500-Year-Old Evidence of a Near-Death Experience?


“The Ascent into the Empyrean (or Highest Heaven),” by Hieronymus Bosch



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.



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  • RaymondSwenson

    If there is a fourth spatial dimension, there could be locations that have the same three dimensional coordinates as on the earth, but differ in only the location along a line in that fourth spatial dimension. There has been speculation at times over the last few hundred years that the world of spiritual beings overlays our own in that way. It would make sense of Brigham Young’s statements that the world where deceased spirits live is right here on the earth.

    Modern theoretical physics proposes to describe reality as an eleven-dimension space, with most of the dimensions curled tightly below the Planck length.Modern cosmology has confirmed that 80% of the gravitational mass of each galaxy is made of some unknown kind of “dark matter” which does not send or receive electromagnetic radiation. Some proposed models of the universe propose that gravity is weaker than electromagnetism because it bleeds away into another dimension. Recent research suggests that dark matter may not be a single type of article, but include a variety of particles that interact with each other much as the quarks and leptons of our observable universe do. Thus one possible configuration of reality is that dark matter is similar to observable matter, but displaced from our universe along a fourth spatial dimension, which transmits gravity but not other forces.

    If spirits are not immaterial, and live in a reality merely displaced from ours by a fourth spatial dimension, it could explain a lot about theology, about the reported experiences of people who have died and returned, and about the nature of gravity and dark matter. The spirits who followed Lucifer falling to the earth could describe their placement close to the earth on that fourth dimenional scale. This is, of course, very speculative, but as a hypothesis it offers to explain in a unified way a number of reported phenomena that appear to be unrelated. Those unrelated observations appear to be.converging from several different paths into an integrated picture.

    • ClintonKing

      I’ve often had thoughts in a similar vein. Thanks for posting.

  • Ray Agostini

    The story of Ben Breedlove: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Breedlove

    “Do you believe in God and Angels? I do.”

    Part one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmlTHfVaU9o#t=15

    Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4LSEXsvRAI

    Ben’s use of written texts on You Tube started a sort of “meme”. The amazing thing is that ultimately he wasn’t afraid of death, because he’d had a glimpse into an afterlife which seemed so much more loving and appealing.

    The Ben Breedlove Memorial Fund: http://www.africanewlife.org/the-ben-breedlove-memorial-fund/