“ Unless a grain of wheat shall fall upon the ground and die, It remains but a single grain with no life.” — From a hymn composed by Bernadette Farrell
EMMA looked down at the busy huddle in the operating room. She was floating, hovering above the doctors and nurses in their blood spattered scrub suits while working on someone. They were desperately trying to bring a patient back to life. Emma took a closer look. “Why that’s me,” she thought.
The doctors were trying to bring her back from the brink. Her vital signs were weakening. If the monitor flat lined, Emma knew she would be gone for good. There seems to be a thin silver thread that still anchors her to her body but the physical life force is ebbing away fast. She remembered being in a car accident. Emma was only 42.
“Go back,” she seemed to hear someone tell her but there was no sound. Emma felt so light, so free. She hadn’t felt this wonderful in a long time. A feeling of wellbeing was engulfing her. She was in a tunnel and a white speck of light glowed at the end. There was a being of light in the distance. She began moving towards it.
Suddenly, she felt the grief of her husband and her two young children weighing down on her. She caught a glimpse of them in the hospital waiting room. Matt, the younger one, has his face pressed against the windowpane staring out through the glass at the pouring rain. Her heart was filled with love for them. They still need her. “Go back. It’s not yet time,” she seemed to hear the gentle voice once more although there was no one and there was no sound. And Emma did. She heard one of the doctors say to her, “Welcome back.”
Emma knew her life, what remained of it, was never going to be the same again. Emma is only one of several millions the world over who have come back from the edge of death, having gone through what is called NDE or Near Death Experience.
Are you afraid of death? I am. I suppose so do most of humankind through most of history.
In Greek mythology, the Fates represented by 3 women named, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos determined a person’s destiny upon birth. Clotho is the spinner who spins the thread of life and Lachesis is the measurer who chooses a man’s lot in life and how long it is to be. Atropos is the most dreaded one. It is she who decided how and when a man is to die, using her large, sharp, unrelenting scissors to cut off the thread of life. No one, not even the Gods at Olympus trifled with her.
Should we fear death? Stories abound that tell of those who have gone through NDE that strongly indicate that there is grace in dying. There is strong evidence of life beyond death and that the act of dying is transitioning into that life.
In almost all cases of NDE, people relate of feeling weightless, floating and hovering above looking down at their own bodies and even seeing how doctors, nurses and technicians struggle to bring them back from the brink. They are literally hanging on by a thread. It is an out of body experience and that there exists a thin silver iridescent cord that still connects them to their own bodies. If that cord is cut, it means that they are now truly physically dead and that they will continue on to the afterlife with no more chance of coming back to their previous physical life.
Many of those who have gone though NDE report that there is that feeling of being drawn into a tunnel. There is the presence of a strong, white, comforting light at the end of it. The light appears small and as they progress through the tunnel, it becomes a strong being of light filled with love and compassion.
Many report of meeting deceased relatives. Many go through a flashback of powerful memories like a review of their life, both good and bad. Above all, there seems to be an overwhelming feeling of release from all the constraints of their physical lives.
For some, the decision to return is theirs to make. For others, the decision has already been made that their time to die hasn’t come yet and that they must go back. An unfinished business or a strong emotional attachment can make some go back and resume living.
The impact of NDE is life changing. Documentation for those who have been declared clinically dead and have come back to resume living shows that those who have seen a glimpse of life beyond death undergo profound changes. Many have changed their view of life for the better. Some have a better appreciation of life becoming more kind, compassionate and considerate of others.
For others, there is a renewed sense of purpose and a reordering of life’s priorities. Some have even gone on to develop a sense of spirituality convinced that their new lease on life tells them that they were made for something more.
But not all stories of NDE are the same. It seems that for some on the dark side, the experience is totally different. Some report of the presence of a dark void and all the chillingly cold, negative, consuming energies of such emotions as seething anger, loathing and arrogance swirling about in a thick, dark, putrid cloud, the complete antithesis of the typical NDE experience of light. This story is more like horror. Just as there are good people and bad people, the nature of the near death experience seems to be a direct and proportionate result of the collective, aggregate choices each one makes through life.
Remember the movie Ghost? The merciless murderer Willie, was on his way to commit another contract murder, when he is confronted by the invisible energy of the spooky, rampaging spirit of Sam whom he murdered earlier for money. He suddenly flees and in his haste, is run over by a car and dies on the spot. The murderer’s spirit rises from his body as he realizes he is dead. His soul, however, is instantly shackled and suctioned off screaming into the void by howling, hooded, dark, macabre, misshapen creatures rising like toxic fumes and disappearing just as suddenly from the sewers of New York City. That is, perhaps, a glimpse of what it must be like to truly die and go to hell.
When the other kind of NDE happens, some report that there is no concept of space or time at all. There is neither beginning nor end. Communication with beings of light or deceased relatives who may accompany the dying is telepathic. There is no sound and no need for words.
Many of those who have nearly died and allowed to come back to live out the rest of their lives express a reluctance to return to their previous physical lives. But there was a strong pull, a tug from their earthly life that made them do a U-turn, at least for the time being.
What is stunning is this. Nearly all those who have had an encounter with death and did come back to resume their lives claim they no longer fear death. The fear of death is no more. Death for them has become a door one must pass to enter a more beautiful, enticing reality full of love and mercy.
What most have learned from their brush with death is startlingly simple. LOVE, they profess, is the most important thing in this earthly life — giving it, accepting it and learning from it.
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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail [email protected].