“To fear death, gentlemen, is nothing otherthan to think oneself wise when one is not; for it isto think one knows what one does not know. Noman knows whether death may not even turn outto be the greater of blessings for a human being,and yet people fear it as if they knew for certain thatit is the greatest of evils.”—SOCRATES
A consensus among those who investigate the near-death experience yields a number of features commonly described by those who have undergone NDE:
• They usually see their physical bodies apart from their spiritual bodies. They experience a soaring sensation, a definite movement out of the body and discover that their consciousness is free of time and space and all prior physical limitations.
• There is often a sense of disorientation and confusion when family, friends, medical personnel, and other people seem unaware of their nonphysical presence.
• The sensation of moving down a tunnel toward a bright light is frequently mentioned.
• A great number of those who have undergone NDE state that they encountered an angelic being, a spirit guardian, or the spirit of someone known by them to have been deceased, such as a friend or a relative.
• Many report having witnessed a kind of life review of their Earth-plane existence.
• A glimpse of paradise or even a guided tour of heaven conducted by an angelic host is recalled by many.
• An extreme reluctance to leave this beautiful state of existence and return to their physical bodies is commonly expressed.
• Upon their return to their bodies, many near-death experiencers discover that their awareness has been expanded far beyond what it was before the NDE. Some report heightened extrasensory abilities, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.
Now, this is a true story...
A 45-year-old woman named Kathy who said that she had been afflicted with incurable thyroid cancer and had been given six months to live. It was at that awful moment that she also developed pneumonia. After she was rushed to a hospital, her heart stopped; and as doctors worked desperately to revive her, Kathy stated that the real her was “high on top of a beautiful ridge overlooking a beautiful valley. The colors were extremely vivid, and I was filled with joy.” A being of light touched her spirit body, and her entire essence was “filled with light.” Later, when she was revived, Kathy’s pneumonia had disappeared. A few weeks later, her cancer, too, had left her. None of the medical practitioners could explain what happened to her. But she did bring back something from her near death experience that caused the healing.
While skeptics ridicule the “will to believe” in an afterlife as religious wishful thinking, it might be suggested that many of them embrace a “will to disbelieve” with what also amounts to a kind of religious fervor. For many scientists, there can be no consciousness after the physical body dies. The universe is comprised exclusively of material realities, and without the physical organism there can be no mind, no consciousness—and certainly no life after death. Many believe near-death experiences are but hallucinations caused by reasons that may be psychological, pharmacological, or neurological.
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