Near-Death Experience

Blind People See During Near-Death Experiences

It is estimated that 5% of the world population has had a near-death experience. A near-death experience (NDE) is an intense awareness, sense, or experience of otherworldliness—whether pleasant or unpleasant—that happens to a person whose physical body is deeply traumatized or even close to death.

Near Death Experiences

The traumatic nature of death or near- death makes NDEs highly memorable, vivid events. The NDE is characterized by a person’s consciousness being forced from the physical body into the astral body. The astral body is an exact replica of the physical body, including the emotional and mental attributes, but the astral body is composed of fine nonphysical matter (subtle matter).

Vision is a key element in an NDE. Remarkably, in the “Eyeless Vision” chapter of his groundbreaking book Lessons from the Light, Kenneth Ring reports the results of a three-year study of blind people who could see during their near-death experience.

An NDE is of such magnitude that most experiencers are deeply affected, many to the point of making significant changes in their lives. The aftereffects are often lifelong and can intensify over time. For a summary of psychological and behavioral effects of NDEs, I have drawn upon Kenneth Ring’s Lessons from the Light These effects include increased appreciation for life, increased self-acceptance, concern for others, reverence for life, anti-materialism, anti-competitiveness, elevated spirituality, a quest for knowledge, a sense of purpose, a vanquished fear of death, belief in the afterlife and belief in God.

NDE experiencers may be liberated from the fear of the Light, which was recognized as the real tragedy of life by the Greek philosopher Plato:

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
—Plato (427 BCE–347 BCE)

Also, NDE experiencers may come to recognize the miraculous nature of existence, as was expressed by Albert Einstein:

“There are two ways to live your life. One is that nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

Defining Elements of the Near-Death Experience

    • A sense/awareness of being dead
    • A sense of peace, well-being, and painlessness
    • An out-of-body experience (OBE)—a perception of one’s body from outside of the body
    • Moving through a dark tunnel or passageway
    • A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light (or an encounter with a “Being of Light”) that communicates with the person
    • An intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance
    • Being reunited with deceased loved ones 
    • Receiving a panoramic life review
    • Approaching a border or a decision by oneself or others to return to one’s body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return
    • Suddenly finding oneself back inside one’s body

A given NDE contains one or more of these elements, and most experiences vary considerably from the model suggested by this list of elements. As an example, as a girl, my sister Mary was drowning in a swimming pool before quickly being rescued by our mother. Mary experienced a brief life review before returning to her body, without any other NDE elements.

In 1978, P.M.H. Atwater began researching NDEs. Eventually, she researched over 3,000 cases for adult experiencers and 277 cases for child experiencers. Based on her research, Atwater discovered four distinctive patterns to the near-death experience itself. She defines these patterns as:

    • The initial experience, which involves one or more basic elements, “such as a loving nothingness, …a friendly voice/visitation, …a manifestation…”
    • The unpleasant or hellish experience, which involves elements such as, “a threatening void, stark limbo, or hellish purgatory, …indifference (like being shunned), …‘hauntings’ from one’s own past, …‘unfinished business’.”
    • The pleasant or heavenly experience, which involves elements such as “heaven-like scenarios of loving family reunions…, reassuring religious figures or light beings, validation…, lovely landscapes.” Life reviews, such as the one experienced by my young sister Mary, are common.
    • The transcendent experience, which involves, “otherworldly dimensions and scenes beyond the individual’s frame of reference sometimes include revelations of greater truths.”
science-based awakening resources

Near-Death Experiences Organizations

Near-Death Experiences Books and Videos

Alexander, Eben M.D.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D., 196 pages (2012) 

This book is a New York Times bestseller.
This is a landmark book. According to Raymond A. Moody, M.D., Ph.D., author of Life After Life, “Dr. Eben Alexander’s near-death experience is the most astounding I have heard in more than four decades of studying this phenomenon. [He] is living proof of an afterlife”.

Atwater, P.M.H

Near-Death Experiences: What They Teach Us about Living, Dying and Our True Purpose by P.M.H. Atwater, 288 pages (2011)
Atwater is a pioneer in NDE research and has done exhaustive research over 40 years. She had three NDEs.

Batthyany, Alexander

Foundations of Near-Death Research: A Conceptual and Phenomenological Map, edited by Alexander Batthyany, 355 pages (2018)

Brinkley, Dannion and Brinkley, Kathryn

Secrets of the Light: Lessons from Heaven by Dannion Brinkley and Kathryn Brinkley, 205 pages (2008) 

This book is a New York Times bestseller.

Bush, Nancy Evans M.A.

Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences by Nancy Evans Bush, 289 pages (2012)

The author was Executive Director and later President of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and a member of the Board of Directors for many years. She is frequently referred to as the world expert on distressing NDEs. 

Doty, James R. M.D.

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty, M.D., 276 pages (2016) 

This book is a New York Times bestseller.


Video: Hacking your brain for happiness | James Doty | TEDxSacramento    


Fenwick, Peter M.D. and Fenwick, Elizabeth

The Truth in the Light: An Investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences by Dr. Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick, 278 pages (1995)
He is the President of the British branch of the International Association for Near-Death Studies.

Holden, Janice Miner EdD. and Greyson, Bruce M.D.

The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation by Janice Miner Holden, EdD., Bruce Greyson, M.D., Debbie James, MSN, RN, editors, and many contributors, 313 pages (2009) This book is the standard reference work in the field. It contains scholarly aspects of NDE research.

Hagan, John C. III M.D.

The Science of Near-Death Experiences edited by John C. Hagan III, M.D., 169 pages (2017) 

Each chapter is written by one of the leading NDE experts, most of whom have books that appear on this list of references.

Long, Jeffrey M.D.

Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffrey Long, M.D., with Paul Perry, 215 pages (2010)
The largest NDE study ever conducted, this provides the most compelling evidence for life beyond death ever compiled. This book is a New York Times bestseller.

Lundahl, Craig Ph.D. and Widdison, Harold A. Ph.D

The Eternal Journey: How Near-Death Experiences Illuminate Our Earthly Lives by Craig R. Lundahl, Ph.D. and Harold A. Widdison, Ph.D., 294 pages (1997) 

This is a very well researched, readable and comprehensive book on NDEs. 

Moody, Raymond M.D., Ph.D. with Perry, Paul

Glimpses of Eternity: Sharing a Loved One’s Passage from This Life to the Next by Raymond Moody, M.D., Ph.D., with Paul Perry, 166 pages (2010)
Moody is the New York Times best-selling author who coined the term, “Near-Death Experience.”

Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon-Survival of Bodily Death by Raymond A. Moody, M.D., Ph.D., 176 pages (1975)
A bestselling original Investigation, this study coined the term “Near-Death Experience.” Over 13 Million Copies have been sold.

Morse, Melvin M.D. with Perry, Paul

Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children by Melvin Morse, M.D., with Paul Perry, 236 pages (1990) 

This book was a New York Times bestseller.

Parnia, Sam M.D., Ph.D., with Young, Josh

Erasing Death: The Science That is Rewriting the Science Between Life and Death by Sam Parnia, M.D., Ph.D., with Josh Young, 344 pages (2013)
Dr. Parnia directs the AWARE Study (Awareness During Resuscitation).

Ring, Kenneth Ph.D.

Heading Toward Omega: In Search of the Meaning of the Near-Death Experience by Kenneth Ring, Ph.D 347 pages (1984)
Kenneth Ring is co-founder and past president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and founding editor of The Journal of Near-Death Studies.

Ring, Kenneth Ph.D and Valarino, Evelyn Elsaesser

Lessons from the Light: We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience by Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, 340 pages (2000) 

Ritchie, George G. MD, PhD.

Return from Tomorrow by George G. Ritchie, MD, PhD., 124 pages (1978) “The chronicle of one of the three or four most fantastic and well-documented “dying” experiences known to me.” –  Raymond S. Moody M.D., Ph.D.

Rivas, Titus MA, MSc, and Dirvan, Anny

The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences by Titus Rivas, MA, MSc, Anny Dirvan, and Rudolf H. Smit, 362 pages (2016) This is a publication of International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS)

Sartori, Penny Ph.D., RGN

The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences: How Understanding NDEs Can Help Us Live More Fully by Penny Sartori, Ph.D., RGN, 236 pages (2014)
This is a best seller that has been translated into 12 languages.

van Lommel, Pim M.D.

Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience by Pim van Lommel, 442 pages (2010) Pim van Lommel

Dr. van Lommel is a world-renowned cardiologist and medical expert on NDEs from the Netherlands.