Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife
The near-death experience (NDE) is a popular meme in our society, referenced with visions of white light at the end of a tunnel, faces of deceased loved ones, life flashing before one’s eyes. These stereotypes are surprisingly similar to the large body of reported NDE cases, which themselves are startlingly consistent.
Irreducible Mind (a scholarly work on the mind-body problem I mentioned previously) details the compelling NDE of a woman who underwent surgery to remove a life-threatening brain aneurysm. Her eyes were taped shut and her ears plugged with molded earphones emitting loud (95 dB, power lawnmower) clicking noises. She was placed under anesthesia and her heart and brain were stopped and drained of blood. Despite and during all this, she could accurately describe the unusual saw used to open her skull, a nurse’s comments on the smallness of her veins and arteries, and the ironic line from “Hotel California” playing in the background: You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
The patient also described the sensation of “being pulled along a ‘tunnel vortex’ toward a light.” She saw and heard dead relatives who told her she needed to go back to her body. She claimed she felt “the most aware that I think I have ever been in my life,” with vision “brighter and more focused and clearer than normal,” and “a clearer hearing than with my ears” (and she’s a musician!).
How can ears plugged with a lawnmower hear a person’s voice? Furthermore, how can a brain dead to the world hear anything at all? If the mind is merely a function of the physical brain, how can a dying brain support a mind experiencing unprecedented clarity?
Michael Newton’s Journey of Souls suggests that NDEs such as this are in fact the first steps of the afterlife experience. The tunnel is the portal to the realm Newton’s subjects describe in great detail. Familiar souls greet the deceased or near-dead, welcoming or turning them back, respectively. The review of a lifetime of memories is used to reflect on lessons learned as well as best practices for future lifetimes. In future posts I’ll examine this between-life realm as described in a variety of sources.
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