Near-Death Experiences

A Glimpse into the Afterlife?

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 that happens to a person whose physical body is deeply traumatized, close to death, or clinically dead.

Near Death Experiences

The traumatic nature of dying 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 a replica of the physical body, including the emotional and mental attributes, except 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

Though each NDE is unique, each exhibits one or more of the following elements:

  • 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.

While many would argue that there is no absolute water-tight proof that NDEs are genuine afterlife experiences, a number of compelling cases point in that direction. There are children who met deceased relatives they never knew they had, encounters with a person not known to have died but whose recent death was later validated, congenitally blind people seeing for the first time during the experience, temporarily brain-dead patients accurately describing surgical procedures they witnessed while out of their bodies, and the seemingly miraculous positive transformations individuals so often exhibit following NDEs.

The authors of The Crossover Experience: Life After Death / A New Perspective (DJ Kadagian, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Gregory Shushan) state:

NDErs all tell us that they fundamentally changed their ideas about life and death, because “You can be physically dead but your mind lives on.” Another quote, “Death was not death but another form of life.” Consciousness seems to be our essence, and once we leave our body, leave our physical world, we exist as pure consciousness beyond time and space, and we are enfolded in pure, unconditional love.

science-based awakening resources

Near-Death Experience Resources

Organizations about Near-Death Experiences

  • International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS)

    IANDS is a membership-based group whose focus is to provide the highest quality information available on NDE-related subjects. In addition to maintaining their information-rich website, IANDS publishes a peer-reviewed scholarly journal and member magazine, sponsors conferences and other programs, works with the media, and encourages the formation of regional discussion and support groups.

  • Near-Death Experience Research Foundation  (NDERF)

    The NDERF web site is a free public service that welcomes and encourages all people of all backgrounds, nationalities, countries, and religions to read and participate. NDERF’s mission is to research and study consciousness experiences and to spread their message of love, unity and peace around the world.

Books and Videos about Near-Death Experiences

Alexander, Eben M.D.

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

The Forever Angels: Near-Death Experiences in Childhood and Their Lifelong Impact
by P.M.H. Atwater, L.D.H., 231 pages (2019)
Atwater is a pioneer in NDE research and has done exhaustive research over 40 years. She had three NDEs.

Bachrach, Judy

Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death
by Judy Bachrach, 249 pages (2014)

The author is a journalist who interviewed leading NDE experts and some of the most well-known NDE experiencers, some of whom are featured in books in this section. 

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 the 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.

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.

Greyson, Bruce M.D.

After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond
by Greyson, Bruce M.D., 258 pages (2021)

This book is a scientific exploration of NDEs by the world’s foremost expert on NDEs.

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 authored by one of the leading NDE experts, most of whom have books that appear on this list of references.

Kadagian, DJ; van Lommel, Pim, M.D.; and Shushan, Gregory, PhD

The Crossover Experience: Life After Death / A New Perspective
by DJ Kadagian, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Gregory Shushan, PhD, 348 pages (2022)

DJ Kadagian is an award-winning documentary film-maker, best-selling author, and quantum economist. Co-authors Pim van Lommel and Gregory Shushan are pioneers and leading experts in NDE research. For this book, the authors researched and analyzed thousands of the most exceptional NDEs ever recorded. We highly recommend this book as a comprehensive overview of the subject.

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)

This book is a New York Times bestseller. It was the largest NDE study ever conducted, this provides the most compelling evidence for life beyond death ever compiled.

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.

Reflections on Life After Life: The Further Investigation of a Phenomenon—Survival of Bodily Death
by Raymond A. Moody, M.D., Ph.D., 140 pages (1977)

Moody is the New York Times best-selling author who coined the term, “Near-Death Experience.”

Life After Life: The Bestselling Original Investigation That Revealed “Near-Death Experiences”
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.


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 Moody, Raymond M.D., Ph.D., with Perry, Paul, 166 pages (2010)

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.

Website:    MelvinMorseMD.com

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 Cooper, Sharon

Mindsight, Second Edition, Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind
By Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. and Sharon Cooper, 156 pages (2008)

 

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, 1996)

“This chronicle is one of the most 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) 

Published by the 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 book is a bestseller and has been translated into twelve languages.

Website:   DrPennySartori.com

van Lommel, Pim, M.D.

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

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