This page deals with the experiences of some historically wellknown individuals, mystical and religious experiences, quantum physics and links to further reading.
In the past NDEs were reported as visions, mystical and religious experiences. NDEs should no longer be regarded as exceptional. In 2005, Perera et al (1) conducted a telephone survey of a representative sample of the Australian population, as part of the Roy Morgan Catibus Survey (2) , and concluded that 8% of the population had experienced an NDE.
Initially, NDErs may be excited to share their experiences; often, this sharing is with a nurse or other trusted member of the health care team. Unfortunately, research indicates that when these initial disclosures are met with responses that are
discounting (“That’s nonsense! You couldn’t have seen Grandpa; he’s been dead for years.”), are
devaluing (“That’s nothing but your mind playing tricks on you while you were unconscious.”), or
then the experiencer is likely to remain confused, isolated, and mute about what, typically, is the most profound experience of their life (Greyson, 1997). This outcome is harmful, because the NDE’s apparent potential to advance the NDEr’s psychospiritual development has been thwarted. (3)
Many NDErs experience an inability to share their NDE. It leads to:
Following a Near Death Experience (NDE) people have altered beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.
A Near Death Experience is not associated with a mental disorder.
Although most NDEs are pleasant, a small percentage are distressing, that is, dominated by feelings such as fear, isolation, or torment.
"It was about six weeks before I left Madura for good that the great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle's house. I seldom had any sickness, and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to account for it, and I did not try to account for it or to find out wether there was any reason for the fear. I just felt "I am going to die" and began thinking what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or my elders or friends; I felt that I had to solve the problem myself, there and then.
The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: "Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body dies." And I at once dramatised the occurrence of death. I lay with my limbs stretched out stiff as through rigor mortis had set in and immitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, so that neither the word "I" nor any other word could be uttered. 'Well then,' I said to myself, 'this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burn and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of I within me, apart from it. So I am the Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.' All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truths which I perceived directly almost without thought process. I was something real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with the body was centered on that I. From that moment onwards, the I or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and for all.
The consequences of this new awareness were soon noticed in my life. In the first place, I lost what little interest I had in my outer relationship with friends and relatives and went through my studies mechanically. I would hold an open book in front of me to satisfy my relatives that I was reading, when in reality my attention was far away from any such superficial matter. In my dealings with people I became meek and submissive. Formerly if I was given more work than other boys I might complain, and if any boy annoyed me I would retaliate. None of them would dare make fun of me or take liberties with me. Now all that was changed. Whatever work was given, whatever teasing or annoyance there was, I would put up with it quietly. The former ego that resented and retaliated had disappeared. I stopped going out with friends to play games and preferred solitude. I would often sit alone, especially in a posture suitable for meditation, and become absorbed in the Self, the Spirit, the force or current which constituted me. I would continue in this despite the jeers of my elder brother who would sarcastically call me "sage" or "yogi" and advise me to retire into the jungle like the ancient Rishis."
Ramana Maharshi (4)
There are many examples of mystical and religious experiences. The Buddha, Zoroaster, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and Mohammed are wellknown religious identities for their teachings born from being in a conscious contact with God or Reality.
The Zoroastrian belief system was the religion of Ancient Persia before the advent of Islam 1400 years ago. It is known as the mother religion in the area. The familiar concepts of hell, Heaven, resurrection, the coming of the Messiah, individual and the last judgment were for the first time incorporated into this belief system. They still exist in JudoChristian and Islamic traditions.
The following quotes of fellow man may have strong personal meaning to a NDEr.
"0 noblyborn, when thy body and mind were separating, thou must have experienced a glimpse Of the Pure Truth, subtle, sparkling, bright dazzling, glorious, and radiantly awesome, in appearance like a mirage moving across a landscape in springtime in one continuous stream of vibrations. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed. That is the radiance of thine own true nature. Recognize it."
The Tibetan Book of the Dead (5)
"Knowledge, if it does not determine action, is dead to us."
Plotinus ( 204270) (6)
Meister Eckhart (12601328) (7)
"I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion"
"Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many."
Baruch de Spinosa (16321677) (8)
"Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions, both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearences."
"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming."
Søren Kierkegard (18131855) (9)
The spiritual plane is described as a unified field, an awareness of oneness, a dominion over all things, an ocean of love, the other side and so on. Inevitably, both NDErs and those who have an interest in the NDE, for no or all reasons, will come across references to Quantum Physics as they are looking into religion and spirituality, as they make their own enquiries into reality. The science of physics has indeed always studied the fundamentals of our universe and has traditionally been linked to workable visions of our world.
Since its inception, the many results of quantum mechanics have provoked strong philosophical debate and many interpretations. The Copenhagen interpretation , due largely to the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr , is the interpretation of quantum mechanics most widely accepted amongst physicists. According to it, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics predictions cannot be explained in terms of some other deterministic theory, and does not simply reflect our limited knowledge. Quantum mechanics provides probabilistic results because the physical universe is itself probabilistic rather than deterministic. Albert Einstein disliked this loss of determinism in measurement and said: "God does not play dice."
Most simply put, in quantum theory we can be "dead and alive", "not dead and not alive", but we cannot be dead or alive. Good luck trying to get your head around that, but that is what it says.
In our fundamental human thought system, the one and only fundamental archetype is that of God. It goes without saying that belief is very powerful and that the idea of God is personal and individual. Or in other words, related to the context of one's own experiences.
As one has an idea of God that is rejectable, so it is. As one has an idea of God that is acceptable, so it is also. The first and foremost realisation is that the idea of God or a single Creator cannot be removed from one's thought system.
If one rejects the idea, one lives with the consequence that a personal contact and use of the creative extension of such a Source is not an option. It doesn't mean that one cannot access mystical experiences, yet that this mystical experience cannot be integrated into a personal, useful modality for one's life on planet earth.
Now, when one does find acceptance of the idea of a single creative Source, one has an option to be in communication with this Source, or communion, all the time and everywhere one goes.
David Bohm developed a theory of quantum physics which
considers the unbroken whole of matter and consciousness.
Bohm (1995) suggests:
The text of A Course in Miracles (11) states this very idea: each and every moment is free from the last, time is not sequential. It literally states that the world of space and time is an attack on Reality and that in the moment of its conception it is cancelled out! In other words, in each and every moment we are born again and die again, we are dead and alive in the same instant, we are "not dead" and "not alive" simultanously, but we are never dead or alive. Again, good luck trying to get your head around that, but that is what it says.
A simplistic scenario can be used to illustrate phylosophy derived from quantum mechanics: A voodoo master who resides in Tahiti is asked to cause pain to a person who lives in Cairns, Q. The voodoo master has a doll with hairs of the person in Cairns attached to it and sticks a needle in its back. Simultaneously, the person in Cairns feels a stabbing pain in his back. What does this mean?
Simply put, if there is no lack in time between the needle hitting the doll and the person in Cairns experiencing pain, then there is no distance between the doll in Tahiti and the person's body in Cairns. Think about it. In our thinking, time is needed to travel from A to B, from Tahiti to Cairns. If no time passes, there is no distance between A and B, and thus A and B are not apart. Our little scenario then points out to us that the apparent distance between the Tahiti doll and the Cairns person is an illusion, a deception in truth. If that is true for the doll and this person, it must be true for all objects in space. What it reveals is that space and time are a deception, an illusion on that level of communication! What it reveals is that the limits imposed on material bodies through their spacial separation are not there for the mind. Quantum mechanics reveals that matter at the level of its fundamental building blocks is neither limited by apparent spacial separation and communication is instantaneous.
Now, it becomes apparent why quantum mechanics can trigger a passion for religious and philosophical explorations. Saint Paul said that good deeds will avail you nothing. Well indeed, if time is illusion and Heaven is real, good deeds won't get you out of time, because they are part of time. When Jesus speaks to thieves, prostitutes and murderers, people disrespected by society, and states that they can be in Heaven, meaning out of time, with Him today is He pointing out the same truth? Is Heaven reached by a shift in awareness, where the mind remembers what is true (God is not limited by spatial separation) and what is illusion (subjective consciousness of space and time based on the fundamental concept of being a confined material body in space)? Does a balance of good deeds and sins, have something to do with that shift taking place?
May the one who has the real answers stand up! Still, in the NDE, the limits of spatial separation can be experienced as no longer existent. If that experience is complemented by feeling an energy of unconditional love it should not be hard to see that these two factors may cause a state in which one feels at one with the universe. In the text of A Course in Miracles (11) it states that "In this world Heaven is a choice, because here we believe there are alternatives to choose between. We think that all things have an opposite, and what we want we choose. If Heaven exists there must be hell as well, for contradiction is the way we make what we perceive and what we think is real. Creation knows no opposite. But here is opposition part of being "real." " (The Guarantee of Heaven Chapter 13, IV of ACIM) and "Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within."
Raymond Moody is an authority on the 'neardeath experience'a phrase he coined in the late seventies. Dr. Moody's research into the phenomenon of neardeath experience had its start in the 1960's. Author of eleven books including Life After Life which has sold over 13 million copies world wideand Reunions, as well as numerous articles in academic and professional literature, Dr. Moody continues to capture enormous public interest and generate controversy with his groundbreaking work on the neardeath experience and what happens when we die. Dr. Moody received the World Humanitarian Award in Denmark in 1988. He was also honored with a bronze medal in the Human Relations category at the New York Film Festival for the movie version of Life After Life.
P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D. is one of the original researchers in the field of neardeath studies, having begun her work in 1978. Today, her contribution to the field is considered one of the best. She has written nine books on her findings: "Coming Back to Life," "Beyond the Light," "Future Memory," "Children of the New Millennium," The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near Death Experiences," "The New Children and NearDeath Experiences," "We Live Forever," "Beyond the Indigo Children," and "The Big Book of NearDeath Experiences." According to Atwater, this last book covers the entire field, 360 degrees, with the latest material in it. It is written for busy people on the go, so it is enjoyable as well as informative. This book is especially important for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Some of her findings have now been clinically verified (the Dutch Study published in "Lancet" medical journal 121501, and the Bon enfant Study done in Medical Centers in Florida, published in the "Journal of NearDeath Studies," among others). She has recently been presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Transpersonal Hypnotists, and the Outstanding Service Award and achievement tribute from the International Association For NearDeath Studies.
Penny Sartori, who works at Singleton and Morriston Hospitals in Swansea, has 15 accounts, mainly from heart attack patients, of neardeath experiences.
They include outofbody occurrences, reports of a tunnel leading to a bright light and meeting dead loved ones.
Ms Sartori decided to launch her formal study in 1998 after working closely with criticallyill patients throughout the 1990s and discovering there was very little reference data available for nurses and other healthcare workers.
She spent five years compiling the study, three years writing it up and two years preparing it for publication. The book is called Near Death Experiences of Hospitalized Intensive Care Patients, a Five Year Clinical Study .
She found that people who went through outofbody experiences floated above themselves and were able to accurately recount what had happened in the room even though they were unconscious and their eyes were closed.
"People also reported traveling down a tunnel towards a bright light," she said.
"Some reported meeting a figure who told them their time had not yet come, and others said they met dead relatives and communicated with them by telepathy."
In another case a patient reported encountering a dead relative who gave a message to pass on to another member of the family who was still alive.
Ms Sartori said the information had stunned the receiver because it had been a secret and it was impossible the patient had prior knowledge of it.
Neardeath experiences were typically often explained away as the effect of endorphins, abnormal blood gases or low oxygen levels, she said.
However, the study measured these and took them into account when researching the patients' reports.
"All the current skeptical arguments against neardeath experiences were not supported by the research," she said.
In one case a criticallyill patient, who also had cerebral palsy, awoke from a neardeath experience able to use his right arm normally, even though it had been bent and contracted since birth.
"It shouldn't have been possible without an operation to release his tendons, but he could open his arm freely," said Ms Sartori.
Some patients reported floating back into their bodies after nearly dying, and for others it was a sudden snap back.
"Some patients reported having their entire lives flash by them in an instant," she said.
While she found 15 patients reporting neardeath experiences, Ms Sartori believes it could be more common but that some patients' ability to recall the event fails shortly after they pass the critical episode and regain consciousness, like a dreamer forgets a dream.
She now intends to continue her research into the phenomenon and is developing a private theory, not included in her book, about what could be happening to these patients.
"I don't think it's quite as simple as life after death," she said.
"It's what consciousness is and how we define it. We are entering an exciting time researching consciousness.
"Current science says it is a byproduct of the brain. But it may be that consciousness is around us and the brain might be a mediator, an antenna, instead of controlling consciousness.
"It is a fascinating subject and I'm looking forward to continuing my research," she added.
My (Dr Melvin Morse) original research, and subsequent studies by others, have documented that the near death experience is real. This understanding, that death is in fact a dynamic spiritual event in which the dying are frequently fully conscious, has profound implications for the living.
Nothing less than a new scientific paradigm is at hand, one that will transform human culture as surely as the birth of written language. I want to be an active part in the birth of this new paradigm.
Areas I am interested in include:
1. Using spiritual experiences in facilitating healthy grieving and healing.
2. Understanding the importance of the near death experience in transforming our approach to death and dying.
3. Continuing to document and develop an understanding of the neurobiology of the spiritual and near death experience. Consider, for example, the development of written language. The human brain evolved tens of thousands of years before humans developed writing; yet we have specific brain structures associated with written language! The more we document the science of spiritual brain function, the better we will understand its purpose in our ordinary lives.
4. Work with other professionals and especially students and graduate students to continue to develop a body of research that will eventually reach critical mass and catalyze the new paradigm that is coming.
5. Understand how intuition, the art of split second decision making, is related to the near death experience and spiritual experiences in general. My current research with police officers, FBI agents, and executives of major corporations indicates that intuition may well be a type of mediumistic experience.
6. Learning how to differentiate true spiritual insight from anxietyprovoked reactions to stress and fear and how to rely on our intuition in our ordinary lives.
In van Lommel's opinion, the current materialistic view of the relationship between the brain and consciousness held by most physicians, philosophers and psychologists is too restricted for a proper understanding of this phenomenon. There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain: consciousness can also be experienced separately from the body.
Pim van Lommel (1943) worked as a cardiologist in the Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem in the Netherlands from 1977 to 2003. Since 2003 he has lectured all over the world on NDE and the relationship between consciousness and brain function. For further reading please access the following link www.pimvanlommel.nl .
Endless Consciousness is scheduled to be published in 2010 by Harper Collins USA .
The NDERF web site is one of the highest ranked web site among the major search engines for the term "near death experience", and the web site has over 60,000 hits (page views) monthly. NDERF has 11 original NDE research papers posted. A recent major project of NDERF is to translate NDEs and NDE related material into foreign languages. Currently NDEs and NDE related material is available in 22 different foreign languages on NDERF. Readers from over 70 different foreign countries access the NDERF web site monthly.
Dr. Jeff is a physician practicing the specialty of radiation oncology (use of radiation to treat cancer) in Tacoma, Washington. Dr. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors of IANDS (International Association for NearDeath Studies), and is actively involved in NDE research. Dr. Jeff developed this web site.
The website www.nderf.org lists many stories.
Susan Blackmore has written various articles on NDEs. Blackmore,S.J. 1991 NearDeath Experiences: In or out of the body? Skeptical Inquirer 16 3445 is one of these articles and more can be found on her website www.susanblackmore.co.uk. Furthermore, she wrote a book called Dying to Live and the following piece is published on the Answers.com website:
People who come close to death and survive often report remarkable experiences. Feelings of peace, happiness, and even joy are common, which seems paradoxical in the circumstances. Many survivors report having rushed down a dark tunnel towards a bright light although the tunnel itself can look like anything from tiny stars or spirals of light, to the inside of a sewer pipe or an underground cave. In one study, about a third of neardeath survivors reported out of body experiences, in which they seemed to leave their body and were able to watch what was happening from a distance, as though as an impartial observer. Less often they recalled leaving the scene of (near) death and traveling elsewhere. Finally, some people report wonderful heavenly scenes, peopled with angels, spiritual beings, or deceased friends and relatives. Less commonly they arrive at some kind of barrier and have to decide to return, or not. A small proportion report a 'life review' in which scenes from their life flash before their inner eyes, often all at once, or with no sense of passing time. This life review is sometimes remembered as an ordeal, with religious figures making judgments in a great book, but it can be purely personal, leading to calm acceptance and a reevaluation of one's life and deeds.
Mahendra Perera, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., M.D., MRCPsych, FRANZCP, is Consultant Psychiatrist at the Albert Road Clinic in Melbourne, Australia. Gayan Padmasekara is a medical student at Monash University in Clayton, Australia. John Belanti, B.S.W., is a mental health social worker at Broadmeadows Adult Mental Health in Broadmeadows, Australia.
Abstract: In the literature surveyed we found only two articles that dealt with the prevalence of near death experiences (NDEs) in a general population. The first study, from the United States, reported NDEs in 15 percent of the population. In a more strictly controlled study from Germany, the rate was 4 percent. The present study was performed to ascertain the prevalence of NDEs in Australia. We developed a questionnaire and administered it by telephone interview. We determined that 8 percent of the population reported an NDE. There was a 36 percent prevalence of people who had faced a situation of imminent death, almost onefourth of whom reported an NDE.
(2) Roy Morgan Research, Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion polling company, was founded in 1941 by Roy Morgan. Since then, Roy Morgan Research has grown and prospered. While originally specialising in public opinion, corporate image and media measurement, the company has expanded to cover all aspects of market research information gathering whether by personal interviews, the telephone, selfadministered or the Internet.
(3) Letter to Health Care Provider, The International Association for Near Death Studies, Inc., http://www.iands.org/downloads/mdletter.pdf
The International Association for NearDeath Studies, Inc. (IANDS) is the only professional organization in the world devoted exclusively to the study of neardeath and related experiences. IANDS publishes a peerreviewed journal and a member newsletter, and sponsors conferences for NDE experiencers, scholars, and the public. Date of incorporation: 1982. Founders: John Audette; Bruce Greyson, MD; Ken Ring, PhD; Michael Sabom, MD.
Sri Ramana Maharshi (December 30, 1879 April 14, 1950), born Venkataraman Iyer , was an Indian sage. At the age of 16 he attained enlightenment through a remarkable experience, as if undergoing death of the physical body while remaining in full consciousness.
(5) The Tibetan Book of the Dead , whose actual title is " The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State " or "Bardo Thodol", is traditionally believed to be the work of the legendary Padma Sambhava in the 8th century A.D. The book acts as a guide for the dead during the state that intervenes death and the next rebirth. He is considered to be one of the first persons to bring Buddhism to Tibet. The Bardo Thodol is a guide that is read aloud to the dead while they are in the state between death and reincarnation in order for them to recognize the nature of their mind and attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth.
Neoplatonism , one of the most influential philosophical and religious schools and an important rival of Christianity, was founded in the 3rd century ad by Ammonius Saccus and his more famous disciple Plotinus . Plotinus based his ideas on the mystical and poetic writings of Plato, the Pythagoreans, and Philo. The main function of philosophy, for him, is to prepare individuals for the experience of ecstasy, in which they become one with God. God, or the One, is beyond rational understanding and is the source of all reality. Human beings belong to two worlds, that of the senses and that of pure intelligence. Inasmuch as matter is the cause of all evil, the object of life should be to escape the material world of the senses, and hence people should abandon all earthly interests for those of intellectual meditation; by purification and by the exercise of thought people can gradually lift themselves to an intuition of the nous, and ultimately to a complete and ecstatic union with the Onethat is, God. Plotinus claimed to have experienced this divine ecstasy on several occasions during his life. Neoplatonism exerted a strong influence on medieval thought.
In Jacob's Ladder (film) , Louis the main character's friend and an island of calm within a hellish nightmare quotes Eckart: "You know what he [Eckart] said? The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of your life; your memories, your attachments. They burn 'em all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. ... If you're frightened of dying and holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth" (Rubin 1990, p. 82).
Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza ( November 24 , 1632 February 21 , 1677 ) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17thcentury philosophy , laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism . By virtue of his magnum opus , the posthumous Ethics , in which he opposed Descartes ' mindbody dualism, Spinoza is considered to be one of Western philosophy's most important philosophers.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 11 November 1855) was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian . Kierkegaard strongly criticized both the Hegelianism of his time, and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Danish church . Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church , Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices.
(11) A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course ) written by Dr. Helen Schucman and Dr. William Thetford describes a purely nondualistic approach to spirituality. It is neither new age, Christian, or religious, contrary to misinterpretations. Schucman dictated the book based on an inner voice, which she described as coming from a divine source, specifically Jesus Christ . The book uses traditional JudeoChristian terminology, but is not aligned to the doctrines of any religions or denominations. J. Gordon Melton notes that it has been most popular among those who have been disillusioned by organized Christianity. Since it first became available for sale in 1976, over 1.5 million copies have been sold worldwide in sixteen different languages.
The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught.