I was thirty-six years old at the time, playing pick-up basketball, full court, with men fifteen years younger than me. My competitive style, my life style, was to play hard, win at all costs, and ignore the pain or consequences to my body while doing so. Did not hydrate with water nor leave the court for over three and a half hours. We were playing under the mid-day sun, weekend in August of 1987.
After playing, I left with spouse to go shopping. Entered store and blacked out. The next thing I was aware and awake to was my wife, clutching my arm while I was hooked up to monitors and glucose packs in hospital bed. She informed me that I had experienced a grand mal seizure in the store, that it required two large emergency medical technicians to hold me down so I wouldn't hurt myself nor swallow my tongue, etc. (I am a fairly big guy, height six feet, four inches and 200 lbs.) I had been in the hospital in coma for a full day. Doctors checked me out and released me within three hours of my awakening.
I did not talk about what I experienced while I was unconscious. Initially, the first five to six months, I thought it had all been a dream that I remembered lasting maybe twenty to 30 minutes. Upon reflection, however, I realized I had experienced something unlike anything I had ever encountered. The events went accordingly:
I am floating above my body in an ambulance upon a stretcher. Two emergency medical technicians are slicing my clothes off to hook up heart monitors to me, taking my pulse and attempting to insert a needle with glucose packs into my arm. The ambulance is bouncing and they fail at several attempts. Blood is running down my arm from the puncture wounds. They are saying 'We have a white middle aged male in arrest. Direct us to nearest emergency room. Stat.' I think to myself 'Hmm, looks like I might be dying. I wonder if I will make it.' Then I am back in my body, open my eyes briefly and ask one emergency medical technician 'Am I going to die?'
He looks at his partner, they exchange a glance, and then he says to me 'Don't worry. You are fine and are not going to die.' I leave my body and return to floating above the ambulance. I think to myself, 'It is not his decision whether I leave or not.'
The scene below me is bright and vivid with lots of activity. It is like I am looking through a transparent and translucent membrane at live theater, but I am not emotionally connected to it other than I am curious and interested. All around and above me is black, a void, I look over to my right and see a long dark tunnel leading off into infinity. In the farthest reaches of this tunnel, I see a small, singular bright light. In the front of the tunnel are two figures, my grandparents, both dead for many years. A Voice asks me a question. The voice comes from everywhere, inside me, around me, back in time, forward in time, everywhere. It says, 'ARE YOU FINISHED?' I instantly comprehend he's really asking, 'Are you finished living in your body, on this material plane in the manner of depressive self-disregard and emotional disdain for you and others that is interwoven throughout your being?' I comprehended that the way I had lived my life up to now would not allow me to stay in my body on this plane of existence. It was not the way of things, God's things, God's universe. The question was asked as matter-of-factly, as unemotionally and non-judgmentally; as loving and accepting as if I had been asked to pass the salt at the dinner table or take off my shoes before entering the house. No blame, no shame, no guilt, no criticism, no anger - just a question. Are you finished?
I felt I had all the time there ever was and ever would be to answer. My earthly perception of time was different, an illusion of our material and bodily senses. I felt totally relaxed, calm, peaceful and knew in that moment that everything about my life, existence and love was comprehendible and totally reachable. I was home in God's arms and I was being given a peek behind the veil at Universal Knowledge through the eyes of God. I continued to float.
After a while, or a long time, I remembered my wife was back waiting for my return and that we were not finished with our time together. She was waiting for me. Slowly I turned my head away from the scene below, not to my left where the tunnel the light and my grandparents were, but towards the void on my right. I awoke in the hospital to my wife clutching my arm and the IV drips and other intensive care unit lines connected to my body.
A year later, my wife and I were divorced. I was no longer married, my career and work was in disarray, I was actively seeking different alternative ways to heal the chaos of my life and I continued to review the experience I had while I was in the hospital. I finally came to accept it for what it was. My experiences was a gift and a chance to live the second half of my life in a radically different fashion. Love, recovery and spiritual peace were now more than just an idea or a goal to pursue. I wrote a long poetic ballad entitled 'The Sword in The Well' that was inspired by this experience. Rather the entire eight-stanza poem wrote itself in twenty-five minutes while I held the pen in my hand. The first and closing paragraph?/stanza? went like this:
'Deep in a earth lies the sword of a warrior,
Near a rock
In the sand
Of a well
Covered in the dark by clear, cool water,
When the heart of the warrior fell.
Tempered blue steel with a razor's edge
And a handle covered in hide
Once, long ago, sheathed in metal,
Now no longer at its Master's side.'
Date NDE Occurred: August 1987
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes 'Epileptic Seizure, grand mal type, brought on by excessive exertion, excessive mid day over head sun and lack of water. Entered 24 hour coma when transported to hospital.' 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
Epileptic Seizure, grand mal type, brought on by excessive exertion, excessive mid-day overhead sun and lack of water. I went into a twenty-four hour coma when transported to hospital.
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 At the point of the question about my life.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? At the point of the question about my life.
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 felt essence of this entire experience was that our earthly perception(s) of time and space are illusions that can be altered to reveal a deeper and truer 'reality'.
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. Clarity was heightened, in sight was deepened, darker colors were not emotionally imbued with fear; the blackness of the void and the darkness of the tunnel itself felt appealing, attractive, and supportive. I wanted to stay and see more. Everything was transparent and solid and connected at the same time. I look forward to seeing and experiencing this all again.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Except for the Voice which came from everywhere, hearing was 'normal.'
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
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
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 In the tunnel were my grandparents on my mother's side of the family; Jack and Sonja, who had died when I was in my early twenties. I loved them deeply and without reservation and knew they felt the same way about me.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
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 The light was a pinpoint at the edge of infinity, but I knew that if I stepped into the tunnel with my grandparents that I would be instantly enclosed and enraptured by the light no matter how much distance was traveled. Time and distance were immaterial, the enrapture would be instantaneous.
Believe me, I was more than just intrigued or interested in joining with it.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Joy, bliss, peace, calmness, total love and awe. A complete absence of fear, guilt, shame, anxiety, anger - any of the negative emotions or feeling states.
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
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes The boundary between myself and my grandparents, in the tunnel, felt like the pivotal point of the entire experience: 'Cross over now and be with us/God? Accept that your work is finished on earth and in your body and enjoin with us/God? Or not - and stay or return to your life in your body.' I did not cross over into the tunnel and it was my choice.
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? Liberal none
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I am more spiritual in my daily activities. I meditate and pray more, I listen better, and I am more compassionate to the pain of others as well as myself. I am kinder with others and myself. I laugh more and though I still work hard, I enjoy my work. As I said earlier, my religious beliefs have been exchanged for more direct spiritual knowledge. I am very happy about that.
What is your religion now? Liberal none
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I am more spiritual in my daily activities. I meditate and pray more, I listen better, and I am more compassionate to the pain of others as well as myself. I am kinder with others and myself. I laugh more and though I still work hard, I enjoy my work. As I said earlier, my religious beliefs have been exchanged for more direct spiritual knowledge. I am very happy about that.
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 Again, please review my original statement about the NDE/OBE and subsequent questions.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I am more open and available to the love others have to offer. I am more generous and open with the love I have to give. I struggle less in relationship to those I love and enjoy the time we have together more.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Love opens doors I never imagined before. I no longer just believe in God, I know God firsthand. There is an afterlife and a before life and we are all connected to it and every conscious being on the planet. That knowledge feels like a special gift to me. A blessing to share.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The question the Voice posed to me: 'ARE YOU FINISHED?' I have heard the Voice two times since then.
Once, while frightened and praying for guidance I heard it say 'CALM YOUR FEARS, MY SON, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.' I realized in my fear that I had abandoned His Truth, not the other way around. Also, several months ago after my father died at the age of eighty-eight, I had a vision soon after of him near my bed being escorted by two beings as they said 'ITS ALRIGHT, YOU CAN LEAVE NOW, PAUL.'
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It was about a year before I shared with anyone. Most people were either grateful or touched by what I shared.
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 Initially I was not sure. Temperamentally I am a skeptic by nature. With time and reflection, I have come to accept the power and gift that I was blessed to experience. It shapes me and the second half of my life in many, many different ways.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real As above.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes Daily life is more doable, more enjoyable, less stressful, blessed.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Everybody will get a chance to share what I experienced sooner or later. I am happy about that.