In early to mid-2003, I was undergoing a considerable amount of stress at work. During this time, I scheduled a visit with my doctor to get treatment for a painfully infected cyst on my back. While the doctor was performing a procedure to drain the cyst, he exclaimed in alarm. I turned around and saw that the front and sleeve of his white shirt was covered with blood and puss. Within a short time after this, I started to feel as if I were going to pass out. I alerted my doctor and he helped me lie down on the examination table. I've passed out several times before and was expecting it would go as it usually has: quick descent into loss of awareness, followed by disorientation, and concluding with my regaining awareness, while continuing to feel disoriented, and then finally becoming fully aware again.
This time what happened was entirely different. I did not lose consciousness at all. I found myself in another place, fully aware of myself, but not aware of my life up to that point. The best way to describe it is that I still felt like myself, but without any memory of my life on earth, including what had just happened in the doctor's office. I can't describe the landscape in detail. I only recall a jumble of images, but I was aware of being on the shore of a sea with a view of a landscape with green hills. I understood that I was on a continent that was extensive. I became aware of a being who was ‘speaking to me,’ telling me that I had to travel to various regions of this world, perhaps by boat, and instructing me in what I would have to do at each location. I can't remember what the details of these instructions were; I only recall the general intent. I don't remember if the communication was verbal, but I don't believe it was. I suspect the communication was more direct. I did not respond, I simply listened and tried to understand. From an emotional standpoint, I experienced no fear at all. In fact, I felt completely at ease. Accepted and loved. I somehow understood that there was nothing to worry about, that there never was anything to worry about, and that all things are without threat. I understood that there is a greater reality. At this point, this is the best description I can create to describe the emotional state I was in.
At some point, I realized that there was another image superimposed on my awareness. This image was of my doctor bent over me, trying to revive me. Of course, from his point of view, I had clearly passed out, was unconscious and unresponsive. But from where I was, he seemed to be working hard to ‘drag me back’ into a different existence where I didn't want to go. I felt resentful but powerless to resist. Gradually I remembered my ego-self and my present life.
After I had fully recovered, my doctor explained that I had had a seizure—my muscles had become rigid, and my arms were clamped to my sides so tightly that he had been unable to bend them. He stated that I had stopped breathing for several minutes while he was working vigorously to start me breathing again. I never did speak to him about my experience, feeling sure that he would just dismiss it. I was kept under observation in the office for maybe an hour before being released.
I recall that I didn't feel fear or concern about having just had a seizure. The only thing going through my mind was my experience in the other reality. This experience confirmed for me that there is another, greater reality, which extends beyond our earthly existence. I knew it to be utterly true that our consciousness extend beyond this world, and that we each have a soul, or spirit, which continues on after we die. I felt a very deep sense of joy, peace, and gratitude at having been allowed to have this experience. And it is something which has gradually informed my understanding of my life, of this world, and of the existence of that greater reality.
Date NDE Occurred: Approximately June 2003
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? 'Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening'
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes There was period where I was clearly aware when I was transitioning back to my current life. I would say that for a brief period there was a kind of superimposition of the other world onto this one.
I lost awareness of my body
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Normal consciousness and alertness
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I believe that I was continually aware, or conscious. I don't recall the transition into the other reality except in retrospect. This is because from the start of the experience until I became aware of my doctor's efforts to revive me, I had no memory of my then current life. I was instantly in that other place, while retaining my sense of self-identity.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
Were your senses more vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Vision was different in that I ‘knew’ where I was and what the landscape was composed of, but I can't describe any of the details.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Hearing, as such, probably didn't exist. While I understood the things the other being was ‘speaking’ to me, I can't say that I heard words—I just ‘knew’ what was being communicated to me.
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 see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place I was aware of being at the shore of a sea, and of a landscape with green hills.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? From an emotional standpoint, I experienced no fear at all; in fact I felt completely at ease, accepted and loved. I somehow understood that there was nothing to worry about, that there never was anything to worry about, and that all things are without threat. I understood that there is a greater reality, which is completely accepting. It is not divisive, but wholly inclusive. At this point, this is the best description I can create to describe the emotional state I was in. The emotions I felt were deeply satisfying and reassuring because they felt more real and concrete than anything I had ever felt before.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
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? Everything about myself or others I understood about a greater reality which is completely accepting. It is not divisive, but wholly inclusive.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
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- Agnostic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I no longer believe that death is the end of my existence. I have gradually fleshed out my new understanding of the universe by reasoning about what kind of a Universe would contain this type of consciousness. While I don't believe in a Judeo-Christian deity, I do believe that, in general, all religious and spiritual beliefs originate from our direct experience of an unending consciousness.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Buddhist
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 greatly doubted that consciousness continues on after death. I strongly believed that our existence is purely material and bounded by the physicality of the Universe. I now believe that none of that is correct. I now know that consciousness extends past what we are aware of in our earlthly lifes and that our earthly existence is but one mode of being, and that for us the journey continues after we die.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I learned about the universe being all-accepting and inclusive instead of rejecting and exclusive.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
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 I was aware of a being who was ‘speaking to me,’ who was giving me instructions about a journey I would be taking.
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? Yes I experienced feelings that for me is evidence that the universe is all accepting and inclusive rather than rejecting and exclusive.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably does not exist
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God does not exist
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes I knew about my purpose during the experience, of making a certain journey.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably does not exist
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife does not exist Yes I felt the experience provide me with evidence of an underlying self awareness and consciousness which continues to exist after death.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death
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? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
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? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes I experienced feelings that for me is evidence that the universe is all accepting and inclusive rather than rejecting and exclusive.
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 I became more spiritual as a result of the experience. I feel now that experiential evidence is certainly, the more significant when compared to scientific evidence. I mean this in the sense that, if personal experience informs me of a certain reality that science theory says can't be true; the science theory is clearly wrong and must be expanded to include the experiential evidence.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes My wife and I separated several years after this. I have since remarried and my current relationship is with someone who accepts and believes that my experience was real. If nothing else, the experience has led me to choose different life partners than I would have chosen previously.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I can only talk about the other place in general terms. While I ‘understood’ where I was, with the hills, the continent, the sea, and perhaps a sailboat nearby, I can't describe in detail what the surrounding landscape looked like. The other difficulty is in describing the emotional state I experienced. The emotions that I felt were deeply satisfying and reassuring because they felt more real and concrete than anything I had ever felt before. I just don't know how to describe something in words that well to convey the essence of that feeling to someone else. It would simply have to be experienced.
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 am able to recall the details of the experience that I descibed above at will, as if they had just occured.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I now know that consciousness extends past what we are aware of in our earthly lives and that our earthly existence is but one mode of being, and that for us the journey continues after we die.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I initially shared this experience with my wife and children and closest friends. Even though they all listened respectfully, they let me know they thought it was just an elaborate dream or hallucination that I had while unconscious. A year or so ago, I shared parts of my experience on a public forum, where I was criticized and told that it was just a hallucination, that I was clearly unconscious throughout the experience. More recently, I shared some aspects of the experience on a much friendlier public forum, where one participant suggested I should document my experience here on this website.
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 The experience is always real to me. I know that I did not lose consciousness. For a brief time I was somewhere else. I know that what happened was real, because it has none of the unreal qualities of dreams. Even very real-seeming dreams cannot compare.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real The experience is always real to me. I continue to observe that my dreams are nothing like my experience, in that my dreams fade away almost immediately, but my experience is still completely clear.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes There have been particular moments since then when I have felt the same deep sense of acceptance and love that I felt during the experience. I can give one example. I regularly run up a local mountainside. While running there on a cold, cloudy day in the fall of 2009, a small cloud above me opened up for a few minutes, showering me with rain. The clouds were drifting about, and suddenly I felt the rays of the sun warming my shoulders. The experience at that instant was one of pure love and acceptance, and I felt such an expansive happiness and joy at being alive. I felt as if the sun had literally extended a ray of love towards me to keep me going on my run! There have been a few other moments like that which have come very close to the experience I had in 2003.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? One thing that would be helpful is to have some way to save work-in-progress. Completing this questionnaire is exhausting and time-consuming and I don't believe that forty-five minutes is a reasonable time to complete it in. Being able to save the work while taking a break would be a nice function to have.