What Happens At The Hour Of Our Death?

This story originally appeared in the 2009 My Favorite Book Contest, Lifestyle Section, The Philippine Star 

The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were held as the incarnations of the “myth” god Osiris. To prove worthy, they are sealed in a tomb deep inside the Great Pyramid. They suffocate, die and were revived. The white-robed priests record their experiences.All who went through this ceremony tell of the same journey. A pharaoh would leave his body and glide through a tunnel toward a light. There he will face a life review – and a being of pure radiance. 

What happens when we die? There’s a very personal reason why I began studying the afterlife. I came across two books that taught me there’s more to this world than our finite minds can label and put in a box. I’m writing this to organize and share the insights I gained from those books – concisely, incisively – as only a true believer can. 

One of the most consistent and well-documented phenomena in the world are the stories of near-death experiences (NDEs). If these are just fantasies or hallucinations, then recorded history itself would need to be rewritten. 

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a hieroglyphic description of an NDE. 

The Bardo Thödol, more popularly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, says the soul will meet “the Radiance of the Fundamental Clear Light of Reality.” 

The Aztec Song of the Dead is the poetic afterlife of the god-king Quetzalcoatl. 

Plato describes the NDE of a Greek warrior named Er in Book X of The Republic. 

Harvard theologian Carol Zaleski compiled tales of NDEs from different cultures in Otherworldly Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experiences in Medieval and Modern Times (Oxford University Press). 

St. Paul tells of a Christian who went to Paradise and “there he heard things which cannot be put into words,” in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (TEV). 

Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg saw the “light of the Lord” during his NDE. 

Spiritual leaders who were transformed by their NDEs include Calvinist theologian Jonathan Edwards, Native American chief Black Elk, and Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda. 

The modern scientific investigation of the phenomena was pioneered by Dr. Raymond Moody, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia. He gathered his extensive research and personal interviews of hundreds of patients who’ve had NDEs in his landmark book Life After Life (Bantam), the first book I want to tell you about, in 1975. 

His case studies – of subjects from diverse backgrounds – form the same pattern. 

When a person dies, he “feels himself moving rapidly through a long, dark tunnel.” Then “He glimpses the spirits of relatives who have died. A loving warm, spirit – a being of light – appears. An “instantaneous playback” of his life flashes. He is told that he must go back, but he resists because “he is taken up with his experiences in the afterlife and does not want to return. He is overwhelmed by intense feelings of joy, love and peace.” 

Here in the land of the living, “he can find no words adequate to describe these unearthly experiences. He also finds that others scoff, so he stops telling them. Still, the experience affects his life profoundly.” 

Today, the leading authority in the field of NDEs is Dr. Melvin Morse of the George Washington University. He has been investigating the NDEs of children since the 1980s with his trailblazing Seattle Study. 

“All these years later, I accept what the ancients knew: All men must die and death is not be feared,” he says in his book, co-written by Paul Perry, Closer To The Light: Learning From The Near-Death Experiences of Children (Ivy Books), my second book. “There is a light that we will all experience after death, and that light represents joy, peace and unconditional love.” 

Can a skeptic who never had an NDE be convinced that they are real? Can a man born blind see Van Gogh’s sunflowers? How can you open the eyes of those who want to keep them closed? You don’t. 

As Sir William Osler, M.D., once said, “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.” 

The most you can do is to present the facts. 

The sense of awareness during NDEs is the direct opposite of the mental confusion induced by narcotics, halothane, surital, nitrous oxide and Nembutal. 

The vivid memory of the event is the direct opposite of the amnesia caused by Valium and other anesthetics. 

On top of which, these drugs do not cause hallucinations. 

The sense of bliss is the direct opposite of the effects of morphine and heroin, which includes nausea, among others. 

The sense of unconditional love from the being of light is the direct opposite of the paranoia cause by marijuana, cocaine, PCP, amphetamines and barbiturates. 

Moreover, these core elements of NDEs are never experienced by those who use the 60s hippie drug LSD (lysergic acid). 

There is no evidence in scientific literature that the brain produces endorphins or any other neurotransmitters during death. 

The medical records of patients who had NDEs show that almost none of them suffered hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. 

A significant number of people with NDEs were delivered by C-section, which disproves Carl Sagan’s hypothesis that NDEs are subconscious recollections of being born. 

Wilder Penfield, the father of neurosurgery, says it best. “Whether there is such a thing as communication between man and God, and whether energy can come to the mind of man from an outside source after his death is for each individual to decide for himself. Science has no such answers.” 

Photo courtesy of TheGlobalIntelligencer.com. This story also appeared in AllVoices.com (http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/3440251-what-happens-at-the-hour-of-our-death)


Lydia said…
A marvelous article, Jonathan. Thank you for sharing. I recently learned of the deaths of two of my friends, so death has been on my mind all week. Needless to say, this article is of interest and of help to me.
I'm so honored to see my blog in your blogroll. :)
JonathanAquino said…
I am sorry for your loss Lydia. I too know what it feels when people who matter to you ... leave. But life has to go on, as I'm sure you will agree. Death is just a passage to another place, another world ... more beautiful than this one and twice as interesting. Hey, cheers!
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