Links between heaven and earth

Links between heaven and earth February 22, 2024


The Sydney Australia Temple by day
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

A friend picked us up at our hotel early this evening and took us out to the grounds of the Sydney Australia Temple in Carlingford.  I presented a fireside there on the witnesses to the Book of Mormon.  It was good to friends here again.  We’ve just returned.

Poster for Sydney speech
I delivered this lecture nearly six years ago, during my most recent prior visit to Sydney.

I share some notes from my reading of Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), by the Dutch cardiologist and researcher Pim van Lommel:

When heart patients without an NDE were asked to describe their resuscitation, they always made one or more essential errors, unlike patients who had an NDE during their resuscitation and who were able to recall surprising details of this procedure.  (128)

And it is even harder to find a materialist explanation for perceptions at a considerable distance from the hospital or for verified perceptions by visually handicapped or blind people.  (128)

There’s a reference in this next passage to an article published in The Lancet, which is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal.  Founded in London in 1823, it now has additional offices in New York and Beijing and is generally ranked among the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and best known general medical journals.  The article to which reference is made (and which I recommend) is Pim van Lommel, Ruud van Wees, Vincent Meyers, and Ingrid Elfferich, “Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands,” The Lancet 358, no. 9298 (December 15, 2001): 2039–2045.

Reports of out-of-body episodes can include verifiable facts that people could not have seen or heard with their normal senses and that doctors and nurses never mentioned afterward.  These reported perceptions usually take place from a position outside and above the body and sometimes even from outside the room where the body lies.  As mentioned, medical and nursing personnel were usually stunned by the level of detail patients knew about their resuscitation and almost always responded with surprise or disbelief.  The story of the dentures that were removed and stored during a resuscitation, which was published in The Lancet and told earlier, is inexplicable to most scientists because the patient knew details about his resuscitation and the appearance and actions of the doctors and nurses in attendance despite entering the hospital in a coma and being transferred to the intensive care unit for respiration while still comatose.

Out-of-body experiences are often difficult to corroborate if the NDEs took place many years ago.  Additional prospective research is needed to verify out-of-body experiences shortly after resuscitation.  But there are so many well-documented cases of people leaving their body, with a great many verifiable details, that it is virtually impossible to cast doubt upon them or to ascribe them to fantasy or imagination.  (128-129)

Those reporting near-death experiences (NDEs) often mention having seen a wall, valley, bridge, river, thick fog, or gate that they sensed as an pivotally important border.  They were somehow aware that, if they crossed this border, they would be unable to return to their mortal bodies and to resume their earthly lives.

In this context, I offer two further quotations.

The first is from an account given by a boy who was born deaf and who almost drowned at the age of ten:

Then I reached a border.  Even at the age of ten I needed no further explanation.  I simply understood that I’d never be able to return if I crossed this border.  But some of my ancestors were on the other side, and they caught my attention because they were communicating through a kind of telepathy.  I was born profoundly deaf.  All my relatives can hear, and they always communicate with me through sign language.  Now I had direct communication with about twenty ancestors via some kind of telepathy.  An overwhelming experience. . . .  (39)

Another account mentioning a border also hints at a possible pre-mortal existence, which (for obvious reasons) I found striking:

He showed me a gate behind which I saw the same landscape.  But now, with this gate in front, it suddenly looked extremely familiar.  I came to the startling conclusion: I’ve been here before.  It felt like a homecoming after an arduous journey.  A state that led to complete peace of mind, a peace of mind I hadn’t known for a long time.  For me this was the highlight of the experience.  Without a word the figure encouraged me to decide whether I wanted to remain in this state or whether I wanted to return to earthly life.  I could either enter the gate or return to the lifeless body, which I immediately sensed below me.  I had the impression that entry through this gate meant definitive physical death.  Aware that this was my chance to go back knowing that this state of being is a reality that feels more real than what we call reality and thinking of my young wife and our three small children, I opted to return . . . (39-40)

Here is a specimen of the panoramic life review reported by many who experience NDEs:

My whole life so far appeared to be placed before me in a kind of panoramic, three-dimensional review, and each event seemed to be accompanied by an awareness of good and evil or by an insight into its cause and effect.  Throughout, I not only saw everything from my own point of view, but I also knew the thoughts of everybody who’d been involved in these events, as if their thoughts were lodged inside me.  It meant that I saw not only what I had done or thought but even how this had affected others, as if I was seeing with all-knowing eyes.  And so even your thoughts are apparently not wiped out.  And throughout, the review stressed the importance of love.  I can’t say how long this life review and insight into life lasted; it may have been quite long because it covered every single subject, but at the same time it felt like a split second because I saw everything at once.  It seemed as if time and distance  didn’t exist.  I was everywhere at once, and sometimes my attention was focused on something and then I was there too.  (36)

Finally, I offer two examples of the conscious return to the physical body:

When I came to in my body it was dreadful, so dreadful. . . .  The experience had been so beautiful that I didn’t want to come back.  I had wanted to stay there . . . and yet I came back.  From that moment it was a real struggle to live my life inside my body, with all the limitations I experienced at the time. . . .  But later I realized that this experience was in fact a blessing, for now I know that the mind and body are separate and that there’s life after death.  (40)

Before I get a chance to turn around and dive into that heavenly light, I notice a slender hand on my back, from my right shoulder down to my waist.  This large hand pushes me very firmly yet lovingly back into my body.  For a moment I feel like I’m doing a couple of somersaults in the air.  Then I realize that I’ve landed back in my body.  Back to the pain and to the doctor’s deafening screams and slaps.  I’m furious, incredibly furious!  I don’t know if I actually uttered all the insults that came to mind. . . .  I think I did, because I felt a sense of relief afterward.  I’ve never felt a fury like this rage. . . .  (40-41)

Posted from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia



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