I’m still working my way through the passages that I’ve marked in Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010).
Here are two partial first-person acccounts of near-death experiences:
All of a sudden I knew that I was dead. This realization struck me as odd. I hovered about twenty feet above my body, which was still on the operating table. I was surrounded by doctors who were talking to one another, but I didn’t hear their voices. I also saw my husband waiting on a bench in a darkish room somewhere in the hospital. He was nervous. He was rolling a cigarette. From one moment to the next I found myself flying through a tunnel. It was extremely long, and I flew through it head-first. The tunnel was virtually horizontal, but at a slight upward angle. It was about 10 feet in diameter. I heard a whizzing sound, like wind blowing past my ear, and in the distance I saw a bright light, which I was being sucked toward, but which still seemed a long way off. And all this time I felt scared, powerless, and lonely, because nobody knew that I was aware that I was dead. I wanted to either return or not be aware of my death. But I clearly had no choice in the matter. . . . The light that I was now approaching was of a kind that I’d never seen before and that differs from any other kind such as sunlight. It was white and extremely bright, and yet you could easily look at it. (29)
In the distance I saw a light that I had never seen on earth. So pure, so intense, so perfect. I knew it was a being I had to go to. I don’t know how this happened. I didn’t have to think, I knew everything. I had no mobility problems anymore. I had not body anymore. This dead weight had gone. . . . I passed through everything. At once I realized: there’s no time or space here. We’re always in the present here. This gave me a great sense of peace. I felt it as I experienced the Light. It’s the pinnacle of everything there is. Of energy, of love especially, of warmth, of beauty. (34)
Some of you older folks out there will perhaps recall a comedian by the name of Sam Kinison. He was loud, crude, and obnoxious, and was never a favroite of mine. But he died far too young — aged only 38 — as the result of a 1992 car accident near Needles, California.
A reader of this blog named Derek has called my attention to an interesting passage in the Wikipedia entry on Sam Kinison, which I quote here:
His brother and the others begged him to lie down and he did with his best friend, Carl LaBove, who had been in the following van, holding his head in his hands. Initially, Kinison appeared to have suffered no serious injuries, but within minutes he suddenly said to no one in particular, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.” LaBove later said, “it was as if he was having a conversation, talking to someone else, some unseen person.” Then there was a pause as if Kinison was listening to the other person speak. Then he asked “But why?” and after another pause LaBove heard him clearly say: “Okay, okay, okay.” LaBove said, “The last ‘okay’ was so soft and at peace . . . Whatever voice was talking to him gave him the right answer and he just relaxed with it. He said it so sweet, like he was talking to someone he loved.” Kinison then lost consciousness. Efforts to resuscitate him failed. Kinison died at the scene from internal injuries.