The Near Death Experience
For the past 30 years the NDE (near-death-experience) has been of great interest to me. I think it is an important development in our culture due to our medical sophistication that allows many people to be brought back from the brink of death. Millions actually, in the United States alone 13 million according to P.M.H. Atwater in her book “The big book of Near-death-experiences”. Of course the number is most likely much higher. I think it is something that needs to be attended to, and is of course being done, studied by an ever expanding number of people. I think one of the reasons that the belief in another life and in the Transcendent is so universal, is due to the fact that this kind of experience has been going on for all of mankind’s history. Today perhaps we just need to be pounded over the head about this reality; something is trying to get our attention. Perhaps because we now have the ability to destroy ourselves, something not possible in the not so distant past but a very real threat today.
Many Christians believe that all these experiences are demonic, which I believe is absurd and based on fear. Others believe it is just chemicals in the brain and the experiences are stressed and fear related. Others want to start a religion based on their experience, or try to use them to prove that their faith is the true one. It seems that many want to find some way to own them, make them theirs, to prove something. When in fact these experiences happen no matter what ones beliefs are. Atheists have them, Christian, Hindus, Buddhist, etc.
I think they happen to let us know that reality is broader than we can understand and that these experiences show us what is at the very beginning of our journey into the vastness of the eternal mystery. Those who come back, the majority of them, come back changed and believers in the afterlife, or let us say, in the on-going-ness of life. Many come back and say, there is always life! What does that mean? Perhaps it is a call for mankind to stretch a bit more in their understanding of what our lives are all about.
Agape love is hard to understand, a love for everyone that is not based on need, and steeped in compassion, empathy and love for all of mankind. Christians experience this during their NDE from Christ Jesus, others have an experience of a being of light, and others see loved ones. In all cases it is based on love as well, at the same time, a call to responsibility for ones life and actions. It brings to the fore “free will” and also if the life review is real….to experience all the pain and joy we have laid on others. In other words, empathy seems to be one of the most important things we need to learn in life…..we get away with nothing; we will experience all that we do, and there is no escape. The fact that we seem to have the ability to record how others experience us on some level is astounding, or perhaps there is depth of oneness that we have yet to understand. It is this life review in fact that seems to be the deepest life changing experience for many.
One day perhaps when enough people have this experience of coming back from the brink of death, it will begin to change our cultures from the bottom up, which is actually the only way that change can come. Jesus himself spent a great deal of his time with the so called dregs of society, much to the chagrin to people like me, people of the book, who think of themselves as in the inner circle with God.
In a world that seems to be steeped in contempt for others outside of ones group. In a time when religions seems to be taken over by fanatics, as well as a time when those who don’t believe are becoming just as fanatical, perhaps the NDE is something we all need to look at, ponder and perhaps come away with a different understanding about what our lives are all about. To just contemplate the life review would be enough, in fact for me the most important aspect of the NDE that can be experienced if one is sent back.
I believe that the Transcendent, God, for Christians, Jesus Christ, is a reality that is ‘Wild” in the best sense of the term. Truth, the infinite, reality can’t be corralled by any group, we can only hope to grow in the path we choose, and if love is what is experienced, if inner healing happens and we learn to do as all religions tells us, to treat others as we would like to be treated, well then that is a good start and I believe a response to grace, an invitation. It takes self-knowledge to know how we each would like others to treat us, so why waste time attacking others, when in fact, each of us perhaps has a great deal of work to do in responding to what I would call grace, the ability to grow in compassion, empathy and love.
I would recommend getting hold of Atwater’s book: “The Big book of Near-Death-Experieces” and to study it. Anyone would learn a great deal about the vastness and depth that our ‘common’ experiences can show us. All we need to do is to focus on these phenomena and to take them seriously. They are not a threat to anyone’s faith, but a call to stretch and learn. For they deal only with those at the brink of death; but they are signs of things to come for those who pass over that brink and don’t return to life, as we experience and know it. She is I feel the best person to read on this subject, she is second to none.
Edited by markdohle, 07 July 2013 - 12:25 PM.