As modern medicine has improved its ability to revive those who have experienced clinical death, thousands have experienced the phenomenon known as a “near death experience,” or NDE. An NDE is not about almost dying, but refers specifically to people who glimpse a higher (or sometimes lower) reality while “dead.” Some of these episodes are brief, with souls encountering a realm of peace, love, and light, only to be sent back into their body after being told it is not their time to die.
A few near death experiencers (NDErs), however, go deeper into the afterlife, having conversations with angelic beings and learning truths about the nature of life and the universe. The following seven truths reveal a glimpse of a cosmos more complex and beautiful than we comprehend.
1.The unity of creation
In this mortal life we have a keen sense of the separateness of things. There is “me” and everything else that is “not me.” In higher realms, NDErs report that this strong distinction and separation begin to blur. Instead, they see a fundamental unity underlying all creation. While our earthly consciousness sees separation, a more god-like perspective reveals oneness. The Bible says “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Why should we love our neighbor as ourselves unless it was somehow true that there is a oneness to our respective “selves.”
2. Love is the essence of creation
Perhaps the most common theme as NDErs describe their understanding of the universe is the absolute, all-encompassing, all-pervasive love that permeates creation. “Love,” they say, is a poor word to describe the intensity they experience. It is not merely an emotion, but somehow makes up the very substance of creation. Love is the “stuff” out of which the universe is created.
3. The universe is teeming with life
As modern astronomy reveals an incomprehensibly vast universe, statistics and probability make it hard to believe we are alone. Some NDErs took this curiosity to the other side and asked if there is other life in the universe. For Howard Storm, whose extraordinary experience is recorded in his book “My Descent into Death,” the answer was a resounding yes. He was even shown some of the many life forms in vision and was so overwhelmed by the diversity of life he witnessed that he asked for the vision to stop.
4. “Everything is as it should be”
Our mortal minds are almost constantly nagged with the sense that things are wrong. There is always some problem to be solved or some anxiety to be relieved. In a sense, this is true, and we should work to make the world a better place. But NDErs are often given a view of the world as “perfect” in its particular stage of evolution. Creation is evolving on God’s timeline, and “everything is as it should be” in this moment. Rather than seeing the world as terribly wrong, it’s more accurate to see it as incomplete. The entire universe is evolving according to the Creator’s process and timeline.
5. The familiarity of Heaven
Many NDErs are surprised by the complete familiarity of the heavenly realm they enter. They have a profound sense of returning home. They know on a deep level the beings whom they encounter. Sometimes these beings are deceased friends or family members. Other times they can’t place where they know them, but they report a deep familiarity and sense of belonging with their “welcoming committee.”
6. A small material universe
The material universe, this place of planets and stars and galaxies we can see in the night sky, is relatively small compared to the vastness of the heavenly realms. This material universe has a specific function it is carrying out in relationship to the spirit world, but it isn’t quite the same place and is by no means the whole picture.
7. Few, if any, have ever seen “Heaven.”
Although many NDErs use the familiar word “heaven” to describe the beauty and peace of the realm they enter, most report being stopped at a certain boundary. Crossing that boundary is only allowed for those who experience complete death. Instead of “Heaven,” the realm they are allowed to experience is a kind of waiting station, a transition place for learning or detoxing from difficult Earth experiences. As gloriously beautiful as this transitional world is, it still does not compare with the true Heaven.
Certainly not every bit of content reported in NDEs is to be taken at face value. NDErs interpret their experience according to their cultural knowledge and upbringing, or according to their attempts to making sense of the experience after the fact. However, where many stories share similarities, as in the above points, we ought to pay attention and find joy in the beautiful possibilities that await in God’s created universe.
Sheldon Lawrence is the founder of bibledice.com, an award winning essayist, and author of the recent novel “Hearts of the Fathers”, a story about one soul’s redemptive journey into the afterlfe.