only part of the picture. We are not only physical matter, but also spiritual essence. It is accurate to say that we are essentially spiritual beings who possess physical bodies. When we die, we in effect take off our physical bodies as one might take off an overcoat. The essential person remains.

2. If life continues after physical death, where is such life lived?

Our bodies exist, of course, in the physical world, which provides an environment for our activity and growth on Earth and offers us nourishment, stimulation and joy. Likewise, there is a spiritual dimension of the universe the invisible spirit world – which serves as the environment for our spirits. Our spirit is the internal counterpart to our physical body, and the spirit world is the invisible counterpart to the physical world. This world is located not up in heaven, but in a different dimension, inter-penetrating the physical world and the universe. While on Earth we exist in both worlds at once, in effect connecting the two. For this reason, people on occasion can have visions and communicate with the dead.

While most people are prepared to admit belief in some kind of life after death, fewer accept the proposition that during our physical lifetimes we are existing in two realms at once a material one and a spiritual one. There is an invisible spiritual world surrounding this physical one, inhabited by those who have passed on. Because the two realms inter-penetrate each other, the spirit of a person near death can float out of the body.

To begin to understand how we could simultaneously live in two realms and, for the most part, be unaware of it, we must remember that there are many things in the natural world that exist beyond the range of our five physical senses. For example, we cannot see infra-red light or x-rays, or hear sounds above or below certain frequencies. Nevertheless, x-rays and high and low frequency sound vibrations do exist. In the same way, even though we cannot perceive a spiritual world through our physical senses, it exists all around us.

The discoveries of modern science lend credence to this prospect. Whereas in prior times scientists thought of the material world as constructed of solid, though minute, blocks of matter, they now believe this is not the case. Rather, what we think of as the material world seems to consist of invisible patterns of energy. The implications of this theory with regard to the existence of a spiritual dimension are clear. Indeed, it is probably such a discovery as this that gave rise to Albert Einstein’s celebrated remark that his work was spiritual, involving the discovery of where matter ends and spirit begins.

Just as we perceive the physical world with our physical senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell), so the spirit world can be perceived by a set of spiritual senses; which are not limited by the physical laws of nature. Because most of us are not attuned to our spiritual senses, we become aware of the spirit world only when we pass into it at the end of our physical lives.

3. What is a near-death experience?

Due to modern technology, the number of people who have been revived from clinical death and brought back to physical life has increased tremendously in recent years. Many such individuals have shared amazingly similar accounts of their experience. Whereas in the past people may have been reluctant to discuss their experiences, perhaps due to fear of ridicule, thousands are now reporting near-death experiences (NDEs). Documented observation on the subject of the next life reported by individuals who have had near-death experiences has taken this area of research beyond theory.

Near-death experiences gained widespread publicity when Dr. Raymond Moody‘s book, Life After Life, became a best seller. Dr. Moody writes convincingly of his vast research on people who were clinically dead for a short time and were revived. Elements which appear most frequently in such accounts are the following:

a. The identity of the individual who has died remains intact. The conscious self leaves the body and observes it in its lifeless state but feels no break in the continuity of consciousness.

b. The sensations associated with leaving the body are described as being very positive lightness, brightness, love, joy, peace and cessation of pain.

c. The consciousness, or spirit, enters a dark tunnel with an extremely bright light at the end.

d. Relatives and friends (already deceased) are often seen. Usually they communicate a welcome, and the person who has just died may be given the choice to return to physical life on Earth.

e. Often the spirit is greeted by beings of great light and love perceived to be God, the Creator, or a religious figure such as Jesus.

f. There may be a life-review, which is a rapid panoramic view of the earthly life in chronological order.

g. The consciousness, or spirit, can hear and observe everything that is happening in the physical world, but cannot communicate with people on Earth through speaking or touching.

h. There is instinctive knowledge that in going into the light there is a point of no return to physical Earth life. Since these accounts come only from people who have returned to physical life, there was a point past which they did not venture.

i. When they return to physical life, most people who have had an NDE feel an enhanced quality in life; there is a lack of fear of dying, and a new purposefulness in living.

4. Is going to the spirit world automatic?

Yes. It is not a matter of choice or qualification. Every person is created as a being whose spirit is eternal. Life in the spirit world is simply the next step after life on Earth, much as life on Earth is the natural step after life in the womb.

Physical birth takes place when a baby, having spent nine months in a small, dark, warm place, suddenly pushes through the birth canal into a bright, expansive new world. There is a similar sequence of events in our birth into the next life. Those who have had NDEs describe a dark tunnel leading toward a bright light where loved ones await their arrival.

It should be noted, however, that if one is educated to believe that there is no life after death, she may fail to recognize the natural process which automatically takes place. There are those who describe this lack of knowing as an incredible injustice, for the passage to the next world is confused and the spirit may wander indefinitely without the body, stuck between two worlds, feeling part of neither. This condition may persist until a spiritual guide is sent to rescue and re-educate the lost soul.

5. What is the spirit world like?

Sensitive people who have had glimpses into the world beyond say it is a world much like our own, but having no time nor space as we think of these dimensions; it exists in a higher dimension of energy and, in its higher realms, is a world of inexpressible beauty. It is a world where it is possible to be fully alive, where, for example, the whole body perceives. It is a world of endless possibilities for creativity and full realization of self; and it is a world where the love of God is like the air we breathe. As air is the atmosphere on Earth, God’s love is the atmosphere in the spirit world.

One’s spiritual body can travel with thought waves. Therefore, if one thinks of a person and place, he can immediately be transported there. Communication is also by thought. In addition, one is free from the restrictions of the physical body; eating, for example, is possible, but not necessary to maintain the physical body. In the spiritual world, one realizes that life on Earth has, like life in the womb, been preparation for a fuller, freer and richer eternal existence.

6. Can spiritual growth take place on the other side?

Yes, it appears to be a law of the universe that growth is always possible. According to many accounts, the spiritual world has teachers and guides (those who have died, sometimes centuries before, who have the mission to guide newcomers who want to learn and grow in the spirit world). For children, teachers are provided to give them basic knowledge, and people in the position of parents provide them with essential love.

Those who are lacking in emotional growth, or who have lived unloving, resentful, vengeful, or selfish lives will be given the opportunity to serve and help others in order that they may advance to higher realms. They may even come back to Earth as spiritual helpers, like guardian angels, to influence people to avoid misdeeds and harmful lifestyles, and to overcome unloving attitudes. Those who have passed on often come back to their descendants to help and protect them. In so doing, spiritual growth takes place for both.

Desire for such spiritual growth arises from a desire to be close to God. The spiritual world is a world where an ever-increasing unity with the love of God is the goal of one’s growth.

7. Are people on the spiritual side aware of our passing?

Yes. Whenever someone passes from the Earth, no matter who, people in the spirit world know that the person is arriving. Those on the other side know who, when and where, because it is the responsibility of those in the spirit world to receive the newcomer. In most cases, relatives are apprised so that they can welcome the one who is passing on. Because the major motive of those in the higher realms in the spirit world is love, there is great desire to help the new arrival leave the physical world in the best possible way.

8. Will we know and be with our relatives and friends who have passed on before us?

Just as on Earth we seek out relationships which are comfortable, the same is true in the spiritual world. We are likely to seek out our relatives, loved ones and ancestors with whom we have a bond. However, if there is a vast difference in spiritual development, a person of lesser development and thus having a lower vibration, will be unable to enter the higher realm to which those of greater development have advanced. In this case, the more highly developed loved one may choose to visit and help the person in need of spiritual development.

9. What will we look like in the spiritual world?

As already stated, each person has a physical body and a spirit body, even while on Earth. The physical body which one leaves behind is a reflection of his spirit and is similar in appearance. The spiritual body has the same identity, the same vibration; it simply lives in a different dimension. The higher one’s development, or vibration, the brighter and more finely attuned will be his spirit.

Fundamentally, an individual maintains distinguishing characteristics. However, what determines what one looks like in the spirit world is the person’s quality of heart and life. One’s inner quality is perceived as light. One’s features are visible but the light that comes from one’s very essence is the identifying feature. For example, because they lived totally for other people, Jesus and other religious leaders emanate brilliant light.

A very homely person who has served sacrificially will emanate such light and be very attractive to others in the spirit world. If at the time of death one’s physical body was impaired, his spiritual body will be free of pain and impairment. However, because the spirit world is the world of mind, he may still think of himself as being in pain or having impairment. If so, as long as he carries it in his mind, such pain and impairment will be present.

10. What will we do in the spiritual world?

It depends on where we are in the spirit world. The higher realms of spirit world is truly heaven; a world of enjoyment and recreation. People do things they enjoy, and keep company with people they enjoy. It is a world of joyful activity. The skills, interests, and abilities developed on Earth may be reflected in the roles chosen in eternity. Each of us will contribute uniquely toward the goodness and beauty in our realm. Further, it is said that the spirit world is vast and of transcendent beauty. Those dwelling in the higher realms are able to travel to its vast reaches.

The quality of life in the spirit world is directly affected by one’s heart and his activities on Earth. Since love is supreme, opportunities for the practice of love will continue. The means for spiritual growth is through the dynamic of love, which is to serve. Relationships are thus very important.

11. Do we have to be religious?

As indicated above, everyone, religious or not, believing in God or not, transitions to the spirit world as part of the natural process of life. Just as one does not need to be religious to live in the physical world, one does not need to profess a particular faith to live in the spirit world.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the great world religions have been the carriers of universal spiritual truth, have been the source of the spiritual education of millions, perhaps billions, of people and have been the central force in the spiritual development of the human race. Properly understood and fully lived, the teachings underlying the great religious traditions inevitably promote the spiritual growth of their followers and thus are enormously valuable in preparing such individuals for the richest possible lives in the spirit world.

Thus while one does not have to be religious to dwell in the spirit world, one inevitably will benefit from a thorough understanding and practice of a particular tradition. This said, however, it needs to be recognized that not all teachings described as religious are beneficial. Religion which is judgmental, prejudicial, critical, and narrow may impede the spirit’s natural growth.

It is love, not religion, which creates spiritual growth. Where religion teaches love, there is growth. Where religion impedes love, there is stagnation.

12. If we are not religious, what happens?

As explained above, everyone transitions to the spirit world on the death of the physical body. One’s state there is determined by the level of spiritual maturity. If not mature, one may find that an understanding of the knowledge available through the various religious traditions may help him to begin the process. This knowledge is best acquired through an experienced mediator who in effect serves as a type of spiritual parent or guide for one just beginning his journey.

Further, while the ideal place to grow spiritually is on Earth indeed, this is the reason for life on Earth growth in the spirit world remains a possibility. There, however, in the absence of a physical body, growth is more difficult. The opportunity for the full range of love (child’s love, marital love, and parental love) is ideally available while one is on Earth. Love which has been misused or misdirected, is also best corrected in the physical life, for there is the full range of physical and spiritual senses with which to act and communicate.

13. Does what we believe and practice in different religious traditions make a difference in terms of quality of life in the spiritual world?

It is said that the Golden Rule is the governing principle in the spirit world: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. People who truly practice the religion of love will find themselves in a universal sphere where everyone understands that true religion is to love others as ourselves.

The most difficult thing for a person who has been deeply steeped in a particular religious tradition is to realize that the form alone is not what elevates a person; it is the heart. Still, those who cling to an external form of religion will be most comfortable with others who practice the same rituals, whatever they may be. In this sense, congregations may continue centered around the particular religious traditions they practiced while on Earth.

14. Will we meet God and other religious figures?

Everyone in the realms of light knows that there is a Creator. It is said that this presence is so obvious it cannot be denied. In the spirit world one can see and experience the source of life. So the first awesome feeling is said to be, God IS! There is no question.

Other religious figures including the founders of world religions, the saints and prophets, exist in their own dimensions of the spirit world. The similarity of one’s life, heart and knowledge to a particular figure determines one’s closeness to these religious figures.

15. Of what significance are repentance and making amends before we die?

Wrongs which cause injury to others require repentance, forgiveness and restoration of wholeness. When one has hurt someone else, unless she apologizes to that person, repents for the hurt caused and is forgiven, she will carry that burden into the spirit world. If someone has something against a person who has not apologized, progress is impeded in the spirit world.

When we can recognize the hurt brought to others, and make amends for it by seeking forgiveness, then healing of the spirit can take place. This liberates both parties for greater love and spiritual growth.

A re-orientation of one’s life toward God and love at any point has great value. If a person can take this step while still on Earth, and in particular can make amends for any wrong done, this will do much to enhance his status in the spirit world. The next step for the last minute repenter is to preserve this new orientation and upon arrival in the spirit world to do whatever is necessary to continue growth there.

The quality of the energy that we maintain is affected by whether our intentions and actions lead us toward, or separate us from, goodness and God.

16. What about heaven and hell?

On Earth we are all aware of different gradations in the lifestyles of various individuals. Some seem to have a very desirable lifestyle, others less so. The same may be said about life in the spirit world. In terms of externals, some persons there live in more attractive and comfortable environments, others in less appealing conditions. At the extremes there are beautiful and uplifting settings which are truly heavenly and, on the other hand, there are very unattractive, even repugnant, environments which are without a doubt hellish.

The difference between life in the physical world and life in the spiritual world is that the environment in the spiritual world corresponds to one’s internal nature rather than to that which can be created through external resources, as is possible in the physical world. If, during our lifetime on Earth, we matured in a spiritually rich and beautiful way, we will come to dwell in an environment that corresponds with these qualities. Indeed, such environments are said by those who have experienced them to possess a beauty that is beyond anything seen on Earth.

In the spirit world, God’s truth is represented by light and His love by warmth. Those individuals in the spirit world who live in harmony with God thus live in light and warmth. Conversely, if one has been stunted in his spiritual growth through an undeveloped or misdirected lifestyle, has led a purely self-centered life or has hurt other people, his spiritual environment will reflect something of these realities. A self-centered life on Earth places one in an area of the spiritual world with like-minded people who have yet to learn the value of unselfishness for the advancement of the soul. Environments distant from God are said to be dark, cold and inhospitable. Indeed, they reflect the spirits of those dwelling therein.

In between these extremes are many levels representing different stages of spiritual growth. The central factor determining our level is the degree to which we have lived for the sake of others, and the extent to which we have been able to influence others likewise to follow paths of service and love. In this respect, the actions of loving, serving and teaching others carry the highest spiritual value.

17. What could we do while still living in the physical body to make a better transition at death?

We should educate ourselves as much as possible about the spirit world. Even gaining the smallest impression that there is life after death will bring enlightenment and understanding. The more understanding one has to illuminate the objective reality of the spirit world, the more one has the desire to live in accordance with natural and spiritual laws and is enabled to go directly from Earth into the higher realms of the spirit world.

Betty Eadie, author of Embraced by the Light, explains that it is possible for the uneducated and unbelieving spirit to be a virtual prisoner of this Earth. This is especially true of those who remain bonded to the Earth through greed, bodily appetites and other earthly commitments which make it difficult to let go and move on. Such spirits, she was told during her near-death experience, may not recognize the energy and light which draws one toward God. Lacking the faith and power to reach for the light, unenlightened spirits may actually stay on Earth until they learn of the higher power which surrounds, and is available to them.

18. After entering the spirit world, can we return to loved ones on Earth?

Unknown to most of humanity, the moving back and forth of spiritual beings to their loved ones on Earth is going on night and day, all over the world. As indicated previously, it is due to our inability to see spiritually that we have no awareness of the spirit world. Dreams, a visitation beside one’s bed which seems like a dream, visions of departed loved ones and appearances of religious figures are all manifestations of spirit return. The major purposes of these visits is to guide those on Earth or to comfort those who are bereaved by a beloved one’s passing. Those from the other side are continually working to elevate the spiritual level of those on Earth. By aiding in the spiritual growth of those on Earth, the attending spirit derives energies for his own advancement.

19. Why can’t people on Earth see or hear the spirit if it is still alive and trying to make contact?

It seems from the accounts of people who have had NDEs that the spiritual self can hear and see everything physical, but the reverse is not true. Because their spiritual senses are undeveloped, those on the physical plane usually cannot penetrate this dimension, making communication impossible.

The spirit on the other hand, may not necessarily know that death has occurred, and may be bewildered to discover that no one in the physical world responds to his efforts to communicate. No one sees or hears him. It is important for a person to know of the spirit world before death; otherwise the spirit may enter his new life frustrated and ignorant of the fact that he has, in fact, passed on. Seemingly intact, and not realizing that the physical body is dead, the spirit may wander indefinitely, seeking to make contact with those still in the physical body. It may be noted here that there are people on the physical plane whose senses are attuned to the vibrations of the spiritual world. They have experiences other than the near-death experience which give them extraordinary insight into the spiritual realm. They may be called clairvoyant (if they see spiritually) and/or clairaudient (if they hear spiritually). While it is often not reported, it is common for spouses and relatives to receive communication from their deceased loved ones. Among noted individuals who have recorded these unique experiences are Emanuel Swedenborg and Anthony Borgia. Emanuel Swedenborg was an eighteenth century scientist, philosopher, and theologian who explained that the Almighty allowed him to make frequent visits to the world beyond for a period extending over 25 years.

He recorded his extensive experiences as a resource for others to understand the life hereafter. Borgia likewise has produced volumes of information on life after death based on spiritual communications with a deceased nineteenth century priest.

20. Do our prayers for the deceased help?

As a form of positive mental energy, prayer rightly directed represents our joining our energies with those of God as He seeks the growth and well-being of His children. Through prayer we cooperate with both God and the angelic and spiritual beings of the spirit world in an on-going, cosmic effort for the liberation of humanity.

Because God looks to humankind as co-creators, and because He cherishes all efforts for the well-being of others, prayer is never wasted. Sooner or later, these efforts inevitably bear fruit, assisting in the positive advancement of those persons on whose behalf they are made. Calling out a specific name in prayer will draw cosmic energy to that person.

Praying for someone who has passed on will be a boost on the other side to enlist the help of spiritual guides for the new arrival. Indeed, living in the spirit world, spirit persons may be even more sensitive to the beneficial effects of prayer than they were on Earth.

21. Is there time and space in the spiritual world?

If one is in the highest realms, love reigns. And where there is love, there is happiness. Where there is happiness, there is no awareness of time. Therefore, there is no time as we know it here.

However, in the lower realms, because one is very unhappy, time seem interminable. There is space, but the whole spirit world is a reflection of the qualities of the people who live there. Where love reigns, there is no distance between people. The spirit world is thus not like our three-dimensional world, but is more like a symbolic reflection of the inner quality of the people.

22. Can we still enjoy physical and sensual pleasure in the spirit world; for example, food, drink, and sex?

All that is good in human experience, whether it be food, drink, human affection, or sexual intercourse can be experienced in spirit world. Because our physical senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching are only poor reflections of our very sensitive spiritual senses, music, art, fragrances, occasional spiritual food and the feeling of textures are all more rich and enjoyable in the spiritual world.

Swedenborg comments that husbands and wives enjoy intercourse just as on Earth, only happier and richer, because when the love becomes spiritual, it becomes deeper and purer and therefore more fully appreciated. Intercourse does not conceive children, however, because the material element is missing.

Since the spiritual world is a world of mind and imagination, physical nourishment is not necessary for the maintenance of the spirit. One may still have a desire for familiar physical pleasures as they were experienced on Earth. There is fruit to be eaten; one can even have a banquet.

It may be useful to mention here that a spirit obsessed with or addicted to sensual pleasures may sometimes seek to gratify these desires through a person on Earth. This is very harmful to the spiritual growth of both parties. These spirits are called possessing or obsessing spirits; they do not realize the harm done by the wrong use of another’s body.

Excessive or unbalanced behavior distracts one from those activities which nurture spiritual and physical vitality. Dr. Edith Fiore, psychologist and author of The Unquiet Dead, records numerous anecdotal accounts of clients who, through hypnosis, were able to identify and be liberated from such possessing spirits. Dr. Fiore is one of a growing number of professionals who use hypnosis in depossession or spirit releasement therapy to free clients of emotional traumas due to spirit possession. It appears that educating the Earth-bound and possessing spirit about the existence and laws of the spirit world can liberate the spirit to begin his upward journey and the troubled client to live an emotionally healthy life on Earth.

23. What happens to one who commits suicide?

This booklet would not be complete without mention of those who enter the spiritual world as a result of ending their own physical lives. The death of the physical body is determined by natural law, which is governed by divine law. To take one’s physical life is to break that law, with the result that there must be special care and arrangements made in the spiritual world. In other words, breaking natural law must be accounted for before one can go to higher levels.

According to some psychics, because the person’s life was cut short and her work on Earth incomplete, it will be necessary to live out this uncompleted time in spirit aiding the very ones on Earth who were most hurt by the suicide.

Since the motivation for suicide is usually to avoid unhappiness, we can assume that the spirit takes such unhappiness into the spiritual world. Any problems experienced on Earth are always better worked out on Earth.

24. Does suffering on Earth have spiritual value?

Few things on Earth are inherently good or inherently evil. Money, power, knowledge, and even love can be used for either positive or negative purposes and can be either good or evil. Suffering, too, can be meaningful or meaningless, valuable or worthless. Suffering, for example, that accompanies one’s pursuit of a noble goal, or that produces a depth of character or sensitivity to the suffering of others, has positive spiritual merit and no doubt contributes to spiritual advancement. Indeed, one need look no further than the recognition that history has accorded those who have endured suffering for the sake of others, e.g., Jesus, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr., to see the truth of this principle.

Further, it is often through suffering that one may come to appreciate God’s grace. If one sees suffering as a means to understand more deeply the love of God, or indeed to become more God-like, such suffering will have great value.

25. What about reincarnation?

Traditional Judeo-Christian teachings describe a single incarnation with eternal, personal existence after death. On the other hand, many contemporary writings and some established Eastern teachings embrace reincarnation as true. Phenomena described by spiritually gifted persons may be logically justified by either concept; therefore, ideas common to both theories are important:

Unique, personal existence continues after the physical body dies.

Continued spiritual growth through love and service is a central aspect of eternal existence.

After passing into the spiritual world, we do not lose interest in the welfare of our loved ones or the human race. We achieve merit and benefit from helping those on Earth toward higher truth and greater love.

It is extremely important on passing into the spiritual world to look toward the light and accept orientation from spiritual guides. If a person dies ignorant of the spiritual world, an Earth-bound state or spirit possession may result, severely hindering the growth of all involved. A prayer or call for help may be enough to move us through the tunnel and into the light described in NDEs.

Most psychics who espouse reincarnation do not believe that one must immediately inhabit another body upon physical death. Long periods (centuries in physical time) are used for continued growth by entities who earn merit by temporarily visiting Earth as spiritual guides and teachers. Psychics believing in a single incarnation describe a similar return of spirit helpers who work so closely with us that thoughts and feelings blend, causing the distinct impression of past lives.

Proponents of both schools share the belief that it is best to exist in eternity without reincarnating. Reincarnationists see this as the liberation of the soul from illusion, when the lessons of physical life have been learned. Others believe it is God’s ideal for an individual to evolve through love and service beginning in this life and continuing in the next, without the necessity for reincarnation.

26. Are angels different from spirits of people who have lived on Earth?

There is much interest in angels today. An angel is a spiritual being who lives in the spiritual realm and, yes, is different from the spirits of people who have lived on the Earth. The angels were created first, to assist with the creation of man and woman as well as with the rest of the creation. The Bible and other scriptures speak of angels as spiritual beings who serve as messengers or helpers to men and women on the Earth. Without our spiritual senses, we are not aware of their daily presence in our lives. Have you heard of guardian angels? It is said that we all have at least two.

The angels of God are beautiful, radiant beings of light, similar in form to humans, often beautifully clothed, with the ability to speak, act and fully communicate. We might say that fallen angels are those spiritual beings, originally of God, who chose not to respond to the light and have turned away from God. Such spiritual beings seek to separate or distract humans from fulfilling their purpose, which is to fully live as God’s children.

27. Are there demonic spirits and angels?

Numerous scriptural accounts describe angels who turned against the pure goodness and love of God, and also turn humankind toward evil by malicious intent. The master of such forces is often called Satan or the devil. There is no doubt that evil exists on Earth. Similarly, those who have communication with the spiritual world state that all is not goodness and light there as well. Since we know that we enter the spiritual world at the same level of spiritual development we have gained while on Earth, then it makes sense that those who have had much give and take with selfishness, revenge and maliciousness will continue such acts in the spirit world.

There is, therefore, evil and darkness in the spirit world. The darkness may be a result of ignorance and lack of understanding. Spiritual guides will enlighten willing souls and offer growth opportunities to lead the spirit into the light and warmth of higher realms. Some accounts inform us that ignorance of the need to seek growth may keep someone in a state of darkness for a long period of time.

Apart from ignorance, there are also dark forces in the spirit world created by those of vengeful and malicious desires. Such are the forces, often called demonic, which influence, obsess or possess people on Earth and which may be instigators of crime and violence, sexual abuse and aberrations, and belief in Satanism. A person of such interests on Earth will inevitably be drawn to similar companionship in the spirit world. The dwelling place of such evil could certainly be called hell.

Everyone entering the spiritual world, however, should know that a God of love suffers for those in darkness, ignorance and misery. Based on desire and willingness, the spirit is given opportunity for an upward journey. One book recently reprinted, A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands by Franchezzo, is a vivid descriptive account of this process of growth and development.

28. Do we pass through some kind of judgment on our earthly life?

Upon one’s entering the spirit world, we face a life review. In this review, a panorama-like view of one’s whole life will appear in which both the good and the bad, the right and wrong are presented and are self-judged. Typically there is a good feeling for all the good, and a deep remorse for the wrongs. This is the judgment; it is self-imposed. Such judgment, however, is not the end. Out of remorsefulness can come the beginning of repentance, which enables the spirit to be liberated from ignorance and to begin to grow spiritually.

29. Are there marriages in the next life? If I’m married now, will our family be together?

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, people who were married on the Earth meet in the spiritual world, recognize one another and may want to live together as they lived on Earth. As the superficialities drop off, the couple will discover what they are like inwardly, what their love and attraction were and whether they can continue to live as one. A marriage without God’s love and blessing may soon disintegrate. Where love is undeveloped, growth is necessary before such blessed oneness can be experienced and enjoyed. In fact, misuse of love and sex during one’s earthly life leaves a deep scar on the spirit which can be mended only through true love.

Truly loving marriages are perhaps God’s greatest gift. These marriages in which the love of God is expressed between the spouses are for eternity. Each person experiences a deep inner relationship of love with God and with his spouse. Such a marriage is a union where each individual continues to grow close both to God and to his or her mate in the marital relationship. Where children were born to such a union, the depth of love shared on Earth keeps the family together in the spiritual world.

30. References

Borgia, Anthony. Life in the World Unseen. London: Psychic Press Ltd., 1988.

Borgia, Anthony, More About Life in the World Unseen. London: Psychic Press Ltd., 1988.

Callanan, Maggie, and Patricia Kelley, Here and Hereafter. London: Psychic Press Ltd., 1988.

Callanan, Maggie, and Patricia Kelley, Final Gifts. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.

Callanan, Maggie, and Patricia Kelley, Divine Principle. New York: HSA-UWC, 1973.

Eadie, Betty J., Embraced by the Light. Placerville, California: Gold Leaf Press, 1992.

Fiore, Edith, The Unquiet Dead. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987.

Gladish, David F. Franchezzo: A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands: West Grove, Pennsylvania: AIM Publishers, Inc., 1993.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth, On Death and Dying. New York: Macmillan, 1969.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth, Death: The Final Stage of Growth. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1975.

Martin, Joel, and Patricia Romanowski, We Don’t Die: George Anderson’s Conversations With the Other Side. New York: Putnam, 1988; Berkley, 1989.

Martin, Joel, and Patricia Romanowski, We Are Not Forgotten: George Anderson’s Messages of Love and Hope from the Other Side. New York: Putnam, 1990; Berkley 1991.

Martin, Joel, and Patricia Romanowski, Our Children Forever: George Anderson’s Messages from Children from the Other Side. New York: Berkley, 1994.

Moody, Raymond, Life After Life. Atlanta: Mockingbird Books, 1975.

Moody, Raymond, Reflections on Life After Life. Atlanta: Mockingbird Books, 1977.

Moody, Raymond, with Paul Perry, Reunions Visionary Encounters With Departed Loved Ones. New York: Villard Books, 1993.

Swedenborg, Emanuel, Love in Marriage, a translation of Emanuel Swedenborg’s The Sensible Joy in Married Love and The Foolish Pleasures of Illicit Love. New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1992.

Swedenborg, Emanuel, Heaven and its Wonders and Hell. First published, London, 1758; reprinted, New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1967.

Swedenborg, Emanuel, Arcana Coelestia. First published, London, 1749; reprinted, New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1978.

Wickland, Carl A., Thirty Years Among the Dead. Van Nuys, California: Newcastle Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.

Experts Science

Dr. Melvin Morse’s Near-Death Experience Research

Dr. Melvin Morse, M.D., ( is an American medical doctor who specializes in pediatrics. Dr. Morse is also heads The Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness ( He was voted by his peers as one of “America’s Best Doctors” in 1997-1998, 2001-2002, and 2005-2006. He has published numerous scientific articles in medical journals over the course of his thirty-year career. He has studied near-death experiences (NDEs) in children for decades and is the author of several outstanding books on the subject: Closer to the Light (1991), Transformed by the Light (1993), Parting Visions (1996), his latest book, Where God Lives (2000). He is primarily interested in learning how to use the visions that surround death to heal grief. The stories that children have told him about what it is like to die have lessons for all of us, especially those attempting to understand the meaning of death or the death of a child. Morse has appeared on many talk show and television programs to discuss his extensive research on near-death experiences in children. His 1991 book, Closer to the Light, was a bestseller for which Oprah Winfrey interviewed Morse about this book in 1992. Larry King interviewed Morse in 2010. The PBS show Upon Reflection produced a half-hour episode devoted to Morse. He was the subject of an article in the Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 entitled “In search of the Dead Zone.”

In 2012, Morse was charged with child endangerment based on allegations made by his 11-year-old step-daughter. Visit Dr. Morse’s website ( for more on this subject. Despite the child’s admitted lies, Morse’s 2014 trial resulted in him being convicted of reckless endangerment for which he served two years in prison. Since his release, Morse has founded the Recidivism Prevention Group which provides therapeutic solutions for ex-offenders by unlocking the transformative power of the NDE through meditation. Morse draws upon scientific NDE research as a counseling tool for grief counseling and to transform lives.

Table of Contents

  1. Dr. Morse’s NDE Research
  2. The Science of the Paranormal
  3. Dr. Morse’s Paranormal Research Conclusions
  4. The NDE as the Dying Experience
  5. A Corroborated NDE Studied by Morse
  6. Anecdotal Stories Are Not Good Enough
  7. NDEs Acknowledge Reality
  8. NDE Concepts Support Quantum Realities
  9. The Healing Power of NDEs
  10. NDE Research and Health Care Costs

1. Dr. Morse’s NDE Research

While a Fellow for the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Morse was working in a clinic in Pocatello, Idaho. He was called to revive a young girl who nearly died in a community swimming pool. She had had no heart beat for 19 minutes, yet completely recovered. She was able to recount many details of her own resuscitation, and then said that she was taken down a brick lined tunnel to a heavenly place. When Dr. Morse showed his obvious skepticism, she patted him shyly on the hand and said: “Don’t worry, Dr. Morse, heaven is fun!”

The photo on this page of a child’s drawing depicts this young girl being resuscitated by his partner, Dr. Christopher, the doctor who is working on her. She has floated above her body, and met the seated figure. She told him that the seated figure “was Jesus. He is very nice.”

He wrote up her case for the American Medical Association’s Pediatric Journal as a “fascinoma”, meaning a strange yet interesting case and returned to cancer research. One night he saw Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on television describing to a grieving mother what her child went through when she died. She said that the girl floated out of her body, suffered no pain, and entered into heaven. He thought this was quite unprofessional of a psychiatrist, and vowed to prove her wrong.

He and his colleagues at Seattle Children’s Hospital designed and implemented the first prospective study of NDEs, with age and sex matched controls. He studied 26 children who nearly died. He compared them to 131 children who were also quite ill, in the intensive care unit, mechanically ventilated, treated with drugs such as morphine, Valium and anesthetic agents, and often had a lack of oxygen to the brain, BUT, they were not near-death.

He found that 23/26 children who nearly died had NDEs whereas none of the other children had them. If NDEs are caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, drugs, hallucinations secondary to coma, or stress and the fear of dying, then the control would have been expected to also have NDEs. They did not, indicating that NDEs happen to the dying.

He then completed the Seattle Study, a long term follow-up of children who had an NDE and documented their transformation as adults. He again used control groups, including children who nearly died but didn’t have an NDE.

He found that having an NDE is good for you, resulting in a love for living. One girl summed up the transformation as learning that “life is for living and the light is for later.”

Adults who had NDEs gave more money to charity than control subjects, volunteered in the community, were in helping professions, did not suffer from drug abuse, use many over-the-counter medications, and ate more fresh fruit and vegetables than control populations.

He also found that they often could not wear watches as they would mysteriously break, and often had electrical conduction problems such as shorting out lap top computers and erasing credit cards.

Finally, Dr. Morse studied the entire range of death related visions. He studied parents who had infants die of SIDS, and found that 25% of parents had a vivid premonition of the event which they often documented in a journal or diary, or by telling their doctor. He also has studied cases of shared dying visions and after-death communications.

His most recent research is on the mind-body healing aspects of NDEs. He is currently working on a project of studying immune system changes triggered by NDEs. He also is working on localizing which areas of the brain are linked to spiritual visions, and has a particular focus on the right temporal lobe as a communication link with an interactive universe.

He is currently working with parent bereavement groups to learn how to best use spiritual visions to help to heal grief. Dr. Morse feels strongly that by understanding that there is a scientific and biological component to NDEs, we can understand that the experiences are “real”, at least as real as any other human perception and experience. We must stop trivializing and dismissing death related visions as hallucinations of a dysfunctional brain, and start to understand that they are a normal aspect of the human experience. We all have spiritual intuitions and visions, now we must learn to listen to them and trust what they have to say.

2. The Science of the Paranormal

For more than fifteen years, Dr. Melvin Morse, a practicing pediatrician and renowned researcher, has studied the NDEs of hundreds of children. His bestsellers, Closer to the Light and Transformed by the Light, convinced millions that there is indeed something that lies beyond “bodily death” – and that NDEs profoundly transform peoples’ lives for the better. Now, Morse continues his compelling scientific probe into the mysteries of life and death – offering a bold and provocative new theory on what NDEs reveal about mind-body interactions, human memory, and the part of our brain that literally communicates with God.

His latest work, Where God Lives, by Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, builds on the author’s previous research into NDEs to reveal a startling truth: that all of us have the biological potential to interact with the universe not just when we are dying, but at any time during our lives – by learning to stimulate an under-utilized area of the brain the authors call “the God Spot.” Drawing from mounting scientific research, documented NDEs and other mystical encounters, and the author’s personal experiences – this illuminating book outlines a convincing new paradigm that seeks to explain some of the human mind’s most elusive mysteries, including miraculous healing, telepathy, hauntings, reincarnation, remote viewing, and other “paranormal” phenomena.

Dr. Morse argues that the study of NDEs provides a starting point for understanding the mysterious link between our brains and the universe. Though sound scientific studies have already identified the existence of “the God Spot” – the right temporal lobe of the brain – Morse takes this concept several steps further. Building on the controversial theory that memory may actually be stored outside the brain, he suggests that the right temporal lobe acts not as a “computer” for our individual minds, but as a transmitter and receiver of the universal mind – and that we can actually learn to stimulate this part of our brains in a number of ways besides near-death or active dying. The challenge, he says, is to learn how to integrate the rational (left) and spiritual (right) sides of our brains.

3. Dr. Morse’s Paranormal Research Conclusions

Morse attempts to answer the most important questions from the field of near-death studies based on a single premise: that most paranormal perceptions take place through the God Spot’s link to a universal memory bank from which we can receive and access information – and with which we can interact to alter reality in a physical way. Just as Morse’s previous books helped catapult the study of NDEs and their transforming effects from a “fringe” area to one considered mainstream and medically valuable, Where God Lives validates the brain’s connection to the God experience with an arsenal of powerful human stories and indisputable scientific facts that answer formerly intractable questions like:

a. Can memory be stored outside the brain?

Modern scientific thought is increasingly exploring the notion that memories can exist independent of brain function, explaining why, for example, comatose patients who recover are able to process memories of their experiences.

b. Is reincarnation the act of “tapping in” to a universal memory bank?

An incredible collection of scientifically examined cases in several countries – such as so-called birthmark studies: in which people who claim to be reincarnated have birthmarks that correspond to wounds of those from whom they were reincarnated – suggest this is so.

c. Are ghosts and angels really “trapped energy”?

The author’s analysis of more than fifteen thousand ghost stories convinces him that these are not “spirits” trapped between this world and another, but strong memories and perceptions that are actually embedded in the environment. This memory is usually perceived the same way by all who tap into it, explaining why there is such consistency among ghost stories.

d. Is there a type of person who can communicate with this universal memory bank more easily than the rest of us?

The author’s research shows that people who’ve had an NDE are more likely to be “in tune” with their God Spot, and to have other mystical experiences or possess other paranormal abilities.

e. Is there such a thing as coincidence?

Increasingly, studies suggest that life has a pattern and innate meaning beyond what we, as human beings, impose on it.

f. What is intuition?

Morse argues that intuition is the normal function of the right temporal lobe. His research suggests that we can train ourselves to use our “sixth sense” in a more conscious way – as the connection between the organized patterns of energy that represent ourselves, and the entire pattern (universal mind) in which we are embedded.

g. Why do prayers help some people who are seriously ill?

Sound scientific literature on miraculous healing shows that such events almost all involve right temporal lobe functions like out-of-body experiences, experiences of light, visions, and NDEs – suggesting that simple, inexpensive interventions, such as meditation or prayer, can help us maximize our own health.

h. Can people be “taught” to use abilities like remote viewing and telekinesis if they were asked to focus on them?

Excellent experimental studies document that humans have psychic abilities of all kinds that might be honed if we were led to work on them.

i. Can we really use our minds to heal our bodies?

Virtually all anecdotal research and many controlled scientific studies stress that there must be an interaction between the mind of the individual and the universal pattern or God – and studies further suggest that this universal energy pattern can directly influence health.

Morse takes readers beyond theory to the practical matter of how this mysterious area of the brain can be made more accessible to us. He distills ten critical lessons – based on his in-depth research into the transforming power of NDEs – that can help us all become tuned to our God Spot. If practiced regularly, Morse says, these simple rules can bring the restorative effects of optimism, trust, and love into our daily lives – but also empower us to call on the divine to help bring about remarkable recoveries and spiritual healings whenever we need them.

Where God Lives reveals that the secret of NDEs is that there is no secret – that all of us have the innate ability to heal ourselves, if only we have the desire and determination to enable this gift. “The ultimate message of NDEs is that life has meaning and we are all connected,” says Morse. “It is in finding those connections that we find the secret to good health and a long life.” Applying the rigors of science to the study of the spiritual, this intriguing book presents a provocative starting point for a new understanding of how the brain works, and concludes definitively that there is an unseen – but not unreachable – power that guides us all.

j. Are near-death experiences real?

“But was it real? Dr. Morse?” Chris, age 8, had nearly drown when his family’s car plunged over a bridge and into the freezing waters of a river near Seattle. His father was trapped in the car and died. His mother and brother miraculously swam to safety. A passer by dove repeatedly to the sunken car, and finally brought Chris’s limp body to the surface. He was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital and ultimately survived. He said:
“First the car filled up with water, and everything went all blank. Then I died. I went into a huge noodle. It wasn’t like a spiral noodle, but it was very straight. When I told my Mom about it, I told her it was a noodle, but it must have been a tunnel, because it had a rainbow in it. Noodles don’t have rainbows in them.

“I was pushed along by wind, and I could float. I saw two tunnels in front of me, a human tunnel and an animal tunnel. First I went in the animal tunnel, and a bee gave me honey.

“Then I saw the human heaven. It was like a castle, not all broken down, just a regular castle. As I looked at it, I heard some music. It was very loud, and it stuck in my head.”

“Although prior to his near-death experience, Chris had little interest in music, since his near drowning, his mother bought him a keyboard and he has taught himself to play the heavenly music he heard.”

4. Not cultural myths

Chris clearly saw something he thought was real. The image of a rainbow in a noodle is so unique, it is unlikely to have its source in our cultural psychology. I had certainly never heard of one before. But was it really real?

Chris’s question goes right to the heart of the problem, as is typical for a child. As he pointed out, if his experience was real, then “you’ll have to tell all the old people, so they won’t be afraid to die”.

Are near-death experiences actually the dying experience, the result of normal brain function at the point of death? Or, are they the result of brain dysfunction creating a hallucination triggered by the biological stresses of dying, drugs, and a lack of oxygen to the brain?

Near-death experiences involve the perception of another reality superimposed over this one. This “other reality” frequently is a spiritual one involving the existence of a loving god. There is clearly a sense of a persistence of consciousness after the death of the body. If near-death experiences are “real”, then clearly it is possible that this other reality is real and even our destination after death. Furthermore, if near-death experiences are real, then a entire class of currently trivialized spiritual visions such as after-death communications, shared dying experiences and premonitions of death are most likely also real.

4. The NDE as the Dying Experience

Morse’s NDE study, done at Seattle Children’s Hospital, concluded that NDEs are in fact the dying experience. He studied 26 critically ill children and found that 24 of them reported being conscious while dying, and having some sort of conscious experience. Typically that involved the perception of a loving light, a “light that had good things in it”.

Morse studied over 100 control children who were also treated with medications, had a lack of oxygen to their brain, were intubated and mechanically ventilated in the scary intensive care unit, and who also thought they were going to death. They, however, were seriously ill and not truly near death. None of these patients reported being conscious while dying or having a spiritual experience.

Michael Sabom, an Atlanta cardiologist, found that 43% of cardiac arrest patients had NDEs. Patients with long complicated resuscitations were more likely to have NDEs. He also found that patients who had NDEs frequently could accurately describe their own resuscitation in detail. In contrast, control group of patients who had cardiac arrests but no NDEs could not describe their own resuscitation with any accuracy.

5. A Corroborated NDE Studied by Morse

Morse has researched many stories which clearly document that there is a paradoxical return of consciousness to the brain, at the point of death. For example, Olga Gerhardt was a 63 year old woman awaiting a heart transplant. A severe virus attacked her heart tissue. Finally her pager went off and she was called to the University of California Center for surgery. Her entire family went with her, except for her son-in-law, who stayed home.

Although the transplant was a success, at exactly 2:15 am, her new heart stopped beating. It took the frantic transplant team three more hours to revive her. Her family was only told in the morning that her operation was a success, without other details.

They called her son-in-law with the good news. He had his own news to tell. He had already heard it. At exactly 2:15 am, while he was sleeping, he awoke to see his mother in law at the foot of his bed. She told him not to worry, that she was going to be alright. She asked him to tell her daughter (his wife). He wrote down the message, and the time and fell asleep again.

Later, when Olga regained consciousness, her first words were “did you get the message?”

The story demonstrates that the near-death experience is a return to consciousness at the point of death, when the brain is dying. She was able to communicate telepathically with her son-in-law, when she seemed comatose and he asleep.

Paul Perry and I thoroughly researched her story. Every detail had objective verification. We even saw the scribbled note. Such stories have been similarly well documented for over 100 years. Frederick Meyers‘ classic text “Human Personality and Its Survival After Death” meticulously documents hundreds of such stories.

6. Anecdotal Stories Are Not Good Enough

Stories, however, are not enough. They are convincing to those who witness them, but lose their power when told and retold. I have documented dozens of such stories, but they will not convince any skeptic of the reality of near-death experiences.

Science demands verifiable evidence which can be reproduced again and again under experimental situations. Dr. Jim Whinnery, of the National Warfare Institute, thought he was simply studying the effects of G forces on fighter pilots. He had no idea he would revolutionize the field of consciousness studies by providing experimental proof that NDEs are real.

The pilots were placed in huge centrifuges and spun at tremendous speeds. After they lost consciousness, after they went into seizures, after they lost all muscle tone, when the blood stopped flowing in their brains, only then would they suddenly have a return to conscious awareness. They had “dreamlets” as Dr. Whinnery calls them

These dreamlets are similar to near-death experiences. They often involved a sense of separation from the physical body. A typical dreamlet involved a pilot leaving his physical body and traveling to a sandy beach, where he looked directly up at the sun. The pilot remarked that death is very pleasant.

The experiences do not only occur to dying dysfunctional brains. The Journal of the Swiss Alpine Club, in the late 1800s, reported 30 first hand accounts of mountain climbers who fell from great heights and lived. The climbers reported being out of their physical body, seeing heaven, having life reviews, and even hearing the impact of their bodies hitting the ground. They were not seriously injured.

Yale University Pediatric Cancer specialist Dr. Diane Komp reports that many dying children have near-death experiences, without evidence of brain dysfunction. Their experiences often occurred in dreams, prayers, or visions before death. One boy stated that Jesus had visited him in a big yellow school bus and told him he would die soon. Others heard angels singing or saw halos of light.

The American Journal of Psychiatry, in 1967, reported the experiences of two miners trapped for days in a mine. They were never near death and had adequate food and water. They said that mystical realities opened before them in the tunnels. They also said a third miner who seemed real to them helped them to safety, but disappeared when they were rescued.

7. NDEs Acknowledge Reality

Near-death experiences are not a denial of reality, as is often seen in drug or oxygen deprivation induced hallucinations. There are not the distortions of time, place, body image and disorientations seen in drug induced experiences. They instead typically involve the perception of another reality superimposed over this one. For example, one young boy told him the “god took me in his hands and kept me safe” while medics were frantically trying to revived his body after a near drowning. He said and understood everything that happened to him, but simply perceived something we usually don’t perceive at other times in our lives.

German psychiatrist Michael Schroeter, in his extensive review of all published near-death research states there is no reason to believe that NDEs are the result of psychiatric pathology or brain dysfunction.

NDEs can occur in very young children, too little to have a fear of death to react to, infants who have no internal defense mechanisms against the concept of death. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital report that an 8 month old had an NDE after nearly dying of kidney failure. As soon as she could talk, at age two, she told her parents of going into a tunnel into a bright light. Psychiatrists Gabbard and Twemlow report of a 29 month old who bit into an electric cord and nearly died. He told his mother he went into a room with a nice man. There was a bright light on the ceiling. He wanted to know if I wanted to go home, or come play with him.

The conventional medical explanation is that these are not real perceptions but rather hallucinations caused by the short circuiting of a dying brain. The Russian near-death researcher Vladimir Negovsky (PDF) studied hundreds of soldiers who nearly died in battle. He concluded that “the fact that different people in different countries can recall similar images seen by them during dying or resuscitation does not prove life after death. It can be explained by the dynamics of the disintegrating brain.”

Calling near-death experiences “hallucinations” implies that they are not real perceptions of another reality. There is no reason for this other than a disbelief that there are other realities to perceive.

8. NDE Concepts Support Quantum Realities

I recently discussed these issues with theoretical physicists at the National Institute of Discovery Science. This is a consciousness think tank of national renown scholars in their individual fields. They explained to me that science states that reality is made of tiny nuclear particles, so tiny that it is unclear if they are actually matter or simply patterns of energy. All of the fundamental particles in this universe have at least two counterparts which have been documented as being “real”.

These particles last for only a fraction of a second in this reality, yet they comprise the elemental building blocks of reality. In theory, there are at least three possible universes comprised of the three basic sets of subatomic particles.

Furthermore, again in theory, there is one possible universe which is called the Omega Point, in which there is no time or space, and all possible universes coexist. This is why physicists such as Ernest Schroedinger said “if you are not shocked by quantum physics, then you do not understand it”.

Olaf Swenson may have seen such a timeless spaceless “Omega Point” when he nearly died of a botched tonsillectomy at age 14. He states that “suddenly I rolled into a ball and smashed into another reality. The forces that brought me through the barrier were terrific. I was on the other side. I realized that the boundary between life and death is a strange creation of our own mind, very real (from the side of the living), and yet insignificant.”

Olaf felt he was floating in a universe with no boundaries. “I had total comprehension of everything. I stood at the annihilation point, a bright orange light.” As I felt my mind transported back to my body, I thought, please let me remember this new theory of relativity.

Certainly the information that Olaf gained during his NDE was real. He has gone on to develop over 100 patents in molecular chemistry based on the information from his NDE.

The universe may well be a conscious universe. Many modern scientists no longer believe in a randomly generated universe from some sort of primal dust. Nobel prize winning molecular biologist Christian de Duve describes the universe as one which as a cosmic imperative to develop conscious life. The very structure of molecules which make up living creatures dictates that conscious life will evolve.

Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle agrees that the fundamental laws of the universe, which govern the creation of planets, suns and galaxies again seems to imply that conscious life will be the end result of those universal laws. Evolutionary biologist Rupert Sheldrake goes even further, stating that there are morphic forms, patterns of energy which first exist in the universe, when then result in life.

If this is true, then it would apply to the other two universes made of the other two sets of elementary subatomic particles. Angels, devils, UFOs, and God now seem less like fairy tales and more likely to be perceptions of conscious beings in other realities predicted by modern science. Near-death experiences may simply be the clinical counterparts to what experimental physicists have found in the laboratory.

9. The Healing Power of NDEs

When Todd died after falling into a neighbors swimming pool, moments before he died, he came out of coma, looked at his Mom, and said “the moon, the moon, I am on a rocket ship to the moon.” She asked me if he was just having a hallucination.

I told her that the most scientific answer based on the evidence is that he was able to share with her his dying experience.

That was important to this Mom. It made her horrible grief perhaps a fraction more bearable. It made her anger at an irrational universe which would cause a child to die a fraction less, Her son’s vision implied to her that he was going somewhere after death.

Such visions, dreams, and intuitions have enormous power to heal. Currently, our society trivializes such experiences and dismisses them as fantasies of dysfunctional brains or the mind’s safety net against grief. They are real experiences, as real as any other human perception. We only have to listen to them to understand them. They often contain the seeds needed to heal grief and to understand death.

10. NDE Research and Health Care Costs

My physician friends often ask me of what use is near-death research. I answer them in a way they can understand. If we really understood that from a scientific standpoint these experiences are “real”, meaning that they are a normal function of the human brain at death, we could cut health care costs in this country by at least 20%. That is the amount we irrationally spend in the last few days of patients’ lives, using expensive medical technology to appease our own fears of death at the expense of human dignity.

At the very least, near-death research teaches us not to be afraid to die. Frequently, dying is accompanied by visions of people we love. Often there is no perception of the painful events going on in the body. One child said it best when she said “while they were sticking me with needles and stuff, I was safe with God”.

Near-death experiences have the power to become a cultural ice breaker with a resulting healing of our societal fear of death. I predict that when we institutionalize the understanding that the near-death experience is, indeed, the dying experience, we will see a healthy withering away of unnecessary medical interventions at death.

Experts Science

Dr. Kenneth Ring’s Near-Death Experience Research

Kenneth Ring (born 1935) ( is Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Connecticut, and a highly-regarded researcher within the field of near-death studies. Dr. Ring is the co-founder and past president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and is the founding editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies. In 1977, Kenneth Ring, a brilliant young professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, read Raymond Moody‘s book, Life After Life, and was inspired by it. However, he felt that a more scientifically structured study would strengthen Moody’s findings. He sought out 102 near-death survivors for his research. The following article documents some of Ken Ring’s basic insights based on his meticulous research. Dr. Ring’s research also involves the groundbreaking work of investigating near-death experiences among blind persons. His findings are detailed in his latest book Mindsight (1999) which is bound to become a classic in the annals of near-death research much like his previous books, Waiting to Die (2019), Letters From Palestine (2010), Lessons From The Light (2000), The Omega Project (1992), Heading Toward Omega (1984), and Life At Death (1980). Visit Ken Ring’s Amazon Author Page for more books by Ken Ring. Dr. Ring researched NDEs that involve the experiencer witnessing events while out of their body which is later proven to have taken place. Ken has also researched NDEs that affirms reincarnation. Ken has also examined NDEs among those who attempted suicide. During his extensive research, Ken was also able to examine NDEs where the future was foretold.

  1. About Ken Ring and His Research
  2. Ken Ring’s NDE Study
  3. Ken Ring Applies the Holographic Paradigm to NDEs
  4. Conclusions

1. About Ken Ring and His Research

In the Foreword of Dr. Ring’s book Lessons From The Light, NDE expert Bruce Greyson had this to say about Dr. Ring:

“If any one person can claim to be an authority on near-death experiences (NDEs) without having had one, that person must surely be Kenneth Ring. After Raymond Moody sowed the seeds of modern near-death research by coining the term ‘NDE’ in his 1975 ‘Life After Life,’ it was Ken who watered and nurtured them till they grew into a self-sustaining phenomenon. It was Ken who was the first president of that band of scattered researchers who formed the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) 20 years ago. It was Ken’s office at the University of Connecticut that housed the organizations volunteers, phones, and growing archives for its precarious first decade. And it was Ken who founded the only scholarly journal for near-death studies and organized symposium on NDEs at annual meetings of mainstream academic societies.

“If anyone has interviewed more NDErs than Ken – and I don’t know that anyone has – then surely no one has done it with the depth, open-mindedness, and insight as he. For many years, Ken’s home was known to experiencers across the country as ‘The Near-Death Hotel,’ where itinerant NDErs trying to rediscover their place in this world could and did ‘drop by’ and end up staying however long it took. And each one to whom Ken opened his home in return opened his or her heart and added to Ken’s growing comprehension of the true essence of the NDE. No other researcher has been able to meld the large-scale controlled study with the passionate friendships, the philosophical theories with the intuitive understandings, the command of the scholarly literature with the personal stories. And more importantly, no other researcher has been able to transmit to the rest of us the true meaning and impact of near-death phenomena for our planet.”

2. Ken Ring’s NDE Study

The following are Ken Ring’s research conclusions from his Connecticut Study.

(1) Those cases who came closest to death, or were clinically dead, just as Moody’s cases reported, told of being outside of their bodies, of moving through a void or dark tunnel toward a luminous light, of meeting with departed relatives and friends, of having a feeling of great comfort and bliss and of being surrounded by compassionate love, a feeling so beautiful they longed to remain, and when they returned to the “earthly” realm, they were affected by this feeling the rest of their lives.

(2) No one type of person was especially likely to have this experience. It cut across race, gender, age, education, marital status, and social class.

(3) Religious orientation was not a factor affecting either the likelihood or the depth of the NDE. An atheist was as likely to have one as was a devoutly religious person.

(4) Regardless of their prior attitudes – whether skeptical or deeply religious – and regardless of the many variations in religious beliefs and degrees of skepticism from tolerant disbelief to outspoken atheism – most of these people were convinced that they had been in the presence of some supreme and loving power and had a glimpse of a life yet to come.

(5) Drugs, anesthesia and medication did not seem to be a factor in inducing these impressions and exquisite feelings of an NDE. Indeed, drugs and anesthesia seemed to be more likely to cause a person to forget memories of an NDE.

(6) He definitely concluded that NDEs are not hallucinations because hallucinations are rambling, unconnected, often unintelligible and vary widely, whereas NDEs tend to have similar elements of a clear, connected pattern.

(7) Based on the information of those who had reported such incidents, the moment of death was often one of unparalleled beauty, peace and comfort – a feeling of total love and total acceptance. This was possible even for those involved in horrible accidents in which they suffered very serious injuries. Dr. Ring found there was a tremendous comfort potential in this information for people who were facing death.

(8) After going through an NDE, people reported a loss of fear of death as well as a greater appreciation of life. They also reported stronger feelings of self-acceptance and a greater concern and sense of caring for other people. They had less interest in material things for their own sake. Many tended to become more spiritual – though not necessarily more involved in organized religion.

(9) Almost all subjects who experienced an NDE found their lives transformed and a change in their attitudes and values, and in their inclination to love and to help others. Dr. Ring was convinced that these were absolutely authentic experiences and noted that since returning, many of them had occasion to think about ‘what might have been.’ And their subsequent lives were powerful testimony to our common ability to live more deeply, more appreciatively, more lovingly, and more spiritually.

3. Ken Ring Applies the Holographic Paradigm to NDEs

In Chapter 12 of Dr. Ring’s book, Life At Death, “Beyond the Body: A Parapsychological-Holographic Explanation of the Near-Death Experience,” Dr. Ring applies the current holographic paradigm in quantum physics to near-death experiences. The current holographic paradigm uses the Holographic Principle to describe the universe – and everything within it as a hologram with every point within the hologram intimately connected to every other point within the hologram which is the current “Theory of Everything” involving String Theory. The Holographic Principle, developed by physicist Leonard Susskind, corresponds with David Bohm and Karl Pribram‘s Holonomic Brain Theory which theoretically describes the brain as functioning like a hologram. A holographic brain functioning as a hologram and storing memory as a hologram within a holographic universe and reality, would perfectly solve many scientific materialist problems of accepting various “paranormal” aspects of near-death experiences. Indeed, the bizarre “paranormal” qualities of near-death experiences correspond to the bizarre “paranormal” qualities found in quantum mechanics which has falsified classical physics as far as (1) locality, (2) causality, (3) continuity, (4) determinism, and (5) certainty in the last century by the modern science of quantum electrodynamics. The following is an excerpt (pages 246-252) of Chapter 12 where Dr. Ring defines the NDE “world of light” in terms of the holographic paradigm and the conclusions he draws from it.

The World of Light

The last stage of the core experience seems to fulfill the promise implied by the encounter with the brilliant golden light. Here one appears to move through that light and into a “world of light.” At this point, the individual perceives a realm of surpassing beauty and splendor and is sometimes aware of the “spirits” of deceased relatives or loved ones.

What is This World?

In holographic terms, it is another frequency domain – a realm of “higher” frequencies. Consciousness continues to function holographically so that it interprets these frequencies in object terms. Thus, another “world of appearances” (just as the physical world, according to holographic theory, is a world of appearances) is constructed. At the same time, this world of appearances is fully “real” (just as our physical world is real); it is just that reality is relative to one’s state of consciousness.

In esoteric terms, this is the – or one – level of the so-called astral plane. As I have already mentioned, the esoteric literature is replete with descriptions of this world of light.

If one reads the literature that purports to describe this realm or if one simply rereads the accounts of stage V (entering the Light) provided by our respondents (or some of Moody’s in Reflections on Life After Life), one quickly forms the impression that everything in this world is immeasurably enhanced in beauty compared to the things of our physical world. That is why it is often characterized as a world of “higher vibrations.”

That such talk isn’t mere metaphor was suggested by the comment of one of our respondents, who, in attempting to describe the music of this realm, likened it to “a combination of vibrations … many vibrations.” Of course, music does consist of vibrations, but it isn’t ordinarily spoken of in that way. Such observations again hint that those near-death survivors who reach this stage are responding directly to a frequency (vibratory) domain of holographic reality.

But in just what sense is this realm a holographic domain? Just where do the landscapes, the flowers, the physical structures, and so forth come from? In what sense are they “real”?

I have one speculative answer to these questions to offer – a holographic interpretation of the astral plane. 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 interference waves form patterns on a holographic plate. And just as the 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.

There might appear to be a serious imperfection in this holographic analogy: The pattern produced on the physical holographic plate is, after all, only a meaningless swirl. It only becomes coherent when a coherent beam of light (that is, a laser) is used to illuminate the swirl. What, then, is the equivalent of the laser in the stage V realm?

The logic of my speculation seemingly leads to a single conclusion: It is the mind itself. If the brain functions holographically to give us our picture of physical reality, then the mind must function similarly when the physical brain can no longer do so. Of course, it would be much simpler if one merely assumed, as some brain researchers (for example, Sir John Eccles and Wilder Penfield) appear to have done, that the mind works through the brain during physical life but is not reducible to brain function. If the mind can be supposed to exist independent of the brain, it could presumably function holographically without a brain. If one is not willing to grant this assumption, one would seem forced to postulate a non-physical brain of some kind that operates on this “astral” level. At this point, we would have passed over the limit of tolerable speculation. In my view, it is preferable merely to assume that sensory-like impressions at this level are functionally organized in a way similar to sensory impressions of the physical world, that is, holographically.

If we can assume this (leaving the question of the “mechanism” open), then the attributes of stage V would fall neatly into place. Since individual minds “create” this world (out of thoughts and images), this reality reflects, to a degree, the “thought-structures” of individuals used to the world of physical reality. Thus, the “forms” of the stage V world are similar to those of the physical world. However, since this is a realm that is also (presumably) composed of minds that are more clearly attuned or accustomed to this higher frequency domain, those minds can shape the impressions of the “newly arrived.” The holographic result – an interaction of these thought patterns – thus tends to create a “higher gloss” to the perceived forms of this realm – that is, they are experienced in an enhanced way. One is tempted to say that what is seen is, at least at first, largely determined by preexisting schemata of near-death survivors, but that how (finely or beautifully) it appears is influenced primarily by minds used to that frequency domain.

The gist of this speculative holographic interpretation, then, is that “the world of light” is indeed a mind-created world fashioned of interacting (or interfering) thought patterns. Nevertheless, that world is fully as real-seeming as is our physical world. Presumably – and this is an admitted and obvious extrapolation – as one becomes increasingly accustomed to this holographic domain and to “how it works,” the correspondences between the physical world and this realm grow increasingly tenuous. Eventually one would suppose that an individual’s consciousness would become anchored in the four-dimensional reality of the holographic domain and the familiar structures of our world would be radically changed there in ways we can only surmise.

The holographic interpretation can obviously also be used to account for the perception of “spirit-forms,” a common feature of stage V experiences and deathbed visions. Just as object-forms are, theoretically, from a holographic point of view, a function of interacting mind patterns, so, too, are encounters with “persons” in “spirit bodies.” Such “entities” are, then, the product of interacting minds attuned to a holographic domain in which thought alone fashions reality. The fact that communication between the near-death survivor and the “spiritform” is usually said to be telepathic in nature again points to a world of existence where thought is king. From this angle, one can easily see that the manifestations in this high order of reality could easily transcend the forms of our sensory world. As individuals whose consciousnesses are rooted in the natural world, we can only speculate on the levels of mind that may be able to influence perceptions in the frequency domain associated with stage V experiences.

Before concluding our discussion of this domain, we must return to an issue we raised but did not resolve earlier: the matter of hell.

Stage V experiences, as we have seen, are almost always described in terms of paradisical imagery; the individual appears to enter a world of incomparable delight. Yet, in discussing Rawlings‘s work, we saw evidence that near-death survivors sometimes have hellish experiences. The bulk of the evidence plus the methodological shortcomings and tendentiousness of Rawlings’s research led us to conclude that such experiences are probably very much rarer than Rawlings himself claims, but that they sometimes do occur.

The question is how to account for them.

Rawlings’s own interpretation is that hellish experiences simply reflect a lack of a personal commitment to Christ. In this respect they serve as a warning of the ultimate consequences of failing to make such a commitment.

Without wishing to get entangled in theological issues, I must confess that I find this interpretation too simplistically doctrinaire for my taste. But quite apart from my personal opinion, even some of Rawlings’s own evidence fails to square with his interpretation. For example, Rawlings cites the case of one man, described as “a staunch Christian, the founder of a Sunday school, and a lifelong supporter of the church,” who had multiple near-death experiences, the first of which was hellish while the remaining two conformed to the Moody pattern. That kind of variation is not explicable on the basis of Rawlings’s interpretation. Neither is the fact that, according to Osis and Haraldsson’s cross-cultural research, Hindus have very much the same kind of paradisical (or stage V) deathbed visions as do Christians.

My own interpretation, naturally, is quite different. Rawlings is not the only investigator to find evidence of an occasional near-death experiential sequence that begins unpleasantly and ends well. Robert Crookall has also described this sequence (sometimes, however, in connection with out-of-body experiences only) and so has Moody. In addition, George Ritchie has recounted a detailed personal example of this kind. The sequence, in fact, when it is reported, always seems to be from “bad to good.” My interpretation of hellish near-death experiences is predicated on this particular sequence.

In my view, what is happening in these cases is that the individual is “passing through” a lower frequency domain (although he may occasionally – temporarily – “get stuck” there). This domain is also a holographic reality and is organized in precisely the same way as the paradisical realm we have already considered. The principal difference is in the nature of the minds that are interacting to create this reality.

Even if this kind of interpretation is correct, however, there would still seem to be a problem. Why is this domain so rarely reported compared to the paradisical realm? One proposal has it that the tunnel phenomenon serves as a shield to protect the individual from an awareness of this domain. It will be recalled that the tunnel effect itself was interpreted as representing a shift in consciousness from one level to another. Functionally, this state of affairs can be compared to a traveler riding a subway underneath the slums of a city: the subway tunnel prevents him ever being directly aware of his surroundings although the slums are there. Instead, like the typical near-death survivor, he begins his trip in darkness and emerges into the light.

That this is no mere fanciful analogy is suggested by one of Moody’s cases. One woman, who was believed to be “dead” for fifteen minutes, reported that during one stage of her experience she became aware of what Moody calls a “realm of bewildered spirits.” In describing this realm she says that:

“…what I saw was after I left the physical hospital. As I said, I felt I rose upward and it was in between, it was before I actually entered this tunnel . . . and before I entered the spiritual world where there is so much brilliant sunshine that I saw these bewildered spirits”

In my opinion, then, the near-death survivor is usually kept from having a direct awareness of this realm, just as, for perhaps different reasons, he usually has no recall for his “return trip.” Hell may exist as a “lower frequency domain,” but most near-death survivors never seem to encounter it and, if they do, only a tiny fraction seem to “get stranded” there. What may happen after the initial stages of death – something this research cannot speak to—remains an open question.

4. Conclusions

So much for the interpretation of the core experience. Since I have taken up so much space in presenting my parapsychological-holographic formulation, I will make only a few brief comments here before concluding this chapter.

First of all, by no means do I want to leave the impression that I feel that I have totally “explained” the core experience in a theoretically satisfactory way. There are many loose threads still lying about, as any perceptive reader undoubtedly will have noticed. For example, the whole question of whether the core experience is really in the nature of a “stored program” that is released at the point of death (or perhaps in other ways), as Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax have proposed, was never resolved. The relevance of the possible neurological basis of near-death experiences is likewise still largely an uncharted territory. I can only hope that my discussion of such issues and my own interpretation will motivate other researchers to probe these matters more deeply.

Of course, it is at this point an unanswerable question whether the mysteries of the near-death experience can ever be fully understood through scientific investigation alone. Such experiences may well have an infrangible or nonphysical quality that will prevent us from providing a truly comprehensive scientific accounting of them. Try as we may (and I believe, should) to articulate such an understanding, it may finally prove to be the case that science can take us only so far in shaping that understanding.

These observations bring us, finally, to the role of religious and spiritual concepts in the interpretative matrix of the near-death experience. It is obvious that my own interpretation, though I tried to keep it grounded in scientific theory and research, occasionally was forced to stray into the spiritual realm. I confess that I did so with considerable intellectual reluctance, but also with a sense that it would have been intellectually cowardly to avoid doing so. In my opinion – and I could be wrong – there is simply no way to deal with the interpretative problems raised by these experiences without confronting the spiritual realm. Indeed, Pribram himself says, in a passage already quoted, that:

“Spiritual insights fit the description of this [holographic] domain. They’re made perfectly plausible by the invention of the hologram.”

In my view, not only plausible but necessary. In the paradigm shift (which I have previously alluded to) that seems to be leading to a recognition of the primary role of consciousness, the world of modern physics and the spiritual world seem to reflect a single reality. If this is true, no scientific account of any phenomenon can be complete without taking its spiritual aspect into account.

This position, of course, is hardly new. It has been espoused in one form or another, not only by mystics, but by large numbers of influential scientists and intellectuals as well. I could list many names of well-known men and women to buttress this point, but instead let me conclude simply by quoting the most eminent scientist of our century. To me, his attitude suggests not only the proper spirit in which to approach the study of near-death experiences but also its likely effect on the world view of those who do explore them.

Perhaps it is ironically fitting that Albert Einstein himself did not believe in life after death, but his words nevertheless speak to the emotions kindled by familiarity – either direct or vicarious – with the near-death experience itself:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.”

Experts Science

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Near-Death Experience Research

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross,, the Swiss-born psychiatrist and author who gained international fame for her landmark work on death and dying, died in her suburban Phoenix home on August 24, 2004. She was 78. In 1999, Time magazine named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as one of the “100 Most Important Thinkers” of the past century. I might add that she is also the “First Pioneer of the Final Frontier Called Death.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was recognized as one of the leading authorities in the field of death, dying and transition. It can be said that she was the one responsible for creating this field of study. She was the author of many books including: On Grief and Grieving (2005), Questions and Answers on Death and Dying (1972), To Live Until We Say Goodbye (1978), Living with Death and Dying (1981), On Children and Death (1985), Working It Through (1997), The Wheel of Life (1997), The Tunnel and the Light (1999), Life Lessons (2001), On Life After Death (1991), and On Death and Dying (1969).

In her book On Life After Death collected for the first time information drawn from her years of working with the dying and learning from them what life is all about, in-depth research on life after death, and her own feelings and opinions about this fascinating and controversial subject. Her development of the model of the stages of grief, known as the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, has even been applied to various applications such as business. The following is an excerpt from her book in which she described one of the most interesting near-death experiences she has encountered.

My most dramatic and unforgettable case of “ask and you will be given,” and also of an NDE, was a man who was in the process of being picked up by his entire family for a Memorial Day weekend drive to visit some relatives out of town. While driving in the family van to pick him up, his parents-in-law with his wife and eight children were hit by a gasoline tanker. The gasoline poured over the car and burned his entire family to death. After being told what happened, this man remained in a state of total shock and numbness for several weeks. He stopped working and was unable to communicate. To make a long story short, he became a total bum, drinking half-a-gallon of whiskey a day, trying heroin and other drugs to numb his pain. He was unable to hold a job for any length of time and ended up literally in the gutter.

It was during one of my hectic traveling tours, having just finished the second lecture in a day on life after death, that a hospice group in Santa Barbara asked me to give yet another lecture. After my preliminary statements, I became aware that I am very tired of repeating the same stories over and over again. And I quietly said to myself: “Oh God, why don’t you send me somebody from the audience who has had an NDE and is willing to share it with the audience so I can take a break? They will have a first-hand experience instead of hearing my old stories over and over again.”

At that very moment the organizer of the group gave me a little slip of paper with an urgent message on it. It was a message from a man from the bowery who begged to share his NDE with me. I took a little break and sent a messenger to his bowery hotel. A few moments later, after a speedy cab ride, the man appeared in the audience. Instead of being a bum as he had described himself, he was a rather well dressed, very sophisticated man. He went up on the stage and without having a need to evaluate him, I encouraged him to tell the audience what he needed to share.

He told how he had been looking forward to the weekend family reunion, how his entire family had piled into a family van and were on the way to pick him up when this tragic accident occurred which burned his entire family to death. He shared the shock and the numbness, the utter disbelief of suddenly being a single man, of having had children and suddenly becoming childless, of living without a single close relative. He told of his total inability to come to grips with it. He shared how he changed from a money-earning, decent, middle-class husband and father to a total bum, drunk every day from morning to night, using every conceivable drug and trying to commit suicide in every conceivable way, yet never able to succeed. His last recollection was that after two years of literally bumming around, he was lying on a dirt road at the edge of a forest, drunk and stoned as he called it, trying desperately to be reunited with his family. Not wanting to live, not even having the energy to move out of the road when he saw a big truck coming toward him and running over him.

It was at this moment that he watched himself in the street [sic], critically injured, while he observed the whole scene of the accident from a few feet above. It was at this moment that his family appeared in front of him, in a glow of light with an incredible sense of love. They had happy smiles on their faces, and simply made him aware of their presence, not communicating in any verbal way but in the form of thought transference, sharing with him the joy and happiness of their present existence.

This man was not able to tell us how long this reunion lasted. He was so awed by his family’s health, their beauty, their radiance and their total acceptance of this present situation, by their unconditional love. He made a vow not to touch them, not to join them, but to re-enter his physical body so that he could share with the world what he had experienced. It would be a form of redemption for his two years of trying to throw his physical life away. It was after this vow that he watched the truck driver carry his totally injured body into the car. He saw an ambulance speeding to the scene of the accident, he was taken to the hospital’s emergency room and he finally re-entered his physical body, tore off the straps that were tied around him and literally walked out of the emergency room. He never had delirium tremens or any aftereffects from the heavy abuse of drugs and alcohol. He felt healed and whole, and made a commitment that he would not die until he had the opportunity of sharing the existence of life after death with as many people as would be willing to listen. It was after reading a newspaper article about my appearance in Santa Barbara that he sent a message to the auditorium. By allowing him to share with my audience he was able to keep the promise he made at the time of his short, temporary, yet happy reunion with his entire family.

We do not know what happened to this man since then, but I will never forget the glow in his eyes, the joy and deep gratitude he experienced, that he was led to a place where, without doubt and questioning, he was allowed to stand up on the stage and share with a group of hundreds of hospice workers the total knowledge and awareness that our physical body is only the shell that encloses our immortal self.

Quotes by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“And after your death, when most of you for the first time realize what life here is all about, you will begin to see that your life here is almost nothing but the sum total of every choice you have made during every moment of your life. Your thoughts, which you are responsible for, are as real as your deeds. You will begin to realize that every word and every deed affects your life and has also touched thousands of lives.”

“As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things. To do service, you don’t have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn’t matter as much as how you do what you do.”

“Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.”

“Dying is an integral part of life, as natural and predictable as being born. But whereas birth is cause for celebration, death has become a dreaded and unspeakable issue to be avoided by every means possible in our modern society. Perhaps it is that in spite of all our technological advances. We may be able to delay it, but we cannot escape it. We, no less than other, non-rational animals, are destined to die at the end of our lives. And death strikes indiscriminately — it cares not at all for the status or position of the ones it chooses; everyone must die, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown. Even good deeds will not exclude their doers from the sentence of death; the good die as often as the bad. It is perhaps this inevitable and unpredictable quality that makes death so frightening to many people. Especially those who put a high value on being in control of their own existence are offended by the though that they too care subject to the forces of death.”

“Dying is nothing to fear. It can be the most wonderful experience of your life. It all depends on how you have lived.”

“For those who seek to understand it, death is a highly creative force. The highest spiritual values of life can originate from the thought and study of death.”

“Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.”

“How do the geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.”

“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.”

“I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but the goal of my life was profoundly molded by this experience – to help produce, in the next generation, more Mother Teresas and less Hitlers.”

“I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when their end comes close. Sit with them – you don’t even have to talk. You don’t have to do anything but really be there with them.”

“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.”

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”

“I’ve told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.”

“Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself and know that everything in life has a purpose.”

“Live, so you do not have to look back and say: ‘God, how I have wasted my life.'”

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

“Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their canyons.”

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”

“There is no joy without hardship. If not for death, would we appreciate life? If not for hate, would we know the ultimate goal is love? At these moments you can either hold on to negativity and look for blame, or you can choose to heal and keep on loving.”

“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.”

“Those who learned to know death, rather than to fear and fight it, become our teachers about life.”

“Throughout life, we get clues that remind us of the direction we are supposed to be headed if you stay focused, then you learn your lessons.”

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”

“We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering.”

“We make progress in society only if we stop cursing and complaining about its shortcomings and have the courage to do something about them.”

“We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear.”

“We run after values that, at death, become zero. At the end of your life, nobody asks you how many degrees you have, or how many mansions you built, or how many Rolls Royces you could afford. That’s what dying patients teach you.”

“When we have passed the tests we are sent to Earth to learn, we are allowed to graduate. We are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our souls.”

“When you learn your lessons, the pain goes away.”

“You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.”

“Instead, the goal of life becomes not to elude death but, because one’s fears do not center so much on it, rather to live in concert with it. After an NDE, the survivor finds a new lease on life; she/he is more willing to try new things and to fit as many things as possible into it because she/he is no longer so afraid of what will happen at death. After the NDE, life is more cherished, and the relationships that gave that life more meaning are emphasized upon. The NDE encourages growth and exploration; its acknowledgment helps for those in a society to desire continued testing of the limits and possibilities of life.”

Experts Science

Barbara Harris Whitfield’s Near-Death Experience

Barbara Harris Whitfield,, is the author of many published articles and five books, The Power of Humility (2006), Full Circle: The Near Death Experience and Beyond (1990), Spiritual Awakenings: Insights of the NDE and Other Doorways to Our Soul (1995), and Final Passage: Sharing the Journey as This Life Ends (1998). She is a thanatologist (the study of death and dying), popular speaker, workshop presenter, near-death experiencer, and therapist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been on the board of Directors for the Kundalini Research Network and was on the faculty of Rutgers University’s Institute on Alcohol and Drug Studies for 12 years. Barbara spent six years researching the aftereffects of the near-death experience (NDE) at the University of Connecticut Medical School. She was a member of the executive board of the Kundalini Research Network and has sat on the executive board of the International Association for Near-Death Studies. She is a consulting editor and contributor for the Journal of Near-Death Studies. The following article is the first chapter from her book Final Passage where she gives her testimony of the NDEs she experienced and the profound aftereffects that followed.

Table of Contents

  1. Healing: Barbara’s Story
  2. A Need for Surgery
  3. Barbara Whitfield’s First Near-Death Experience
  4. Barbara Whitfield’s Life Review
  5. Following My Heart
  6. Processing My Life Review
  7. Starting to Wake Up
  8. Notes

1. Healing: Barbara’s Story

My work with dying people probably would have never come about if I hadn’t died myself. I know that sounds strange. How many of us die and get to come back and talk about it? Not many — we may think — but that’s not true. In 1984, a Gallup poll reported that one in every nineteen Americans has had an NDE. And these first numbers include only adults. Since that time we have acquired data on childhood NDEs, and they are almost as prevalent as adult experiences.

I want to share my own NDE with you, most importantly to tell you about what we call the life review. Our research shows that only in about 20 percent of NDEs is there a life review. Since my NDE over twenty years ago, I have focused my heart and my life on the knowledge I received from the life review.

Some NDErs report seeing their life review as if they are watching the pages in a book. Others describe it as a film. My life review appeared as a cloud filled with thousands of bubbles. In each bubble there was a scene from my life. I had the feeling I could bob from bubble to bubble, but overall it had the feeling of a linear sequence in which I relived all thirty-two years of my life.

During a life review, many of us experience not only our own feelings, but the feelings of everyone else — as though all other people participating in our lifetimes are joined. We can feel, then, how everything we’ve ever done or said affected others. The sense is that we don’t end at our skin. It is an illusion that we are separate. This deep review of our life shows us that at a higher level of consciousness we are all connected.

This new perspective totally changes our values and attitudes about the way we want to live. Materialism decreases and altruistic values become greater in most NDErs’ lives. Almost all of us talk about a sense of mission. If we were spiritual before, the shift in values and attitude is not as apparent as it is in someone like me. I had become an atheist when I numbed out at an early age. Subsequently, my changes have been obvious and profound.

2. A Need for Surgery

I was born with a deformity — a curvature in my lumbar spine called scoliosis. It never bothered me until 1973 when it suddenly became the focus of my life. The pain emanating from my lower back became overwhelming, and the drugs I was given to control it numbed everything out. I was hospitalized four times in the next two years, each time for two weeks and with traction and injections of Demerol to help alleviate the pain. Looking back on it now, like many other NDErs I believe that my life had gotten off track and my back pain was a metaphor for my life.

In 1975, at the age of thirty-two, I was admitted for the fifth time to the hospital. I underwent surgery — a spinal fusion. I awoke after the five-and-a-half-hour operation in a Stryker-frame circle bed. This strange bed looks like a Ferris wheel for one person. There are two big chrome hoops with a stretcher suspended in the middle. Three times a day the nurses would place three or four pillows over me and then another stretcher on top of them. They would strap these two stretchers together with me in the middle, like a human sandwich, and turn the bed on. It would rotate me up and then it would slowly move me around onto my belly. The pillows made it more tolerable because I was very thin. I had lost more than thirty pounds over the two years of pain and using Valium as a muscle relaxant. The surgery on my spine prevented me from any movement at all. I couldn’t move. The bed moved me. The reason for using this bed, and for rotating me forward and face down, was to drain my lungs and allow the skin on my back to breathe so I wouldn’t develop bedsores. I remained in this bed for almost a month, and then I was placed in a full body cast from my armpits to my knees.

About two days after surgery, complications set in and I started to die. I remember waking up in the circle bed and seeing this huge belly. I had swelled up. The swelling was pulling my incisions open and it hurt. I called for my nurse, and then I started screaming.

People in white came rushing in. It was a dramatic scene like you see on television. I had no idea what was going on because I hadn’t become a respiratory therapist yet. It seemed like everybody was pushing carts and machinery, throwing things back and forth over me. They hooked me up to all kinds of machinery, tubes, monitors and bags.

3. Barbara Whitfield’s First Near-Death Experience

Everything that was going on was loud and overwhelming. I lost consciousness.

I awoke in the hall in the middle of the night. The lights were dim. It was quiet. I looked up and down the hall and didn’t see anyone. I remember thinking that if they caught me out of the circle bed I’d be in trouble, because I wasn’t supposed to move. So I turned around to go back into my room and found myself looking directly into a public-address speaker. This isn’t possible, I thought. I remembered seeing the speaker when I was admitted. It was mounted on the ceiling at least three or four feet above my head. I moved into my room and looked down into the circle bed and saw — me. I heard myself chuckle because she looked funny with white tape around her nose holding in a tube.

I was out of pain. I felt calm — incredibly peaceful — in a way I had never felt before. So I hung out with her for a while, but I knew that wasn’t me.

Next, I was in total blackness. I don’t know how I got there. I was floating in darkness with a gentle sense of movement. I knew I was moving away from this life. I had left this life behind.

Then I felt hands come around me and pull me into lush warmth. I realized it was my grandmother. I used to call her Bubbie. She was pulling me close to her in a wonderful embrace. She had been dead for fourteen years, and I had never before thought of her existing beyond her death. But I knew I was with her.

I suddenly realized that what I had believed in the past might not be real. Maybe my belief systems were really messed up. Maybe this was real and everything else had been an illusion. As I was thinking about how off base my beliefs had been, and as I realized that my grandmother holding me was real, I felt like I released a load of toxic pain [1]. And as I experienced that release, there was a sudden replay of every scene my grandmother and I had shared during our nineteen years together in this life. It wasn’t just my memories of her — it was also her memories of me. And our memories became one. I could feel and see and sense exactly what she was feeling, seeing and sensing. And I knew she was getting the same thing from my memories. It was both of us together, replaying everything that we meant to each other. It was wonderful.

I can still replay each memory today, and they are as vivid as when they happened twenty-three years ago in my NDE. One of my favorite scenes is when we were cooking together. I was three or four years old. We were alone in her kitchen, but the whole family was going to come for dinner, so there was expectancy in the air. My Bubbie pulled over a heavy wooden chair from her kitchen table to the stove and picked me up and put me on it. She stood behind and very close to me to help and protect me. One at a time, she would put a little bit of mixture in my hand, and I would form it into a ball and drop it into this huge pot of boiling water. The pot was almost as tall as I was on the chair. The pungent smell of fish saturated the already humid air. I would put my hands to my nose and yell Yuk! And she would laugh. After we finished, she pulled the chair with me on it into the middle of the kitchen. I screamed and laughed because it felt like she was taking me on a ride. She wiped my hands with a wet cloth, but I smelled them and yelled Yuk! again. I watched her take a lemon and cut it in half. She rubbed a lemon half on my hands and then wiped them with her already stained and wet apron. Then she looked at me with such love in her eyes and said, Don’t move. Bubbie will be right back. She came back with her hairbrush and brushed my hair for what seemed like a very long time. It felt so good. Then she made me long curls, twisting each lock of my hair around her fingers. When she was finished, and she lifted me down to the floor, I ran into her bedroom and looked in the mirror. I looked just like Shirley Temple.

When the whole family sat down for dinner that evening, she told everyone I had made the fish. My aunts looked at me, very impressed. And as they tasted it, they nodded their heads in approval and told my mother what a good cook I was.

After our memories ended, I stayed with my grandmother for a while. I loved her so much. Then I started moving away. I had no control over what was happening, but it felt all right that I was moving away from her. I understood that she would be waiting for me to return again, and that this place she was in was eternal. So was I. My life had been a brief moment in eternity, and I had no concerns or doubts that as this bigger eternal reality unfolded it was perfect. Besides, the one I had just endured for thirty-two years was so painful and constrictive. This new reality felt like it would continually expand and flow.

At that time I wouldn’t have called where I was a tunnel, but later, as a researcher, I realized that tunnel is the closest word we have on this plane. Whatever it was that I was moving through started off totally black. Then I became aware that there was energy churning through the blackness. As I watched the energy move, shades of gray to almost white separated from the churning. Out of the darkness Light was coming, and the Light was moving way ahead of me. The Light and I were moving in the same direction, but it was far, far ahead.

My hands were expanding. They felt like they were becoming infinitely large. A gentle breeze was wrapping around my body, and I could hear a low droning noise that beckoned me. This unusual sound was taking me to the Light.

Suddenly I was back in my body, back in the circle bed, and it was morning. Two nurses were opening my drapes. The sunlight was startling. It hurt my eyes. I asked them to close the drapes. I tried to tell my nurses and then several doctors that I had left the bed. They told me that it was impossible and that I had been hallucinating.

4. Barbara Whitfield’s Life Review

About a week later I again left my body in the circle bed. I had been taken off the critical list, but I was still debilitated and sick. I had been rotated forward onto my face. I was uncomfortable. I seemed to have been left in that position for too long. I reached for the call button, but it had slipped away from where it was clipped on the bed sheet. I started to call, then yell, then scream frantically, but my door was closed. No one came. I wet the bed. I became hysterical. I separated from my body.

As I left my body, I again went out into the darkness, only this time I was awake and could see it happening. Looking down and off to the right, I saw myself in a bubble — in the circle bed — crying. Then I looked up and to the left, and I saw my one-year-old self in another bubble — face down in my crib — crying just as hard. I looked to the right and saw myself again in the circle bed, then to the left and saw myself as a baby — back and forth about three more times, then I let go. I decided I didn’t want to be the thirty-two-year-old Barbara anymore; I’d go to the baby. As I moved away from my thirty-two-year-old body in the circle bed, I felt as though I released myself from this lifetime. As I did, I became aware of an energy that was wrapping itself around me and going through me, permeating me, holding up every molecule of my being.

It was not an old man with a long white beard. It took me a long time to use the word God. In fact, I never used any word until I saw the movie Star Wars and heard about The Force. By then, I was already reading quantum physics, trying to figure out how I could explain what had permeated me and was me . . . and you . . . and all of us. Now it was here, and it was holding me. It felt incredible. There are no words in English, or maybe in this reality, to explain the kind of love God emanates. God was totally accepting of everything we reviewed in my life. In every scene of my life review I could feel again what I had felt at various times in my life. And I could feel everything everyone else felt as a consequence of my actions. Some of it felt good and some of it felt awful. All of this translated into knowledge, and I learned — oh, how I learned! The information was flowing at an incredible breakneck speed that probably would have burned me up if it weren’t for the extraordinary energy holding me. The information came in, and then love neutralized my judgments against myself. In other words, as we relived my life, God never judged me. God held me and kept me together. I received all information about every scene — my perceptions and feelings — and anyone else’s perceptions and feelings who were in the scene. No matter how I judged myself in each interaction, being held by God was the bigger interaction. God interjected love into everything, every feeling, every bit of information about absolutely everything that went on, so that everything was all right. There was no good and no bad. There was only me and my loved ones from this life trying to be, or just trying to survive.

I realize now that without this God force holding me, I wouldn’t have had the strength to experience what I am explaining to you.

I — we at this point, for we are one, a very sacred one — God and I were merging into one sacred person. We went to the baby I was seeing to my upper left in the darkness. Picture the baby being in a bubble and that bubble in the center of a cloud of thousands and thousands of bubbles. In each bubble was another scene in my life. As we moved toward the baby, it was as though we were bobbing through the bubbles. At the same time there was a linear sequence in which we relived thirty-two years of my life. I could hear myself saying, No wonder, no wonder. I now believe my no wonders meant No wonder you are the way you are now. Look what was done to you when you were a little girl.

My mother had been dependent on drugs, angry, and abusive, and my father wasn’t there much of the time and did little to intervene. I saw all this childhood trauma again, in my life review, but I didn’t see it in little bits and pieces, the way I had remembered it as an adult. I saw and experienced it just as I had lived it at the time it first happened. Not only was I me, I was also my mother. And my dad. And my brother. We were all one. Just as I had felt everything my grandmother had felt, I now felt my mother’s pain and neglect from her childhood. She wasn’t trying to be mean. She didn’t know how to be loving or kind. She didn’t know how to love. She didn’t understand what life is really all about. And she was still angry from her own childhood, angry because they were poor and because her father had grand mal seizures almost every day until he died when she was eleven. And then she was angry because he left her.

Everything came flooding back, including my father’s helplessness at stopping the insanity. If my father was home when my mother exploded into one of her rages, he would close all the windows so the neighbors wouldn’t hear, and then he would go outside and visit with them. Again I witnessed my brother’s rage at my mother’s abuse, and then his turning around and giving it to me. I saw how we were all connected in this dance that started with my mother. I saw how her physical body expressed her emotional pain. I watched as I grew up and left my parents’ house when I was eighteen. By that point I had watched my mother undergo twenty-six operations, twenty-five of which were elective. I saw myself as a child praying for a doctor who could help my mother. One part of her body or another was always in pain. She had two spinal fusions on her neck, two or three on her lumbar spine. Both knees, both elbows and one wrist were operated on.

As my life review continued, I again experienced my mother starving herself because she was told she had gotten chubby. Then she had to have several surgeries for intestinal problems and constipation, and during those stays in the hospital they would tube feed her because she was so thin. She even had her toes shortened. They called it hammertoe surgery. The real reason was because she had a huge collection of high-heeled shoes that were size four and one-half. (She always insisted on wearing spike heels even with her bad back.) Her feet were growing (as all of ours do as we get older) but she wanted them to remain a size four and one-half. I watched myself with her in a bubble as her orthopedic surgeon said, Florence, you have two choices. Get shoes a half size bigger or shorten your toes! He was laughing, but she chose the surgery. She was in plaster casts for six weeks, taking even more painkillers and sleeping pills.

I also saw her go through psychiatric hospitalizations. During one of these, around 1955, I couldn’t visit her for three weeks. I was about eleven and was sure I had done something wrong. In one bubble I could see myself finally being allowed to visit her. I looked big for my age and my five-foot-two-inch frame towered over her four-foot-eleven one. She weighed about eighty-eight pounds. I was chunky. She lived on black coffee, sedatives, painkillers and tranquilizers. I loved to eat.

In the bubble I was pleading with her to cooperate with the doctors so she could come home. She said, Oh, honey. This is like a job. I don’t need to be in here, but Daddy has three (health insurance) policies so I make us money when I’m here. Blue Cross pays all the medical expenses, and we get to keep the rest from the other two policies. I could now feel her saying that and she meant it. She believed it. I continued watching and realized that nothing could have helped my mother because she had no real understanding about why she was there. I could hear myself saying, No wonder, no wonder. And then the benevolent energy that was holding me would hold me tighter and with even more love.

We continued watching my mother in pain, always seeing doctors and always receiving prescription pain killers, sleeping pills and tranquilizers. My only feelings during this time were ones of loneliness. I felt so alone when she was in the hospital. Then I watched her abuse me when she was home. I could now feel that she abused me because she hated herself. I saw myself down on my knees by the side of my bed, praying for a doctor to help my mother. What I didn’t realize as a child, but was understanding in the life review, was that she didn’t want anyone to help her. She thought her job in life was to have doctors and be a patient. And she enjoyed being taken care of in the hospital.

I saw how I had given up myself in order to survive. I forgot that I was a child. I became my mother’s mother. I suddenly knew that my mother had had the same thing happen to her in her childhood. She took care of her father during his seizures, and as a child she gave herself up to take care of him. As children, she and I both became anything and everything others needed. As my life review continued, I also saw my mother’s soul, how painful her life was, how lost she was. And I saw my father, and how he put blinders on himself to avoid his grief over my mother’s pain and to survive. In my life review I saw they were good people caught in helplessness. I saw their beauty, their humanity and their needs that had gone unattended to in their own childhoods. I loved them and understood them. We may have been trapped, but we were still souls connected in our dance of life by an energy source that had created us.

This is when I first realized that we don’t end at our skin. We are all in this big churning mass of consciousness. We are each a part of this consciousness we call God. And we’re not just human. We are Spirit. We were Spirit before we came into this lifetime. We are all struggling Spirits now, trying to get being human right. And when we leave here, we will be pure Spirit again.

As my life review continued, I got married and had my own children and saw that I was on the edge of repeating the cycle of abuse and trauma that I had experienced as a child. I was on prescription drugs. I was in the hospital. I was becoming like my mother. And at the same time, this energy holding me let me into its experience of all this. I felt God’s memories of these scenes through God’s eyes just as I had through my grandmother’s eyes. I could sense God’s divine intelligence and it was astonishing. God loves us and wants us to learn and wake up to our real selves — to what is important. I realized that God wants us to know that we only experience real pain if we die without living first. And the way to live is to give love to ourselves and to others. We are here to learn never to withhold our love. But only when we heal enough to be real can we understand and give love the way love was meant to be.

As my life unfolded before my eyes, I witnessed how severely I had treated myself because that was the behavior shown and taught to me as a child. I realized that the only big mistake I had made in my life of thirty-two years was that I had never learned to love myself.

And then I was back, but not in my body. I was behind the nurse’s station. I saw a metal circle with pillows tossing behind glass. They were the pillows I had urinated on when I separated from my body. I was watching them in a dryer.

I heard two nurses talking about my case and about how my day nurse was so upset after she found me that they had sent her home early. Then they were saying that I was going to be in a body cast for six months, even though they had told me six weeks, because my doctors thought that I couldn’t handle knowing. So they were not going to tell me the truth.

Then I was back in my body, back in the circle bed. The same two nurses came in to check on me and I said to them, I left the bed again.

No, honey. You’re hallucinating, they said.

I was not on painkillers at this point, so I insisted, No, I’m not hallucinating [2]. I left the bed.

No, you’re hallucinating. You can’t leave the bed, they said.

Please call my day nurse and tell her I’m okay, I responded. Tell her I’m not angry with her. I know she was sent home early. And don’t lie to me by telling me I’m going to be in a body cast for six weeks. Tell me the truth. I know I’m going to be in a body cast for six months. And you should have washed those pillows before you put them in the dryer. I don’t care for myself, but I care for the next patient.

5. Following My Heart

A month after I came home from the hospital, my parents came over to visit me. They had taken care of my children for the month I was in the circle bed, so I understood why they couldn’t visit me in the hospital. However, I couldn’t understand why they weren’t coming to my house. I spent every day in bed. I weighed eighty-three pounds and the body cast weighed thirty pounds. I wondered when they were coming so I could tell them about my experience. Finally they came, and I blurted out how much I loved them and that everything that had happened to us was all right. I think I even told them that I forgave them.

They looked at me like I was really strange and quickly left. After that, I insisted on seeing a psychiatrist, hoping he would understand what I had experienced. The doctor I saw didn’t understand. No one understood NDEs back then, so I realized that I couldn’t talk about it. I spent the six months in the body cast, thinking about my NDE but not trying to tell anyone. Once I was out of the cast and went through some physical therapy to regain my strength, I decided to put the NDE away and follow my heart.

First, I volunteered to work in the emergency room of the hospital where I had been a patient. I had many opportunities there to be with and touch dying people. I felt real when I worked there. And everyone else was real, too. In a setting where life and death are on the edge every moment, only truth is spoken. My personal life, however, was at the opposite end of the spectrum. My husband, my friends and most family members were caught up in their own games. No one seemed to be communicating honestly. There was so much denial of feelings. I can’t deny that I too had been a part of it – part of the materialism and part of the numbness. But now I was different. It wasn’t their fault. I had changed. The only place I felt real besides the hospital was on a college campus.

I became a respiratory therapist working in the emergency room and the ICU, and my patients were telling me about their experiences as they were dying. And the ones who returned to their bodies told me about their NDEs. I started writing about all this, in those days calling my topic the emotional needs of critical-care patients. Surprisingly, I was being invited to speak at professional conferences and being published in respiratory therapy journals. The emotional needs of patients was a new and hot topic in healthcare in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Finally, I became a researcher and could look for the answers I so longed to find. Because my research was conducted at a university medical school, all kinds of new knowledge were available to me. I could frame and reframe not only the hundreds of experiences I was studying, but also my own personal one. The story of my NDE is in this book so we can have a foundation for the way I participated in and describe the other stories you are about to read.

6. Processing My Life Review

The NDE is never over if we invite it to continue to affect us. It can continue to grow in our lives if we nurture it. It continues to interpret for us what we are doing here, what life may be all about.

Before my NDE and life review, I knew I had been abused physically and emotionally by my mother and neglected by both parents. I remembered most everything. The problem was that those memories of abuse did not arouse any emotional reactions in me. In order to deal with the emotional and physical pain, I had numbed myself not only as a child going through pain, but also as an adult remembering it. I protected myself with my own emotional Novocain, so I couldn’t feel anything that had happened in my childhood. Unfortunately, the numbness continued in my adult life. Once I experienced my life review, I could remove the Novocain from my past and re-glue the pieces of my life together. I could begin to learn about all the new feelings that were coming up.

Psychiatry calls emotional Novocain psychic numbing. It is a common approach used by children to get through painful times. Once we grow up we have the choice of staying numb or remembering and working though all those buried but painful numbed-out memories. In my life review I also saw the beginnings of abuse in the way I was reacting to my children. For me it wasn’t just a choice of numbness or healing. I needed to break the chain of abuse. I needed to save my children from what I had been through.

7. Starting to Wake Up

I learned in my life review that the only thing that is real is love, and the only way to share love is by being real. Being real happens when we acknowledge our feelings and continually share our truth. When we feel our feelings and are real, we share our truth out of love. Then our relationship with God and our self is healthy.

My parents and the rest of my family and friends certainly weren’t the exception to the rule when it came to not understanding my new attitude. I facilitated support groups for the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS) for twelve years and the biggest problem NDErs talk about is that no one understands us. We experience a profound change in our values and attitudes and need to talk about it in a support group. It is as though we had lived our lives in black and white and were suddenly shown colors. We no longer fear death. And this is just the first of many paradoxes: Because we don’t fear death, we don’t fear living. We love life in a whole new way. We are more willing to take risks to help others. We work with the dying because we get as much as we give by helping.

Our research also shows that a history of childhood trauma, abuse and neglect is more frequent among NDErs than among the control group. Many people I have interviewed who have had an NDE came from an abusive childhood steeped in addiction. We all have the same story. We talk about how every time our parents started drinking or taking pills … they were gone. Even if their bodies were still there, they were gone. And so we grew up numb. Because our parents had numbed out, so did we. But our NDEs brought us back. They reminded us of who we are. And to maintain our real selves we have to learn to feel our feelings, share our truth and give our love. I wrote in detail about the childhood abuse factor in my last book, Spiritual Awakenings. Childhood abuse or trauma has always been of interest to me because of my own history, and because I hear about it so often in support groups or when I give talks. Now it has been demonstrated statistically in the research [3].

I also wrote in Spiritual Awakenings that we should not blame anyone, but instead we should break the chains of abuse. When we die — if we re-experience our lives from everyone else’s perspective as well as our own — there is only information and feelings, perceptions and knowledge. We really can’t judge or blame others because we suddenly understand from where we and everyone else is coming. We only judge here in this earthly reality. Over there, with God, I was just learning about this. The knowledge of what had happened was pouring into me, and I was saying my no wonders! over and over again. I came to believe that God doesn’t judge but wants us to learn so we won’t make the same mistakes again. My experiences showed me that God wants us to extend love, not fear. If I can understand my childhood, and I can name, express and let go of the emotions I have held in since I was a little girl, I won’t repeat my past. My parents repeated their pasts because they didn’t know any better. Before my NDE and my life review, the old way of conflict and numbness controlled me. Suddenly, I was catapulted out of time and embraced by a whole different way. Just as fast, I was back here wanting to forge new ground. I have had a great opportunity and now I want to share it. But I don’t blame, and I certainly don’t want to judge anyone, including my parents.

And now, almost twenty-three years later, my parents have died — my dad in late 1992 and my mom in early 1994. My life review had set the scene for the way I helped my father die and the way I observed my mother die. In fact, my life review, what I learned in it and, even more importantly, what I experienced in it — that a divine energy connects all of us — have since orchestrated all my relationships. With each person I have attended in the dying process, I have also witnessed this spiritual energy. I have given talks for hundreds of hospice workers, and almost everyone agrees that this energy is present. Hospice workers often tell me their stories of God’s loving energy being present during a client’s death.

In all of the stories in this book, I feel connected to this energy through my heart. The prayer within my heart is constant and is the background music orchestrating my experiences. When we are connected to God’s loving energy, it is the most powerful force in the universe.

Chapter One excerpt from Barbara’s book Final Passage
All content copyright 2003, 2004 Barbara Harris Whitfield.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

8. Notes

[1] What I gave up was my old ineffective and even ignorant belief system, which A Course in Miracles calls the ego, and which is also called the false self by Charles Whitfield and the self-psychologists.

[2] Hallucinations are usually experiences of seeing things or hearing voices that are really not there, in this reality. We will see something scary, for example, in the physical space we are in. By contrast, near-death and other transcendent experiences happen in other realities or dimensions. We may begin here, but the experience quickly moves to other realities. Also, hallucinations are usually agitating and often transient in memory, whereas transcendent or near-death experiences are usually peaceful and benevolent, and we do not forget them.

[3] See Kenneth Ring and C. Rosing, The Omega Project, The Journal of Near-Death Studies 8, no. 4 (1990): 211239, and B. Whitfield, Spiritual Awakenings: Insights of the Near-Death Experience and Other Doorways to Our Soul (Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, 1995).

Experts Science

Dr. Barbara Rommer’s Negative Near-Death Experience Research

The late Dr. Barbara Rommer practiced Internal Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where she founded and facilitated the South Florida chapter of the International Association for Near-Death studies. Dr. Rommer personally interviewed more than 300 “less than positive” (LTP) near-death cases – most of whom confirmed her hypothesis: that even the most horrifying NDEs eventually have a spiritual outcome. “The LTP experience is a spiritual wake-up call, causing the person to stop, look back, and review past choices, ” says Rommer, “It can help him or her understand the consequences of those choices, reevaluate thought patterns and “glitches” in thinking or reasoning, and then make necessary changes where indicated. I view it as the ultimate learning experience.” A Gallup poll found that at least 13 million Americans have had a near-death experience. Of these, the data suggests that 17.7% of these are LTP experiences that are distressing and sometimes frightening.

Dr. Barbara Rommer classified LTP near-death experiences into four types. Here are the definitions of them:

  1. Those NDEs that are misinterpreted positive NDEs.
  2. Those NDEs involving the eternal void that can often be very unpleasant.
  3. Those hellish NDEs where the experiencers see visions of hell.
  4. Those NDEs that involve frightening life reviews.

The following NDE is an example of a Type #3 LTP from Dr. Rommer’s excellent book entitled Blessing in Disguise.

It appears that disavowing the reality or possibility of the existence of a Higher Power may contribute to the “why” of a Less-Than-Positive Experience: 19.4 percent of my LTP study group labeled themselves as atheist or agnostic prior to their experience. If one also disrespects life, then that just compounds the problem.

Such was the case with Joel, who is now seventy-five-years old, but was fifty-eight years old at the time of his first NDE. Joel was raised in a Jewish home. After World War II, he became a pharmacist. He became a diabetic when he was in his forties and later developed many of the common complications of the disease. He stated:

The first experience was when I was in the hospital with gangrene. They were marking the progression up my leg. The pain was horrendous. They decided to amputate the next day. I kept screaming, “I want to die. Hell with the leg!”

During the surgery this is what happened. Out comes this ladder, right out of the heavens, like Jacob’s ladder. And here’s this angel, male, in a mist, dressed in a grayish-tan-gauze overlay. The angel told me I have no right to want to die. I tried to climb that ladder, but the angel had strong arms. I kept trying to get up there, and he slapped me, told me that only the Lord will decide and that I should stop complaining. Then he disappeared.

I was out of the hospital for two weeks, didn’t feel right, went to the ER and had to be readmitted with congestive heart failure. I developed bad pain in my side while I was there, had a workup and ended up with a colostomy because it was cancer. What the hell! Why not? That’s when I had the second experience.

Would you believe, here came the devil! There was a band of people, all dressed in black, all wearing shrouds with hoods, about eight of them and a leader. I said: “Oh, shit!”

They all had candles. The leader had slanted eyes and I thought maybe the Japs were after me. I was in the Pacific theater in World War II, so I know what Japs look like, but this was a tall son of a bitch! Nobody spoke. They just nodded and pranced around with the candles. If I’d had a gun I would’ve shot them.

They were out to kill me. That I believe. They didn’t want me to live, maybe because I derided them. I don’t believe in hocus pocus. It was the candles that threw me off, and the fact that I saw these slant eyes. I thought they were all Japs, but really knew they weren’t. But they were people I didn’t like. They wanted to do me harm and I was already in enough pain. I didn’t want any more. I didn’t need this bullshit! And then the surgery was over. It was awful surgery.

I was in there for five weeks. Toward the end of the hospitalization, BINGO, I was visited again, but this time it was just a voice. A male voice called my name.

It told me, in essence, to mind my p’s and q’s, not to get excited, and that I’m being tested. I asked, “For what?”

I was admonished not to question, to take my medicine and if I don’t like it to keep quiet. It also suggested that I do a little praying, and I’m “son-of-a-bitching” all over the place. I said, “Praying don’t help me.”

The pain was unbelievable, because they had to clean and pack my open wound four times a day. I had said, “Just pull the pipes and let me go.”

The voice said, “You don’t decide. He’ll decide.”

Then, here comes this fella down the ladder again right out of the heavens, right out of the clouds. I said, “This time are you going to take me up the ladder?”

The answer was, “No.”

In the meantime, back at the ranch, the surgeon was telling my family that there was no hope for me. My heart had stopped a couple of times, but here I am!

Afterwards, one of the rabbis came up to the room to see me. I told him that I wasn’t interested in rabbis. I told him about the meeting with the Man from upstairs and I said to him that I don’t want to live anymore. That rabbi took off his yarmulke and started to curse me. I have never heard anyone who could curse as well as I can. He asked me who the hell I thought I was. I told him to mind his own business and that he can go to hell and take his religion with him. I told him to get the hell away from me. He said: “Only God decides who lives and dies.”

I said, “I don’t believe in God.”

He said that if I didn’t believe in God, then I wouldn’t see angels. I got so angry that I put the side rails down, got out of bed and fell, so they had to stitch me up and tie me down. I told him that I want to get the hell out of this life, no matter where I go, down below or wherever. And it must be something that all these rabbis learned way back, because he also said again, “God decides who lives and who dies.”

I told him, “During the war I didn’t believe in God, and when they say there are no atheists in foxholes that’s bullshit. When these priests come in and cross themselves, that’s bullshit also. So don’t come in here and start preaching.”

The “why” of Joel’s LTP was twofold. First, he kept wishing himself dead, and second, he said repeatedly that he didn’t believe in God, even using the word “atheist.” The LTP “suggested” to him that there is, in fact, a Higher Power, and that only that Higher Power has the authority to decide when one’s life is over. The symbolism, Joel thinking that the group of shrouded figures with candles were led by a “Jap,” goes back to his awful experience of being held captive by Japanese in WWII and the horrors that he endured there. Joel is a very visual person. Has he changed as a result of what happened? Yes, he has. He now goes to temple often, and does feel that there is a Higher Power.