Saturday, October 31, 2020

Carl G. Jung's near-death experience

In a hospital for surgery in Switzerland in 1944, the psychiatrist Carl G. Jung had a cardiac arrest and recalls this “near-death experience” [which occurred before Raymond Moody used this phrase to identify this experience while dying].

It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents. Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light. In many places the globe seemed colored, or spotted dark green like oxidized silver.

Far away to the left lay a broad expanse—the reddish-yellow desert of Arabia; it was as though the sliver of the earth had there assumed a reddish-gold hue. Then came the Red Sea, and far, far back—as if in the upper left of a map—I could just make out a bit of the Mediterranean. My gaze was directed chiefly toward that. Everything else appeared indistinct. I could also see the snow-covered Himalayas, but in that direction it was foggy or cloudy. I did not look to the right at all. I knew that I was on the point of departing from the earth.

Later I discovered how high in space one would have to be to have so extensive a view—approximately a thousand miles! The sight of the earth from this height was the most glorious thing I had every seen. Then Jung recalls: A short distance away I saw in space a tremendous dark block of stone, like a meteorite. It was about the size of my house, or even bigger. It was floating in space, and I myself was floating in space. I had seen similar stones on the coast of the Gulf of Bengal. They were blocks of tawny granite, and some of them had been hollowed out into temples. My stone was one such gigantic dark block.

As I approached the steps leading up to the entrance into the rock, a strange thing happened: I had the feeling that everything was being sloughed away; everything I aimed at or wished for or thought, the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence, fell away or was stripped from me—an extremely painful process. Nevertheless something remained; it was as if I now carried along with me everything I had ever experienced or done, everything that had happened around me. I might also say: it was with me, and I was it. I consisted of all that, so to speak. I consisted of my own history and I felt with great certainty: this is what I am. I am this bundle of what has been and what has been accomplished.

The experience gave me a feeling of extreme poverty, but at the same time of great fullness. There was no longer anything I wanted or desired. I existed in an objective form; I was what I had been and lived. At first the sense of annihilation predominated, of having been stripped or pillaged; but suddenly that became of no consequence.

Everything seemed to be past; what remained was a ‘fait accompli,’ without any reference back to what had been. There was no longer any regret that something had dropped away or been taken away. On the contrary: I had everything that I was, and that was everything.

After he had recovered from his cardiac arrest, Jung wrote: I would never have imagined that any such experience was possible. It was not a product of imagination. The visions and experiences were utterly real.

We shy away from the word ‘eternal,’ but I can describe the experience only as the ecstasy of a non-temporal state in which present, past, and future are one. Everything that happens in time had been brought into a concrete whole. Nothing was distributed over time; nothing could be measured by temporal concepts. The experience might best be defined as a state of feeling, but one that cannot be produced by imagination.

How can I imagine that I exist simultaneously the day before yesterday, today, and the day after tomorrow? There would be things that would not yet have begun, other things that would be indubitably present, and others again which would already be finished and yet all this would be one. One is interwoven into an indescribably whole and yet observes it with complete objectivity.

“Carl G. Jung’s Near-Death Experience,” An excerpt in van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life, 22-23. See Carl G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 289-90.

Friday, October 30, 2020

A near-death experience after her newborn died

“E. M. was having a normal pregnancy when her contractions began at nine months and her husband brought her to the hospital. In the delivery room, however, her contractions stop. She becomes aware that people are rushing around and talking to one another with urgent voices. Also, her husband has fainted and had to be carried out of the room.

She writes: Suddenly I realize that I’m looking down at a woman lying on a bed with her legs in supports. I see the nurses and doctors panicking. I see a lot of blood on the bed and on the floor, I see large hands pressing down hard on the woman’s belly, and then I see the woman giving birth to a child. The child is immediately taken to another room. The nurses look dejected. Everybody is waiting.

My head is knocked back hard when the pillow is suddenly pulled away. Once again, I witness a great commotion. Swift as an arrow, I fly through a dark tunnel. I’m engulfed by an overwhelming feeling of peace and bliss. I feel intensely satisfied, happy, calm, and peaceful. I hear wonderful music. I see beautiful colors and gorgeous flowers in all colors of the rainbow in a large meadow.

At the far end is a beautiful, clear, warm light. This is where I must go. I see a figure in a light garment. This figure is waiting for me and reaches out her hand. It feels like a warm and loving welcome. Hand in hand, we move toward the beautiful and warm light. Then she lets go of my hand and turns around.

I feel something pulling me back. I notice a nurse slapping me hard on my cheeks and calling my name. After some time I realize where I am and I know that my child isn’t well. Our daughter is no longer alive. This return hurts so much! I long to go back—indeed, where to?

When I returned from this beautiful world, my reception here in this world was cold, frosty, and above all loveless. The nurse with whom I tried to share my amazing experience dismissed it by saying that I would soon receive medication to help me sleep and then it would all be over. All over? I didn’t want that. I didn’t want it to be over at all. I wanted to go back. The gynecologist told me that I was still young and that I could have plenty more children; I should move on and look forward to the future.

I stopped telling my story. It was difficult enough to find words for my experience because how could words express what I had experienced? But what else could I do? Who could I talk to? What was the matter with me? Had I gone crazy? The only person I could tell my story to, over and over again, was my husband. He listened and asked questions even though he didn’t understand what had happened to me, and whether I was the only person with such an experience.

Dr. Pim van Lommel writes: "For more than twenty years E. M. repressed her feelings about this near-death experience, until depression led her to a psychologist who not only listened to her story, but also believed it." E. M. explains: Now I realize my fear of death has disappeared completely, in marked contrast with the years prior. This is why I have difficulties with the concept of time. These days I constantly lose track of time, whereas before I lived by the clock.

Material things aren’t important to me. The only thing that matters to me is unconditional love. And this is what I’ve always had with my husband. Yet recently I read in a study that unconditional love between human beings is an illusion. And they refuse to believe me! This is why I feel like an outsider sometimes. This is why I’m always, especially during vacations, on the lookout for landscapes, for colors and flowers.


Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (HarperOne, 2010), 2-5. For another video recollection of an NDE, see “Present! – Beverly Brodsky and the NDE” at

Thursday, October 29, 2020

A comatose patient's surprising memory

Dr. Pim van Lommel personally verified another NDE account in a coronary care unit, which was recorded by the nurse caring for the patient.

“During the night shift the ambulance crew brings in a forty-four-year-old cyanotic [purplish-blue skin discoloration], comatose man. About an hour earlier he had been found in a public park by passers-by, who had initiated heart massage. After admission to the coronary care unit, he receives artificial respiration with a balloon and a mask as well as heart massage defibrillation.

“When I want to change the respiration method, when I want to intubate the patient, the patient turns out to have dentures in his mouth. Before intubating him, I remove the upper set of dentures and put it on the crash cart. Meanwhile we continue extensive resuscitation. After approximately ninety minutes, the patient has sufficient heart rhythm and blood pressure, but he’s still ventilated and intubated, and he remains comatose.

“In this state he is transferred to the intensive care unit for further treatment. After more than a week in coma the patient returns to the coronary care unit, and I see him when I distribute the medication.

“As soon as he sees me he says,” Oh, yes, but you, you know where my dentures are.

“I’m flabbergasted. Then he tells me,” Yes, you were there when they brought me into the hospital, and you took the dentures out of my mouth and put them on that cart; it had all these bottles on it, and there was a sliding drawer underneath, and you put my teeth there.

“I was all the more amazed because I remembered this happening when the man was in a deep coma and undergoing resuscitation.

“After further questioning, it turned out that the patient had seen himself lying in bed and that he had watched from above how nursing staff and doctors had been busy resuscitating him. He was also able to give an accurate and detailed description of the small room where he had been resuscitated and of the appearance of those present. While watching this scene, he had been terrified that we were going to stop resuscitating and that he would die.

“And it’s true that we had been extremely negative about the patient’s prognosis due to his poor condition when admitted. The patient tells me that he had been making desperate but unsuccessful attempts at letting us know he was still alive and that we should continue resuscitating. He’s deeply impressed by his experience and says he’s no longer afraid of death.”


Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (HarperOne, 2010), 20-21. See Pim van Lommel et al., “Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands,” Lancet 358 (2001): 2039-45.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Pamela Reynold's NDE during cardiac arrest

Dr. Pim van Lommel describes a surgery that involved cooling a patient’s body and inducing cardiac arrest. “Pamela Reynolds was a thirty-five-year-old busy working mother who had carved out a name for herself as a singer-songwriter. In 1991 she experienced extreme dizziness, loss of speech, and difficulty in moving her body. Her physician recommended a CAT scan, which revealed a giant aneurysm in one of her cerebral arteries close to the brain stem. If this aneurysm burst, a cerebral hemorrhage would be immediately fatal.

“Neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute decided to operate on Pamela, even though her chances of survival were slight. Everything that happened during her operation was carefully recorded. During the operation her body temperature was lowered to approximately 50° F. She was on a heart-lung machine because of the loss of all cardiac electrical activity (cardiac arrest), which always occurs during severe hypothermia. All the blood had been drained from her head. The electrical activity of her cerebral cortex (EEG) and of her brain stem (‘evoked potentials’ through 100-decibel clicks emitted by small molded speakers inserted into her ears) was under constant observation; in both cases, there was no activity whatsoever.

Cardiologist Michal Sabom would later appear with Pamela in a BBC program to discuss her surgery. In this program, he explained that: During standstill, Pam’s brain was found dead by all three clinical tests—her electroencephalogram was silent, her brain-stem response was absent, and no blood flowed through her brain. Her eyes were lubricated to prevent drying and then taped shut. Additionally, she was under deep general anesthesia. In his book entitled Light and Death: One Doctor’s Fascinating Account of Near-Death Experiences (1998), Sabom records Pamela’s recollection of her experience.

I don’t remember seeing Doctor Spetzler at all. One of his fellows was with me at that time. After that nothing. Until the unpleasant sound. It was guttural. It was reminiscent of being in a dentist’s office. I remember the top of my head tingling, and I just sort of popped out of the top of my head. The further out of my body I got, the more clear the tone became. I remember seeing several things in the operating room when I was looking down. I was the most aware I’ve ever been in my entire life. And I was looking down at my body, and I knew it was my body. But I didn’t care.[1]

During her surgery, Pam Reynolds “was fully instrumented under medical observation and known to be clinically dead. Clinical death is the state in which vital signs have ceased: the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, there is a total lack of electrical activity on the cortex of the brain (flat EEG), and brain-stem activity is abolished (loss of the corneal reflex, fixed and dilated pupils, and loss of the gag reflex).” Yet, “she was able to recall verifiable facts about her surgery that she could not have known if she were not in some way conscious during these events.”[2]

I was metaphorically sitting on Dr. Spetzler’s shoulder. It wasn’t like normal vision. It was brighter and more focused and clearer than normal vision. There was so much in the operating room that I didn’t recognize, and so many people. I remember the instrument in his hand; it looked like the handle of my electric toothbrush. I had assumed that they were going to open the skull with a saw. I had heard the term saw, but what I saw looked a lot more like a drill than a saw. It even had little bits that were kept in this case that looked like the case that my father stored his socket wrenches in when I was a child. I saw the grip of the saw, but I didn’t see them use it on my head, but I think I heard it being used on something. It was humming at a relatively high pitch. I remember the heart-lung machine. I remember a lot of tools and instruments that I did not readily recognize. And I distinctly remember a female voice saying: ‘We have a problem. Her arteries are too small.’ And then a male voice: ‘Try the other side.’

Also, Pam recalls, I felt a ‘presence.’ I sort of turned around to look at it. And that’s when I saw the very tiny pinpoint of light. And the light started to pull me, but not against my will. I was going of my own accord because I wanted to go. And there was a physical sensation—I know how that must sound, nonetheless it’s true—there was a physical sensation, rather like going over a hill real fast. It was like The Wizard of Oz—being taken up in a tornado vortex, only you’re not spinning around. The feeling was like going up in an elevator real fast. It was like a tunnel, but it wasn’t a tunnel. And I went toward the light.

The closer I got to the light, I began to discern different figures, different people, and I distinctly heard my grandmother calling me. It was a clearer hearing than with my ears. It was a clearer hearing than with my ears. And I immediately went to her. The light was incredibly bright, like sitting in the middle of a light bulb. I noticed that as I began to discern different figures in the light―and they were all covered with light, they were light, and had light permeating all around them―they began to form shapes I could recognize and understand. And I saw many, many people I knew and many, many I didn’t know, but I knew that I was somehow and in some way connected to them and it felt great! Everyone I saw, looking back on it, fit perfectly into my understanding of what that person looked like at their best during their lives.

I recognized a lot of people. One of them was my grandmother. And I saw my uncle Gene, who passed away when he was only thirty-nine years old. He taught me a lot; he taught me to play my first guitar. It was communicated to me—that’s the best way I know how to say it because they didn’t speak like I’m speaking—that if I went all the way into the light something would happen to my physically. They would be unable to put (this) me back into the body (me), like I had gone too far and they couldn’t reconnect. I wanted to go into the light, but I also wanted to come back. I had children to be reared. I asked if God was the light, and the answer was: ‘God is not the light, the light is what happens when God breathes.’ And I distinctly remember thinking: ‘I’m standing in the breath of God.’

At some point in time I was reminded that it was time to go back. Of course I had made my decision to go back before I ever lay down on that table. But, you know, the more I was there, the better I liked it [laughs]. My uncle was the one who brought me back down to the body, but I didn’t want to get in it because it looked pretty much like what it was: void of life. I knew it would hurt, so I didn’t want to get in.

But my uncle says: ‘Like diving into a swimming pool, just jump in.’ No. ‘What about the children?’ You know what, the children will be fine [laughs]. And he goes: ‘Honey, you got to go.’ No. Then he pushed me. It’s taken a long time, but I think I’m ready to forgive him for that [laughs]. It was like diving into a pool of ice water. It hurt!

When I came back, and I was still under general anesthesia in the operating theater, they were playing, ‘Hotel California,’ and the line was ‘You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.’ I mentioned [later] to Dr. Brown that that was incredibly insensitive, and he told me that I needed to sleep more [laughter]. When I regained consciousness, I was still on the respirator.

Pam’s surgeon believes her account: I don’t think that the observations she made were based on what she experienced as she went into the operating theater. They were just not available to her. For example the drill was all covered up. I find it inconceivable that the normal senses, such as hearing, let alone the fact that she had clicking devices in each ear, that there was any way for her to hear through normal auditory pathways.

Van Lommel points out: “During the operation Pam could hear the conversation between Spetzler and the female cardiovascular surgeon operating in her groin to link her up to the heart-lung machine. When the cardiovascular surgeon made an incision in her right groin, she found that Pamela’s veins and arteries were too small, so she had to switch to the left side. The doctors had a brief exchange on this matter. Pamela heard these remarks and repeated them word for word.”[3]


Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (HarperOne, 2010), v-xviii.

[1] Ibid., 173.

[2] Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, The Spiritual Brain, 155.

[3] Consciousness Beyond Life, 174-177. For a video about this NDE, see “Pam Reynolds – Life After Death” at

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dr. Pim van Lommel's consciousness research

“By studying everything that has been thought and written about death throughout history—in all times, cultures, and religions—we may be able to form a different, better picture of death. But the same can be achieved by studying recent scientific research into near-death experience. Evidence has shown that most people lose all fear of death after an NDE. Their experience tells them that death is not the end of everything and that life goes on in one way or another. One patient wrote to me after his NDE: I’m not qualified to discuss something that can only be proven by death. However, for me personally this experience was decisive in convincing me that consciousness endures beyond the grave. Dead turned out to be not dead, but another form of life.

“Current science usually starts from perceptible phenomena. Yet at the same time we can (intuitively) sense that besides objective, sensory perception there is a role for subjective aspects such as feelings, inspiration, and intuition. Current scientific techniques cannot measure or demonstrate the content of consciousness. It is impossible to produce scientific evidence that somebody is in love or that somebody appreciates a certain piece of music or a particular painting. The things that can be measured are the chemical, electric, or magnetic changes in brain activity; the content of thoughts, feelings, and emotions cannot be measured. If we had no direct experience of our consciousness through our feelings, emotions, and thoughts, we would not be able to perceive it.

“Moreover, people must appreciate that their picture of the material world is derived from and constructed solely on the basis of their own perception. There is simply no other way.

“All of us create our reality on the basis of our consciousness. When we are in love the world is beautiful, and when we are depressed that very same world is a torment. The material, ‘objective’ world is merely the picture constructed in our consciousness. People thus preserve their own worldview. This is precisely the kind of idea that a large part of the scientific community has difficulty accepting.

“On the basis of prospective studies of near-death experience, recent results from neurophysiological research, and concepts from quantum physics, I strongly believe that consciousness cannot be located in a particular time and place. This is known [in quantum physics] as nonlocality. Complete and endless consciousness is everywhere in a dimension not tied to time or place, where past, present, and future all exist and are accessible at the same time. This endless consciousness is always in and around us. We have no theories to prove or measure nonlocal space and nonlocal consciousness in the material world. The brain and the body merely function as an interface or relay station to receive part of our total consciousness and part of our memories into our waking consciousness.

“Near-death experience prompted the concept of a nonlocal and endless consciousness, which allows us to understand a wide range of special states of consciousness, such as mystical and religious experiences, deathbed visions (end-of-life experiences), perimortem and postmortem experiences (nonlocal communication), heightened intuitive feelings (nonlocal information exchange), prognostic dreams, remote viewing (nonlocal perception), and the mind’s influence on matter (nonlocal perturbation). Ultimately, we cannot avoid the conclusion that endless consciousness has always been and always will be, independently of the body. There is no beginning and there will never be an end to our consciousness. For this reason we ought to seriously consider the possibility that death, like birth, may be a mere passing from one state of consciousness into another and that during life the body functions as an interface or place of resonance.


Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (HarperOne, 2010), v-xviii.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Consciousness and our brains

Dr. Pim van Lommel writes: “For me it all started with curiosity—with asking questions, with seeking to explain certain objective findings and subjective experiences. Learning about near-death experience raised a number of fundamental questions for me. An NDE is a special state of consciousness that occurs during an imminent or actual period of physical, psychological, or emotional death. How and why does an NDE occur? How does the content of an NDE come about? Why does an NDE bring about such profound changes in someone’s life? I was unable to accept some of the answers to these questions because they seemed incomplete, incorrect, or unsubstantiated. I grew up in an academic environment where I was taught that there is a reductionist and materialist explanation for everything. And up until that point, I had always accepted this as indisputably true.

“Some scientists do not believe in questions that cannot be answered, but they do believe in wrongly formulated questions. In 2005 the journal Science published a special anniversary issue featuring 125 questions that scientists have so far failed to answer. The most important unanswered question, What is the universe made of? Was followed by, What is the biological basis of consciousness? I would like to reformulate this second question as follows: Does consciousness have a biological basis at all? We can also distinguish between temporary and timeless aspects of our consciousness. This prompts the following question: Is it possible to speak of a beginning of our consciousness, and will our consciousness ever end?

“To answer these questions, we need a better understanding of the relationship between brain function and consciousness. We have to find out if there is any indication that consciousness can be experienced during sleep, general anesthesia, coma, brain death, clinical death, the process of dying and, finally, after confirmed death. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we must try to find scientific explanations and analyze the relationship between brain function and consciousness in these situations.

“What is death, what is life, and what happens when I am dead? Why are most people so afraid of death? Surely death can be a release after a difficult illness? Why do doctors often perceive the death of a patient as a failure on their part? Because the patient lost his or her life? Why are people no longer allowed to ‘just’ die of a serious, terminal illness but instead are put on a ventilator and given artificial feeding through tubes and drips? Why do some people in the final stages of a malignant disease opt for chemotherapy, which may prolong life for a short while but does not always improve the quality of their remaining life? Why is our first impulse to prolong life and delay death at all costs? Is fear of death the reason why? And does this fear stem from ignorance of what death might be? Are our ideas about death accurate at all? Is death really the end of everything?

“Even medical training pays scant attention to what death might be. By the time they graduate, most doctors have not given death much thought. Throughout life 500,000 cells in the body die every second, 30 million every minute, and 50 billion every day. These cells are all replaced again on a daily basis, giving a person an almost entirely new body every couple of years. Cell death is therefore not the same as physical death. In life, our bodies change constantly from one second to the next. Yet we neither feel nor realize it. How do we explain the continuity of this constantly changing body? Cells are building blocks comparable to the building blocks of a house, but who designs, plans, and coordinates the construction of a house: Not the building blocks themselves. So the obvious question is: What explains the construction and coordination of the ever-changing body from one second to the next?

“All bodies function the same on a biochemical and physiological level, yet all people are different. The cause of this difference is not just physical. People have different characters, feelings, moods, levels of intelligence, interests, ideas, and needs. Consciousness plays a major role in this difference. This raises the question: do we human beings equal our bodies, or do we have bodies?

Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (HarperOne, 2010).

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Dr. George Richie's impact on NDE research

Dr. Pim van Lommel writes: “Although I had never forgotten the successfully resuscitated patient in 1969, with his memories of the period of his cardiac arrest, I had not done anything with the experience. This changed in 1976 when I read a book about near-death experiences by Dr. George Ritchie with the title Return from Tomorrow. When Richie had double pneumonia as a medical student in 1943, he experienced a period of clinical death. At the time antibiotics such as penicillin were not yet widely used. Following an episode of very high fever and extreme tightness of the chest, he passed away: he ceased breathing and his pulse also stopped. He was pronounced dead by a doctor and covered with a sheet.

“But a male nurse was so upset by the death of this medical student that he managed to persuade the attendant doctor to administer an adrenalin injection in the chest near the heart—a most unusual procedure in those days. Having been ‘dead’ for more than nine minutes, George Ritchie regained consciousness, to the immense surprise of the doctor and nurse.

“It emerged that during his spell of unconsciousness, the period in which he had been pronounced dead, he had had an extremely powerful experience of which he could recollect many details. At first he was unable and afraid to talk about it. Later he wrote a book about what happened to him in those nine minutes. And after becoming a psychiatrist, he began to share his experiences in lectures to medical students.

“One of the students attending these lectures was Raymond Moody, who was so intrigued by this story that he began to look into experiences that may occur during life-threatening situations. In 1975 he wrote the book Life After Life, which became a global best seller. In this book Moody first coined the term near-death experience (NDE).

“After reading Ritchie’s book, I kept wondering how somebody can possibly experience consciousness during cardiac arrest and whether this is a common occurrence. So in 1986 I began to systematically ask all the patients at my outpatient clinic who had undergone resuscitation whether they had any recollection of the period of their cardiac arrest. I was surprised to hear, within the space of two years, twelve reports of such a near-death experience among just over fifty cardiac arrest survivors.”


Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (HarperOne, 2010).

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Dr. van Lommel’s first “near-death experience”

On his web site Dr. Pim van Lommel says he “worked as a cardiologist at the Rijnstate Hospital, an 800-bed teaching hospital in Arnhem in the Netherlands, from 1977 to 2003.” After more than twenty years of research, in 2001 van Lommel and his colleagues published in the medical journal The Lancet their Dutch study of near-death experiences. “Over the past several years Pim van Lommel has been lecturing all over the world on near-death experiences and the relationship between consciousness and brain function.”

I suggest from my research that van Lommel’s Consciousness Beyond Life provides the most thorough discussion of NDEs in a scientific book. Chapter titles include: What Happens in the Brain When the Heart Suddenly Stops? What Do We Know About Brain Function? Quantum Physics and Consciousness, The Brain and Consciousness, and Endless Consciousness. In 320 pages van Lommel offers a comprehensive narrative supported by more than 30 pages of endnotes. I refer extensively to this book in my writing about NDEs, but in my blog include a few of the arguments presented in this comprehensive study.

Van Lommel begins Consciousness Beyond Life with a quote written early in the 20th-century by Frederick van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist: “All science is empirical science, all theory is subordinate to perception; a single fact can overturn an entire system.” Then van Lommel relates his personal experience as a young cardiologist.

“It is 1969. At the coronary care unit the alarm goes off. The monitor shows that the electrocardiogram of a patient with a myocardial infarction (heart attack) has flat lined. The man has suffered a cardiac arrest. Two nurses hurry over to the patient, who is no longer responsive, and quickly draw the curtains around his bed. One of the nurses starts CPR while the other places a mask over his mouth and administers oxygen. A third nurse rushes over with the resuscitation trolley that contains the defibrillator. The defibrillator is charged, the paddles are covered in gel, the patient’s chest is bared, the medical staff let go of the patient and the bed, and the patient is defibrillated. He receives an electric shock to the chest. It has no effect. Heart massage and artificial respiration are resumed, and, in consultation with the doctor, extra medication is injected into the IV drip. Then the patient is defibrillated for the second time. This time his cardiac rhythm is reestablished, and after a spell of unconsciousness that lasted about four minutes, the patient regains consciousness, to the great relief of the nursing staff and the attendant doctor.

“I was the attending doctor. I had started my cardiology training that year. Following the successful resuscitation, everybody was pleased—everybody except the patient. He had been successfully revived, yet to everybody’s surprise he was extremely disappointed. He spoke of a tunnel, colors, a light, a beautiful landscape, and music. He was extremely emotional. The term near-death experience (NDE) did not yet exist, and I had never heard of people remembering the period of their cardiac arrest.

“While studying for my degree, I had learned that such a thing is in fact impossible: being unconscious means being unaware—and the same applies to people suffering a cardiac arrest or patients in a coma. At such a moment it is simply impossible to be conscious or to have memories because all brain function has ceased. In the event of a cardiac arrest, a patient is unconscious, is no longer breathing, and has no palpable pulse or blood pressure.”

Pim van Lommel,

Friday, October 23, 2020

A New Testament Prayer

O God of love,

may your grace and peace come,

may your will be done on earth as in heaven.

Keep us healthy and humble ‘til our time has come.

And as we forgive those who’ve done us harm,

forgive us for the harm we’ve done.

And keep us safe from temptation and evil.

For you are the Way, and the Truth, and the Light,

now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dr. Parti's NDE affects his wife and children

Dr. Rajiv Parti's wife, Arpana, admitted: I both like and fear the new Rajiv and all the changes. The same was true, Dr. Parti writes, "of our (then) teenage daughter, Ambika. We had not talked to her in detail about my NDE. But one day she happened by the kitchen when Arpana and I were talking about the experience, and rather than stopping the conversation, we decided to include her. Before long, she was deeply engrossed in the story and very understanding of the transformational experience that had taken place.

“When we told her that we had agreed to swap our house for a smaller one, however, Ambika responded, This is going to affect my whole life! Mom, this is really going to change your whole life. 

"My sons had a similar reaction. When I came back from the hospital, neither wanted to hear about my experience. Our eldest child, Raghav, had a response of almost total indifference, not only to my near-death experience but also to me in general. I had not treated my son admirably. In fact I had not treated anyone in my family admirably.

“But I knew: It was not following the guidance from my near-death experience that might ruin my family. It would be to continue as I had, with very little true spiritual guidance at all!

On his website, Parti describes his wife’s decision to end their marriage. “As the days passed and our anger and vengeance ebbed, I finally heard the heartbreak in my wife’s voice in a new way. And I realized that I had broken her heart as well, even if unconsciously. And perhaps I started us down the road that brought us to impending divorce.

“Thank goodness I saw the opportunity to apply the lessons I learned from my NDE. I knew that the only way to change my relationship and thrive in love again was to change myself. And so I embarked upon a journey to heal my broken heart and grow in compassion, forgiveness, and love.

"It was not easy—it was painful like childbirth. But now my wife and I have a new marriage, a better relationship than we ever had. The abundance of love and joy is staggering! My old relationship had to die before we could experience this new love.

"And so I set out to become the best healer and coach I could be. I studied and learned new ways to apply the timeless wisdom shared with me during my near death experience. I took a vow of bodhisattva service, seva—as a heartbreak healer and love coach—helping the brokenhearted heal, and become empowered to thrive in love again.”

Rajiv Parti, Dying to Wake Up: A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife and the Wisdom He Brought Back (Atria Books, 2016).

Learn more about his practice at

In this video interview Dr. Parti describes his NDE and explains how it transformed his life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Guided by the twelve-step program and angels

Dr. Rajiv Parti was encouraged when he learned the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, had been inspired by a near-death experience in 1934. While being treated at a clinic for his addiction, the clinic’s director asked Wilson “if he would like to dedicate himself to Jesus to see if such an act would rid him of his alcoholism. “Depressed and filled with despair, Wilson began to weep. I’ll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let him show himself! He shouted.

The effect was instant, electric, Wilson says. Suddenly my room blazed with an incredibly white Light. I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description. I have no words for this. I was conscious of nothing else for a time. Then, seen in the mind’s eye, there was a mountain. I stood upon its summit where a great wind blew. A wind, not of air, but of spirit. Then came the blazing thought, ‘You are a free man.’ I know not at all how long I remained in this state, but finally the Light and the ecstasy subsided. As I became quieter a great peace stole over me, and I became acutely conscious of a presence, which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. I lay on the shores of a new world. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘must be the great reality. The God of the preachers.’

“Wilson never drank again. He told Dr. Bob Smith, an alcoholic in Akron, Ohio, about his experience, and the doctor also quit drinking and began to pursue a ‘spiritual remedy’ for his own alcoholism. The two men, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, became the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Their twelve-step program, Parti notes, was originally based on these affirmations:

1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

“When I look at the twelve steps, I can’t help but think that Wilson’s encounter with the Light was similar to my own with the Being of Light. I also couldn’t help but think that he too was asked to devise a means of spiritual healing much like the one I was being asked to devise. Following my surgery, I realized my addiction to painkillers was abating. Soon I took less than what was prescribed and only as needed for my pelvic pain.

“I felt compelled to meditate after returning home from the hospital, and now I was doing it daily, sometime several times a day. One day when I was meditating, a deep sadness came over me, caused by some of the same concerns that had driven me into depression. I began to think about the money I had lost in the stock market in 1999 and wondered why I had put all of my capital at risk just to try to make more when what I had already made was more than I ever expected. I began to wonder why I had gotten prostate cancer. Had God given it to me? Was this karmic payback for something I had done? Would I ever feel good about myself again?

“Then both Michael and Raphael appeared. In their pleasant way, they calmed me down; telling me that ‘going off the track’ during meditation was common. When you meditate, you are supposed to let thoughts arise, but detach from them, let them float downstream in the river of life, said Raphael.

Yes, that’s what’s supposed to happen, agreed Michael. But that doesn’t happen to most people, at least not in the beginning.

Thoughts have thorns, just like cactus, said Raphael. They stick to you and they hurt. Sometimes they don’t detach as quickly as you would like, and they hurt even when they do.

There were easy ways to conquer these depressing thoughts, said Michael. It was all a matter of changing perspective. To do that, he suggested I develop two opposing personalities, Poor Rajiv and Lucky Rajiv. Poor Rajiv is the man who is stressed out because he lost money in the stock market and can’t accept that the losses were caused by his greed. Then he got cancer, and with it came multiple surgeries with complications. Now he blames God for his problems instead of considering his own karma. Lucky Rajiv is that guy who has a chance to follow his dharma, his purpose, and doesn’t have a huge mortgage. His life is easier, and he can explore a new meaning of life, maybe even change the world.

The angels told me to ponder the question during meditation: Which one do I want to be today? Lucky Rajiv or Poor Rajiv? I realized I could change the story around the circumstances of my life. As Raphael said: You cannot prevent pain, but suffering is an option. All I had to do was change the perspective, and I didn’t have to suffer.

Rajiv Parti, Dying to Wake Up: A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife and the Wisdom He Brought Back (Atria Books, 2016).

Gödel's reasons for an afterlife

Alexander T. Englert, “We'll meet again,” Aeon , Jan 2, 2024,