Some People Were Dead For Several DaysRev. George Rodonaia's Unusual NDE
Natia Rodonaia-Peleaez, the daughter of Rev. George Rodonaia, has informed me that George passed away on October 12, 2004 due to heart failure. George suffered a massive heart attack in July and it was thought that he had recovered. The Reverend was on his way to fly to Dallas to tape an interview with Trinity Broadcasting about his NDE when he had a final heart attack and God called him Home. Natia would like to thank everyone who has shown an interest in him and his NDE. He will be deeply missed. George is survived by his wfie Nino, his daughter Natia, his son Greg, his son-in-law Martin, his grandson Levani, and his mother-in-law Nadia.
Rev. George Rodonaia underwent one of the most extended cases of a near-death experience ever recorded. Pronounced dead immediately after he was hit by a car in 1976, he was left for three days in the morgue. He did not "return to life" until a doctor began to make an incision in his abdomen as part of an autopsy procedure. Prior to his NDE he worked as a neuropathologist. He was also an avowed atheist. Yet after the experience, he devoted himself exclusively to the study of spirituality, taking a second doctorate in the psychology of religion. He then became an ordained priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He served as a pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Baytown, Texas.
Rev. George Rodonaia held an M.D. and a Ph.D. in neuropathology, and a Ph.D. in the psychology of religion. He delivered a keynote address to the United Nations on the "Emerging Global Spirituality." Before emigrating to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1989, he worked as a research psychiatrist at the University of Moscow. The following is a Dr. Rodonaia's experience in his own words from Phillip Berman's excellent book, The Journey Home.
The first thing I remember about my NDE is that I discovered myself in a realm of total darkness. I had no physical pain, I was still somehow aware of my existence as George, and all about me there was darkness, utter and complete darkness - the greatest darkness ever, darker than any dark, blacker than any black. This was what surrounded me and pressed upon me. I was horrified. I wasn't prepared for this at all. I was shocked to find that I still existed, but I didn't know where I was. The one thought that kept rolling through my mind was, "How can I be when I'm not?" That is what troubled me.
Slowly I got a grip on myself and began to think about what had happened, what was going on. But nothing refreshing or relaxing came to me. Why am I in this darkness? What am I to do? Then I remembered Descartes' famous line: "I think, therefore I am." And that took a huge burden off me, for it was then I knew for certain I was still alive, although obviously in a very different dimension. Then I thought, If I am, why shouldn't I be positive? That is what came to me. I am George and I'm in darkness, but I know I am. I am what I am. I must not be negative.
Then I thought, How can I define what is positive in darkness? Well, positive is light. Then, suddenly, I was in light; bright white, shiny and strong; a very bright light. I was like the flash of a camera, but not flickering - that bright. Constant brightness. At first I found the brilliance of the light painful, I couldn't look directly at it. But little by little I began to relax. I began to feel warm, comforted, and everything suddenly seemed fine.
The next thing that happened was that I saw all these molecules flying around, atoms, protons, neutrons, just flying everywhere. On the one hand, it was totally chaotic, yet what brought me such great joy was that this chaos also had its own symmetry. This symmetry was beautiful and unified and whole, and it flooded me with tremendous joy. I saw the universal form of life and nature laid out before my eyes. It was at this point that any concern I had for my body just slipped away, because it was clear to me that I didn't need it anymore, that it was actually a limitation.
Everything in this experience merged together, so it is difficult for me to put an exact sequence to events. Time as I had known it came to a halt; past, present, and future were somehow fused together for me in the timeless unity of life.
At some point I underwent what has been called the life-review process, for I saw my life from beginning to end all at once. I participated in the real life dramas of my life, almost like a holographic image of my life going on before me - no sense of past, present, or future, just now and the reality of my life. It wasn't as though it started with birth and ran along to my life at the University of Moscow. It all appeared at once. There I was. This was my life. I didn't experience any sense of guilt or remorse for things I'd done. I didn't feel one way or another about my failures, faults, or achievements. All I felt was my life for what it is. And I was content with that. I accepted my life for what it is.
During this time the light just radiated a sense of peace and joy to me. It was very positive. I was so happy to be in the light. And I understood what the light meant. I learned that all the physical rules for human life were nothing when compared to this unitive reality. I also came to see that a black hole is only another part of that infinity which is light.
I came to see that reality is everywhere. That it is not simply the earthly life but the infinite life. Everything is not only connected together, everything is also one. So I felt a wholeness with the light, a sense that all is right with me and the universe.
I could be anywhere instantly, really there. I tried to communicate with the people I saw. Some sensed my presence, but no one did anything about it. I felt it necessary to learn about the Bible and philosophy. You want, you receive. Think and it comes to you. So I participated, I went back and lived in the minds of Jesus and his disciples. I heard their conversations, experienced eating, passing wine, smells, tastes - yet I had no body. I was pure consciousness. If I didn't understand what was happening, an explanation would come. But no teacher spoke. I explored the Roman Empire, Babylon, the times of Noah and Abraham. Any era you can name, I went there.
So there I was, flooded with all these good things and this wonderful experience, when someone begins to cut into my stomach. Can you imagine? What had happened was that I was taken to the morgue. I was pronounced dead and left there for three days. An investigation into the cause of my death was set up, so they sent someone out to do an autopsy on me. As they began to cut into my stomach, I felt as though some great power took hold of my neck and pushed me down. And it was so powerful that I opened my eyes and had this huge sense of pain. My body was cold and I began to shiver. They immediately stopped the autopsy and took me to the hospital, where I remained for the following nine months, most of which I spent under a respirator.
Slowly I regained my health. But I would never be the same again, because all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was study wisdom. This new interest led me to attend the University of Georgia, where I took my second Ph.D., in the psychology of religion. Then I became a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eventually, in 1989, we came to America, and I am now working as an associate pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Nederland, Texas.
Many people have asked me what I believe in, how my NDE changed my life. All I can say is that I now believe in the God of the universe. Unlike many other people, however, I have never called God the light, because God is beyond our comprehension. God, I believe, is even more than the light, because God is also darkness. God is everything that exists, everything - and that is beyond our ability to comprehend at all. So I don't believe in the God of the Jews, or the Christians, or the Hindus, or in any one religion's idea of what God is or is not. It is all the same God, and that God showed me that the universe in which we live is a beautiful and marvelous mystery that is connected together forever and for always.
Anyone who has had such an experience of God, who has felt such a profound sense of connection with reality, knows that there is only one truly significant work to do in life, and that is love; to love nature, to love people, to love animals, to love creation itself, just because it is. To serve God's creation with a warm and loving hand of generosity and compassion - that is the only meaningful existence.
Many people turn to those who have had NDEs because they sense we have the answers. But I know this is not true, at least not entirely. None of us will fully fathom the great truths of life until we finally unite with eternity at death. But occasionally we get glimpses of the answer here on Earth, and that alone is enough for me. I love to ask questions and to seek answers, but I know in the end I must live the questions and the answers. But that is okay, isn't it? So long as we love, love with all our heart and passion, it doesn't matter, does it? Perhaps the best way for me to convey what I am trying to say is to share with you something the poet Rilke once wrote in a letter to a friend. I saw this letter, the original handwritten letter, in the library at Dresden University in Germany. (He quotes from memory, as follows:)
"Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek for the answers that cannot be given. For you wouldn't be able to live with them. And the point is to live everything, live the questions now, and perhaps without knowing it, you will live along some day into the answers."
George Rodonaia's Account of His Episode With an Infant During His NDE
More information concerning George's NDE account is described in Dr. Melvin Morse and Paul Perry's book entitled Transformed by the Light. Dr. Morse refers to George by his Russian name "Yuri". The following is an excerpt of Transformed by the Light which describes George's observation of an infant while George is out of his body.
"[During Yuri's NDE, he] could go visit his family. He saw his grieving wife and their two sons, both too small to understand that their father had been killed.
"Then he visited his next-door neighbor. They had a new child, born a couple of days before Yuri's "death." Yuri could tell that they were upset by what happened to him. But they were especially distressed by the fact that their child would not stop crying.
"No matter what they did he continued to cry. When he slept it was short and fitful and then he would awaken, crying again. They had taken him back to the doctors but they were stumped. All the usual things such as colic were ruled out and they sent them home hoping the baby would eventually settle down.
"While there in this disembodied state, Yuri discovered something:
"l could talk to the baby. It was amazing. I could not talk to the parents - my friends - but I could talk to the little boy who had just been born. I asked him what was wrong. No words were exchanged, but I asked him maybe through telepathy what was wrong. He told me that his arm hurt. And when he told me that, I was able to see that the bone was twisted and broken."
"Eventually the doctor from Moscow came to perform the autopsy on Yuri. When they moved his body from the cabinet to a gurney, his eyes flickered. The doctor became suspicious and examined his eyes. When they responded to light, he was immediately wheeled to emergency surgery and saved.
"Yuri told his family about being "dead." No one believed him until he began to provide details about what he saw during his travels out of body. Then they became less skeptical. His diagnosis on the baby next door did the trick. He told of visiting them that night and of their concern over their new child. He told them that he had talked to the baby and discovered that he had a greenstick fracture of his arm. The parents took the child to a doctor and he x-rayed the arm only to discover that Yuri's very long-distance diagnosis was right."
P.M.H. Atwater's Tribute to George Rodonaia
I knew George well; he was part of my research base and a brief version of his story is in my book "Beyond the Light." I say "brief" because what happened to George is beyond the scope of books about the near-death phenomenon and could have easily been a book unto itself. George was a vocal Soviet dissident during the time when such a stance could get you killed. And that is exactly what happened - he was assassinated by the KGB. Because his case was highly political, an autopsy had to be performed. His corpse was stored in a freezer vault for three days until then. He revived on the autopsy table as he was being split open by the doctors, one of which was his own uncle. Of all the cases I have investigated in my 26 years of work in the field, his is the most dramatic, the longest, the most evidential, and the most soul-stirring. Now our beloved George Rodonaia has returned "Home" to stay. During the years afterward, he never failed to share his story and to help others every way he could. My only regret is, he never wrote his own book about his experience. Yet, perhaps he did, on everyone's heart who ever heard him. Blessings, dear George, you will be missed. -- PMH
Other People Who Were Dead For DaysThere are two other NDE accounts I should mention here. One of them involves an African man named Emanuel Tuwagirairmana. What is interesting about his account is that it is claimed that he was actually dead for seven days. When he returned to his body, it was partially eaten by maggots. A friend of his sent me photographs of his arm to prove it. It is such a fantastic experience that one must take keep an open mind about it.
In January of 1999, the online edition of the Russian newspaper Pravda reported on a remarkable event involving a man who revived from death after 22 days of being killed and buried. I have not personally verified whether this news article is legitimate but it did appear in Russia's premier newspaper and the best that I can do is provide an excerpt of the article and provide a link to the Pravada article for you to decide. The following was taken from the article entitled, "Man Revives 22 Days After Being Killed and Buried."
A stockman, named only as Granatkin, from a district food base in one of Russia's towns, had to have a similar, albeit a more horrible experience in his life. A man named Mechnik attempted to kill the stockman: he hit him on the head, took the body to the forest and buried it under the snow. Lumber-men incidentally uncovered the frozen body and took it to the morgue. A local pathologist refused to do the autopsy - the body was too hard. The next day the pathologist said that the man's eye pupils did not look like dead. Furthermore, the man's nails turned pink after the doctor pressed them in his fingers. The man spent 22 days lying under a thick layer of snow, but it appeared that he was still alive. The pathologist diagnosed a deep lethargic sleep, which had been caused with a blow on the head. To everyone's great astonishment, stockman Granatkin came to his senses and recovered. He was lucky to wear very warm clothes on the day of his murder; the snow saved him from severe frost too.
Talks and rumors about the lethargic sleep were widespread two centuries ago. A lot of outstanding people, including Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, were afraid of falling asleep for good. Apparently, Gogol fell into a lethargic sleep: he was buried alive, as it turned out afterwards. This disease does not occur in our times, though. The last occurrence happened in 1993, when a patient recovered from profound sleep in a US hospital. Does it mean that people have developed immunity against stressful situations? It is not ruled out that stresses have become more frequent in the modern society and destroyed the time control organ in people. On the other hand, doctors often consider their sleeping patients dead and send them to either a graveyard, or a morgue, where pathologists eventually kill them during an autopsy. A selective inspection of coffins, which had to be moved from one graveyard to another in England, discovered four skeletons, the positioning of which in the coffins showed that the "deceased" people came to their senses after they had been buried.
The above-mentioned incidents describe the anomalous, unhealthy conduct of the time control organ. Modern medicine has registered several incidents, when five-year-old children died of their old age! There are several African tribes, which consider it normal, when a girl of five or eight years of age gives birth to a child and then dies from the old age at 10-18 years.
Needless to say that the existence of the time control organ has not been proved. Scientists, however, believe that the organ is possibly situated in the brain, in the hypothalamus. Some specialists say that this organ is the so-called "third eye," others say that it is situated in the spinal cord. Most likely, it goes about a qualitatively new function of brain cells, which are interconnected with one aura, scientists say.
Our ancient ancestors were probably aware of the phenomenon. At any rate, modern shamans and yogi know how to hamper the time and come out of their bodies for a while.
"The longest journey is the journey inwards of him who has chosen his destiny, who has started upon his quest for the source of his being." - Dag Hammarskjold