My experience occurred in the spring of 1964 in State College, Pennsylvania. At the time I was a sophomore at the Pennsylvania State University and was studying electrical engineering. My best courses were mathematics, physics and science. My approach to life was objective and analytical. Had I been asked to comment on the possibility on a NDE prior to my experience I would have said that it was impossible.
I was 20 years old and had no serious medical problems at the time, although I had low blood pressure, a low pulse (40) and a subnormal temperature (97.8). The low pulse is inherited, not the result of heavy physical training. My experience is atypical because it was not induced by medical trauma. Medical professionals were not involved and I was not resuscitated. In spite of this, I refer to my experience as an NDE because it contained several of core elements of the NDE. It occurred in the afternoon after I had returned to my dormitory room from a class. I was feeling very tired and decided to listen to some classical music on my transistor radio. I drifted easily into a deep sleep.
I became aware of myself drifting out of my body; I was moving toward the upper left part of the dorm room window. As this was taking place I experienced no fear and accepted things as they came. While I was in the room I did not see the bed where I was sleeping; nor did I see my physical body. I saw the window at the far end of the room. I passed though the window and moved rapidly outward into space. I found myself in a relatively dark empty region of space; there were no planets or stars in this area. In front of me I saw a small light in the vast distance. The light started to get larger. It became more brilliant and it stopped in front of me. I felt an intense love, which came from the light. I know without a doubt that this beautiful intense loving light was God. The light started to communicate with me; but the communication was telepathic not verbal. The light asked me if I wanted to come with it. At this point I completely understood the nature of the question and the consequences of my answer. If I chose to continue with the light, I knew that I would die and never return to earth. I thought about this and replied that I thought that I still had important things to do back on Earth. At that point the light began to recede. I found myself waking up on the bed of my dorm room. The feeling that I had was of extreme contentment and love. It was so strong that I wanted to return to the light; I tried but could not. I was disappointed but not angry because the choice to return was mine. The experience was very real and I can clearly remember it even though it took place 25 years ago.
I did not discuss it with anyone prior to the spring of 1966. I spoke about it with my (future) wife on our first date. I also had an intuitive feeling that we were meant to meet and told her about it. Internally she had a very negative reaction, but I was not aware of this at the time. It was negative enough for her to avoid several of my phone calls after our first date. We were married in the spring of 1967; since then we have discussed the experience several times. Her support and understanding have been very helpful to me.
We became aware of Raymond Moody's work on NDEs in 1977, however we never acted on this information and went about living our lives. In the past 10 years we have lived in four states; we currently live in Ohio. Recently a very remarkable event took place that has led me to the International Association for Near Death Studies and its local chapter. In January or February of 1988, my wife was reading a section of the Sunday paper that I normally do not read and found out that Raymond Moody was speaking on the NDE nearby. My wife and I attended the conference. We met several nationally known experiencers and others from the local IANDS group. I shared my experience with Dr. Moody and other experiencers who spoke at the conference. Because my experience was atypical and not "authenticated" by medical professionals, for a long time I wondered if I had had a "true NDE." This was one of the first things that I wanted to discuss when I arrived at the conference. Having others confirm my experience has had a profound effect on me. In this way my experience continues to change my life.
It was not until 1988 at a local IANDS meeting that I spoke about it publicly. Since then, I have spoken about it two or three times at local IANDS meetings. My wife and I attended an annual IANDS conference. I spoke with many people about my experience and participated in several workshops. As time progress it becomes easier to speak about my NDE. When I had the experience I clearly understood its nature and had no difficulty accepting it for what it was. I also knew that people would not accept it for what it was and refrained from discussing it. Moody's books helped validate the experience; the local IANDS group has also contributed significantly to my growth. Apart from the IANDS environment I do not normally discuss my experience. Despite efforts on my part, my mother still will not accept my interpretation of the experience.
In my view the experience happened because I was ready to accept such a reality. At the time I was somewhat depressed and had been looking for a spiritual reality. It was God's way of making himself known to me in a very personal way. This continued after the experience, in that I have had several precognitive dreams (see section below for more detail). Beyond this, there are very clear messages that must be communicated to others. The most important things that we can do as human beings is to love and care for others on this earth. An ultimate and loving God does exist. We must search for truth and deal with each other honestly. I believe that experiencers have been selected to bear witness to these realities.
During the experience I made a definite statement to the light that I had to accomplish important things when I came back. This was, in fact, the reason that I did not choose to go on with the light. I enjoy helping people very much. I feel that I must do the very best that I can while I am here; this is a commitment between myself and the light (God).I strongly feel that writing this account of my experience is part of my purpose in life. At the time of the experience I felt reassured. The direction of my studies was unchanged. The experience helped to continue my development as a caring sensitive person. Also seeds were planted for significant changes later. Some of these changes are represented by my growing involvement with IANDS, and by an increased study of religion. One thing is clear, I am more of a religious person because of my experience.
In a very real sense, my purpose, my direction, and my attitude toward myself are still changing dynamically as a result of my experience. It is as if the NDE has placed me on a particular path, and that I am still finding out where the path goes. My interest in science and mathematics was not changed by my experience. I went on to complete my B.S. and MS degrees, however I find it easier to believe in things that cannot be explained by the rationalism of today's science. In my view science is an ever expanding and changing view of the universe. In explaining this to other people, I ask them to consider what the world was like 400 or 500 years ago. I then ask them to consider how people living in that age would have responded to concepts such as the television (a box that pulls images and sounds out of the "air") or the telephone (a box that allows one to talk to nearly anyone in the world). Even a well-educated person would have responded "impossible," and the presenter of the concept might well have been burned at the stake. By the same token, concepts that are not supported by today's science may be second nature and common place to tomorrow's science.
I felt graced by the experience. It is awesome to know that I had been somehow selected for the NDE. It is a very uplifting experience. I felt better about myself as a person and was able to become more socially involved. In general my confidence increased. My desire to help others, compassion for others, empathy or understanding for others, patient/tolerance for others, ability to express love for others and acceptance of others definitely increased. However, I started to develop values along these lines as a child/teenager. Ethics, fairness, truth and honesty have been very important to me in dealing with other people. I was bought up as a Catholic. By the time I was a student in college I had developed doubts about some aspects of the religion. The experience helped me to move away from organized orthodox religion and into liberal religion. In 1970 my wife and I joined the Unitarian Church. We did this because the UU's provided a method of defining a personal religion, there was no dogma and it was based on trying to find truth.
My openness to accept new ideas and concepts has increased. In fact this has continued to the present; reflecting upon the experience has helped me to view religion in a different light. My views continue to evolve. For example, I now view my precognitive experiences as being of supernatural in origin; that is, the information is provided to me by a source. If I accept this for myself, then I must accept the possibility that it is true for others as well and that these people may have taken some time to document their experiences. Under this framework, the concept of divinely-inspired writing is admissible. For me this has been a very important realization. This idea has renewed my openness to many of the ideas expressed in the New Testament (especially those which are consistent with my experience of the light).
The experience strengthened my feelings about the existence of God, but the concept was beyond the traditional Judeo-Christian view. I view God as the creator of all physical law and the universe. God transcends the universe and lies beyond time and space. While being infinite, God also has a very personal and caring nature. I see a God of love, compassion and forgiveness. The concept of a God of retribution and of infinite punishment, caster of souls into everlasting, gives me a problem. The logic of providing infinite punishment for our earthly sins committed during a short seventy-year life span escapes me and is inconsistent with my concept of God.
My fear of death has diminished; but the fear of dying continued. During my experience I understood that I could continue with the light and not return. My understanding of death is the completion of the process of joining with the light. My experience did not give any information on the what lies beyond death. I do not see reincarnation into a new earthly body as being very probable. The experience did not change my view on this. My quest for spiritual values/higher consciousness increased and intensified, particularly in the area of trying to meet again with the light through meditation. Thus far I have not been able to replicate the experience. My quest for spiritual values became more personal and less based upon any particular religion. In the last year or so, my quest for spiritual values has increased several fold. This is related to becoming active in the local IANDS group.
Prior to my experience I had no psychic abilities. After the NDE there was a major increase in precognition (advanced knowledge of future events). This has occurred though very vivid dreams. For examples: I saw very unique pattern on oscilloscope in 1964, the pattern actually occurred in an EE lab about two weeks after the dream. I saw details of a late night chess game in a dorm room with a friend. The game details occurred inclusive of finishing it in the hall because of a very angry roommate. In April of 1966 I saw my future wife in a white wedding dress. (At the time she was going with someone else). We were married in April 1967. In 1974 my wife was pregnant. I had a dream and clearly saw a dark haired male baby. This was our second son (our first son was blond). In 1974 my wife's twin brother was seriously ill; I had a dream in which he was taken off his respirator for a short time. This in fact happened a few days after the dream. In December of that year I had a dream which symbolically represented my brother-in-law's death and gave information on the circumstances of his death. He died three or four days after the dream. The morning after the dream I had a very intense need to share it with my wife. On Labor Day in 1983 when I was looking for a new position I dreamed that I would get a phone call on September 15th at 10:30 a.m. This in fact happened and was the first call that I had in the search which had been going on for several months. (This is the best example of my precognition that I can give). In 1986, I had a dream in which a tornado passed very close to our house but did no damage. Two days later my mother in law had a very serious heart attack. (She was declared dead by three doctors at the hospital.) On the basis of the dream I knew that she would survive (she did). In 1985 I had a dream of a strong storm, buildings falling and people dying. I was left with a picture of a collapsed building; this picture was broadcast two days later on a TV news covering the Mexican earthquake. (Seeing this picture on the TV was a very moving experience for me). The precognition appears to be short term and seems to be moving from my personal life to a global aspect.
I should point out that I have absolutely no control over these dreams. For example, the Lotto appears to be beyond the scope. The idea of reaching out into time and seeing a future event is completely foreign to my training, but at the same time, I believe that these dreams were predictive and that this is related to my experience in 1964. My conclusion is that these images were provided to me and were more or less independent of my own abilities. These dreams are a continual reminder to me of God's presence and existence. My awareness of the religious/spiritual aspects of life has continued to increase and currently I have greater concern for others.
As far as methods to initiate, practice or prepare for a life review, for me the experience and the dreams which followed it were one of revelation. It was a statement that I am of some value to what goes on here and that I can have a significant, beneficial impact here. It was an ultimate expression of unconditional love from the creator. Many people live their entire lives without an experience like this. They must rely on faith. On the basis of my experience, I know. The meaning is quite clear: "I am with you, do not worry, do your best, and care for and help others."