Ever since the publication of Raymond Moody’s pioneering 1975 book Life after Life, the concept of a “tunnel of light” through which departing spirits pass into the next world has been generally familiar and widely discussed. It doesn’t occur in all near-death experiences, by any means, but it’s far from rare and it can take different forms. Sometimes, the “tunnel” is actually reported as dark, with light at the end. (Hence, the common concept, also, of “going toward the light.”)
Look above at the painting “Ascent into the Empyrean or Highest Heaven,” by the well-known Early Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516). Notice how the spirits of the dead are escorted by guides toward and through a tunnel, at the end of which is bright light. If one examines the painting very closely (which I have done in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice), it’s (barely) possible to see shapes and forms of a world of light at the end of the tunnel.
My tentative hypothesis is that Hieronymus Bosch had either had a near-death experience (NDE) himself or had heard or seen an account from somebody else who had. The resemblance of his painting to accounts of the “tunnel” given by many of those who have undergone NDEs — hundreds and hundreds of these accounts have been recorded since Dr. Moody’s book — is simply too remarkably close, I think, to be coincidental.