Many people think of life in three parts… you are born, you live, and you die.
Thoughts of life after death vary among people, but those three elements are always present. However, there are those that take a “detour” so to speak.
A significant number of people have come extremely close to crossing the plane between life and death without taking that final step. Some say they have come so close to it that they could see what was beyond this life, if only for a few moments.
When Does Death Occur?
There is of course the debate of when death actually occurs.
Medically, death has been classified into several different types over the years, and in some ways has made the question of when life ends even more confusing. Generally someone is “clinically dead” when the heart and lungs are no longer working, but there could still be resuscitation under certain circumstances
Many times it has been in these instances, before the resuscitation is successful, that people have spoken of seeing ‘the other side’. These are what have been classically known as “near death experiences” or NDE’s.
NDE and Ancient Writings of Plato
Stories of near death experiences go as far back as far as the ancient writings of the Greek philosopher Plato. The legend of Er is the conclusion to his epic work The Republic, written around 10.614 – 10.621 (around 380 BC) and makes references to an NDE.
A soldier was dying and described of seeing the afterlife as well as his own rebirth.
A majority of the experiences are reported as being positive in nature, and very often life-changing. Many speak of seeing a bright or “white” light as well as a sense of levitating or looking at the whole scene of resuscitation from the outside.
Pain and worry cease to exist in most of these cases, as well as a sense of moving through a tunnel. At some point however, there is a sense of urgency to return to the earthly realm and back into life. People come through these experiences very often changed forever.
Near Death Experiences and Science
The scientific community as a whole chalk it up to lack of oxygen to the brain causing hallucinations.
This may well explain part of it, however with so many of the experiences being similar in nature it leaves one to wonder if there isn’t just a bit more involved. There is the power of suggestion to consider of course, as most people report hearing a voice or some form of message stating that their “time is not over” and there is still much to be done. Many argue that this is something that has been reported so often that the seed has already been planted.
There is the common theme of having an out of body experience as well as walking through a tunnel towards a light. Many speak of seeing loved ones who have passed on before, as well as a sense of a higher power there to bring comfort and peace. There are variations of course, but nearly all share those commonalities.
Can all of that be chalked up to the power of suggestion?
Near Death Experiences and Raymond Moody Jr
Much research has been done into the phenomenon of near death experiences. Psychologist Raymond Moody Jr. is often credited with coining the popular term in his 1975 book Life after Life. The book detailed the experiences of over 150 people who had been clinically dead for a few minutes and reported images of the afterlife. These reports included many common themes, such as seeing images from the past played in fast motion (often referred to as “life flashed before the eyes”), a white or golden light, a sense of being outside the body and complete and utter peace and tranquility.
If it is indeed a physical phenomenon of the brain not receiving enough oxygen, then why wouldn’t there be more differences in what is reported? Not everyone has the same mass mindset of life after death, and yet there are all of these common themes. The book itself led the way for many other studies to be done, and was so popular that Moody was compelled to write a follow up book called Reflections of Life After Life.
Association for Near-Death Studies
In 1981, the non-profit organization International Association for Near-Death Studies, or IANDS, was formed to specifically focus on the near-death experiences millions of people have reported.
IANDS oversees the The Journal of Near Death Studies, a quarterly publication founded by Professor Kenneth Ring of the University of Connecticut. The journal was originally published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, but has been handled by IANDS since 2003.
To this day, it is the only educational journal which emphasizes research in studying near death experiences. These researchers work tirelessly, interviewing people and working towards unbiased conclusions on a phenomenon that often comes under fire as to the validity of its existence.
Near Death Experiences Dying Brain Hypothesis
There is much debate in the validity of these experiences being in any way supernatural. Most of mainstream science looks to the “dying brain hypothesis “, which in essence says that these images and feelings are the result of reactions in the brain to being deprived of oxygen. Researchers of the phenomenon argue that the similarity of these experiences actually gives credence to them being more than just brain chemistry. Even so, with all of the common threads mentioned, there are some who have this experience and go much deeper than the welcoming light and the feeling of inner peace.
Some believe that they were given visions of events to come… visions they later said were accurate.
Less often, people have reported having a “group NDE” where there are many having the same experience at the same time. Going through a trauma as a group such as a plane crash or a fire has contributed to this rarer form of NDE. Is it mass hysteria? Possibly, but again, we have people who may have very different beliefs reporting the exact same experience… even reporting that they saw and spoke to each other as it was happening.
Near Death Experiences and Belief in the Afterlife
There is also the point that many who believe they experienced a taste of what was to come in the afterlife are not just able to “shake it off” as one would a hallucination or a dream. Many who go through this are forever changed and say they don’t believe in an afterlife… they are 100% sure there is one.
These are people from all walks of life, skeptical and believer, atheist and religious, and they all share something that at least proves to them that time here on Earth is only a stepping stone into a much higher existence.
Big Book of Near Death Experiences
The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences encompasses every aspect of the near-death phenomenon: the experience, aftereffects, and implications. Atwater’s simple, appealing format includes drawings and cartoons by Spirit Painter and Chuck Vadun and sidebars from experts. She investigates and reports on the power of changed lives, the reality of deceased who come back, visitors at death’s edge, out-of-body travel, the expansion of normal faculties, the awesome presence of Deity and the importance of spirituality.
The Sourcebook examines near-death studies from the “Moody Miracle” early days, through the myths of “the light at the end of the tunnel” and “the religion of the resuscitated,” to 2007. After 32 years of work with clinical prospective studies in several countries, the reality of the near-death experience has been verified, confirming its importance in the study of consciousness.
Celebrations of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Halloween is often thought of as a celebration for the dead. But Mexico and south has an annual festival similar to Halloween which is more aptly called The Day of the Dead.
The Day of the Dead and Halloween both inspire some good Halloween costume ideas. Halloween is just all out dress up crazy, funny, scary, whatever you like. But The Day of the Dead is more like zombies and skeletons.
The Day of the Dead is gaining popularity in the U.S. mostly as a result of Mexican immigrants but there are many others who are getting into this spooky holiday too. My guess is it will continue to become more popular. I would love to see a Rankin Bass production!
Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2012 TrueGhostTales.com