I have never thought of these experiences as near death experiences. Nothing like a health situation or traumatic life threatening event ever occurred at any time and certainly not at the time of these events, which I have called mystical experiences, occurred. I am compelled to write to you, however, because the little bit that I have read about the subject of NDE has shown me that many people describe their near death experiences that resulted from heart attack, car accident, etc. in a way that closely resembles the way I describe experiences I have had beginning in May 1961.
My intentions, prayers requesting God to reveal Himself to me, and all the information I had received about God from the adults in my life left me completely unprepared for what occurred in May of 1961. I wasn't thinking of anything different that morning and I could never have imagined the nature of the experience that was about to come to me. I had been praying for several years for God to visit me, imagining an experience much like my grandmother's Jesus who showed up at the foot of her bed in the middle of the night with a comforting message. For me, this was not to be.
'Okay everybody, hustle out to the field and divide yourselves into your groups,' My teacher yelled from the locker room door. It was springtime in New York and we held physical education class outside to take advantage of the beautiful weather. I was thirteen years old and this was a beautiful day to be alive. The sky was clear and bright blue, the air was possessed of that clean, indescribable smell of freshness as new life sprang forth all around.
'First two squads get on the handball courts, everybody else take a seat here by the fence and rotate onto the courts to replace the losers.' This was the second year that my teacher taught physical education class; I was in the eighth grade. He was a good teacher, but I didn't like 'gym.' I didn't like the perceived dangers of athletic endeavors. I still had to be here, dressed in my red shorts and tee-shirt. I remember talking to my friend John 'Fitz' Fitzpatrick for a few minutes and then I leaned my head back against the chain link fence and breathed in the smell of the grass wafting up through the warm air. I looked out at the handball courts and momentarily observed the action of the players smacking the ball against the wall with their open palms. I moved my eyes upward to the clear blue sky.
In this very moment of observing the sky and feeling the simple beauty of the soft breeze blowing across my face, my life changed. Something shifted that forever altered my perception of Life. The experience was ineffable and I am unable to describe the moment; I can only interpret the experience into words in an attempt to communicate something meaningful about a profound insight into the nature of the very ground of being.
This was a non-experiential experience - the experience had no content so there was nothing to have an experience of in the classical sense that we understand 'experience.' Something happened and according to outside observers, it took time for it to happen. In the classic understanding of experience, I experienced nothing. I became purely subject and no thoughts exist in this Oneness. There exists only One and no other; this One always is and this One cannot be explained, understood, or experienced by the rational human mind.
White light is what I remember and the simplest way I can explain the moment is to say, 'I saw God.' This is what I ultimately came to understand as a mystical experience but at the time, I had never heard of such a thing. This is what Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus Christ, Meher Baba and many others were talking about. This is what Meister Eckhart wrote about only I didn't know about Eckhart at the time. It is what I have referred to as a non-experiential experience and there is nothing to be remembered. The moment is eternally now and memory serves no function. I am, however, left with impressions. I sense that in some way I was exposed to pure information at a rate that far overloads the capacity of any physical entity. It was all that is all at once and it is Love.
I remember that immediately upon regaining some sense of what we know as normal waking consciousness I felt loved, immersed in love, carried by love. I perceived that I was made from Love and that everything else was made of the same stuff. My first impressions upon coming back to objective experience were filled with unconditional love and a sense of complete wellbeing. I knew that all of us were one being; not parts of one being that were somehow connected, but all of us are that One being. I knew beyond doubt that we each contain within us all the creative power of the universe and that the world can occur for us in any way we choose. I felt like I was dreaming, that what I was experiencing was being dreamt, I was part of some great being's dream, and I perceived that both were true all at the same time.
Then I realized that time was passing. I was part of the temporal world again and things were happening that I might want to know about. It was simply a fleeting realization and I was in bliss so I forgot about it. I realized that I had no weight that I was floating around freely without a body and it was great. Then I thought it rather unusual that I would have no body and I thought perhaps this issue warranted further investigation. I had no good reason why I should think about it but I started to think about it and realized that I was in a reality totally different from the one at the handball court. I didn't know where or what it was and I was not afraid. I knew that everything was perfect, better than ever, although I now understood that I was not in my body.
I was not in my body and I had a choice about it: I could remain out of my body or I could go back into it. It was a free choice and either way was perfect. My immediate desire was to remain where I was because it was beautiful. Then I realized that making that choice would give people on earth the impression that I was dead; indeed, my body would be dead and I would never know what I was going to be able to get into in my future on Earth. Then I regained a sense of direction, looked down, and saw the scene I had recently been part of. All at once, my awareness shifted from the ineffable white light of absolute oneness to floating three hundred feet above my body. I could see the entire scene at High School in full view that May morning. I was not frightened or even surprised by this amazing view. It occurred to me like this is one way to perceive our world but most of us don't know how to see it like this.
Everyone was down there by the fence gathered around my body and everyone looked very small. My teacher was right in front of my body looking very concerned. I was pretty far away but I could tell by his nervous, rapid motion that he was concerned about something. His concern was wasted on me I thought because my life couldn't be better. Then I knew that if I chose to stay in my body, I needed to get there right now and if I didn't, I would not be going back to it ever - I would be dead. There was no fear attached to the thought, simply the reality that this is how it was and it was up to me - as it always is.
The very next thing I knew I was damp, cold and heavy. I looked out of my eyes once again and my teacher was happier. I heard him tell someone to help get me into the nurse's office. I tried to move but nothing happened. I tried to talk to tell them that everything was perfect but I couldn't get words to come out. My thoughts were clear and I was conscious of the fact that I couldn't get the thoughts to come out of my mouth in spite of my efforts. I was not sleepy, dizzy, groggy, or in any way mentally incapacitated. The connection between my mind and my body was not functioning like it usually did and I noticed it and could do nothing about it.
Some of the guys carried me to the nurse's office and sat me in a chair. I felt coherent in my mind but my body occurred as a huge mass of cold, heavy clay. This sensation was confusing - part of me knew that I was in great shape; another part of me was beginning to fear that something out of my control was going on. The nurse asked me what my phone number was and I could speak it in my mind but I was able only to mumble unintelligibly. The nurse pushed the phone closer to my side of the desk and with much difficulty. I finally dialed the number. My thoughts about the whole situation were changing rapidly and I wanted to get up and walk out of there but could not even speak and could barely dial the telephone. I had to focus on moving my finger from one number to the other in the dialing ring: Pershing (PE) 5 - 2453 and it was only with great difficulty that my finger made the movements necessary to dial the phone. The nurse had to do the talking and asked my mother to come to the school right away.
I was pretty spaced out for the next couple of days and I was examined by our family doctor twice - on the day of the event and again the following day. He came to the house with his black bag both times. The doctor told my mother that he could find nothing unusual with my health and nothing that could have caused the kind of symptoms I described. The doctor finally suggested that perhaps I was bitten by a poisonous spider of some kind. I told him that I was not bitten.
After three days, I was fine and my body worked and felt like normal. I was excited and wanted to tell the world what I now knew about God and I did. I knew that God was not a judgmental man sitting in heaven sending some people to hell, others to heaven and still others to purgatory. I knew without doubt that God was simultaneously IN and through everything, ABOVE and around everything. I knew that what I called God was always with me, never left me, and lived inside me. I knew that in some sense, I was this God and God was me. I knew that the rules and regulations of my religion were not God's word. God gave me a completely different way of conducting myself on earth and he asked me to talk with people about what He had shown me.
The single most prominent thought I came away with was 'Everything is One'. There is only One something and everything is that. This experience became the central focus of my life and consumed most of my time in the study of physics, anthropology, geology, archeology, and ultimately earning a Bachelor of Science degree in philosophy and religious studies so I could better understand and connect with the reality of the depth and truth of this experience.
As a seventeen year old freshman at St. Norbert College in West DePere, Wisconsin in 1965 I started reading Meister Eckhart, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and other Christian mystics including Theilhard de Chardin. They described experiences that resembled mine and I started to think that I was not crazy and had actually experienced what I thought I had - what I knew as God.
Then I got interested in the Eastern mystics, then the religions themselves: Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism, Jainism, Shinto and then Zen, which had the biggest impact on me because of the notion of direct experience right now. Zen removes all concepts, all words, all judgments and goes directly to experience of true nature. Zen states that this reality, right now, whatever one's experience in any given moment happens to be, is all there is. The ultimate experience of what we may call God is possible only here and now.
In the fall of my sophomore year at Norbert's I had my hair cut at my usual barber just off campus. Just before getting up out of the chair, I flashed into the eternal One just as I had five years earlier. I sat there in the chair for some period of time that seemed very short to me based upon what was happening in the shop and then I came back to normal waking consciousness. I was not 'paralyzed' this time nor did I have an out of body experience. The shift from the state of pure subjectivity and unity to normal waking consciousness was smooth and apparently instant - just like it was when I went from material reality into the non-physical One.
I was a little shaky when I got up. By the time I had walked down the block and was across the street from the Catholic grammar school my head spun and I vomited on the ground. The kids and nuns were out on the playground but I don't think they noticed me. I went to class about thirty minutes after this and was not really present to the situation or to any situations until the next day, a Tuesday.
The third time this spontaneous experience came upon me was when everything came together for me. I was in the U.S. Air Force, in Thailand. I finished my twelve hours on the flight line at 6:00 am. I pedaled my bicycle home, walked upstairs out onto my balcony into the beauty of a new day, looked up at the white clouds in the blue sky and was One once again and then heard myself say: 'This is exactly what I experienced at thirteen and again at eighteen and this is God.'
I taught myself to meditate at nineteen and practiced it for forty years. I have had many such experiences and many other different ones during the years. Many spontaneous insights over the years are confirmed by quantum mechanical theory and empirical evidence.
Now, and for the past few years, all of day to day experience has slowed down and smoothed out. The presence of the God Self is always available and generally perceived right here right now as I move through the amazing day to day moments of life.
Date NDE Occurred: May 1961 and others
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? No I had no illness and experienced no trauma. Details in Item 3 below. Other Please see Item 3 below
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
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 As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The very initial moment was highest consciousness and upon returning to the material world the state of alertness was very high and crystal clear.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
The Source of space and time is not subject to the experience of space and time that we know from the human perspective. Therefore, the ultimate experience transcends space/time. There are no memories because there is nothing to be remembered and even if there were, memory would serve no purpose because there is no past, present or future, as we know it. There is only Now.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. At one point I could see great distances from a high vantage point. The world looked crystal clear with no blurring anywhere. At other times, I have read the words from the pages of books and then checked at the library and the words were the same. There have been many unbelievable events that I have slowly integrated into my thinking over the years. It has all inspired me to teach workshops about the thinking processes involved in reality manifestation by choice.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Sometimes. Whatever sound I pay attention to becomes distinct from other sounds and very clear. Sometimes, sound has shut down to silence.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Not in the sense of being like an individual of some kind. God. The all and the nothing, One.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Light
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 Surrounded by light. Reality itself was light.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm The One. Please see Item 3 above.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Elation, state of perfection, wonder, bliss.
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
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control Sometimes I have paid attention to my past and have been able to see every event in great detail. This has even allowed me to reconcile past actions and ask people for forgiveness many years later.
The experience included: Vision of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Totally, over forty-six years.
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 was your religion prior to your experience? Conservative/fundamentalist Roman Catholic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes See everything else.
What is your religion now? Liberal No religious affiliation
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes See everything else.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes Indeed. Please see Item 3 and other items above.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes We are all one. I see me in you. The Golden Rule applies.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes There was no subject/object relationship from which to perceive anything specific other than post experience impressions that something profoundly beautiful had occurred.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I knew I had them since I was ten when my mother told me I had ESP after watching me name cards in the deck correctly nearly ninety percent of the time and call the numbers on the dice as I rolled them with equal success. These became more heightened.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Knowing that God loves us in a way that ensures we are always provided for. Our thinking all ties in with God's energy ultimately is God's energy, and in a process, you might call co-creation results in what we call everyday life. Most people think it just happens but we are responsible participants in the action.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes One day - with my parents and then about five days with a priest and then a few more with a nun. They all told me that this was not the God they knew as Catholics. It was three years, at sixteen, before a priest encouraged me.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No When I was about seven or eight my grandmother told me Jesus had appeared to her and I wanted that to happen to me. She also told me about a healing miracle that cured her leg. I thought, well, this stuff must be possible. And it is.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was probably real First time (thirteen years old) it was probably. Second time (eighteen) it was most assuredly and third time (twenty-five) it was no doubt, no way to doubt, this is REAL. I don't know how to define REAL but there is an unchanging underlying reality that sources all that is knowable. The interaction of the individuated energies created out of that ground of being creates what we call experience so the original intention of the One - its own self-knowledge - can be fulfilled. Something like that. All we can really do is talk about it in an effort to get close to it and then let it go and experience it directly with no comment or judgment - then we can know truth.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I have lived my life in accordance with the Truth I experienced. I base my life decisions on it and have done so for more than forty years. I am amazed from moment to moment. I have transformed my way of being, made millions of dollars, lived dreams I barely thought possible. It's like the Sanskrit 'Tat Tvam Asi' - That Art Thou'. You are it, and as such you have available at your fingertips, 24/7, the same power and energy that created and sustains this universe. That is huge.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes After much analysis and study I experimented with LSD and saw it as a tool that could be used for exploratory purposes. As with my normal, call it meditative, approach to transcendence, the rational mind cannot grasp this ever present reality and LSD can help convince the rational mind to let go of its desire to filter and control its experience. This is where the death thing comes in. When we begin the letting go process, with or without LSD, with or without disease or trauma, when we begin to let go our ego will perceive the letting go as its own death. The ego gets the idea that it is no longer needed and therefore figures that the ultimate, eternal, 'real' self will simply get rid of it. Ego then sends the alarm out saying, 'If I go, we all go - my death is body death.' That's usually it; we buy into that and stop the letting go process. How do we know if we let go that we will ever come back? It is always a choice and an intention - which are really the same thing. So no need to fear. You will always get what you want. By the way, all of this is not needed because there is only ONE anything so we are always that and cannot avoid being IT. No process is necessary because we are IT right NOW.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I have conducted many workshops and seminars and worked with many people sharing inner peace and the love that is available to all of us. Everyone makes his or her own choice and they are all perfect.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Well done.