“While he lay ‘dying'”

“While he lay ‘dying'” July 16, 2019


Haleakala dawn
Sunrise over Haleakala, on Maui (Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)
“Haleakalā” is Hawaiian for “house of the sun.”


A few more items that I’ve extracted from P.M.H. Atwater, The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 2007) as notes for a manuscript upon which I’m occasionally working:


In the Canadian magazine Maclean’s (20 April 1992, p. 40), Tom Harpur, an Anglican priest turned journalist, makes the following intriguing comment, which is cited by Atwater:


It is now my conviction that it is the phenomena related to near-death experiences that have convinced humans from earliest times that there is life beyond the grave, rather than the other way around.  Instead of it being the product of an attempt to deal with the enigma of death by projecting one’s wishes into another world, the near-universal belief in a hereafter is, in my view, the attempt to express what has already become known, at different times and in different places, through direct experience.  (260)


Here are a trio of instances of the kind of thing that Harpur might well have had in mind:


It’s not possible that while he lay “dying” of a cardiac arrest, Lloyd Haymon could have known that his parakeet, Doolittle, suddenly died.  It was only through the appearance of his dead brother — with Doolittle perched upon his shoulder — in Lloyd’s near-death scenario that Lloyd learned this.  (260)


There’s no way Lynn could have known about a particular uncle who was killed in World War II, as it was a family secret that he ever even existed.  All records concerning his brief marriage to her aunt were destroyed; utterance of his name was forbidden.  Yet Lynn was met by him when she “died” during open-heart surgery.  After her recovery, she told her family about him, giving his correct name, a description of the uniform he wore, and the fact that the baby he had fathered with her aunt (who had miscarried) was with him and was okay.  This news so traumatized her family that the man she had once thought was her aunt’s only husband refused to ever speak to her again.  (260)


No one can explain how the young woman “killed” in a car-truck accident was met in death by her supposedly healthy and quite alive father.  Yet, numerous phone calls later, it was discovered that her father had died five minutes before she did, and in the manner she had detailed to her unbelieving relatives.  (260-261)



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