A friend persuaded me to submit this account, against my natural tendency on the matter. I have no real interest in following it up or being contacted in any way. It was a very frightening episode. It is traumatic enough, to be honest, to recall it just once at length here. But having set out to describe it, I will be as frank and as accurate as language can allow.
On the 15th July 2013, at about 7.45am, I was on my way to work and approaching the intersection and getting ready to take a left-hand turn. This is a notoriously dangerous intersection on any day, and there have been many accidents there. It is hard to see if the intersection is clear from the right and the left turn is particularly hazardous. I was running late and in a flustered state of mind. I had an important meeting that I’d been planning for carefully over a number of days, and a really stupid delay at the last minute put all of that in jeopardy. It should also be understood that a much better traffic signal system exists there today than was in place at the time of this incident.
I approached the intersection in a hurry. I looked to the right and believed that I had correctly viewed that nothing was approaching from the right, so I made the left turn. As I crossed the intersection, I glanced right once more and saw a vehicle heading straight for me at what could only have been in excess of ninety miles per hour. We saw each other. I saw the look in the other guy’s eyes because we were that close. A collision was absolutely inevitable. There is no way on this earth that it could have been avoided.
What happens next is EXTREMELY difficult to describe, but I will do my best. And this can be (and must be) taken to apply to everything that I am going to attempt to relate from this point onwards. Words, even the most carefully chosen words, capture no more than 1% of this experience at best, and even then very poorly. This is quite possibly the most frustrating thing about giving this account.
Across from the front of the car on the left, in almost the opposite direction to the oncoming vehicle, was a field. I suddenly became aware of a very large 'object' approaching slowly on a diagonal across this field. It was coming directly towards my car. Time was not functioning normally while this was happening, if it was functioning at all. I had the space to notice this happening, but I can’t explain how I was able to do that. The object when I first saw it, appeared to be about the size of a ten-floor tower block. It subjectively seemed to be about two or three hundred yards across the field. These size and distance descriptions are meaningless, as I’ll try to explain in a moment.
The object resembled a giant waterwheel lying on its side and rotating as it approached me and my vehicle. As it got closer, this didn’t take time, as we understand it. I saw that my first observation about its size was wildly inaccurate. It was more like the size of a small city. As it got closer still, I understood that all scale and distance estimates were meaningless. It was larger than what we think of as the world. As it approached me, I became aware of its power and significance. My mind interpreted this as being an up-close, giant-scale physical object.
Okay, now this part is particularly difficult to explain. As the object drew near to me, a kind of sensation came over my person and I knew exactly what this thing was. Not only that, but I knew everything that pertained to it, what it was, what it was doing, what it’s 'business' was with me, where and when I had seen it before, why I was seeing it now, and many many other things that I cannot now recall.
I had seen the object before I was born and I will see it again when I die. We all knew it before we were born. We will all see it when we die. But this information is eclipsed from us while we are alive. And that was why I was seeing it now in the experience, because I was in the process of dying in a fatal car crash.
Here’s what I can remember, as best it words can tell. This wheel wasn’t something that moved towards me through the world, or through reality somehow. That was an illusion that my senses were constructing for me. The wheel WAS reality, itself. It represented EVERY CONCEIVABLE POSSIBILITY for a life or for a world that could ever be envisioned or imagined. As it approached, I became aware that what we call our world was contained within it. It was simply one of the numberless slots or paddles in the 'water wheel.' It had always been so. My life, your life, our world, all of us - we were a part of this wheel structure and we had always been a part of this structure. It simply now made itself visible to me.
There then began the truly terrifying dimension of this experience. Words cannot even begin to describe the level of fear I experienced. The water wheel sort of rolled across me and then across the place where my car was in the road. As it did so, I began to be hit by each of the paddles in the wheel.
Remember that all of this is just a way of talking. It does not, and cannot, remotely describe the real situation as it actually was.
But some sense of it can be had by imagining that in the space of each 'paddle' there was a kind of spinning film of water, like a waterfall on its side. Imagine a film of water being thrown outward from the wheel in each slot, as if by centrifugal force. Imagine being slapped or splashed by each of these films as you collide with it and pass through it to the next one. This is what was happening. Except these weren’t just films of water. They were (for want of a better term) possible realities or what we might think of as universes or worlds. Again, our world, our entire universe as we normally think of it, was simply one among an infinite number of these. How did I know that there was an infinite number? I just did. A kind of knowing came with the event, and there was no doubting this knowing. It WAS so, and I knew it was so.
And because I had knowledge and understood what was happening in ways I can no longer communicate, I was afraid. I understood that I was about to be subject to the process that humans approximated with the term 'reincarnation.' This was why the wheel had come. I represented a kind of discrepancy that had to be fixed. The event, or perhaps the imminent event, on the highway had caused me to slip out of or fall between the paddles on the wheel. This structure had some kind of cosmic purpose of sorting things into their correct natural place. I was afraid and resisted being 'sorted' so the wheel stepped up its aggressive attempts to 'sort' me correctly.
With this came another understanding that frightened me even more. I knew that unless I soon selected one of these realities to slide back into, that the wheel would coerce the situation by deciding for me. One way or another, I WOULD be 'sorted' whether I liked it or not. If I didn’t choose for myself, I would simply be fitted into place at some nearest position on the wheel to the point where I failed to make the decision; if that makes sense. I was aware of having a limited ability to choose, but not much. Even that limited ability wasn’t much use because each reality slammed against me and through me before I could make much sense of what it contained.
Even I did not remain the same from one slot in the wheel to the next. It was as if when each film broke over me, I was destroyed and made again from the ground up as a completely new self. There was no continuous 'me' that traveled unaltered through that wheel and can somehow report back on this experience. This is just one of the many things that is so very hard to explain. The very idea of a continuous self was contradicted by this experience.
I have forgotten, or perhaps it was deliberately suppressed, the vast majority of what I saw in the various universes or paddles of the wheel. At the beginning, they seemed very similar to this world we inhabit, or believe ourselves to inhabit. For example, I have a floating memory of seeing various different scenarios of how the accident played out. I suspect that these were all nearby paddles on the wheel. In one of them I remember seeing what looked like my vehicle thrown right off the road and so badly damaged that it looked like it had been folded in the center like a pocket knife. I seemed to recall many other scenarios like this that I can no longer remember. To clarify: what I mean is that I seemed to file or flip through numerous conceivable (quantum?) possibilities for the outcome of the accident. I can remember doing this, but I cannot remember what any of these particular 'worlds' contained.
I have no explanation for why I failed to experience any of the phenomena usually reported with the imminent death situations like the tunnel, the light, and so on. I suspect that imminent death experiences are symbolic scenarios that flash up just as someone is entering or exiting the wheel, but before the situation has developed very far. At no stage did I see anything whatever that resembled what we humans would think of as an afterlife or spirit world or life after death realm. It’s as if we are either on the outer surface of the wheel itself, in one of its realized worlds, or else we are dead and we are the wheel itself. The wheel is a space where all uncreated possibility exists, but nothing completed or actual. And bear in mind that nothing was concealed from me. I was the ALL, and knew the ALL. I certainly don’t retain it or pretend do, but I knew it then.
I began to grow extremely panicked. Each time I thought I was just beginning to get a handle on things, I would be slapped over violently and ruthlessly into a new slot in the wheel and a whole new 'me' would crystallize, along with all the memories and assumptions that went along with that world. I remembered none of who I was just a moment ago in another paddle on the wheel. I had no memory whatsoever of where I had come from or the highway situation in my world. I had zero memory of that world. I knew I had come from a 'somewhere' but had no recollection of where that was, or even who I was. It was about the most bizarre thing that you could imagine.
Somehow though, and I can only assume that it happened without any conscious action on my part, the possibilities appearing in the wheel began to narrow down and become somewhat more familiar again. Scenarios associated with the accident began to appear once more. I say once more, but I have no real way of knowing whether this was a separate incidence of this to what I described above, or whether it was really the same incidence because time was functioning so unusually during the whole episode.
Again I saw, or seemed to see, variations or possible world-outcomes where I died in the crash. I seemed to understand intuitively that if I went 'into' any of these, I would be there for only a few moments or minutes at most, and then I would have to come out and face the wheel again almost immediately. I didn’t want to do this. But there was an odd kind of knowing associated with that too. The wheel didn’t seem bothered one way or the other. It didn’t seem to matter to it whether I emerged again in three minutes time or three decades time. All it cared about was sorting me, and there was a kind of ruthlessness to this that I will not soon forget.
I found myself back on the highway in what seemed to be a very short distance back up the road, still approaching the intersection. This is just one of the many mysteries associated with the event that I cannot explain. Did I choose a world which was a version of our universe in which the accident hadn’t quite happened yet, but was just seconds away from happening? I can’t say, because I have no memory of making that decision. I remember the look on that driver’s face as clearly as if it were yesterday. I remember him bracing back on the wheel. But I braked as I reached the intersection and that driver, or his car, were simply nowhere to be seen.
Date NDE Occurred: 15th July 2013
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Accident Other: What is called 'fear death' or an immediate risk and perception of fatality about to happen.
A fatal collision appeared imminent. However, the collision did not occur. Either I misjudged that the collision was about to occur or a different possibility was selected during the experience.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain Details from my earthly life were visible. Indeed, as the account explains, details from many versions of my earthly life. However, these did not appear particularly evidential in the usual sense of that word.
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? More consciousness and alertness than normal I knew things we do not even appreciate are possible during normal human consciousness
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I'm not sure I really understand this question. As best I understand it though, I had knowledge or certainty about what I was experiencing from onset forwards.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning.
I don't think I can add to what I already indicated in my account. Time was not functioning normally. I had an infinite 'amount' of it in which to observe what I called the waterwheel approaching the car, for example, although common sense says I should only have had a fraction of a second at the most. I cannot explain it any better than I already did.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Normal human senses did not apply. All of this seemed to be immediate or communicated by a faculty of knowing we are not normally aware of. Vision or hearing were not relevant to what I experienced in any unusual way.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Normal human senses did not apply. All of this seemed to be immediate or communicated by a faculty of knowing we are not normally aware of. Vision or hearing were not relevant to what I experienced in any unusual way.
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 encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place. As described in my account, many versions of possible worlds unfolded before me. Each of these worlds seemed every bit as real, when in them, as our own world seems to us day to day. This strongly suggests to me that the idea we carry around of our own world being the real and only one is a laughable illusion.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Wonder. Fear. Anxiety at not being able to make the right choice. Overwhelmed (this probably most of all).
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? No
Did you have a feeling of joy? No
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe. Yes. There came a knowing along with the experience. Indeed, in many ways the knowing and the experience were the same thing. This is why there was much fear. I knew what process I was involved and what the outcome would be unless I paid urgent attention to the situation.
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? I remembered many past events
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from my personal future. There is a sense that this happened. However, as I tried to explain in the account, I have a feeling that a great deal happened that I can no longer remember.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a definite conscious decision to return to life. Difficult to say. I was aware of an urgent need to get back 'on' the wheel, but I made not particular decision to come back which caused return. Or if I did, I do not remember making it.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Moderately important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
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. This was completely from left field. I was and still am an atheist. I took no exotic substances. I engaged in no spiritual practices. I was simply on the way to work.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
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? Uncertain There may have been a sense of 'other lifetimes.' But this, among many other things, has been forgotten. Sorry to be so vague. It just IS that way.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
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? Uncertain This is also hard to answer. What I appeared to be aware of was a 'cosmic process.' At the same time, I both WAS this process and this process was HAPPENING to me, if that makes sense. What I called the waterwheel seemed to contain every conceivable possibility that could ever exist. One can infer from this that it includes the brightest and most glorious possibilities that humans can imagine. Of course, the same applies in the opposite direction.
If there was any kind of benign sources that nudged towards or favored what we would think of as the positive outcomes over the negative ones, then I did not encounter it or have any awareness of its existence during the experience. If anything, the whole thing had a disturbingly mechanical feel. I don't mean to imply that I felt that this process or consciousness was malign in any way. It's more as if there was simply no limits to its curiosity in what possibilities it was willing to 'manifest.' There was, or seemed to be, a kind of ruthlessness about that, that we would not recognize as human. Perhaps as a post-human we might retain some say or coloring to what possibilities show forth for us. I would like to believe so. But again, I have no direct evidence for that conclusion from my experience.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God probably does not exist
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain Only as described in account.
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 probably does not exist. Uncertain. I know that we begin to be sorted on the wheel the moment we once again find ourselves outside of an earthly life. This seems to be what happened to me. I was not aware of any reality beyond the possibilities contained in the wheel, for the simple reason it appeared to contain every possibility that could ever exist.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I moderately 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? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are possibly 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? Uncertain It seemed to me that all conceivable possibilities have meaning; but that also, in a sense, none do, except in their own terms. Again, the wheel didn't seem to judge. The wheel only turned, if you take my meaning, being wheel-like in its behavior. I did not get the sense that there was any kind of spiritual growth or evolution going on.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Slight changes in my life. It was a very disconcerting experience that suggests that, literally, anything is possible.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Don't know what to add. This is why I checked 'yes' when asked if it is difficult to express in words.
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. Those aspects remembered are remembered very vividly. However, I also have the sense that a great deal more happened that I cannot remember. Absurd though it may sound to say it, I don't rule out the possibility that I actually knew everything there was to know during this experience. I knew the details of what exists in every single variation on that wheel, but for some reason our human nature cannot retain such information without sanity. I would support that interpretation, to be honest, because even the tiny amount I do retain seems threat enough to sanity.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes One or two people. Their reactions were supportive, but only because I was very selective about who I disclosed it to.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I am familiar with them from general culture. This is how I knew enough to know that what happened to me didn't fit in with the usual set of events reported for such. I had no particular interest in them either, however.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? There are far too many questions and some of them are irksome and/or repetitive. Use fewer more useful questions. It takes too long to fill in the questionnaire. Don't ask people to explain things in words they have just said is impossible to explain in words!
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.