Religious Founders in NDEs.
If a figure is seen within the radiant light encountered during an NDE, some NDErs make an assumption about who that figure is. However, this person hardly ever identifies himself. On the rare occasions he does, it is interesting that the Being of Light does not seem to identify himself as Brahma, Shiva, Buddha, Krishna, Vishnu, Mohammad, Allah, Matreya – or any of the other religious gods or spiritual leaders that people follow. He has however identified himself to a growing number of NDErs as Jesus – usually to those who are Christians already, but also to unbelievers.
This is perhaps the most startling fact of all about NDEs, that only one founder of a world religion seems to make an identifiable appearance – Jesus Christ.
Lest the statement above sounds like my Christian bias, let’s hear from David Sunfellow 21, who heads up the NHNE research site and appears to me to lean towards a New Age interpretation of NDEs. He summarises his observations regarding Jesus:
It is only a matter of time before you start to notice something quite remarkable: ‘Hey, there sure are a lot of parallels between what Jesus said and did and what a growing number of NDErs are reporting today.’ There are, in fact, so many common threads that I personally believe there is no other spiritual leader, teacher, master that embodies the core elements of NDEs more fully than Jesus.
With over 4000 NDE reports published on the Internet, the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) website is another rich resource for probing important questions. Jody Long, who maintains its website, has investigated the known identities of persons met in the afterlife. She found that Jesus Christ was most commonly encountered. Apart from Jesus, no other founder of a religion was reported. NDERF is not a Christian website, so these results must assume unbiased credibility. (NDERF state on their webpage 22: ‘We do not allow proselytizing. We welcome and encourage all people of all backgrounds, nationalities, countries, and religions to read and participate on the website.’)
A little perplexed by this, I wrote the following in April 2014 to Dr Jeffrey Long as the founder of NDERF:
I (Ivan) have read in several books the principle that during an NDE the NDEr may see religious figures from their own religion e.g. Islamists see Mohammed, Buddhists see Buddha etc. I have skirted your web page accounts and those of IANDS without finding any of these accounts in the thousands of reports. So is this a theory without experiential support, or can you direct me to what you believe are valid confirmatory accounts, please?
Dr Long kindly responded:
I am aware of those who have written that non-Christian NDErs see religious figures from their own religion, but those who wrote that generally gave no examples to support this. Jesus makes a regular appearance in NDEs. I have over 100 NDEs that encountered or were aware of Jesus in their experiences.
And so, for the present, I must reject the model that claims people see in the Figure of Light whoever it is that they suppose to be their religion’s founder – that Buddhists will see Buddha etc. Exceptions may be found amongst pre-NDErs, whose dreams and visions are certainly culturally and religiously influenced, and whose hallucinations may include any number of religious symbols or beings, as described in Chapter 3. My supposition is that the Figure of Light is encountered too deeply in the genuine spirit world to give rise to the inaccurate or hallucinatory.
I believe the inaccurate view regarding the appearance of religious leaders in NDEs has arisen because of misidentification by the NDEr, or through fluffy New Age and paranormal hopes that all religions are equal and simply different ways to approach God. The evidence from reported NDEs does not support the New Age view.
For interest, I looked further at the only NDE that I could find after prolonged searching that claimed all religions see their own leader. I applied internal and external tests for being a reliable witness to that claimant, who failed dismally in both dimensions. His account is almost certainly false. Consequently, until a number of reliable witnesses begin saying the same thing, I must discount that hypothesis.
Because Jesus is the only founder of a religion identified to make an appearance during NDEs, and because he has been reported to do so by a wide spectrum of NDErs of differing beliefs, it is prudent to consider his interactions with NDErs in more detail.
Fortunately, most children have not been prejudiced against Jesus from a young age, so we can take heart from research into what they say they have experienced. PMH Atwater 23 notes that pictures of the ‘holy one’ seen in the afterlife demonstrate a strange consistency amongst children of mixed cultures, indicating his reality to them even when words cannot be found by the young children to describe him.
It is striking that child experiencers of near-death states tend not to mix up racial skin tones, as do adults. Example: most Western children that I am aware of see Jesus as light brown, not white. It is the adults who sometimes see Jesus as white-skinned. Where this situation gets fascinating is when you invite experiencers to draw the high holy one/religious figure who visited them. To a person, you cannot tell the difference between a drawing from someone in the State of Wyoming from one done in Thailand or Israel or Russia or China or Nigeria. Patterning holds; differences in patterning only concern a few details of dress and behaviour. That’s it.
This ‘holy one’ looks to me like Jesus in pictures I have seen, and a number of children have identified him to be so later when looking at pictures in Bibles or elsewhere, which pictures, however stylised, generally try to depict the robes and the beards of first century Jewish men.
Jesus in NDEs
Here are brief extracts from just a small sample of the NDEs that record an encounter with Jesus. I have not tried to discover the religious beliefs of the NDErs who have related these encounters; my emphasis has now shifted to ‘who is this Jesus who appears in NDEs?’
Jesus seems to change his representation of himself such that he appears to NDErs in a way that does not frighten them. This puts new arrivals at ease and allows them to relax quickly while being with him. Descriptions sometimes go beyond the physical presentation to the mysterious nature of Jesus, as in this one given by Dr Mary Neal 24.
His hair was long. His features were indistinct. I don’t know how to describe this, but my impression of his appearance was that of love (yes, I realise we don’t typically ‘see’ love, but as I said, I don’t know how to describe this phenomenon of ‘seeing’ something we would normally ‘feel’). He conveyed the impression of complete love, compassion, kindness, and infinite patience.
Each of the following examples of Jesus in NDEs illustrates something different about him.
Susan 25 was an anorexic who had kidney failure:
Then Grandma asked me if I wanted to go and see Jesus. I literally screamed, “YES!!!”
The second I saw him I started to cry. I could feel his compassion for me. He comforted me as I told him how people on Earth had wronged me because of my condition and how I had suffered with anorexia. He was so, so kind. He told me that he knew all of that and that it was going to be all right.
I asked him if he promised and he said, ‘Yes.’
I told him something that maybe I shouldn’t have. I said to him, ‘You are a very handsome man.’
He just laughed. Then I laughed. It was such a great time.
I noted his appearance. He was about 5’9” and probably weighed about 150 pounds. He was slim, with dark brown hair and brown eyes.
There were so many people around him; but, and this is what touches me so much, I was able to go right to him and talk to him. It’s not like it would be here. You can’t just go up to someone that important and talk to them. But with Jesus you can.
He then told me to go back and tell everyone what I had seen. I said I would (but didn’t, for some years). Then he hugged me. It felt like a million volts of electricity going through my body from his hug, I couldn’t stand up because of the intense power I felt coming from him.
Susan’s return was accompanied by a healing – she began eating normally right away, and further tests showed that her kidneys had been healed:
Now, nine years later, I went from weighing 64 to 135 pounds. I have never had any kidney problems or any other kind of health problems that anorexia can cause. I am fine. I am healthy.
Lynn 26 was just 13 years old:
I knew this light was Christ. I leaned against it for one moment and then asked my question. ‘Dear Jesus, is it true that you gave me this heart condition so that I would have a cross to carry like you did?’ Sister Agnes, my sixth-grade teacher, had told me that my heart condition was my cross to bear from Christ.
I heard the voice of Christ vibrate through me as he said, ‘No, this heart condition of yours is not a cross from me for you to bear. This heart condition is a challenge to help you grow and stay compassionate. Now, go back.’
As I walked back, my grandmother told me that my father was going to leave my mother and that I would be my mother’s strength.
Sadly, her father did leave her mother as Lynn had been forewarned during her NDE, but she had been prepared for the trauma and challenges. She proved to be sufficiently compassionate to fulfil this demanding mission for one so young.
Vavita Jones 27 was feeling devastated by her Life Review:
Then Jesus’ hand touched me, and I was able to get back on my feet because I had previously had no strength.
Taking me by the hand, he led me to the side of a main arena. He looked into my eyes, into my soul, and I knew he knew and understood everything I felt. When he looked into me, it was with more love than I ever thought possible for anyone to know. He smiled, one look letting me know everything would be all right.
With this reassuring look he led me to one side. He stepped away from me and went alone into the light. Where Christ’s light ended and God the Father’s began, I cannot say. They both gave off light and their light was the same light. I will never forget this as long as I live.
When Christ had stepped away from me, he turned sideways and stretched out his arms as a bridge. One arm extended to me, and one to the Father. His arms were extended as if they were making a cross and a bridge to cross over. It was like a visual representation of the scripture: ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all’ (1 Tim. 2:5-6). God is on one side, and all people are on the other side: Jesus himself is between human beings and his Father to bring them to him.
Vavita had a problem with insecurity, especially after her Life Review. What would they decide about her? She listened carefully as Jesus and Father God communed over her case.
Jesus said, ‘My blood is sufficient. She’s mine.’
When he said that, all the doubts about my unworthiness disappeared. I jumped up and down, shouting and rejoicing. I have never been so happy in all my life! The kind of love I felt is beyond explanation. I kept saying, ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God. This is my mediator. This is my advocate.’ Just as I had read in the Bible.
Jesus came back to where I was and looked at me again with comforting love. We rejoiced together.
He went on teaching me and talking to me a lot, but I don’t recall the details. Now being so free and so loved, I never wanted to leave his side. I told him so, but a look in his eyes told me I had to return.
I asked, ‘Must I really leave?’
He looked at me with tenderness and said, ‘Yes, because there is a work I have for you to do.’
Vicki Umipeg 28, the blind lady we met in an earlier chapter, was one of those who met with Jesus during her NDE.
He greeted her tenderly.
He communicated telepathically to her: ‘Isn’t it wonderful? Everything is beautiful here, and it fits together. And you’ll find that. But you can’t stay here now. It’s not your time to be here yet and you have to go back.’
Vicki objected, ‘No, I want to stay with you!’
Vicki, being blind, had never seen a picture of Jesus, so her description is especially interesting.
I was real close to him. He actually hugged me. He embraced me, and I was very close to him. And I felt his beard and his hair. His hair wasn’t curly, but a bit coarse, dropping well below his shoulders.
And his eyes? What did they look like?
They were piercing eyes. It was like they permeated every part of me, but not in a mean way. It was like you couldn’t lie about anything, and he just looked everywhere and could see everything. And his beard had very bright lights in it. It was like lights came out of it. He had nothing on his feet. He had this kind of robe on that didn’t come all the way down to his feet.
Jesus reassured Vicki that she would come back, but that for now she had to return to Earth, ‘and learn, and teach more about loving and forgiving’. In addition, she should speak to people to ‘let them know of this day and tell them that I AM’. [This is his identification with the eternal divinity – as in John 8:58 – ‘Before Abraham was born, I AM’.]
Vicki did not want to return, but Jesus sweetened the pill by telling her she needed to go back to have her children, something Vicki desperately wanted.
Before sending Vicki back, Jesus led her through her visual Life Review gently, starting with her birth. At last she could see all the meaningful people in her life!
Since her return, Vicki has had the joy of mothering three children of her own. She is still blind, but only physically.
Howard Storm 29 called out to Jesus to rescue him from the Prison section of Hades, at which point a brilliant light appeared, within which he saw Jesus. His description of him was almost ecstatic and zeroed in on his eternal qualities:
He was King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Christ Jesus the Saviour. Jesus does love me, I thought. I experienced love in such intensity that nothing I had ever known before was comparable. His love was greater than all human love put together…
He was indescribably wonderful: goodness, power, knowledge, and love. He was more loving than one can begin to imagine or describe.
Dr Gerard Landry 27 is an anaesthesiologist and Christian. He had a fairly typical interaction with Jesus during his NDE. Jesus greeted him using his nickname ‘Gerry’ and told him he must return, giving him the inspiring news that he would be out of hospital in a week [he was].
Jesus left Gerry with an unusual final exhortation: ‘I want you to read the Gospel of John, the first two letters of John, and all of Revelation.’
‘Lord,’ I said, ‘why do you want me to do this?’
He said, ‘John is my friend. He knows all about my love.’
This is a good report to end with, because of Jesus’ emphasis – that Gerry should return to Earth to learn more about love. As we have seen, this is the most commonly reported instruction given to NDErs, whether or not they are of any religious persuasion.
The Book of Revelation that Jesus wanted Dr Landry to read describes more than God’s love; it gives fleeting glimpses of the future too, including visions of life in Heaven.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne (Revelation 7:9).
Every tribe, people and language will be represented in Heaven! If the Bible is to be taken as meaning precisely that, then there must be an aspect of Judgement based on more than a conscious allegiance given to Jesus Christ as a personal saviour while on Earth, because many tribes and peoples passed into history without ever hearing about him. For example, great civilisations came and went in South America without ever hearing about Christ because the gospel only arrived in the 1500s – and the situation is similar for all of the continents. A selection process for Heaven that explains thoroughly how God will accomplish this is probably beyond the scope of human religious analysis. I like the way the apologist Glenn Miller 30 describes this dilemma when considering biblical verses that promise a wide, international composition for Heaven’s future population:
So, whatever theory we come up with HAS TO ACCOUNT for a membership in heaven from every major group in history!
Notice that although I may not be able to come up with an explanation as to HOW this occurs, at least God points out that the extent of His work is not as limited as the objections might contend.
And so, how will God judge people on Judgement Day? Thankfully, we can leave that to him, knowing that as a loving and fair but holy God his judgements will be just and appropriate. NDEs are an intermediate state right now, between our deaths and resurrection, and can tell us nothing about the Judgement Day to come.
Jesus’ appearance to non-Christians in some NDEs, including to some who were trapped in the Prison section, and even to certain atheists, illustrates that he does not concern himself exclusively with Christians and Christianity; he is concerned with all people, just as he was when he walked on this planet. Most major religions recognise that Jesus on Earth was an inspired and holy person. Seeing that we live in an era of increasing availability of knowledge, it is time now for all people to read about Jesus and his teachings, and investigate his claims to be the saviour of the world.
Does that mean God is at work in this world for the benefit of all people? Of course. We are assured that after Jesus returned to Heaven, that God’s spirit was poured out on ‘all people’ (Acts 2:17), denoting all persons on Earth. It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss this exciting fact further, excepting to note that the commonalities in NDEs indicate that God is involved, albeit to a greater or lesser extent, in all of our lives, regardless of our race, culture or creed.
Certainly one significant overall intention God has in returning NDErs to Earth is to learn to love and appreciate others, whatever their nationality or religion, and thereby to adopt a more global perspective. On a deeper level, we are all made in the image of God and each person alive carries some of that image regardless of religious beliefs. Therefore loving others brings God himself into clearer focus. John, the “apostle of love”, expressed it like this, “whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1John 4:20). By loving people we learn to perceive and to love God more deeply.
But that is not the end of the story. Christians are people who are putting their faith in Jesus Christ and thankfully have escaped the everlasting repercussions arising from their sinfulness at the final Judgement of mankind. How? By each one personally accepting Christ’s substitutionary death on their behalf. Consequently, because their sins have been fully paid for, they can live in a personal relationship with God while still on Earth – and subsequently forevermore.
Does forgiveness automatically make Christians better than other people while on Earth? Of course not, although God’s spirit is always trying to help us to be better than we were before conversion. Frankly, a loving Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Sikh, Muslim or atheist may live a superior life and be a better person than a selfish Christian. Nevertheless, Christians do have access to something that other religions or philosophies seem to me to lack: which is an assurance regarding their salvation from the eternal consequences of their sins, and thereby an assurance too of an eternal future with God.
Christians believe this from many biblical teachings, for example they trust and depend on Jesus’ promise in John 5:24:
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.
One thing I am convinced of from the Bible, and have seen consistently affirmed in my study of NDEs, is this: The death of our bodies on Earth is not the end of us!
Through Jesus, and after the final Judgement, certain people from every race and ethnic group on Earth will somehow populate Heaven. They will be enjoying that wonderful place, learning about God and each other, and enjoying one another’s company.
God would love you to be there.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish