Friday, September 4, 2009
NDEs and Survival of the Soul
Near-death Experience is one of the "denied anomalies" that I have not myself, nor any of my friends and relatives, had any experience with. I believe wholly in the survival of the soul/consciousness, but the "proof" afforded some people by the NDE, I must only study from the literature. Fortunately for me, I have worked with one of the finest researchers in the field, as editor to writer, and know the high level of competency of the major work. My colleague in this is Dr. Kenneth Ring, and he is pictured in the upper right of the collage. -------------------------------
As many people know, these reports [of NDEs] have been going on for a long time, but only recently, with the medical advances which bring many more people "back from the brink" did so many cases mount up that they became hard to ignore. At that time, first Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and then Raymond Moody brought the NDE phenomenon to the general public. Kubler-Ross made the authoritative initial statements, and Moody found a general pattern which crossed religious and cultural boundaries.
Moody's simplified "stages" of NDEs are listed at the top. Despite desperate attempts by atheists to deny that anything like a pattern exists, and despite the fact [true] that not every NDE goes through a "lock-step" identical pattern, the Moody pattern holds up so well across different belief systems of the "witnesses" that any degree of open-mindedness finds it impressive. Ken Ring documents all this and more in his Life After Life, as does Dr. Michael Sabom [lower left above] in his Recollections of Death, probably the two finest books on the subject. ------------------------------------------------
As said earlier, my Catholic spirituality predisposes me to give such studies a sympathetic hearing. But my scientific training makes me search for anything particularly convincing. Just listening to some of the experiencers is just about enough, but there is more. The cases which intrigue me the most are those where the consciousness has taken up a position "separated" from the body, and is still "in the vicinity". Most often this vantage point is described as "up in the corner of the room", often the hospital operating room. During this, usually brief, phase of the experience, the out-of-body consciousness witnesses things in the room or even more separated surroundings that they should not be able to see under any circumstances.
An early collection of these memories, which seem to be like a form of "remote viewing" or clairvoyance, were collected by Drs. Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson in their book, At the Hour of Death. It is very worth reading. Ken Ring has reported another rather astounding phenomenon associated with the NDE that takes "remote viewing/clairvoyance" to an entirely different level of unexplainability. Ken and co-author Sharon Cooper describe a number of cases where the NDE experiencer was blind from birth or the first few moments of life. Not only did an NDE later occur, but the experience had all the qualities of being visual. This is of course impossible on any "normal science" way of thinking [despite Ken himself trying mightily to find a way to lessen the "impossibility" by, in my mind, inventing non-credible hypotheses to "dumb down" the mystery. ]
For me, the only way to deal with these reports is to say that the soul, once the body was so seriously assaulted that it gave up its stranglehold on consciousness [that is, the normal states of consciousness were no longer essentially forced upon the spiritual mind] the soul was temporarily free to experience vivid "altered states" of consciousness necessary for "clear-seeing", that is, "psychic" vision. Clairvoyance is not something which operates through material eyes, nor the normal spatial pathways of the physical world, but apprehends things in some other spiritual, ineffable way.
The mystics have said that in the afterlife the frail and illness-prone body will somehow be made whole--why not a preview of that for these blind NDE experiencers moving to the edge of the purely spiritual world? Plato was very intuitive about one thing: our consciousness is fairly rigidly directed to a shadow-show of existence that we call normal conscious states. We see just the materialist "shadows on the cavern wall" while the rest of the ways of spiritual [psychic] knowing are just there "at right angles" to our "fixed" orientation and generally "out-of-sight".
The person with the "second sight", the person with the NDE, the person who "sees around corners" can, at least occasionally, "turn" against the bindings of consciousness in their Plato's Cave and Clear-See. Other forms of psychic phenomena surely occur during an altering of consciousness, a changed accessibility to the "normal" world. There will be no more "changed accessibility" for our souls than at death. The phenomenology which comes with the NDE is nearly proof of that.
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