God may be found in the beautiful gardens of Paradise, just as in Eden in Genesis 2.
If your NDE included a visit to the Paradise section of Hades, then you have enjoyed a sublime experience. You have been particularly privileged.
Here is a mainstream description, this one given by Baptist Minister Don Piper 1.
Heaven’s [i.e. Paradise’s] light and texture defy earthly eyes or explanation. Warm, radiant light engulfed me. As I looked around, I could hardly grasp the vivid, dazzling colours. Every hue and tone surpassed anything I had ever seen. I realised that everything around me glowed with a dazzling intensity… Never, even in my happiest moments, had I ever felt so fully alive.
RaNelle Wallace 2 was also astounded by Paradise’s radiant beauty.
A garden cannot exist on Earth like the one I saw. I had been in gardens in California that had taken my breath away, but they were struck into insignificance by the scene before me now. Here was an endless vista of grass rolling away into shining, radiant hills. We have never seen green in our world like the deep, shimmering green of the grass that grew there. Every blade was crisp, strong, and charged with light. Every blade was unique and perfect and seemed to welcome me into this miraculous place.
And the whole garden was singing. The flowers, grass, trees, and other plants filled this place with glorious tones and rhythms and melodies; yet I didn’t hear the music itself. I could feel it somehow on a level beyond my hearing. As my grandmother and I stopped a moment to marvel at the magnificent scene, I said to myself, ‘Everything here seems to be singing,’ which was woefully inadequate to describe what I felt. We simply don’t have language that adequately communicates the beauty of that world.
There are thousands more descriptions given by NDErs of this Paradise. It is huge and may even stretch as far as the massive walls and gates of the present heavenly city.
Some accounts suggest that NDErs experience colours not perceptible on Earth; they record that the plants seemed lit up. Jim Sepulveda 3 noted: ‘I was standing in a field, surrounded by acres of green grass. Every blade glowed as if backlit by a tiny spotlight. To my right stretched a dazzling expanse of vibrant flowers, with colours I had never seen before. Above me the endless sky was a deep and pure blue. The air around me was permeated with love.’ Dale Black 4 emphasises the sensory impact of the kaleidoscope of colours: ‘If millions of jewels had been gathered into one place and the brightest sunlight shone through them, it wouldn’t begin to describe the colours I saw.’
No descriptions of Paradise mention dead leaves or dying grass – there seems to be no energy cycle of life and death as on Earth. It seems that God alone provides directly all the energy needed in Paradise.
Crystal McVea 5 even suggests that new senses are activated, opening up a deeper interaction with the environment than on Earth. ‘In Heaven we don’t have just five senses; we have a ton of senses. Imagine a sense that allowed us to not only see light, but also to taste it. Imagine yet another sense that isn’t taste or touch, but some new way of experiencing something, creating a more amazing and rewarding connection than any of our earthly senses allow.’
Dr Mary Neal 6 felt an inadequacy when trying to describe what Paradise was like.
It is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and what I felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I am trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don’t even exist in our current language.
As Mary discovered during her NDE, the afterlife is strange and God is mysterious to our thinking.
For example, different returnees observe that a curious unity and interconnectedness links all living things in Paradise. Some feel that they become a part of this strange unity.
Dean Braxton’s 7 cardiac arrest lasted nearly two hours and his descriptions are especially detailed. To Dean Braxton everything seemed to him to exude life and even intelligence. Here are his words: ‘It is a landscape of more because nothing is dead; everything is alive. It moves. It thinks! You say, “Whoa, that is way out there!” It was way out for me too!’
Weird, but those were Dean’s impressions, and we know that the spirit world runs on different principles from our own. God is in total control in Paradise, so that the issues of a fallen world and fallen nature do not apply there. Instead we discover his life, love and unity pervading, around and in all living things. In addition, we should not try to equate plant life in Paradise too closely with that on earth. It is obviously different in nature, structure and function. Besides visual resemblance, there may be little other similarity.
Perhaps by synthesising different descriptions of Paradise, we can dimly conceive of what might await us there.
Dale Black 4 expands on the amazing music that appears to permeate Paradise.
Music was everywhere. The worship of God was the heart and focus of the music, and everywhere the joy of the music could be felt. The deepest part of my heart resonated with it, made me want to be a part of it forever. I never wanted it to stop. It swelled within me and without me as if it were inviting me into some divine dance.
The music was a seamless blend of vocals and instrumentals, the voices enhancing the vocals. Neither diminished the other but rather enriched the other. There was no competition, only cooperation. Perfect harmonic order… Perhaps this is what love sounds like when put to music.
This unity within diversity that was apparent in the music characterised all of Paradise. Dale noted it as a principle that appeared to drive everything.
One of the things I somehow seemed to ‘understand’ was that heavenly order was everywhere and in everything… God was the heart of Heaven – His love, His will, His order.
The multitudes of angels and people were responding to the will of God and acting in perfect order to accomplish His will.
Even light – the way it travelled and reflected – was highly complex, yet mathematical and precise.
The melodies and rhythms of the music were all in perfect order.
Nothing was out of sync. No part of Heaven was independent of the whole. There was complete unity…
The flowers in Heaven fascinated me – again, a delightful and delicate balance between diversity and unity. Each was unique [nevertheless] all were one. And they were beautiful to behold. Each petal and leaf illuminated with that glorious light – and added just the right splashes of colour to the velvety expanse of green grass.
Dr Richard Kent 8 summarises Paradise as seen through the eyes of a number of his patients in the UK.
Each flower is absolutely perfect, and a work of art in its own right. Each flower radiates a light of its own causing a coloured hue all around the individual flower. Each flower is alive, and clearly moving, swaying gently. To observers’ astonishment each individual flower is a self-contained orchestra of light and music. However, this music is music unlike any music that the observer has ever heard. This music spans many octaves simultaneously, and to the amazement of everyone, the music can be seen as well as heard… Perhaps this description gives new meaning to the Scripture in Isaiah 55:12, ‘The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands’.
The observer is also instantly aware of the most beautiful perfumes arising from different parts of Heaven, mostly from the trees and the flowers. Patients describe a heightened awareness of smell, as well as all other senses. Many patients have said that the different perfumes in different parts of Heaven are their most lasting and beautiful memories of Heaven.
Being in Paradise is described by almost all NDErs as the most wonderful experience they have ever had.
Confusion at times begins right here if an NDEr feels particularly unworthy to have arrived in such a pleasant environment. One violent criminal returned and asked cardiologist Dr Maurice Rawlings 9, ‘Does God ever make mistakes?’ What he was forgetting, or perhaps did not know, is that God is not judging the spirits that arrive in Paradise – Judgement is a major event that the Bible teaches will come later for all of us together. Paradise is a little like all of us who share the same wonderful Earth: we don’t choose where and when we will be born on it, and the Bible specifically tells us that God’s sun rises on both evil and good people, and that his rain falls equally on the just and the unjust while on Earth (Matthew 5:45). God loves us all, and it is his choice to provide a magnificent Earth for us, followed by an even more magnificent Paradise. We could not deserve anything like being on Earth or in Paradise – it is purely a gift from God. Why then don’t all spirits of the dead go to Paradise automatically? That is a question to be explored later in this book. Right now those who have experienced Paradise during an NDE can rejoice in how wonderful it was and is.
The fact that NDErs have gone to Paradise is because of God’s goodness; they cannot presume that they will automatically find themselves consigned somewhere pleasant after Judgement, any more than someone living in a beautiful environment on Earth can make that assumption. That could be a very serious misconception.
We move now from descriptions of the garden itself to common events that happen to NDErs in Paradise.
These experiences, if they do happen to an NDEr, can occur in any order. Just as each person’s experiences on Earth differ, so too in Paradise.
Unfortunately, too much research has focussed on the commonalities in NDEs, and the individual differences have not received sufficient attention as yet.
I will attempt to record some differences as well as similarities in my descriptions.
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