The experience began as a dream. My dreams had always been vivid and some had been lucid. I had been having lucid dreams before my near death experience, though at the time I didn't know what they were called. (It's also worth mentioning that I had no idea what a near death experience was. I had never heard of them and had never heard of the term ‘out of body experience’ either. I was eleven years old and had grown up with no exposure to these subjects.)
As for ‘lucid’ dreams, I simply knew that I would occasionally ‘wake up’ in my dream and, while still in the dream, do whatever I wanted. (This, perhaps, gives me a unique perspective in being able to judge whether a near death experience is just a kind of dream, as some skeptics claim.) It's also important to mention that my grandfather had just died (three days before my birthday) and that during the weeks that followed, I had often found myself actively imagining my own death. I was not suicidal, but perhaps, at the age of eleven, it was the first time death had seemed real to me, and I was curious. So curious, perhaps, that I wanted to know for myself what it was. Or maybe I missed my grandfather and wanted to find him.
Here is how my experience begins:
I was dreaming that I was on a grassy hillside. The rise of the hill was on my right and it descended to my left. Then my dream became lucid. I chose to lie down in the grass and start saying that I wanted to die. I lay there and kept repeating it to myself: ‘I just want to die. I just want to die.’ Figures appeared and began surrounding me, looking down at me. They kept saying to me, ‘No, you don't.’ and I kept saying, ‘Yes, I do. I just want to die.’
The dream stopped being lucid and continued on. I was looking at one of the local gas stations. Then I saw a circle. As I watched, a small line appeared at the top of the circle and began to cut into the circle, traveling down through the center of it, bisecting it. The instant that the line completely divided the circle into two halves, everything changed.
My whole consciousness shifted and I knew was no longer dreaming.
A few words here about varieties of experiences other than that our ordinary waking lives:
1. Ordinary dreams: During an ordinary dream, I don't control the imagery. For example, I don't know why I dreamed about the local gas station, but this sort of unpredictability seems normal in dreams.
2. Lucid dreams: During a lucid dream, I know that I'm dreaming and can often control the imagery, but there is still sometimes an element of consciousness that is asleep in a way. For example, if I saw a friend during a lucid dream, I would sometimes tell them to remember the dream so we could talk about it the next day. I wouldn't realize that the friend isn't really there, and they are just part of a dream.
3. The near death experience consciousness: The near death experience consciousness is separate from both ordinary dreaming consciousness and lucid dreaming consciousness. I experienced that change of consciousness acutely during this experience. The change of consciousness that occurred when I shifted from the gas-station dream to the near death experience was as qualitatively different from the human dream state (both ordinary and lucid), as the dream-state is from the daily awake-consciousness. I realize that there's no way that I can convincingly communicate what this shift was like and how I knew it was quite different from an ordinary dream. No skeptic would have any reason to be convinced by what I say, but that's not my purpose in writing this. I am writing this simply to share.
So, for a brief instant at the beginning of my near death experience, I found myself on the bridge of the USS Enterprise (I loved Star Trek as a child) and then when that scenario faded away, I found myself in an enclosed sphere, or space, whose walls glowed. I immediately wondered if I had died.
(Since then, I've always wondered why I saw the bridge of the Enterprise, and not Jesus, the way some people do, and I think it's that, because of my age and my love for Star Trek, it symbolically spoke to me in a more immediate and meaningful way than if I had met the figure of Jesus. What did it symbolize? That I was no longer on Earth.) I was fully conscious. I knew that I was supposed to be sleeping. I knew that I was no longer dreaming. I thought that I must have died. I was surprised that it was so sudden and easy. Most significant of all, I had three hundred sixty degree, three-dimensional vision. This is not something I had ever imagined, heard of, or experienced. This, alone, told me that I was experiencing something new to me.
I often read that skeptics, and even people who are more accepting, can't imagine how one can see without a physical apparatus (or how the blind can see in a near death experience.) Based on my own direct experience, I can explain how this is possible. My own experience was that I was actually not ‘seeing.’ I tell others (who have asked me the same question) that the soul doesn't ‘see.’ The soul, or our consciousness, is in all things and is all things. I wasn't seeing, so much as I was being what I wanted to perceive. If I wanted to look at a pine tree, I wasn't actually ‘seeing’ the pine tree, I was or became the pine tree—from whatever perspective I chose to observe it. I could either see it as a tree or know it at the molecular level. Since I was also the tree, there was no limitation to my ability to ‘perceive’ or ‘know’ the tree. In fact, this is a better way of putting it. The soul (or the nub of consciousness that we become one with when we leave our bodies) doesn't ‘see’ things, we ‘know’ things. If we want to see a pine tree, we ‘know’ it. We don't ‘see’ it, as on earth we do with our eyes. Also, concepts like ‘near’ or ‘far’ are meaningless to the ‘soul’ because we are one with all things and all things are one with us. We see distant things with the same perfect clarity as nearby things, because there is no such thing as near or far. Those terms are only used to refer to the position of earthly things relative to each other. We don't ‘see’ the spectrum of visible light, we ‘know’ the spectrum of visible light because this facet of the universe is no different from any other.
I could see in all directions at once: front, back, left, right, up and down. Strangest of all is that I could focus in all those directions at once. This is something that even now I have a hard time imagining.
Next, the faint glow that had surrounded me faded away and I was in a black void.
I was momentarily lost, then saw a faint pinprick of light grow steadily ‘closer’ or larger. I was draw toward it, or it toward me. I had no sense of relative motion. The light was beautiful, white, and just profoundly beautiful. I remember the moment it enveloped me. I experienced pure and unconditional love. I can't even write this without tears. (But I won't be any better than any other near death experiencer is at describing that love.) I knew, wherever I was, that I never wanted to leave it. I didn't think in terms of ‘going back,’ only that I didn't want to leave.
While enveloped by the Light, I was also shown, or made to understand, everything that had ever happened or would happen—and it all made perfect, beautiful and flawless sense. Like so many others, I just remember how obvious it all seemed and how perfect. The experience of being in the light is pure jubilation, joy, understanding and love.
Next, I found myself standing on a path. There was grass to both sides and a small tree ahead of me. The path went around the tree to the right. I couldn't see what was beyond. There was darkness above, to left, my right, and ahead of me. I remember feeling lost. At this point I started walking on the path and calling for my grandfather who had just died. When I reached the tree that was more like a sapling, I felt something push against me.
At the next moment I was being ‘sucked’ back into my body. I'll never forget that experience. I describe it as akin to a genie being put back into a bottle. I went from existing with complete weightlessness and experiencing this oneness with the universe, and all else that contained the universe, back to the bottle of my body. The experience really was like being sucked back into a small enclosure.
I immediately sat up. I remember this with perfect clarity. I looked out my bedroom window and saw the first, faint, dark purple hint of morning. I was in a cold sweat—the first time in my life, I had ever experienced a cold sweat. It took me seven years before I shared my experience. I shared it with no one. I was afraid to.
Date NDE Occurred: Late March or Early April - 1977
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Other: The experience occurred while I was sleeping.
Since I was a child, my heartbeat has been irregular and has, on occasions, entirely stopped. In addition, but less frequently, it has caused me to black out. (I once had to wear a kind of twenty-four hour heart monitor.) My heart has always ‘restarted,’ if that's the correct term ‘on its own.’ It's possible that my heart stopped that night, but I can offer nothing in the way of evidence.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? No
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 The experience of being able to focus in all directions at once is not something I can presently imagine. Also, the experience of being encompassed by the light was indescribably powerful.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The instant that I was embraced by the Light.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Time lost all meaning. That's the best I can do.
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. As stated above, my vision during the experience was like nothing I had ever experienced or imagined. I could ‘see’ in all directions at once and focus on all those directions simultaneously.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I remember hearing my own voice when I was calling for my deceased grandfather, but nothing besides that.
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? Uncertain
The experience included: Darkness
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes The Light didn't feel as though it had a personality or identity. It simply was. It ‘is’. It is Love and complete knowledge. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. I don't know how else to describe this ‘experience’ that was the Light.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place After experiencing the Light, I saw a path in the short grass. It led me directly to the small tree just ahead and then veered right around it, making a semi-circle. There was darkness to my left, to my right, and also beyond the tree, so that I actually felt as though I were in an enclosed space. I felt that I should walk along the path but when I reached the tree, and began calling for my grandfather, I was pushed back into my body.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Bliss. I thought that I must have died. When the Light enveloped me, returning to my ‘life on earth’ couldn't have been further from my thoughts.
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 united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes Something wouldn't allow me to go further than the tree.
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
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Do not know I was eleven years old. My grandmother (who I grew up) insisted that I attend Sunday School and Church Services but I felt no religious connection with or affiliation with Christianity. I would have much preferred to have "slept in" on Sunday mornings. Curiously, I think that my NDE occurred on a Monday morning because of something that happened the morning before. I happened to be channel surface during the prior morning while making myself breakfast. I paused to listen to a tel-evangelist because I could find nothing else to listen to. I remember that the tel-evangelist must have been persuasive because I recall his words impressed me. He urged the listeners, in the name of love, to pledge their lives to Jesus. I recall doing so (though this is the first time I've ever discussed this detail). I remember that what impressed me was the evangelist's call to love. The emphasis was on love. That's what was foremost in my mind, not Jesus, but the love. Immediately afterwards (and maybe I was a little embarrassed) I switched the channel and didn't think about it again.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain My beliefs and spiritual practices were unformed.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Protestant Currently, I am not Christian. I never really have been (though Christianity was the religion I was raised in). As a child I remember wanting and valuing, above all, 'wisdom'. Growing up, I read about Buddhism, Taoism, Zen and other religions, and though each in turn appealed to me in ways that Christianity never did, none of them really stayed with me. It's worth mentioning that all this exploration happened after my NDE.
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 was eleven years old. Nothing in the experience was consistent with anything I knew or had been taught.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain My values and beliefs were unformed prior to my near death experience. I was a child.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
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.)? Uncertain I write uncertain because I began looking for my recently deceased grandfather (my adoptive father). As soon as I called his name, I was "pushed" back into my body.
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes Yes, being in the Light permitted me to experience complete unity, at every level, with BEING.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Uncertain The Light simply *is*. There was no sense of "a God" or "supreme being", though I jokingly like to say that I "met God". In reality, I experienced complete oneness. This oneness was four dimensional (in a sense) because I also experienced *Time* as a oneness and not as something that is linear. Time, for lack of a better analogy, was like a block of wood that I could look at, examine and turn around. As to God -- my experience of Oneness left me with the knowledge that all is God and God is in all things. To speak of "a" God or "a" Supreme Being is to imply a separateness that doesn't reflect my experience.
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? No
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 I was given the sense that everything *has* a meaning and purpose, but I couldn't explain to you *what* that meaning or purpose was. The knowledge that I returned with was that nothing is without purpose or meaning.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes When I was embraced by the Light, I was shown that everything had happened for a reason and that everything which was *going* to happen would be for a reason. The universe made perfect and beautiful sense.
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? Unknown
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not 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? Yes At no time did anyone or being "explain" anything to me. The experience *itself* was the information. I hope that makes sense.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes The Light's embrace, that pure inexhaustible experience of Love, was something I immediately understood as the fabric of all existence.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Unknown This is hard to quantify because my experience occurred when I was so young. The near death experience has influenced every day of my life since. I love reading near death experiences. To me they're like ‘Postcards from Home.’ I never tire of them. I'm not religious. I don't belong to any religion. I'm not even sure I would call myself spiritual. I love life. Life is what it is. If we live life to the fullest, compassionately and with Love, then we are living spiritually.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain Uncertain I was a child when I had my near death experience.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The qualitative difference in consciousness between a semi-lucid dream and the near death experience is almost impossible to describe. How does one describe the difference between a lucid dream and every-day consciousness? Also, the tremendous love expressed by the Light is profoundly difficult to communicate.
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 This experience is as clear as the day that it occurred. The power of the experience has never diminished.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I have had many wonderful dreams since the experience, including communicating with deceased loved ones. I constantly feel guidance during my life. If I ask a question of a spiritual nature, I always receive an answer. I once asked how we could be both ‘separate’ and ‘one.’ I was shown a vision of an infinitely multifaceted diamond with Light inside it. All the tiny points of Light broadcast by the facets of the diamond were our individual souls, separate but also of the Light itself.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Being enveloped by the Light was especially meaningful.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Seven years passed before I shared my experience with anyone. I never shared it with my grandmother. I always worried that she would misinterpret the experience as a ‘death-wish.’ Sometimes I have felt as though I've been guided to share my experience with certain individuals.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real There was no question but that I experienced something real. The experience of consciousness separate from anything I had ever ‘physically’ experienced, the panoramic vision, for example, deeply and profoundly affected me. I experienced consciousness outside my physical body and beyond the capabilities of my normal senses. I knew it was real.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Since that experience, I have read hundreds of near death experiences. Each near death experience is like a postcard from home. I know what these other near death experiencers experienced, and at times I can't help but tear up when I read their testimonies. I do wish that I had seen some of the beautiful landscapes described by others; but I think I've experienced these landscapes, later, in dreams.
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? It's possible that I was not ‘Near Death’ during my near death experience.
If so, then perhaps anyone can experience a ‘near death experience’ at any time.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Please ask the following question of others:
‘Did the experience make life more important or less important to you?’
As for myself, the answer is both at the same time. I feel less attached to life. I don't fear death. Life, at all costs, is indescribably less important to me. But the experience also makes me want to enjoy life as a gift and temporary experience, rather than as my only moment of desperate consciousness in a cold and indifferent universe.