Reviewed by Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.
There are now scores of books about near-death experiences, those brief excursions into a realm of unutterable peace, complete acceptance and absolute love that have inspired so many of us who have learned about these transcendent states reported by many thousands of individuals who have survived such journeys and lived to tell about them. But there are relatively few books, such as Nancy Clark’s Divine Moments, that recount the stories of people who have had the same kind of transformative experience without coming close to death. Indeed, the evidence suggests that there are many more such people – surely millions of them – who have had essentially the same kind of spiritual revelation in any number of ways, none of them associated with any near-death crisis, that the near-death experience affords. Because of the inherent drama associated with near-death experiences, however, and the fact they have been studied by doctors and other professionals and featured so often on television, they have received a great deal of attention over the past 35 years or so, ever since Raymond Moody published his ground-breaking book on the subject, Life After Life. And because Moody labeled these episodes “near-death experiences,” those who had them could easily be identified by this term.
But the persons who have had the same kind of experience without its being triggered by the onset of death, because they have never had a similar label applied to them and are therefore much more difficult to identify, have largely been overlooked. Indeed, I know from my own experience that they have sometimes been made to feel that their own stories have been slighted, both by researchers and the general public, simply because theirs were not occasioned by the drama of a near-death event.
This omission is finally being rectified and it is the signal contribution of Nancy Clark’s book to bring to a wider public many of these stories, which she rightly calls “spiritually transformative experiences,” or, alternatively, “near-death-like experiences.” Clark has diligently searched for such people – “ordinary people,” for the most part, she says – who were wiling to tell her their stories, and in this book she presents over 40 of them. The reader soon sees that these people for the most part describe experiences that replicate classic near-death experiences, and, perhaps even more important, tend to lead to the same kind of changes afterward – greater compassion for others and reverence for all life, wanting to be of service to others, decreased materialism, loss of the fear of death, etc. These testimonies that Clark has compiled are deeply moving and very inspirational to read.
But there is far more in this book than an anthology of inspirational stories. And that is because of the author herself has not only had a near-death experience in connection with the birth of one of her children, where she was actually left for dead, but some years later, in 1979, an even more profound spiritually transformative experience while – of all things! – delivering a eulogy for a dear friend. In one chapter of her book – a chapter that is so luminous that it seems to be written in words of light – Clark describes both of these extraordinary encounters with the divine, and to me, this chapter alone would make the book worth reading. And what you find throughout this book, in this chapter and in some of the others that the author has written, is a distillation of Clark’s spiritual understanding, which is profound. Though Clark is modest and writes with great humility, she has obviously become a spiritual teacher and this book both begins and ends by offering the reader important spiritual truths about the nature and snares of the ego and, in contrast, the bliss and blessings of the true self, which is to be found in experiences like those she describes in this book. These chapters of Clark’s give the reader so much spiritual treasure that one can only be grateful to the author for sharing her own hard-won wisdom as well as the many wonderful stories she has provided in this bountiful collection. -- Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.
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Nancy's Website: http://www.freewebs.com/nancy-clark/
Hear His Voice Reviewed by Dr. William Hoover
A Loving, Humble, and Intelligent Masterpiece that's also BELIEVABLE!
This is a marvelous book that's written with profound eloquence, beauty, love and wisdom. As a person who's recently been awakened, or reawakened, to the quest for spiritual communion, this book has been--both literally and figuratively--a "Godsend" to me! The author meticulously builds a foundation of credibility throughout the earlier parts of the book. This is done through an eloquent and courageous disclosure of intimate details of her personal life. Her three major communions with God are magnificently interwoven into the tapestry of her life's story. The wisdom that follows is then easily recognized as truth, and it's written with both love and intelligence. Thus, there are several things that make this book truly special: its credibility; its courageous and humble autobiographical component; its beautiful description of mystical encounters; and its wisdom, which is expressed with such profound love and intelligence--both.
The credibility of this book is perhaps its most singularly outstanding attribute. There's quite a bit of talk and banter about "spirituality" these days, and many people seem to be getting into the act. I am a diagnostic surgical pathologist and cytopathologist, and the default tendency toward skepticism is a strongly entrenched product of my training as a physician. I've also been in the "real world" workplace for over 13 years, and this has primarily served to reinforce that academically instilled skepticism on a practical level. So I was rather shocked when, having chosen this book because it seemed to be exactly what I was yearning for, I looked at the "About the Author" section and saw that Nancy Clark is a cytotechnologist! For those who don't know, it should be pointed out that cytotechnology is field that requires INTENSE concentration over prolonged periods of time with immensely important medical decisions riding on the cytotechnologist's diagnostic accuracy and ability to sometimes find a needle in a haystack. It is truly a mentally demanding profession and not a hospitable realm for flighty nut cases. I hold this group of people in extremely high regard! I didn't know she was one until AFTER I opened the book.
More important than any professional affiliation is the author's OBVIOUS honesty, which can be gleaned by any reader with even the most meager bit of common sense. There are several passages that point towards an unmistakable veracity of the narrative. For example, when describing her first mystical encounter, which was a short near death experience, if she were lying but trying to "make us believe" her, she would NOT have disclosed that her medical records failed to document the resuscitation effort and her having been discovered alive after removing the body sheet from her face, and then passing out. Instead, she would have omitted, glossed over, or even lied about the failure of medical documentation. If she were just trying to sell a story, it is also unlikely that she would disclose that her own family had, at least initially, not believed her story about the mystical encounter she had with The Light of God during the eulogy she gave, but disclose she did. If she were dishonest, or even if she were just exaggerating, is it likely that she'd point out that, due to failing vision, she had occasionally mourned for tire treads on the roadside that she had initially mistaken for dead animals? Um.....I don't think so!
The author also makes it abundantly clear that for much of her adult life, her thinking was primarily left-brained and quite firmly grounded in the physical "reality." For example, when she sits alone out in the countryside pondering words for her deceased friend's eulogy, she feels his presence, yet like most of us when faced with such an intuitive knowing, has the urge to dismiss it.
She writes, "A feeling of John's spiritual presence beside me startled me. My visual perception did not observe any shape or form of John. Yet I knew beyond my discerning intellect that what I was sensing deep within my inner self was true. My analytical brain was always trying to steer me away from my true feelings within with scolding words like, "This can't be. John is dead. There has to be an explanation for this." I reasoned that my mind was playing tricks on me, yet at the same time, I knew that I was experiencing something very real! When I acknowledged my friend's presence I felt totally relaxed and at peace. Only when my intellect and analytical side dominated by attempting to judge that moment, did I feel confused and startled."
In chapter 12, she states that, "I have an analytical mind that often times questions whether I am indeed receiving Divine Inspiration, or am simply being guided by my ego-driven self. If I am skeptical, my impulse is to dismiss the information." From the perspective of someone less spiritually aware (me), these acknowledgements of left brained, analytical orientation are rather comforting. Near the beginning of the book, the author asks us to read from our heart, not our head. That's a beautiful sentiment and sage advice. Still, it's refreshing to know that, with this book about spirituality, we don't have to park our brains at the door!
The telling of her personal life engages the reader with its poignant beauty, humility and, and unmistakable resonance of truthfulness. As a child, raised in a strict Ukrainian Catholic tradition, she communicated with God during long church services and one day even heard his voice. Her dreadful encounters with the authoritarian priest in the context of her marrying a non-Catholic are compellingly told. Her subsequent descent into spiritual limbo and the loss of her close friend, which was intimated to her in a prophetic dream, are heartbreaking, but somehow they fit into a grander plan. The plan included her mystical encounter with the Light of God during the eulogy, with the knowledge and wisdom gained from that communion.
It is this wisdom that is conveyed so eloquently, with such love and intelligence, that is the most profound part of this magnificent book. This is presented in great detail, yet with manifest empathy and compassion. It's so beautifully written that it's possible for the reader to miss some of the main points, which are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. But even that's not a problem, because there's a concise synopsis of the main points at the end of the book. The message of unconditional love and acceptance from the Creator near the end of the book is one of this book's many highlights. What makes it even sweeter is the unmistakable conclusion that this book is a work of NON-fiction.
William W. Hoover, M.D.
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Nancy's Website: http://www.freewebs.com/nancy-clark/