The Near Death Experience: The Call of the Wonderful Me I Hadn’t Met Yet
by Juliette Jones
“I want to know all about death, because death may be reality;
it may be what we call God—that most extraordinary something
that lives and moves and yet has no beginning and no end.”
These days, there is no shortage of people familiar with the Near Death Experience (NDE). Ever since Ray Moody published Life After Life in 1975, documenting accounts of people who experienced clinical death and came back to tell about it, the NDE has become a more familiar element of popular culture.
What is an NDE?
Since 1975, the NDE phenomenon has been more widely researched, revealing the content and effect of these profound psycho-spiritual events as being complex and far-reaching. An NDE is usually preceded by a trauma or crisis that brings about death or a state close to death. According to Moody’s original research, there are a number of elements that generally occur during classical NDE’s:
An overwhelming feeling of peace and well-being which includes freedom from pain
The impression of being located outside one's physical body or a sense of having died
Floating or drifting through darkness sometimes described as a tunnel
Becoming aware of a brilliantly radiant or golden light
Encountering and communicating with a “being of light,” or people who have died
Life review—having a rapid succession of visual images of one’s past
Experiencing another world of beauty with reluctance to return, but offered a choice
Return with a more profound understanding of the universe and importance of love, often catalyzing permanent psycho-spiritual changes and clear memories of the beyond
Dr. Moody’s research purports to explore what happens after a person dies, and his empirical conclusions were as follows: “I don’t mind saying that after talking with over a thousand people who have had these experiences, and having experienced many times some of the really baffling and unusual features of these experiences, it has given me great confidence that there is a life after death. As a matter of fact, I must confess in all honesty, I have absolutely no doubt, on the basis of what my patients have told me, that they did get a glimpse of the beyond.”
Repression of the Transpersonal
NDEs and other life-changing transpersonal events are more frequent than commonly discussed. Many people choose not to talk about them, fearing that others will question or misconstrue their state of mind which is often the case. The medical director of a large healthcare facility once told me about a powerful transpersonal event that changed his entire view of death and dying. He also told me that he wouldn’t dare tell any of his colleagues whose perception of reality was based on scientific materialism and at the least would have uncertainty about his mental state.
We live in a paradoxical era—on the one hand, prominent and leading-edge scientists cite a relationship between quantum reality and consciousness, but on the other hand, the culture remains trapped in a cave of scientific materialism. We see far too little expression of anything but this in our schools, churches and other institutions where views of reality are shaped. Nevertheless, the culture is moving through a fundamental change in our approach to these underlying assumptions about reality.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”
As the high priests of physics look behind the veil of the physical, they are witnessing the solidarity of matter dissolving. What lies seamlessly beneath this disappearance are vistas of a higher dimensional universe. At the same time, many people from all walks of life are being inwardly urged to break through their material conception of reality and activate their latent inner software to see beyond the veil of form.
The limits of the material world view are becoming psycho-spiritually uncomfortable, and breakthroughs in self-realization are critical to human evolution. NDE experiencers often find they have to integrate their experience into a whole new conception of reality which can be challenging.
Exploring the Extraordinary: IANDS
We are fortunate in the Sarasota-Manatee area to have a local affiliate of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS), a worldwide not-for-profit association founded in 1981 by a distinguished assimilation of people doing high quality NDE research. Over the years, membership has exploded, and continues to attract experiencers, researchers, healthcare professionals, educators, people with terminal illness and the general public.
“IANDS’ purpose is to promote responsible, multi-disciplinary exploration of near-death and similar experiences, their effects on people’s lives, and their implications for beliefs about life, death, and human purpose. Where scholarship does not indicate a reasonably clear position on the origin or interpretation of these experiences, we remain impartial and open to the presentation of varying points of view. However, while all personal beliefs will be respected, IANDS is under no obligation to consider them all equally supportable. Whatever the viewpoint, IANDS never supports proselytizing” (Alliance for Global Consciousness).
When the old life is gone, get to know the new you!
‘The mission of the Near Death study and support group of Sarasota is to serve near death experiencers by providing understanding and information to those who have had such experiences. Groups also offer education and discussion of near death and related experiences in a supportive setting.”
Further, “some people have difficulty integrating their experiences into their everyday lives. Others suffer the disdain of family and friends who refuse to take their experiences seriously. This organization will be a friendly forum where those who have these experiences can discuss them in an understanding and supportive setting. For non-experiencers who hear these stories, it can also be life-changing and inspirational. Anyone who is seriously interested in this topic and respectful of experiencers is welcome to attend.”
Recently, IANDS Sarasota featured newlyweds Krista Gorman Threadgold and her husband Ainsley who found one another through a series of synchronicities that spanned the globe. Each had been profoundly transformed after having powerful Near Death Experiences. Krista, who lives in Sarasota, was interviewed briefly by Morgan Freeman on the National Geographic television special The Story of God. The Threadgolds’ respective stories were fascinating, rivetingly self-revealing, and touched the audience in a way that only true visionaries are able to transmit. It’s apparent they have come together to fulfill a human service mission that will shine light on the path of many lives.
The Spirit University
Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind (and truth be known, a mystic), predicted that Florida would become a great center of spiritual inquiry which would eclipse California in this sphere. Until I met Victoria Ackerman, founder of The Spirit University, I couldn’t imagine this might be so. IANDS meets monthly at The Spirit University, a place where the spiritual quest is honored in an environment where you meet like-minded fellow travelers and learn from experts in various fields of self-development. Classes and workshops honoring many paths of inquiry are available, and it is estimated that over 7,000 people came through the door last year.
“Somehow deep inside we know we come from a dimension within. We are
floating on a sea of energy and need not lose that opening to the inner life.”
IANDS meets the first Thursday of each month (except January), 7–8:30 p.m., at The Spirit University. The suggested donation to attend is $15. For more information, contact group leaders Sue Lanier at 941-487-7419 and Lanier1508@Comcast.net, or Carol Vengroff at 941-56-9558 and CVengroff@gmail.com. The Spirit University is located at 373 Braden Avenue, Sarasota. For more information, call 941-544-5874 or visit TheSpiritUniversity.com.