Moving Into The Spirit World.
At some point the OBEr begins moving away, perhaps directly through an earthly barrier such as a ceiling. The view of the room below may fade out or simply ‘disappear’ because a new reality is beginning. On rare occasions this can cause confusion – for example Dr Peter Fenwick 5 and his wife Elizabeth, prominent NDE researchers in London, mention a woman who had three OBEs during her second pregnancy. In her third OBE, Mrs Ivy Davey had already most likely begun to move into the spiritual dimension while on the ceiling, because she lost sight of her body below her. Other NDErs have commented on this effect, that as the nearby spirit dimension starts to appear, physical surroundings on Earth can become indistinct – even wall clocks, windows, pictures on the wall – become no longer visible and disappear as the next world ‘invades’. Some NDErs report that a ‘fog’ appeared, rendering the earthly surroundings less clear. Gary R 6: ‘I was aware of a sort of shimmering fog that surrounded the area (a fog) that was growing more distinct and substantial by the moment’.
Sometimes the movement into spirit space is presaged by a sound: musical in some cases, or buzzing, clicking, tinkling bells, ringing, roaring or banging. However, in the majority of NDEs, no sounds intrude and subjects describe silence and peaceful feelings.
The movement itself may be at great speed, as described by Ken Mullens 7.
I felt movement, as if I was going somewhere, but I didn’t know where. I was drifting, but I wasn’t sitting up or standing up. I was just drifting in the form that I was in, whatever form it might have been. At what speed I don’t really know, but I know it was incredibly fast, as fast as electricity you might say. That speed factor was an important point; it was very, very quick.
Estimates of speed vary; some even believe they were zipping along ‘faster than the speed of light’, or at the speed of thought perhaps, while others describe far more sedate movement. Travel is exceptionally easy because physical objects represent no barriers to spirit bodies.
Moving Along a Tunnel
Many NDErs describe a tunnel similar to a space-time wormhole appearing, into which they move. They begin to travel through the surrounding darkness. The tunnel can take a variety of forms and presentations: some describe it as a funnel, cylinder, well, enclosure, or even vacuum.
The variety of tunnels experienced may depend on where they are leading, and what they cross to reach their destination – for example, they may be crossing different parts of the dark Void. The tunnel takes the NDEr precisely from where they are dying to where it has been planned for the NDE to continue. For example, to meet a group of ancestors in Paradise is a common experience, so the tunnel takes them there directly, or to a specific grouping or position in the Prison.
Part of the variety of tunnel types may lie in the language problem, in that to describe the passage to Hades may lie outside people’s normal descriptive language. PMH Atwater 1 helps us to see this problem more clearly in her analysis, which suggests that after the term ‘tunnel’ became used by Raymond Moody 8 in Life After Life, it provided a word that people could seize on to describe their passage to Hades. Nevertheless, she believes that the word is not really appropriate.
Suddenly, people spoke about tunnels, lots of them. I was attending a near-death experiencer group meeting after that and personally witnessed experiencers changing the term of what they went through, to ‘tunnel.’ No, I do not think anyone lied. What I think has happened over the years since, and because of continued media attention, is that we now have a word [tunnel] to use when we’re not sure what it was we saw or travelled through during our episode. Words, after all, are a huge challenge for all of us [NDErs]. What do you call things when the language we speak doesn’t cover or describe what we encountered? Tunnels? Yes, interesting word, and now affixed to the near-death phenomenon, whether it truly fits or not.
Her analysis may be a little influenced by her own NDEs, during all three of which no ‘tunnel’ was experienced. Nevertheless, her points about the problem of matching earthly language to afterlife experiences remains. What is difficult enough to identify and describe for those familiar with the English language becomes almost impossible for those whose first language is not English. Consequently, a number of researchers have wasted fruitless hours combing NDE reports from other cultures and various religions trying to identify ‘tunnels’ when instead they should be looking for two essentials that particularise the experience – darkness and fast, progressive movement.
Here are a few descriptions to illustrate how different these ‘tunnels’ may appear to be to the NDEr:
Dr Maurice Rawlings’ 9 example of what an NDEr said: ‘Next I was hurtling down this dark tunnel at a high speed, not touching the sides. It made sort of a swishing sound. At the end of the tunnel was this yellow-white light.’
Arlene 10, floating just below the ceiling, found herself ‘being navigated towards what might best be described as a cylinder, and I was ascending into this cylinder. At the top of this cylinder was a light.’
Another patient reported by Dr Maurice Rawlings 9: ‘All at once I started ascending upward rapidly through this huge tunnel, round and round, not hitting the sides at all. I was saying to myself, “I wonder why I don’t hit the sides of this?” Then I was stopped by this brilliantly lighted person.’
Sandy 10 who drowned during a kayaking accident: ‘It felt incredibly quiet, no sound, no lights, no anything. But it was very much me, my personality. I got pulled into this black, circular tunnel, kind of like a big tube, and I was just pushing down this thing as fast as you could imagine, just so fast, faster than anything I had ever felt. All my worry was gone; I was no longer concerned with holding my breath. I wasn’t afraid at all; I was in awe at everything that was happening. It was almost like I was this ball of energy going through this tunnel. Although I could feel myself moving, I wasn’t hitting against rocks as I had been before; I was not being bounced around, there was no pain, no fear – just awe!’
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