How to Identify a Genuine Near Death Experience?
My father had an NDE. He was a very practical and honest man, but not a churchgoer nor did he ever speak to us about spiritual matters, except once — after he had had that NDE. The family gathered around his bedside and he told us that death was not something to be feared and that there was life after death — but did not go into much detail about what had happened to him. I was still a child at the time but my curiosity was fired. Over the next 40 years I have spoken with many people and read a great deal of material, trying to get a handle on the experience. What, really, is going on?
Yesterday I received an email from a childhood friend, dealing with how NDEs could be the consequence of disturbances in hearing changes in the ear and brain at death. I responded that genuine NDEs had to be more than this because the brain remained with the corpse, but the activities described by many NDErs took place outside the brain. There always needs to be a clear distinction between a genuine NDE, when the consciousness has left the body, and brain activity, which often mimics certain of the NDE experiences but may be the result of graphic dreams, halucinations, drugs. flashbacks, oxygen deprivation or electric stimulation of certain parts of the brain… and more. In genuine NDEs, the consciousness (spirit) floats out of the body and a series of new afterlife experiences begins.
I will illustrate this distinction by describing the experience of a colleague of mine—Rhoda Fryer. I have her permission and she kindly typed out a detailed description of what happened to her. Rhoda died on the operating table in Cape Town, South Africa, and her consciousness watched from above while the nurses attended to her body lying below. Rhoda’s consciousness then turned down the corridor to where the surgeon and his assistant were scrubbing up in a separate room, and she was incensed to hear them discussing a fishing trip—surely as their responsibility she was more important than a fishing trip? The surgeon removed his wedding ring while she listened, and placed it where he would collect it later.
Rhoda ultimately recovered after a life-restoring operation. When the surgeon spoke with her during his post-operative round of the ward, his face drained of colour when Rhoda described the conversation in the wash-room, and he was convinced totally but bemused when she described his removal of his wedding ring and where he had placed it. Being smart, he knew at once that while her brain had been lying in the operating room, her consciousness had somehow joined him and his assistant down the passage in the small wash-room! This is how a genuine NDE works, separation of body and spirit, and I have collected many other examples over the years—but always enjoy hearing about further ones.
My study of NDEs over nearly 40 years convinced me that there is a great deal of confusion about them. There are many books, but mainly about individual experiences. I decided it was timely to write an analysis of what was really happening and why, which became my book “Living Beyond — Making Sense of Near Death Experiences”. From emails, it seems that it is helping confused returnees from an NDE, many of whom feel disorientated and traumatised. Emails received also identified a group of people I had not thought would be helped by the book; those who have had a recent bereavement.
When I write more soon on the topic of NDEs, I will deal with some of the more intense experiences described by returnees. Hope you will join me and invite some of your friends to also. Meanwhile, here is a link to an extract and comment on my book by Charisma magazine. Thank you Charisma!
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