Near Death Experience (NDE) refers to the experience a few individuals have had where they were clinically dead but recovered to report the experience that they had during the period when they were dead. I have planned on writing this article for months but held off for there is not much in the scriptures that directly informs the topic. My recent writings, however, suggest that it is now a relevant component of the larger picture of life after death which I have been developing.
I have read a number of NDE stories, enough to know that they have some common characteristics. I’ll present a few stories and summarize what i consider to be relevant points. They inform our understanding of not only the afterlife, but the nature of our very existence.
The NDE has been studied extensively by some individuals and also in academic environments. I will leave it up to the reader to make their own deeper dive. Let’s present what might be called the “physical” characteristics of an NDE.
An Introduction to the NDE
As an introduction to, and definition of an NDE, watch the following video (7:48 minutes):
The following video (6:30 minutes) introduces the physical aspects of the NDE. In particular, the soul sees and hears physical events even if the body through blindness or deafness is incapable of such. Further, the soul, in the NDE state, can move through material barriers like walls and seems independent of gravity.
Rather than describing the soul as having a “body” I would prefer to use the term “form” since “body” has a direct reference to that of form in a physical manifestation.
THE NDE of Another World
Thirty-five percent of NDE cases describe the experience of travelling to another “world”. This aspect is presented in the following video (7:33 minutes):
In 85% of these cases, souls describe meeting relatives and angelic beings including Christ and God in the form of a loving white light. The other 15% have negative experiences including that of very dark places.
Having read a number of NDEs in the past, I will summarize certain characteristics that stood out for me.
- Colours are surrealistically strong, and pleasant scents may be present. Often there are fields of flowers and butterflies and idyllic settings such as a meadow or a valley.
- One may encounter relatives who have passed on. Also are encounters wise souls such as saints. Some experience a white light that they KNOW is that of Christ or God.
- Most souls do not want to leave but are told that they have not finished what they had been born into the earth for and had to go back.
- Souls coming from painful and difficult lives understand that their choice of life was intentional as the experience was necessary for their growth as a soul.
- Of the 15% having negative experience, it was presented as a wake-up call to indicate what awaited them if they did not amend their sinful ways.
Select NDE Stories
Here are the stories of a few individuals that I have run across in the last few months.
The Experience of Anita Moorjani
Described in the article Terminal Cancer Patient ‘Immersed in God’s Mercy’ During Organ Failure Coma—Woke up 30 Hours Later With a Message, Anita Moorjani was a terminally ill cancer patient in a coma given only a few hours to live. Since the article may be behind a paywall, here’s her story.
She had reached the point where her body was covered with tumours and her organs were shutting down. In a coma, she had an NDE.
She found herself in another world with “many beings there welcoming her. It seemed that every being was immersed in God’s mercy and unconditional love, making her realize the preciousness and greatness of life itself“.
She “realized that her life goals and choices had been distorted, that she had dealt with everything from a fearful and negative perspective“. She was told that this was the cause of her cancer and that she would be healed.
The experience caused a change in her understanding of life and the way she needed to live it. Her cancer was gone in a few weeks.
Neuropathologist Dr. Peter Cummings
He drowned in a rafting accident but was resuscitated. Here is his story: Neurologist’s Near-Death Experience Changes His Understanding Of Consciousness (also in the Epoch Times).
While in the water he experienced a bright light, “an incredible feeling of love” and he heard a voice speak to him about his family.
The experience changed his life for the better. Death now had a positive meaning, something to be discussed and viewed without fear. His approach to his job became more centered on the patient. As he said, it “really helped me come to grips with who I am as a husband and a father, a human place on the planet.”
Neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander
The following article, Doctor on Verge of Death Fell in Coma, ‘Saw Heaven’ and Recovered in 2 Months, not only presents the story of Dr. Eben Alexander but goes into depth about the NDE.
Dr. Alexander developed a rare form of bacterial meningitis and fell into a coma within a few hours. In the coma he experienced a “spinning white light” that opened onto a valley with a lush green and vibrant meadow. His consciousness was “only the size of a speck of light, on the wings of a butterfly“. There were several million of such butterflies flying around the valley.
The place was further described as being “filled with joy, with angels singing from high above and songs coming from all around“. In addition, he felt that he “was loved by a loving compassionate divine being who was not a judge” but very compassionate. During this time he had a beautiful woman companion who was identified as hid guardian angel and who comforted him throughout the experience.
He recovered, having experienced physical brain damage. However, within two months the damage was repaired and he had full return of memory and cognitive function.
The article then moves away from Alexander’s experience to a more general exploration of what we might call supernatural effects if we understand the term to mean beyond the realm of science to explain. In particular he notes that “when the material body dies, the consciousness does not die with it.” Important aspects of the life after death are:
- “The most important thing … is that we exist to love each other.”
- “If we cause suffering to others without reason, we will pay the price in our passing.”
- There are a series of corrections to be made to help us repay our errors or transgressions to others so that “in the next life we are kinder and more loving—that’s the ultimate destination of consciousness through this process.” This is akin to the role of purgatory in the Roman Catholic religion.
- “Over 90 percent to 95 percent of people who experienced near-death experiences woke up more compassionate, less materialistic, and more focused on helping others, showing kindness and affection.“
Three Other Stories from the Thousands Available
Here are three other articles, each relating a unique personal NDE, yet following a common underlying pattern of experience.
- Atheist Neurologist Believed There Was Nothing After Death, Sees Vivid Scenes and Message During Cardiac Arrest.
- ‘Free of Fear, Pain’: Engineer Recalls Leaving Her Body, Floating in Bliss, Learns Life’s Meaning on Her Return.
- Touching the Afterlife: Near-Death Experiences Point to Expanded Reality
Thoughts on What NDEs Tell Us
Firstly, the NDE tells us that we are an immortsl soul living in eternity. We are at some midpoint where our free will is to be exercised to determine where we spend the rest of eternity. The choice is binary: before the face of God or forever away from his presence.
What we experience as our “self” continues after death but in a purified form. At birth, our DNA contains the template of our physical body. Call it our unique personal form. The manifestation of the form changes throughout life but the NDE suggests that it has a kernel that is pure and inviolate. It is the container for our soul if you like and we carry it forward after death. Even if our DNA is imperfect, our form beyond the DNA representation is void of imperfection.
Heaven is a purely spiritual realm and the corrupt earthly body cannot exist there. We will exist there, if we are judged by grace to be there, in the form of our soul. NDEs of persons with physical handicaps are presented with a form or body that is young and perfect.
Persons who die in explosions and fires where there bodies are burned and mutilated do not resurrect with a body lying in a hundred pieces or burned to a crisp but one in the perfect form of their soul. This contradicts the theology of many religions but my spirit is quiet with my understanding. Approaching fourscore years, I do not want this body to be that which is resurrected.
The NDE tells us that there is nothing to fear with death unless we have rejected the call and instruction of our Lord. In fact, we should look forward to it as our time to move on draws closer.
The NDE I think also gives us insight into the nature of paradise as mentioned in Luke 23:43. This is a topic that I have written on in the past. Indeed, the world in most NDEs might be described as paradise.
Also is presented the notion that those who may have experienced terrible lives or lives of deprivation or infirmity have chosen so intentionally prior to conception. If you have problems with this concept ask yourself “why am I here?” and “what do I think my life should be like, and why?”. The bible is clear on the idea that life is more than party time:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.Hebrews 12:6-11, KJV
It is a hard concept to accept that suffering in life is a necessary part of the purification of our souls in preparation for an eternity in God’s presence. It may surprise some but we are not here to have a good time.
Although these resources are intended for NDE-related material, be warned that other lines of activity such as New Age material, crystals,and occult-related material should be avoided.
Articles in This Series
Refer to the series index in Notes on a Spiritual Journey.
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