Experience Description

I was fully awake when my heart stopped beating and my last breath passed my lips.

In the Spring of 2003, a genetic time bomb went off and my body's time came to an end. The moment of death was upon me at age fifty-three and I found it a curious thing indeed. People around me grew quite excited but an untroubled calm came over me, carrying me further and further away from the scene, as if moving me to an invisible but familiar place just sideways to where my body lay. The sirens of the ambulance were soft and melodic, the questions of the emergency room doctors sounded like a different language.

Minutes after they placed me on the emergency room table and fitted an oxygen mask over my face, I felt my heart stop beating and I sighed my last breath. There was the briefest pause, while my personality puzzled that I did not gasp for breath. I didn't seem concerned that my body had just died - and then it was suddenly cradled in my higher soul and I was catapulted, for that is the only word for it, catapulted, wide awake, out of my body and into the Sphere of Universal Communion.

My whole life, it turned out, had been practice for the moment of dying: my higher soul stepped forward, speaking reassuringly about how it had been through this so many times before. While my lower soul, this lifetime's personality, went mute in the face of the vast Unknown, my higher soul catapulted into It with one last sigh of joy and gratitude, What a glorious Creation!

I was fully awake when I entered the Sphere of Universal Communion.

How do I know that is its true name?

I don't. I'm not even sure it's possible for it to have a single true name. But the Sphere of Universal Communion is what I saw and what I felt and it's the only true name I can imagine, the only one I can use to describe it at all.

It appeared to me as a sphere of light, but light that is aware. Light that is awareness. Not something so much seen - since we have no physical eyes without a body - as sensed. Something like the warmth of sunlight even when your eyes are squeezed shut. I had the additional sense of someone present; close by, their attention resting on the edges of your awareness gently. An aware light that is both the substance and the medium of communion within its own spherical spatiality. An aware light that creates and sustains the possibility of shared awareness on a universal basis. Within its infinite spatiality.

I was fully awake when I realized I was myself a sphere of communion.

A sphere of aware light.

Surrounded by an infinite number of other spheres of aware light.

So, as I experienced it, the Sphere of Universal Communion is an infinite space of aware light that is occupied by all the individual spheres of aware light that ever have or ever will exist. As if it were the One Mind, occupied by all the individual Ideas it ever has or ever will conceive. Or the timeless, dimensionless, Over-soul, occupied by all the individual souls that ever have or ever will enter the realm of time, space, and personality. As I said, I do not pretend to know what its true name is. The relation between the Whole and its parts - and between parts and parts - this I know and can still see with diamond clarity.

What can I still see of that bodiless state?

Each of us, as an individual sphere of communion is the embodiment of two complementary halves: Understanding and Memory. While Understanding is the principal characteristic of the higher soul, Memory is the principal characteristic of the lower soul. Understanding is our individual portion of the limitless Knowledge of the One Soul, the evolving insight we possess into the Way of the One, our individual spark of immortality. Memory, on the other hand, is the accumulated impressions of all the lifetimes we recall, the sum of all the personalities we have yoked to our soul, our enduring storehouse of mortal treasures.

Each of us, as an individual sphere of aware light, then, dwells in the Sphere of Universal Communion, a unique fusion of soul and personality, Understanding and Memory. After the death of the body, the higher soul catapults back to the Sphere of Universal Communion. If it is not yoked to the lower soul at that time, then it returns without any memory of that lifetime. It has Understanding, perhaps greatly evolved by its experiences of that lifetime, but no direct Memory. The personality, likewise, must be yoked to the soul at the moment of dying if its Memory is to accompany it to the Sphere of Universal Communion. Otherwise, it wanders without Understanding, lost and confused among all the other disembodied personalities, unaware that they no longer have a body and are only reliving the Memory of their past lifetime.

It is for this reason that it is so important to unite the higher soul and lower soul during this lifetime, before the moment of dying arrives.

I was fully awake when I realized that whenever another sphere of aware light met me, there was an immediate and spontaneous exchange between Understanding and us of our respective Memory. This is why I say we are individual spheres of communion within the Universal Sphere of Communion. Because when we come into contact there, all that we know and all that we are passes uninhibited between us in a natural and open communion of shared being. Spheres of aware light touch and so exchange the totality of their experience and assimilate one another's experience into their own.

I have come to believe from those experiences that all the individual spheres of communion are reflective of one another.

I was fully awake when all the individual spheres of communion came into contact with one another at the same time, breaking through every dam of individuality and flooding us all in the totality of our shared being. This is why I suspect its name is the Sphere of Universal Communion - because when all the individual spheres of aware light periodically come into contact at the same time, every individual awareness that ever has or ever will exist is spontaneously and immediately At-One with the One. I cannot say what it is that periodically draws all of us together at the same time but cause aside; its effect is the complete and overwhelming experience of every drop of awareness in the ocean suddenly merging into the single sea of awareness.

I have come to believe from those experiences that all the individual spheres of communion are relative to the Sphere of Universal Communion.

How have I come to believe these lessons?

Through my first-hand communion with other individual spheres of communion - and my first-hand communion with the Sphere of Universal Communion.

My body was dead for two minutes but for me, the time passed as if it were many years.

Other individual spheres of aware light, many of great depth of Understanding with the Memory of thousands of lifetimes, generously taught me lessons to bring back and place into the stream of time. Such is the work of the great-souled ones, who care mightily that this era of transformation is one of metamorphosis and not one of atrophy.

There is one last thing I have come to believe since returning to this realm of the body and its five senses:

Although it is much more difficult to perceive here than in the Sphere of Universal Communion, we are no less individual spheres of communion here than we are there. Once I had experienced what it feels like to recognize myself as a sphere of aware light in the bodiless state, I found I had become sensitive enough to perceive myself as that same sphere of communion here with a body. And sensitive enough to recognize that everyone else is a similar sphere of aware light, as well.

Moreover, although it is more difficult to perceive the spontaneous and immediate exchange of Understanding and Memory that occurs when we individual spheres of communion come into contact here, it occurs nonetheless, even if not in our conscious awareness.

I have, in other words, been a wayfarer with a body and been a wayfarer without a body and have not ever found any essential difference.

So what I have come to believe moving from birth to death to rebirth is this: just as learning to live is actually preparing to die, it is clear that preparing to die is actually learning to live.

It's been seven years since I died and I have been reticent to speak about it too soon, for fear of coloring my account with the profound emotions of the experience. I have, of course, dedicated the remainder of this lifetime to giving expression to the lessons I learned in the Sphere of Universal Communion.

'The Toltec I Ching' is the first published work of that project.

Background Information:

Gender: Male

Date NDE Occurred: 'April 19, 2003'

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Heart attack Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function) Massive heart attack.

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 Throughout.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Throughout.

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 Clinically dead for two minutes. My experience seemed to me to last for several years.

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. Really, it wasn't a visual experience, per se. Then again, I was perceiving all beings as light beings, knowing I wasn't 'seeing' them. Per account above.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Same answer as #8 above. It would seem to follow a 'telepathic' archetype, although I've never thought of it as such. It is what I have described above as 'communion'.

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 Communicated with other souls, yes. They were, as above, in the universal sphere of aware light. No, I did not know them ahead of time but once 'touching' it was obvious we had known one another forever. I am still working through everything that was communicated: things seemed packed inside my memory in an odd way, so that they come to consciousness in a specific order.

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? Uncertain Per account above: entered a sphere of aware light, which was made up of uncountable individual spheres of aware light, one of which was me.

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm again, per account: entered a sphere of universal communion filled with light beings constantly in communion with one another.

The experience included: Strong emotional tone

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Gratitude. Ecstasy. Familiarity. Homecoming. Wonder. Awe. Devotion.

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

The experience included: Vision of the future

Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future But in the sense of alternatives, forks in the road, emotional choices that need to be made, not in the sense of predestined events. It has proven very accurate.

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? Uncertain My intimacy with nature has deepened and I would describe myself as an animist now, more formally adhering to the perception that all of matter is spirit. This is not too far from my beliefs prior to the experience, but deeper and articulated with greater certainty. This led to my retiring from counseling and taking up writing in order to give expression to a reality that many people are intensely concerned with. My recent book, 'The Toltec I Ching', is part of what I learned during the experience.

What is your religion now? Liberal animist

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain My intimacy with nature has deepened and I would describe myself as an animist now, more formally adhering to the perception that all of matter is spirit. This is not too far from my beliefs prior to the experience, but deeper and articulated with greater certainty. This led to my retiring from counseling and taking up writing in order to give expression to a reality that many people are intensely concerned with. My recent book, 'The Toltec I Ching', is part of what I learned during the experience.

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

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 It is an emotional understanding, related to the one eternal moment and how to live well in it, and not a rational kind of discursive knowing.

Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Emotional appreciation of others has deepened profoundly.

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? Uncertain I prefer not to think in such terms.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Per account above: I experienced all individual beings as spheres of light able to exchange all their understanding and memory immediately through an act of communion. Subsequent to the NDE, I have experienced the same to be true of all individual beings here, among the living, although the act of communion is more difficult to be aware of consciously. It now appears to me that such communion is going on constantly beneath the surface of everyday consciousness.

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It has taken me a while to begin sharing it, nearly eight years, actually. I did share it immediately with my wife, of course, but since then, have felt reticent to bring it out in the open. Then this last couple of years, something changed internally and it seemed appropriate to begin talking about it. Folks have seemed very interested in it and said that they found it helpful in living with their inevitable death.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I had had a previous one when twenty years old that did not involve clinical death (malaria). It affected me greatly at the time. It no doubt made it easier for me to accept this more recent one.

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Upon waking, I asked for a pen and paper and wrote the following: piece of cake dying is fun I am not my body sphere of universal communion nothing has changed from those initial impressions

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real First-hand knowledge is all we have to go on. I know what I experienced. It is what is real. This world of the senses and the body is the unfolding of the eternal moment there in that sphere of aware light. I am real there, eternally. I am real here, temporarily.

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 would like to add that upon my returning to my body, I passed through a different realm, one that was neither in the sphere of aware light nor here among the living. It was a darker, denser, place, filled with lost, confused, souls. The laws binding things applied there, too, however, and any one of them I came into contact immediately 'discharged' all their memories into me in an act of much less pleasant communion (from my point of view). It was apparent to me at that moment that these beings were pure memory, with very little understanding, and were simply reliving the memories of their lives repeatedly, unaware that they no longer had bodies. However, that act of communion went two ways and my own understanding and memory (filled with all the joy and love from the sphere of aware light) instantly transferred to those others. This appeared to have a profound impact on some of them, waking them to the fact that they were dead and had another road right before them. Some saw this clearly and 'died' right then and there, passing into the sphere of aware light. Others simply did not absorb my experiences and remained even more fixedly in their perceptions. I do not generally like to talk about this part of the experience, as it is more disconcerting to many.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? You could direct readers to contributors' own websites, where the fuller expression of the NDE and its consequences might be available.