According to a Gallup poll, over eight million North Americans say they have had a near-death experience, and this number is said to be underestimated. NDE’s, as they are called, are now increasingly debated, challenging the way we see life and death. In our haste to study them – to prove or disprove them – we should ensure we don’t miss the deeply individual and important spiritual lessons they teach about the nature of life and health.
NDEs are not new. They are recorded throughout written history and in many faith traditions. The first recorded mention is by the great Greek philosopher, Plato. The Tibetan Book of the Dead mentions them, as do the Bible and the Koran.
Many people who have experienced NDEs are shy about speaking of them, frightened about being ridiculed and disbelieved. They want to protect and process what they saw and experienced rather than have it dismantled piece by piece by skeptics or clinical studies.
Recently, though, the discussion has broken wide open with the publication of books such as “Proof of Heaven” by neurologist Dr. Eben Alexander. Alexander was not a religious or spiritual person, but what he saw in his near-death experience showed him such a different perspective on the nature of life and consciousness that he was forced to reconsider his belief system. His experience was not just about light, or meeting those he loved, but also about a feeling of deep, unconditional, spiritual love. This feeling seems to be one shared by many who have had an NDE.
In her book, “Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences,” intensive Care nurse Penny Sartori discusses her investigation into near-death experiences in the UK. She began her exploration as a cynic, but became convinced that they are genuine. She shares some really insightful examples, and also thoughtfully dismisses the common arguments and medical explanations that reject the experience as hallucinations.
Among Sartori’s accounts is the healing that one of her patient’s experienced while under her care. She writes:
“This near-death experience had two significant effects on his life. First, Tom says, it completely removed any fear of dying. Even more extraordinary is what happened to his right hand, which had been frozen since birth into a claw-like position. (This had been noted on his hospital admission form, and his sister has since signed a statement confirming it.) Yet, in front of me, soon after his near-death experience, Tom opened and flexed that same hand. This should not have been physiologically possible, as the tendons had permanently contracted. What had caused this sudden, seemingly spontaneous healing? Even now, science has no answers.”
Not all near-death experiences bring healing, but when they do, it brings an interesting question. Do we need a near death experience in order to experience a healing such as Tom had?
The Bible shows clearly that we do not. Prophets wrote about a vision of life and of divine Love that clearly mirrors what many people have experienced through the millenia. Writing about St. John’s revelations in the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The Revelator had not yet passed the transitional stage in human experience called death, but he already saw a new heaven and a new earth.” Is this possible for us too?
Anita Moorjani touches on this question in her newly published book, “Dying To Be Me.” She recently spoke in Vancouver about the book and her life, sharing her moving story of the spontaneous healing of end-stage cancer that she felt was a result of her near-death experience. Coming from a challenging multicultural religious background and life, the most important thing Moorjani discovered – and would love for each of us to realize here and now – is a sense of unconditional divine Love available to all. Moorjani also learned that this spiritual Love dissolves imposed or cultural identities, removes destructive and self-critical emotions, bringing a new, spiritual sense of identity and a clear sense of life as Love
These experiences show us that there is far more to life than can be measured or studied from the narrow perspectives of our present, limited experience of it and that healings such as Moorjani’s can and do occur in the here and now. Nor is death to be seen as the end of, or an escape from, life.
Rather than looking at life and health solely through a material lens, these glimpses into the nature and effect of divine Love reveal the infinite and eternal possibilities that are open to us. The challenge is to discover that for ourselves here and now.
This article was published in the Vancouver Sun HERE