NDEs have been around since ancient times. In a very broad sense, we see the kernels of common afterlife features in the NDE of Emmanuel Swedenborg[vi] in Sweden in the early 1700s. He first met angels, who communicated telepathically, 'the speech of an angel or spirit flows first into the man's thought.’ His spirit body was readily recognised by those friends who had pre-deceased him, and he recognised them in similar fashion. While in Paradise, he experienced a stunning Life Review. All of the things he had ‘spoken and done were made manifest before the angels, in a light that is clear as day, and there is nothing so concealed in the world that is not made manifest after death.’
The angels mentioned by Swedenborg are spirit beings that act as messengers and servants of God. They can take on a variety of physical forms. They are described in more detail later.
Working from hundreds of descriptions, both ancient and modern, here is my updated sequence for a 'classic' NDE, which commonly includes some or all of the adventures below – although a variety of others may also occur:
1. The spirit may leave the body when near-death occurs and the body can be observed lying below – termed an out-of-body experience or OBE. Pain and fear cease immediately.
2. The spirit may wander about the Earth – temporarily Earth-bound. Most, however, leave quickly to enter nearby spirit dimensions.
3. The closest spirit dimension would appear to be the Void. Some step into the Void without experiencing a tunnel, but a short tunnel may deliver the NDEr to a particular section of the Void – for example to where a specific experience awaits them.
4. Most spirits travel across the Void through a variety of long tunnels that lead to a diversity of afterlife venues. Guides, such as angels or dead relatives, may accompany and guide them along the tunnel, or even 'fly' them more directly outside of it to their destinations.
5. There is usually a 'dazzlingly bright light at the end of the tunnel', or in the distance, towards which the NDEr is strongly attracted.
6. The NDEr finds himself/herself in a pastoral or garden idyll – termed in scripture Paradise. An unfortunate smaller number of NDErs find themselves in an unpleasant Prison environment instead.
7. A welcoming committee in Paradise, generally comprising pre-deceased family members also in spirit bodies, including ancestors, greets the newcomer. Besides family members, deceased friends may also be present, and/or other spirit beings such as angels. Some ancestors may only be identified later when searching old family photograph albums.
8. At some stage, the NDEr meets a Being of Light who emanates Love, Peace and Security – in which they bask. The vast majority of NDErs (even those previously atheists) identify this impressive Being as Creator, God, God the Father, or Jesus Christ. An interview, interaction and familiarisation process takes place.
9. The NDEr is often shown a Life Review for personal assessment, and to help guide their future priorities on return to Earth.
10. The NDEr is told that he or she will have to return to Earth, as there is more for them to do there.
11. The return is usually quick and returnees suddenly find themselves back in their own bodies.
Many returnees believe they need to love others in a new way, and to tell others of their experiences, as typified by an example described by Professor Bruce Greyson[vii] where, after his NDE, a truck driver 'awoke with an intense passion for helping others, and a desire to talk about his experience, much to the dismay of his embarrassed wife’!
While this classic NDE sequence has been established mainly by investigations in the Western world, it appears to hold true worldwide with some
cultural variations, as discussed in a later chapter. Because most reports derive from the West, most of the experiences I quote do too.
Despite the widespread reporting of NDEs, most returnees still express surprise at what they have experienced with descriptors such as 'unexpected' 'amazing', ,' astonished' and 'astounded' being commonplace. Their NDE was in no way driven by their expectations! In fact, to quote J. Steve Miller[viii], 'Experiences often run sharply counter to the individual's specific religious or personal beliefs and expectations.'
The steps above appear to be purpose driven rather than programme driven, as if planned for personal benefit. This sublime truth will become abundantly apparent in these pages – that each NDE, while it shares commonalities with others, nevertheless appears to be designed to benefit that one particular NDEr. Thereby, the steps may take place in any order, tailored to the individual, and certain steps may not occur. Other adventures, such as tours of Heaven or the Cosmos, may be
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