When my mother came in, I asked her 'How hot do you have to get before you die?' I had the sensation that the heat would burst my body. My mother threw herself on her knees and started to pray aloud.
At that moment, a blue ray of light came down from above, and touched my body at the heart or central chest. Where it touched, the heat was dispelled by the most exquisite coolness. This immense relieving coolness spread from the center to the extremities. Then I found myself travelling up the blue ray of light. The color was indescribably beautiful, alive, delicious, shimmering and enveloping me. I was moving upwards, I sensed, at great speed. I thought, 'this must be how death feels, how anyone can fear this wonderful release, this joy?'
Then I glanced back, down the light, to the bedroom where my body lay on the bed. This all happened very quickly, it felt like a matter of seconds. The bed was distant, about the size of a matchbox, and I could see my body on it. I could just make out my mother, still on her knees, beside the bed. My next thought was, 'I can't do this to her'. So, I turned my head downward, down the ray of light, and struggled to pull myself back into my body.
I was disappointed, even sad, to return, but felt it was the right thing to do, for my mother's sake. I came back to consciousness in my body. My mother had pulled me into a sitting position on the bed, and was shaking me like a rag doll. She was screaming, 'Don't you dare die, Cassandra!' She was slapping my face, forehand and backhand, as I opened my eyes. My fever broke in that experience, and I recovered over the next three or four weeks. I was certain that what I had experienced was not a feverish dream or hallucination. I was also certain that it was not my mother calling me that turned me back. She had lost three babies before, and had a bad experience giving birth to me. I knew that she needed motherhood to give meaning to her life. I simply did not want to deprive her of a daughter. I have never feared death since then.
Date NDE Occurred: November 1961
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness Other: There was no doctor present. My mother, who was present, said I died.
I was covered, inside and out, with the pustules. Our doctor had prescribed Valium and aspirin. I took the pills in my mouth when given them by my mother, my only nurse and contact, because of quarantine; but spat them out of the window beside my bed when she left. Somehow, I knew I wanted to remain un-sedated. I was in immense discomfort and pain and started to run a high fever.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I could just see the bed, my shape on it, and a small crouched figure beside it. At that stage, I was not aware of my mother's actions of hitting and shaking me. There was no awareness of the building or anything else earthly.
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal I remained fully conscious, alert, curious, and joyful. I filled with energy and wonder throughout the trip. The trip down was slower, and somehow heavier. Coming back into the body was like fitting a swollen foot into a too-tight shoe, and my energy levels were lowered. I felt so alive, so free, so filled with knowing the bliss of shedding a body. I was at peace, totally accepting that I was going somewhere I belonged. There was no doubt, no trepidation: just the immense recognition that I was dying, and the clarity of wonder and joy.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The moment the light touched my body and dispelled the immense heat.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
I felt the relief of coolness in the body and the next second I was speeding upward in the light. By the time I glanced back down, I was very far away from my body. Going back was like swimming against the current, it took longer.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I was not aware of thoughts speeding up, just of the speed at which I was travelling up the light shaft, so I assume my thoughts were faster. My vision was all of the blue light; trying to make out my bedroom so far away was because of the distance and speed. I was so ill before the light struck me that my thoughts, vision and senses must have been sluggish and blurred.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I have no memory of hearing anything.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? An unusually bright light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes It was a vivid, living blue, pulsing with life and effortlessly intense. I was within the light, travelling upwards: flying.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I was in transit. No blue shaft of light on earth was like this one.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Elation, Relief, Joy, Wonder, Amazement, Delight, Peace and safety
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt no longer in conflict with nature
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No I understood harmony, part of a real course of events, part of the true course of life, everything as it should be: at one with it all. I did understand that this was what death felt like, and that there was no need to fear death. I also understood how great the loss would be to my mother, and that I did not want to inflict that on her. I believe that I committed to this incarnation in that decision. I nearly died at birth, stopped eating at the age of six because of despair, thought about suicide at the age of fifteen because of loneliness. Yet, given the opportunity to opt out, I chose to opt in.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will Simply my thought was: I can't do this to her.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Religious unaffiliated Against a Christian cultural background, I did not want Jesus to be responsible for my sins, tortured and put to death. I liked the Buddhist notions of personal responsibility, karma and reincarnation. With my parents, I had experience of sitting in a Rescue Sceance for several years. We believed that there was life after death, as well as life after life.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes In one way, yes. Looking back, I have understood the notion of freewill ever since. No one told me to return to life. It was my choice. As a child, I used to pray for people's healing. Today I give them whatever I can to assist their healing, physical, mental or spiritual comfort, so they or their bodies can choose to heal. It also introduced certainty into my belief that life continues without the physical body. I believe what I have experienced.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Religious unaffiliated As during my early years, I still choose to lead a reverent, spiritual and ethical life, now with additional experience of Yoga teachings. I believe in the oneness of all creation, and try to see and respect the sacred in every person. I still honour Jesus as the Christ, but seldom attend a church service.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I believed that life continued after death, in another form - consistent
I had never heard of moving upward in a shaft of blue light - inconsistent
There were no loved ones waiting to greet me - inconsistent
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I now knew that death was release from suffering and life's challenges.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? Unknown
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain Only the recognition that this was the experience of dying, and that I did not want to hurt my mother.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Uncertain Freedom did not give me the ethical right to deprive my mother.
Death is part of life, and a release from pain.
"I" did not disappear with my last breath, and could take what I learned in the experience into the future. I have been at peace with death
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes I was certain that I could continue upwards in the light, to my next destination.
My body on the bed had died. Yet I was alive, conscious, thinking,experiencing, feeling, relating to my mother. I was alive in the light.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? Unknown
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Slightly fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Yes My mother and I had a problematic relationship throughout my life. I knew that one day our problems would have to be resolved and brought to peace. I did that, two years before she died, and for two years, we simply loved each other.
Making my way bac
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Uncertain My mother and I professed to "love" each other, but we both knew that there was a chasm between us that could not be spoken. "Love" is used to describe a range of emotions, but emotions are fleeting and changeable.
For me, for years now, I describe "Lov
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life Large changes in my life.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No The critical one was that with my mother, then, and later, when I closed the gap between us. However, I tend to attract and befriend people with more open minds about the mystery of faith and spirituality. Yet some of my friends are quite different in their values and beliefs. I cherish my teachers, both those who think along the same lines and those who are quite different. I am not on a mission to convert unbelievers.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience I knew this was something memorable, and I doubt that I would have forgotten or misremembered so vivid an experience.
There was a lot happening around that time, my sever illness, people I loved crying in the doorway to my room, matriculation exams to sit in special conditions within a few days of the event. These events are pale beside the trip I took.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain Only that of not fearing death itself, and being able to pass that on. I volunteer now in palliative care, because I do not fear death.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I respect my choice not to hurt my mother, one of my most challenging teachers. I look forward to seeing that blue shaft of light again, when it is time. I use the color blue in my yoga teaching and in my therapeutic work. I pass on the yogic saying 'that death is easy - like slipping off a pair of too-tight shoes'. I tell my grandchildren that life does not end with death. My granddaughter has asked me if I will be there to meet her, and bring her first dog along.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I do not recall telling my parents about what happened, but I probably did, and do not know what they made of it. I have been reticent to speak of this experience, and indeed, for years I moved in circles that would have scoffed. Today I share it only if the subject comes up and I think it might help someone understand better. I once shared it with an acquaintance who told me his stomach cancer was cured when he 'dreamed' about a 'Blue Plasticine' world he visited, where he was told he had to return to life for a reason. I shared it with my doctor recently, because the subject came up. He simply listened.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No I was not aware of NDEs before the experience, or at least cannot recall any particular story I may have heard. I had no preconceptions of which I am aware.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real It was the most real experience of my life until then. Its immediacy and reality have never left me since then.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I have no reason to doubt that it was real. I do not feel the need to persuade anyone else about it, nor have I felt that need since the experience.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I cannot think of anything else that might be relevant.