by P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D.
November 10, 2012
L.H.D., is one of the original researchers in the field
of near-death studies, having begun her work in 1978.
date, she has published nine books on her findings.
of her work has been verified in clinical studies,
including the prospective study done in The Netherlands
and appearing in Lancet medical journal, 12-15-01.
has also conducted the first major study of the new
generations of children that compares objective research
with mystical revelation and prophesy.
published as Beyond the Indigo Children, 2005. Continuing her interest in
divination, she has authored three books on Goddess
Runes. For a complete biographical listing and
information on how to obtain her books, DVDs and
lectures, please visit her website
There are millions of stories now of near-death experiences from
around the world; each a snippet, a teaser, of what appears to exist
on the other side of death.
No other human drama carries quite the
power this phenomenon does to unmask traditions of a "grim reaper,"
and reveal instead an aliveness that continues after our bodies take
their last breath and our brains cease to function.
This aliveness we call an "afterlife," because in most cases, what
near-death experiencers describe sounds like or certainly seems to
be sparkling luminations of higher, finer aspects to what we know:
cities, gardens, forests,
landscapes, roads, rivers, busy people quite alive and doing
things, schools, hospitals, opportunities of varied types to
reassess earthly existence, to forgive, learn, and then advance
toward a goal we can only term "spiritual."
Because the stories that come from
experiencers are so compelling, I'd like to share a few from my
Surely after hearing them, you will be
more than impressed that an afterlife must indeed exist and that
life goes on after we die. Once I have shared these accounts,
though, I intend to introduce others that will stretch what we think
we know about life after death.
The concept of "afterlife" may not be as
previously stated or broadly believed.
Arthur E. Yensen died in 1932, at least as near as we can
tell he did, from severe injuries in an automobile accident.
vividness of what happened next remained fresh in his memory, not
only after he revived, but throughout what later became a long and
As Yensen put it:
"Gradually the earth scene faded
away, and through it loomed a bright, new, beautiful world -
beautiful beyond imagination! For half a minute I could see both
worlds at once. Finally, when the earth was all gone, I stood in
a glory that could only be heaven."
"In the background were two beautiful, round-topped mountains,
similar to Fujiyama in Japan," Yensen continued.
"The tops were snowcapped, and the
slopes were adorned with foliage of indescribable beauty. The
mountains appeared to be about fifteen miles away, yet I could
see individual flowers growing on their slopes. I estimated my
vision to be about one hundred times better than on earth. To
the left was a shimmering lake containing a different kind of
water - clear, golden, radiant, and alluring.
It seemed to be alive. The whole
landscape was carpeted with grass so vivid, clear, and green,
that it defies description. To the right was a grove of large
luxuriant trees, composed of the same clear material that seemed
to make up everything."
Yensen described the people there as
young-looking and lively, yet possessing a weightless grace in their
Their bodies were somewhat translucent,
so was the grass and trees; their clothing minimal.
One man told him:
"Everything over here is pure. The
elements don't mix or break down as they do on earth. Everything
is kept in place by an all-pervading Master Vibration, which
prevents aging. That's why things don't get dirty, or wear out,
and why everything looks so bright and new."
Yensen learned how heaven could be
eternal from this man.
(Atwater, 1994, 53-55)
Muriel E. Kelly, weakened by rheumatic fever and a serious heart
murmur, became very ill and passed into another world.
"I found myself standing on a
cobble-stone road with people around me dressed in bright robes
- red, blue, pink. Everything was so bright and sunny. Birds
were singing. Baby angels were smiling and flying around. I saw
all different sizes of angels. The music was hauntingly
Hearing her name called, Muriel turned
to see Jesus beside her, dressed in a white-and-red robe.
"He knelt down," she said, "and gave
me a hug and I hugged him back. He told me we were going
somewhere to talk."
During the course of their time
together, Jesus led her to an apartment building with many
doors, and told her which door to knock on. A voice inside beckoned
her to enter. It was her mother, who had died when Muriel was nine,
leaving behind five children.
Their reunion was love filled.
"I asked Mama where Daddy was, and
Cecil, Willie, John, and Paul. Mother told me they weren't there
'cause it wasn't their time. I had no idea what she meant, so
she took me to an area where we sat on a cloud and looked over
the whole world.
My mother located my dad and
brothers riding in a car. We could see right through it. Dad was
driving, and we heard my brothers and Dad crying, saying, 'I
wish Muriel was still here. We miss her.'"
Muriel began to cry for her earthly
family and wished to be back with them.
She got her wish.
1999 and 2003, 106-107)
Cecil L. Hamilton told of swimming with his brother.
"He had a problem. I tried to get
him out of the water, but in his panic he pulled me under
several times. We both drowned. He died, but I came back."
While Hamilton was in the grips of
death, he suddenly found himself stepping into a light-filled world.
"I noticed everything - sky,
buildings, glass - emitted its own light. And everything was
much more colorful… a river meandered around. On the other side
was a city, and a road running through it to another city, and
another city, and another and another.
Right in front of me but across the
river were three men. They projected themselves to me. They
didn't walk or fly; they projected over. I didn't recognize
them, yet I knew one was Lynn Bibb."
"I was named after him. He died a
matter of weeks before I was born."
Hamilton continued with his story:
"I knew these three men were looking
out for me, like a welcoming committee to escort me over the
river to the first city.
I had the feeling that if I went
with them, there would be no coming back, so I hesitated. The
first city was like first grade. People stayed there until they
were ready to go to the next city - your eternal progression,
from city to city.
Behind me and to the left was a
strong light source, very brilliant and filled with love. I knew
it was a person. I called it God for lack of a better term. I
could not see it; I felt what seemed like a male presence."
God and Hamilton engaged in a
long conversation, the young man asking him about the universe and
reasons for everything.
Then God questioned if Hamilton wanted to
return to the physical world.
"I do want to return," he said.
"I said I would help my mother whom my father had left
with four children and one on the way."
God kind of chuckled and
asked for the real reason. I said I would leave the earth a little
better than I found it.
'Then you may return with some of the
knowledge of the things you have learned, but the rest will be
veiled for a time. Live in such a way that you will not feel bad
when you return here again.'
I woke up face down in the mud of the
river bottom and was 'lifted' to the top".
(Atwater, 1991 and 2003,
Each of these three accounts describes a particular arrangement of
structures, shapes, people, and behaviors that are familiar to us -
adding heft to the belief that the afterlife either reflects our
earthly life or is an extension of it.
The testimonies that follow,
however, deviate from what I have just relayed. The focus with them
is more fluid with an absence of structured form.
I'll begin with
the near-death experience of Ray Kinman that he had as a teenager
from an accidental overdose.
"Now this is very difficult to describe," cautioned Kinman.
ceased to exist. Past and future were completely nonexistent. I was
traveling in an intense, burning 'now.' 'Now' was everything. I
ceased to be a noun (person, place, or thing) and became a verb (an
action). I was Ray-ing, instead of Ray. I was given a huge message.
The Being told me, 'This is Who You Really Are,' as the Universe
opened up to me.
I could not tell the difference between myself and
the infinite galaxies. I became all-powerful and all-knowing - yet I
was still Ray. Then the Being introduced me to another Being of the
most Incredible Beauty and Love that anyone could comprehend. It was
a Greater Being of intense Light. It was God.
The first Being guided
me to this Light and let it enfold and swallow me up. I became one
with Love times a million, billion, trillion forever and ever. We
were made of the same stuff! Every Being that had ever existed in
all of Creation was now part of this Greater Whole Being called God.
I was one with all of them, and yet I was still Ray - all-powerful,
little old me!
"'This is Who You Really Are,' thundered the Light. It looked like a
galaxy except the points of light were not stars, they were Beings.
Every Being there was singing this incredibly beautiful music and
After some indefinite length of Now-ness, I was told
that I must go back. I was given another message that was very
important. I was told I may return anytime I wished to.
to my body felt like I was stuffed into a vessel of pain and exhaustion."
Kinman was very clear that this was not like any drug
experience. This was truth - he was shown the way things really are.
(Atwater, 2007, 35-36)
Tannis Prouten had a severe anxiety attack that seemed to claim her
As she explains:
"I felt like ducking as the ceiling was only
an inch from me, then I was outside, moving through very dark, very
She saw small, round, glowing spheres around her that
she came to realize were lost souls. Before she could react,
rapidly I was enveloped within this most divine, living,
golden-white light, my HOME. The joy, bliss, humility, awe were
beyond human capability to bear.
The LIGHT was an infinite, loving,
accepting BEING without form. IT had personality. IT communicated
with me telepathically. IT was pure TRUTH."
As the intensity of her experience increased, she came to
"I was the LIGHT and the LIGHT was me. I was still a unique,
separate, point of consciousness with the same sense of humor and
awareness that I had always had, but the paradox is that I was MORE.
I had become homogeneous with the LIGHT. I was all love, wisdom,
truth, peace, joy, for all eternity. Human words fail to express
this experience. Not only was the message of my true nature conveyed
to me telepathically, but I experienced the SPIRIT of the message -
I felt IT with every speck of my being.
There was absolutely no
possibility of hiding, distorting information, or lying in
communicating with the LIGHT. I fell madly in love with the SPIRIT
OF TRUTH! There was no concept of space or time in the GREATER
REALITY. All takes place or exists in the ETERNAL NOW.
That is my
last conscious memory of the experience".
(Atwater, 2007, 26-28)
Experiences that challenge accepted notions
Many near-death episodes are like these last two, seeming to counter
the idea of biblical, religious, medieval, or even mythological
traditions of an afterlife that features core imagery basic to the
spread of culture and consensus throughout the human family.
a long history of such commonalties especially in regards to death,
the greatest of all mysteries, and what happens to us after we die.
Findings in the field of near-death studies, though, are beginning
to challenge not only traditional but non-traditional beliefs as
well. Maybe there's more to learn from our shared histories than
what we thought.
Scenarios are reported that openly defy the idea of an afterlife as
an end point or a dwelling place or a platform for progressive
states of learning. Here are some examples of these exceptions and
the questions they invite:
How can a future sibling exist concurrent with a present one?
Merla Ianello recalls that as a child she saw a guest in her home
who was three or four years old choke to death trying to eat a
plastic-wrapped frozen juice treat called an Ice Pop. She insisted
on naming them "Death Pops" after that, and one day she asked her
mother who the child was.
Her mother, staring in disbelief, said,
"It was you."
Merla remembers her mother's screams and how upset her
father was, yet couldn't identify with the distressed child because
to her that child must have been really naughty to have caused such
Even though it took her years to admit that the child was
her, one feature of the episode was never in doubt - the presence of
her little brother Michael in the kitchen with the rest of the
family. She talked a lot about Michael, much to the chagrin of her
You see, Michael wasn't conceived until the following year.
No mention had ever been made of a future child nor did the mother
even want one. How then could he appear physically and fully
present, even holding an Ice Pop, long before he was born?
1999 and 2003, 142-144.)
Does the belief of an "afterlife" apply when incarnations are
Rand Jameson Shields was hit on the head by a man diving into a
Dazed, he ventured out into deep water and drowned.
"The ceiling of the sky above me rolled back to reveal an infinite
light universe, the earth below me dissolved away, and I intuitively
understood my soul's purpose and the nature of the spiritual
A woman grabbed for him and he was resuscitated, yet
during the following year his soul was pulled away from his body
"I was made to physically 're-experience' sixty-eight
events from previous lives. Thirty-four of these experiences were of
my most recent life, including the entire period my soul spent
between my last death and my birth in this life."
Years later he was
able to visit one of the towns involved and uncovered,
pieces of evidence verifying that every one of my thirty-four unique
childhood re-experiences occurred to this man who died twenty-eight
months prior to my birth, to the day. I have not found one piece of
evidence that contradicted any of my past-life memories".
1999 and 2003, 140-141)
What are we to think about continuous lives, one occurring soon
after the other, rather than an individual taking up residence in
some heavenly realm after dying? Or, the full manifestation of a
future sibling, even participating in a family event, long before
the child was born?
Exceptional cases such as these are actually
rather commonplace - like missing twins reappearing, aborted fetuses
coming back as older or grown children, animals as much a part of
"the other worlds" as they are in this one. And, here's another
"wrinkle," there are group events that further stretch the time-honored
definitions of an afterlife.
How can four separate experiences be the same - and - simultaneous?
My very first encounters with the near-death phenomenon happened at
St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, Idaho. The woman I was visiting had
suffered a heart attack yet revived.
She was white with fear when I
arrived and told me that while clinically dead she had floated out
of her body and into a dark tunnel which led toward a bright light.
Once in the light, she saw a landscape of barren, rolling hills
filled to overflowing with nude, zombie-like people standing elbow
to elbow doing nothing but staring straight at her.
horrified her that she started screaming and snapped back into her
body. She continued to scream until sedated. As I listened to her,
two other people entered the room, an elderly man and woman, both
Each had suffered heart failure at the same time in the
same hospital, were considered clinically dead, but were
resuscitated. None knew each other before being rushed to the
hospital, nor did they have the same doctor.
They found out about
each other thanks to nurses who heard their strange stories - the
same as the woman I was visiting - which also matched that of one
more person. I was unable to see this man as he was still sedated
after screaming uncontrollably.
None of these people had the same
religion, background or lifestyle. None had mutual friends or common
All had lived long lives of varying degrees of hardship
and success; two were still married to their original spouse and had
several grown children. The others were divorced.
The only common
denominator I could find after asking a lot of questions to them or
to people who knew them, was that their strange encounter at death
strengthened the pain they already felt from deeply-held guilts and
fears about how they had lived and what they had done in their lives.
(Atwater, 1988, 14-16)
Why would 20 people have the same experience at the same time in the
Arvin S. Gibson shared with me a case of his where a 20-person
fire-fighting crew called "Hotshots" all succumbed from lack of
oxygen while trapped by a sudden burst of flames near a mountain
One by one each of the men and women fell to the earth,
suffocated. Each of the twenty saw each other leave their bodies and
float upwards. One, by the name of Jake, looked down at a fellow
crew member who had been born with a defective foot.
As the man came
out of his body, Jake said,
"Look, Jose, your foot is straight."
light brighter than sun shining on a snowy field appeared.
met by his deceased great-grandfather, who acted as a guide
throughout a long and extensive near-death scenario. Jake pleaded to
stay, as he did not want to revive in a horribly burned body.
then told that neither he nor any of his crew who chose to return
would suffer ill effects from the fire.
"This was done so that God's
power over the elements would be made manifest," Jake affirmed.
After rescue, each crew member confirmed the mutual event. Some
claimed to have talked to each other while out-of-body. Separately,
each of these claims was verified.
All involved had met deceased
relatives as part of their scenario, and had to choose whether or
not they would return to earth.
(Atwater, 2000, 165-166)
'Seeing' Beyond the
Veil of Death
It is easy to assume that the four people who had matching hellish
experiences met in dying what they had repressed during their lives
- negative emotions that were still "eating away at them."
assumption would be in keeping with the voluminous writings of
Emanuel Swedenborg, an incredible scientist several centuries back
who had also mastered the ability to "see" beyond the veil of death.
It was his contention that after we died, we entered realms of our
own making, based on our attitudes and beliefs (Atwater, 2000,
We could expand on this idea by inferring that,
because the hellish accounts were virtually identical, there could
have existed at that hospital a type of energy (perhaps from
previous emotional outbursts) that the four of them unconsciously
activated in a similar fashion to out-picture their deeply-held
Possible? Yes, but there is more to consider.
The group experience of twenty hotshot fire-fighters challenges the
conclusions of Swedenborg and anyone else, myself included, who
tried to tie near-death scenarios solely to the attitudes and
beliefs of experiencers - the idea that,
"you get what you expect."
What appears to be obvious may not necessarily be as true as it
There are lots of shared experiences, such as between a parent and
child in the same accident, between friends who die together and
similarly revive, between people who never knew each other but found
out about their mutual episodes years later once they started asking
People on opposite sides of the world can go through the
same thing, at the same or different times, yet their separate
lives, beliefs, feelings do not match nor did they ever - even
though their near-death experiences did. And there are even
incidents like what happened to Nadia McCaffrey.
Nadia was a participant in the original research I conducted with
child experiencers of near-death states (Atwater, 1999 and 2003,
86-88). Years later, while caring for a woman who was dying, she
nearly died herself following severe seizures.
afterward, still in pain, she called me and we exchanged stories.
The upshot was that Nadia's seizures had begun at the same moment
our granddaughter Myriam's seizures had. When Nadia died, so had
Myriam (from bacterial meningitis). The two met each other in spirit
as they died.
Myriam enabled Nadia to have another near-death
experience, this time one that clarified and detailed her life's
mission. Myriam had always been unique in this regard, for she had
the ability to force, push, or aid a person in accessing their own
Nadia's first near-death experience had left her with
many questions, especially about her purpose for being alive.
second one, thanks to Myriam, filled in the missing pieces and
helped her launch a new type of hospice.
(Atwater, 2004, 122-123)
How can this incident be explained?
Or any of those I've shared?
our moments at the edge of death or while clinically dead really
unveil an afterlife?
Or, is there something else going on that we
miss in our great hurry or even greater desire to accommodate what
is before us and name it what our traditions claim it to be?
Episodes as Growth Events
Two clues, present in almost every case I have worked on, caused me
to toss the notion of "afterlife." I no longer consider it relevant.
To help you understand why I say this, a presentation of the clues
and my observations follow.
Almost to a person near-death experiencers say,
"I got what
To an extent, Swedenborg was right.
What he missed is what people
really meant when they spoke such words, and the broader perspective
necessary to interpret what people experienced and what he himself
Being literal isn't always productive. It's like
trying to see an aura. Aim your gaze a little past what is in front
of you and suddenly you begin to see things you never recognized
before. Do this with the phrase, "I got what I needed," and you'll
notice as I did that the near-death experience unfolds in patterning
that mimics an accelerated "growth event."
Life insists on growth
and change. If we block these urges, something will happen to
unblock them. That something is what I call a "growth event."
A growth event is any kind of sudden, unexpected twist in life that
twirls you around and changes your attitudes and stretches your
mind. Growth events, all of them, give us an opportunity to face our
inner selves and be honest about what we find, to glimpse higher,
more spiritual realities, to expand beyond limiting ideas, to
discover the impossible and experience the "paranormal," to become
in some way transformed.
I believe the near-death experience is a growth event, perhaps one
of those that seems "reserved" for people who need a "good shove" in
making life changes.
Here is a brief synopsis of what I found that
Most near-death episodes happen during major junctures or times of
unusual stress in the individual's life, when guidance or direction
would be most helpful.
Young children, relatives and caregivers can be affected as well -
to the degree that it is almost as if the child had the experience
for them. Yet the extent to which the episode transformed the
youngster becomes more apparent as he or she matures, and can be a
quiet but powerful directive in the life path chosen.
Causes and conditions of death can reflect, at least symbolically,
the experiencer's past or current state of psychological growth.
Greeters on death's threshold always match (accommodate to) whatever
is necessary to alert or calm the experiencer.
As the episode deepens, the scenario's message parallels almost
exactly the subconscious needs of the individual at that moment in
Life reviews and "lecture" sessions cover material either omitted,
ignored, or not yet learned in life by the individual involved. Life
previews alert to what might be the future - for good or ill.
Afterward, the experiencer's
behavior tends to shift to whatever
has been undeveloped or partially developed - physically in the
sense of brain function/-nerve sensitivity, and psychologically in
the sense of personal growth/maturity - as if whatever traits are
missing in the individual's maturing process are now being "filled
(Atwater, 2007, 244)
Whatever the truth of this, and it may never be proved one way or
the other, the need factor is plainly obvious as to the timing,
storyline, and outcome of near-death states - not in the sense of
predetermination, rewards/punishment, or wish fulfillment, but
rather, in terms of a subconscious "agenda" of a higher order.
The most oft-repeated phrase near-death experiencers say
after their episode is,
"Always there is life."
This fact struck me.
If it is true, and I believe it is, then how
can there be an afterlife? Or a before life? Or anything else but
Implied here is that in some form, somewhere, somehow, eternal
and forever, life exists as an ongoing extension of itself, acting
upon and interacting within itself, ever conscious, intelligent, and
aware… life unending.
Indicated as well is that we are that life,
existent within the existence of a forever that can be counted on.
These four words sum up and explain all else. They take us beyond
attitudes, dictums, dogmas, preferences, traditions, even what we
can imagine. These four words are as if a prayer answered.
Once I recognized the import of this, all the experiencer narratives
I had ever encountered or heard from other researchers made sense.
If you allow yourself to step back from all the minutiae - who said
what where and under what conditions - a different picture emerges
that transcends the individual storylines from both adults and
That "different picture" describes a vastness to the
creation we are a part of, while focusing in on the souls that we
are, as we participate in a journey of awakening to our real
identity and purpose… what reality really is.
Tens of thousands of reported cases, not only in the Western world,
but throughout Africa, China, India, the Pacific Rim, Russia,
Israel, Thailand, Korea, Turkey, from jungle dwellers to desert
clans, from the backs of buffalo riders to the canyons of Wall
Street, this, the near-death phenomenon, if viewed as it occurs at
the time that it does, offers a picture of the other side of death
that mirrors what quantum physics seeks to uncover and explain…
that all is consciousness… and everything else is illusion.
With experiencer estimates running between four to five percent of the
general population worldwide, umpteen million are involved.
phenomenon is that widespread.
The 12 Heavens and
It is no small thing, then, for us to take a second look at what has
been reported. The concept of heaven and hell changes when we do
Near-death states show that once you leave your body in death,
regardless of whatever comes next, you eventually find yourself
moving to or present within an energy frequency you resonate with.
What you find there corresponds for the most part to what you are
capable of responding to, i.e., beings, shapes, forms, activities.
These frequency realms resemble a "layer cake" of many levels, each
separated from the other by degrees of lighter or heavier
The heavier more dense vibrations hold what most people
call "hell" in that they consist of negative or lower forms of
thought that reside in close proximity to the earth-plane.
you stay within this range of vibration for as long as it best
serves your development as a soul. You do not leave until you have
changed your attitudes, thoughts and feelings, and are ready for
another opportunity to improve and advance. The faster, higher, more
subtle vibrations are what most people term "heaven" and they also
are in close proximity to the earth-plane.
There is a sense of
benefit here, as if one has found one's true home. You leave
whatever level of this positive, supportive domain you are in once
you have further advanced as an awakened soul and are more unified
I have counted from experiencer descriptions what appears to be the
existence of twelve heavens and twelve hells.
Yet, this "layer cake"
of energy frequencies (layered thought-form realms) seems to be open
at both ends. I have found nothing to indicate otherwise. Claims of
souls forever and eternally trapped or condemned in the heavier
levels, or basking in the glory of ascension in the finer, lighter
ones, do not hold up.
When you really study the import of what
people encounter on the other side of death, you come to realize
that unlimited possibilities are available because of the power
unleashed from awakenings.
To whatever degree a soul awakens,
consciousness expands - individually and universally.
Yes, "detours" are reported, to places like borderlands or shadow
areas where individuals in spirit form may tarry. It seems that in
some cases where the ego personality refuses to merge with its soul,
spirit can remain "apart" somehow, as if lost, disconnected,
confused, or determined to fulfill a vow or promise before moving
Spirits like this are often seen as "ghosts" by those who are
The idea, then, of "way stations" is upheld in
near-death accounts, places where spirits reside until helped in
These "catch-all" places appear to be necessary
diversions so that one can "shake" free of that which initially
hinders. What matters most throughout this entire arrangement of
heaven/hell/borderlands, though, is the resonance factor, i.e.,
"like attracts like."
Our religions insist that it is deeds done or
not done that is the final determinate of where we wind up once
dead, yet nothing from experiencer cases fully validates this.
testimony indicates something else - that self-acceptance or
self-rejection is what creates our energetic "signal."
Time and Space, Soul
The concept of time and space also changes when we take that second
look. Near-death experiencers are adamant in stating that neither
time nor space exist.
They claim that everything on the other side
of death resides in a kind of "NOW" moment devoid of boundaries,
limits or definitions other than that of the relationship between
perception and perceivers. Time and space are seen as purposeful,
From the bulk of near-death accounts, time is experienced
by individuals as a type of "doorway" space moves through in
sparkling waveforms of potential. That sparkle comes from light in
the process of becoming dense enough within the "cradle" of space to
take on the shapes and forms of what is termed matter.
apparent from experiencer testimony, however, is that, in a way few
can understand or explain, time not only enables but protects the
manifestation of existence that space allows, so thought can
It's consciousness. It's as if all of life, every
tiny speck of it, all of what we encounter on the other side of
death, every vibratory "wiggle" of it, exists as it does within a
giant brain processing thought… and we are projections of that
thought, and so are planets, asteroids, solar systems, and so forth.
This brings us to another way of considering soul.
Near-death states illuminate the reality of soul, our soul,
everybody's soul, and establish soul as a power source without form
Some call it our Higher Self or our Greater Self, and
that we as a soul are immortal, an extension of the divine. Soul is
experienced as having its own will, and an agenda above and beyond
anything we might relate to from the personality level of our egos.
What emerges from this discovery is the
realization that souls go
through learning cycles similar in purpose to people on earth, and
that souls can and often do incarnate in groups to accomplish
specific things of a larger nature. The soul-level of our being is
recognized as possessing perfect memory and an almost unbelievable
grasp of creation's story and our place in its overall scheme.
this level, which most experiencers consider a higher level of
being, the goal of continued incarnations in human or other forms,
appears to be a furtherance of what can be experienced creatively as
we seek to expand our roles as co-creators with the creator.
our way through the peaks and valleys of humanness appears to aid in
this process. You get a real sense that life and death and the forms
we take on fulfill an even higher will for an even greater purpose.
With that said, we can approach the topic of God or Deity.
The greatest discovery the vast majority of near-death experiencers
make after realizing there is life on the other side of death, is
that an intelligence beyond what we can fathom exists - there is a
Deity. And that Deity or God is so massive, so powerful, so
encompassing, that it is often described by experiencers as more
brilliant and mighty than a million suns, existent as a presence
without need of name, identity or definition.
injunction to call It "I am that I am" suffices as a reference. All
that exists is seen to exist within this allness, this oneness. It
is as if there is only One Mind, yet many thinkers.
This, the One
Mind, is often described as spreading out from a webbing or matrix
field of Its own consciousness, embracing what exists from the
stirring of its own thought. Changeless as the supreme consciousness
it is, The One appears ever changing once projections of its
take on free will and the endless variation possible in that
Life is God made visible. The awesomeness of this tends to
dissolve any ideas or previous beliefs anyone ever had about
religious dictums or mythological characterizations.
phrase experiencers come to use is: We are one with the One.
When reconsidering near-death cases, realize as you do that four
patterns to the phenomenon exist, not just one.
The spread that
follows results if you also factor in deviations in experiencer
behavior and beliefs before and after their episode:
Initial Experience (very few elements): An introduction for the
individual to other ways of perceiving reality… stimulus.
Unpleasant or Hellish Experience (frightening scenarios): A
confrontation with distortions in one's own attitudes and beliefs…
Pleasant or Heavenly Experience (uplifting scenarios): A
of how important life is and how every effort that one makes counts…
Transcendent Experience (limitless expanses): An encounter with
Oneness and the collective whole of humankind… enlightenment.
(Atwater, 1999, 133)
If you are objective about this spread, what you see here is a
fascinating panorama, not about the existence of an afterlife and
the do's and don'ts of living, but of what very well could be the
movement of our consciousness as it evolves through the human
condition via stages of awakening.
These stages of awakening extend
from the first realization of something greater, an initial
awareness, to confrontations with the bias of perception followed by
opportunities to cleanse and start anew.
This leads to the bliss and
the ecstasy of self-validation and the discovery of one's worth,
until at last the moment comes when unlimited realms of truth and
wisdom are embraced.
It's all about consciousness, moving in and through our story and
larger types of stories, as the One Mind experiences Itself through
variations in its thought.
Still, there is more to note here.
Present in experiencer accounts is a deeper sense seldom vocalized
that consciousness itself, by itself, as itself, is also awakening
To give this meaning, let me quote Teresa of
Avila, the Spanish mystic and reformer, who, near the end of
her life, said:
"The feeling remains that God is on
the journey, too."
The invitation here is for us to move
past defining concepts and ideas of an afterlife that are
birth-to-death centered, and embrace instead a new vision of life as
an emanation of spirit evolving in its capacity to handle the power
from its source.
Why limit ourselves; experiencers don't.
P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D. with David
Morgan (2000), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near-Death
Experiences, Macmillan/Alpha Books, Indianapolis, IN.
P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D. (1988), Coming Back to Life, Dodd, Mead
& Co., New York, NY.
(1994), Beyond the Light, Birch Lane Press, New York, NY.
(1999), Future Memory, Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, VA.
(1999 and 2003), Children of the New Millennium, Three Rivers
Press, New York, NY; replaced by The New Children and Near-Death
Experiences, Bear & Co., Rochester, VT.
(2004), We Live Forever, A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach, VA.
(2007), The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences, Hampton Roads,