Life after death: true stories and scientific research
There is scientific evidence - life after death is real
A patient in the last moments of life lies on an operating room table. Perhaps there has been an unexpected cardiac arrest - a heart attack - during surgery, or a sudden aneuryism or seizure, or a terrible accident that has brought someone to the brink of death. The heart stops, brain function slows to a crawl, the doctors prepare for emergency action, and a possible end to the patient's life. While they are working, the patient is having what has been called a "near death experience."
When, after heroic measures, the patient is brought back to life, he or she has memories of strange events, visions of a body on a table, and much more. The patient keeps the experience to him or her self for the moment, but feels somehow changed as a result of the events witnessed, unafraid of dying, recharged with a certainty that life has a purpose and that death is not the end. Sooner or later, he or she will tell someone the story of what happened during the experience, and why it was life-changing.
The near-death experience has become a part of our cultural knowledge base due to the efforts of a number of important writers. Early books on NDEs, as it was called, developed the terminology and described the common elements of the experience. Dr. Raymond Moody was the first author out of the gate in 1975, and he even coined the term "near death experience," starting a line of research and investigation that continues to this day. His work, and that of other early writers and researchers like P.M. Atwater and Melvin Morse, focused on collecting accounts of NDEs from the people who had the experiences. These pioneers carefully recorded the NDE stories, tabulated commonalities, and noted exceptions and unique journeys. They also tried to counter the arguments that either were already being put forth or were anticipated against the reality and implications of the NDE.
One of Dr. Moody's most important contributions to the NDE literature was the discovery of the common elements, characteristics, or stages of the NDE. After years of investigation and analysis of NDEdescriptions, he arrived at a set of "standard" components of the experience. He always emphasized that not everyone's NDE had the same elements in the same order, but that these were a template of sorts for the whole passage:
1. Ineffability - The entire experience is difficult to put into words, and the limitations of language must be remembered. People are attempting to describe something that is repeatedly called "indescribable."
2. Hearing the news - People recall hearing such statements "this is the last chance," or "let's try one more time," or "he's dead, time is 2:56 PM." Later, medical personnel verify the exact words that were used.
3.Peace, quiet, serenity - Even in the most painful of accidents or other circumstances, it is commonly reported that there is no pain, but an intense feeling of tranquility and rightness.
4. Sounds - Most NDErs report hearing a sound like rushing waters or swarms of buzzing insects, while others describe it as bells or flutes - but all agree it is beautiful and calming.
5. The Tunnel - Maybe one of the most well-known stages of the NDE is the passage through a tunnel that is dark, usually at an increasing speed.
6. Being out of the body - This can happen at different times during the beginning of the NDE, but the common description is an awareness of being conscious but separate fronm the physical body. NDErs often report seeing their bodies lying on the surgical table or wherever they left it.
7. Encounters - At some point the experience involves either meeting relatives and loved ones who have died, other spiritual beings. or both. Recognition and joy is usually felt and expressed by all participants.
8. The Light - The other well-known component of NDEs is the brilliant, loving, all-pervading light, variously described as an angel, God, Jesus, specific deity of another religion, or just the universal energy - the Force, if you will.
9. Life review - As in the proverbial life flashing in front of the eyes, this is a 3D, holographic, instantaneous review of the person's life from a third-person point of view. Non-judgemental and objective, it can have a range of effects on the NDEr from pleasant to excruciating.
10. Point of no return - Described variously as a river, a border, an edge, a boundary of some kind, the experiencer knows that this is the place where life as he or she knew it actually ends.
11. The return - A choice is made to not pass the limit and to return to the body.
So what does it all mean? For those who accept NDEs as proof that consciousness can survive bodily death, the implications are of course enormous. Death is an illusion, life is a continuum rather than an isolated, meaningless event, and we all live more than one life. For those who insist that the end of the body is the end of consciousness, the reports of NDErs, while true to the extent that they are not fabrications, nevertheless have perfectly logical and verifiable explanations that do not prove survival of anything after death - when we die, life is over, and no matter what an NDE might suggest, there is no afterlife.
Moody took pains to refute most of the standard arguments against the validity of NDEs in his first book and in those that followed. While his efforts have continued, others have taken up the gauntlet to show that while NDEs cannot be shown to be actual predictions of an afterlife - no one has come back from the point of no return in a scientifically provable way - there is plenty of evicdence that there is something very real going on. Unfortunately, much of this evidence remains suppressed by a scientific establishment hopelessly enmeshed in materialism. It is almost a truism today that one can't be an academically accepted, reputable scientist and allow any sort of ambiguity regarding such areas as telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, channeling, remote viewing, or mediumship, among others. These are simply not subjects of interest or investigation by reputable mainstream scientists, and anyone who dabbles in them in any way has been suspect.
However, things started changing with the new millenium. As research into the nature of consciousness has proceeded, it has become more possible to conduct actual research into NDEs, and past research that supports non-materialism can be openly discussed and more easily accepted. More recent books on NDEs