If you have had an NDE, what sort of body was it you found yourself in as you exited your material one? All NDErs have problems with this question as the spirit body is fundamentally different to a material body. It is more ethereal, in accord with what Jesus said to the disciples about a spirit not having flesh and bones – meaning that the spirit body is in no way material (Luke 24:39). Nevertheless, it retains sufficient individual characteristics that the NDEr feels at home in it, and others in the spirit world can easily recognise it. Some NDErs make surprising observations, such as those of RaNelle Wallace 16 whose body had been terribly burnt before death as a consequence of an airplane crash. She observed:
My hand was clear, like transparent gel, but there was light coursing through it like clear blood. But, the light didn’t run in irregular patterns as it would in veins; rather, the light shot through my hands like rays or beams. My whole hand sparkled with light. I looked down and saw that my feet also sparkled with light. And I noticed again that they weren’t burned. My feet and hands were perfect and whole.
Crystal McVea 17 gives a thoughtful description of her spirit body:
I was aware I no longer had a physical body. I had left it behind. I was now in spirit form. I never examined my form, I was just aware of it – just like we know we have ten toes without having to see them!
My spirit form was not a form as we know it, with defined edges and shapes, but it was still very much a form, and I was very much a presence.
And even without a physical body, I knew that I was still ‘me’. The same me that had existed on Earth, the same me that had just told my mother I loved her before I died.
The fact that the ‘me-ness’ continues demonstrates the fact that the soul accompanies the spirit into the afterlife. Other reports harmonise with Crystal’s in her description below, that they perceive themselves more clearly than ever before:
Unlike on Earth, where I was plagued by doubts and fears, in Heaven [Paradise] there was nothing but absolute certainty about who I was. This was a far more complete representation of my spirit and my heart and my being than was ever possible on Earth, a far deeper self-awareness than the collection of hopes and fears and dreams and scars that had defined me during my life. I was flooded with self-knowledge, and all the junk that cluttered my identity on Earth instantly fell away, revealing, for the first time ever, the real me.
‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,’ God says in Jeremiah 1:5. And now I knew myself!
Imagine that – the first person we meet in Heaven is ourselves!
Dr Mary Neal 4 is an astute and thoughtful analyst of her NDE helped by her scientific and medical training on Earth. She confirms and adds to Crystal’s observations that spirit bodies are not clearly defined, and that information is communicated differently, faster and more completely – but directly into the soul without the need of language – telepathically!
They appeared as formed shapes, but not with the absolute and distinct edges of the formed physical bodies we have on Earth. Their edges were blurred, as each spiritual being was dazzling and radiant. Their presence engulfed all of my senses, as though I could see, hear, feel, smell and taste them all at once. Their brilliance was both blinding and invigorating. We did not speak, per se, but easily communicated in a very pure form. We simultaneously communicated our thoughts and emotions, and understood each other perfectly, even though we did not use language.
This complete telepathic communication is described in thousands of NDEs. RaNelle Wallace 16 portrays its strange nature:
I found that Grandmother and I could think on several levels at once and communicate them all simultaneously. You can’t know something without knowing everything around it, what causes it, what sustains it.
Knowledge dovetails in the spirit world, each piece fitting with other pieces. Every fact connected to it is seen instantly, in totality. We have nothing like it on Earth. We can’t even approach it. Our knowledge and ability to communicate is like a child’s who hasn’t yet learned a language.
A further unexpected feature is the spirit body being invisible to our natural eyes, such that friends, paramedics and others on Earth cannot see you even if you try to catch their attention. Light seems to pass right through the spirit without being reflected or refracted, which makes it transparent to the natural eyes of those left behind on Earth.
Numerous NDErs have said they did not notice much about their spirit bodies because they had become so caught up with the fascinating events around them. Others have said its composition appeared to be wispy and slightly bluish, like thin smoke – one NDEr described dead relatives as if they were wearing light blue gowns. It may be that a spirit is composed of substances as yet unknown on Earth, rather than simply an energy imprint as some have guessed.
Finally, Raymond Moody 18 mentions other unexpected features of the spiritual body, as described by NDErs of those they meet: an amputee has the leg or arm restored, and the spirit person appears in general in robust health aged somewhere between 25 to 35 years old, although those who have died as youths may appear still as young people.
New Senses and Abilities
Whatever its composition, the spirit body’s senses are more acute than ever. Faster cognition; deeper logic, greater clarity of thought; superior overall visual perception and other highly developed capacities are commonly described. Among a large sample of near-death experiencers, 80 percent described their thinking during the NDE as clearer than usual. This all demonstrates the poverty of any model that suggests the dying brain is producing the NDE effects!
The nature of vision in the spirit body undergoes immediate change. PJ 6 died for a brief time while in class at school and found herself floating outside the building looking back at the classroom windows.
I am passive but comfortable and very aware of the colours and details of this ordinary landscape before me – unlike a dream, this landscape reflects the type of day it was before I fainted: sunny, blue skies, afternoon, locals. The colours are extra vivid, the sensation of being aware fully of this day and landscape all encompassing. I take in the scene all at once, not just what is before me but around me and behind me.
Then I am aware of the class change bell ringing and I observe students walking from one of the outlet school buildings towards the main building. The thing that I find curious about this later is that as I focus on these students, I do not see them with the same sense of recognition that I did in regular awareness – instead a part of me – my vision, I think – telescopes right up to them while the rest of me remains back at the same vantage point in the air. I am aware of what each particular student that I focus on is thinking and feeling – in fact I sense what it is to be that person.
Her observations that she could sense what was going on all around her, even behind her, is a common feature of the spirit body, as is the ability to sense the thoughts and the feelings of people observed. Her projection of her new sensory capabilities, her ‘telescopic sensing’, is also recorded elsewhere. ‘I just can’t understand how I could see so far,’ a returnee said. ‘It seemed as if this spiritual sense had no limitations, as if I could look anywhere and everywhere.’ This zoom effect could be operated at will.
As mentioned previously, blind or partially blind people on Earth can see perfectly in the afterlife. Rev. Juliet Nightingale’s NDE happened in the mid-1970s – and is recorded on Kevin Williams’ NDE webpage (2015):
There was never any sense of hunger, thirst, weariness or pain. Such things never entered my mind, in fact! Alas, I was pure consciousness, embodied in a light and ethereal form, travelling about … or being still and observing intently … and always in a state of awe. It was such a glorious sensation where I experienced such calm and a profound sense of peace and constant trust. I also experienced no blindness, (as I do with my physical eyes being legally blind), and what a sense of awe and wonder – to be able to see!
Vision and other senses occur without using the brain. Eyes and ears are no longer needed because the soul and spirit absorb information directly, which is why vision can be peripheral and not solely directional. Why then does the spirit body retain eyes, ears, nose and other organs? Since they do not appear to be used in an earthly manner, these may be for recognition of that person by other spirits in the afterlife. Also, they may be used again, when the spirit is re-embodied before the final Judgement. Our incorruptible resurrected bodies in eternity, we are told, will be like that of Jesus, who after his resurrection interacted socially. He was readily recognised on most occasions, spoke to others, commented on things, and even cooked and ate fish (John 21:9-13; Luke 24:28-30, Luke 24:40).
The spirit perceives its surroundings differently: In many ways it is as if our five senses have been magnified and speeded up – for example vast amounts of information can be transmitted telepathically very quickly. A brain with all its complex biology is no longer required to absorb information, which is instead absorbed directly into the soul and spirit. An unusual feature appears to be that emotions cannot be hidden, but are readily perceived by other spirits.
Furthermore, the mind becomes clearer and more alert, able to think faster and do accurate calculations with greater facility. The researcher Dr Richard Kent 19 has confirmed the enhanced precision with which OBErs using their new senses remember detail, often despite the flatlining of brainwaves: ‘Patients accurately report details of car accidents, operating theatres, emergency rooms, and hospital staff. Patients even report conversations whilst their heart has stopped and they are being resuscitated. Some patients have accurately reported details of drugs administered, the time on clocks, details about hospital staff who appeared on the scene only after they had a cardiac arrest, and even details of the roof of hospitals.’ The point is that these same patients would not in normal circumstances recall these details with such clarity as during their OBEs.
Spirit Interactions With Earth
Interactions between the spirit body and our physical world are problematic. Generally, there is no physical interaction in that spirits cannot grasp objects or speak or be heard, which is often very frustrating to them.
Dr A S Wiltse 20 described his NDE in 1889. He stated that his spirit body made contact with one of the men in the room. ‘To my surprise, his arm passed through mine without apparent resistance, the severed parts closing again without pain as air reunites. I looked quickly up at his face to see if he had noticed the contact, but he gave me no sign. I directed my gaze in the direction of his and saw my own dead body.’ Incidentally, Dr Wiltse had an amusing response after his spirit finally returned into his body and he revived: ‘I was in the body, and in astonishment and disappointment, I exclaimed, “What in the world has happened to me? Must I die again?”’
However, repeated effort has been known to enable a spirit to have a limited interaction with the material world. Jazmyne Cidavia-DeRepentigny 21 of Hull, Georgia, describes her efforts:
I was floating over my body. I could see and hear everything that was being said and done. I left the room for a short while and then returned to where my body lay. I knew why I died; it was because I couldn’t breathe: there was a tube down my throat and the medical staff did not have an oxygen mask on my nose. I had also been given too much anaesthetic.
In my out-of-body state, I’m using my mind to try and make my right arm and hand move – my arms are extended parallel to my physical body. I want my right hand to move, anything to move – I was trying to pull the tube out of my mouth. I looked down at my face and tears were streaming. One of the nurses blotted the tears from my face but she didn’t notice my breathing had stopped, nor did she see me [Jazmyne’s spirit] next to her. At this point, I’m trying really hard to make my physical arm move, but it’s like my whole body is made of lead.
Cidavia-DeRepentigny’s determination in her out-of-body state to make an arm move finally paid off; and, with great clamour and commotion, the tube was pulled out, an oxygen mask attached, and her breathing restored.
Her experience is especially interesting for another reason; it demonstrates that the physical body can still be functioning, such as crying, while the primary seat of consciousness has left the physical body and has joined the spirit body.
While spirit bodies do not interact readily with material objects still on Earth, it is important not to confuse this with interactions between spiritual beings. A spirit body can feel interaction with another. For example, Mary Neal 4 recalls:
A feeling of absolute love was palpable as these spiritual beings and I hugged, danced and greeted each other. The intensity, depth, and purity of these feelings and sensations were far greater than I could ever describe with words, and far greater than anything I have experienced on Earth.
Richard Wright 1 provides us with a different example. In his case, dead relatives came to meet him:
My mother-in-law, who had died about 11 years previously, came up to me and hugged me. She said, ‘When you get back, give this (hug) to my baby.’
It was then that I turned around and saw my body lying in the Emergency Room!
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