I've had several NDEs, so I've written about three main ones and a few lesser ones. I consider the lesser ones to possibly be Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs) because their ‘qualities’ were a bit different. It’s hard to explain.

Number 1

Sometime between the ages of 5 and 7, I died. I was strangled, and my foster mother went too far in her fit of rage. I was taken to the hospital since I was unresponsive. They attached me to all kinds of machines. The doctor was furious, saying they had abused and killed me. He put me on an EEG machine to try to prove that I had brain trauma caused by the strangulation.

They performed extraordinary measures and got my heart to beat again. However, as I remained unresponsive, the doctor argued with my foster parents to remove life support because I was brain dead. I then flatlined and was declared dead.

I was watching as I stood beside my body as this went on. I felt very impartial, with a leaning towards relief. My suffering with these people had been catastrophic. For instance, I was forced to eat dog food from the floor and I was so severely raped that my uterus was 75% scar tissue at the age of 8. There were many more examples of severe abuse, but this is enough to set the stage for the NDE.

As I stood next to my body, I was relieved the suffering was over. I became aware of a Being of light standing beside me. The Being said, 'Follow them.'

I turned back to watch the foster parents and the doctor leaving the room. I followed in their wake. We went down a hallway and through a set of closed double doors that swung open and closed behind us. We went down another hallway and around a corner to another set of similar double doors. They continued the length of another hallway to stop at an office just before another set of double doors. They went inside and the doctor and the foster parents began to argue. The Being said, 'Remember exactly what they say.' I did so, and later I replayed this conversation verbatim to those involved in it.

While they continued their argument, the Being turned to me and asked, 'Are you ready to go?'

'What are you?' I asked it.

'Don't you know?'

'No.' I wondered why it would expect me to ask a question I already knew the answer to. As an autistic person, I was (and often still am) a very literal person.

Its response was that I could call it whatever I wanted to. Most people, it explained, called it an angel or a guide; some called it a god.

'But you aren't really any of that, are you?' I somehow inherently understood this.

It expressed pleasure and pride—what we would call a smile—and replied, 'No. None of those are fully accurate, though all are as accurate as they can be for the person deciding.'

'Why can't I decide what you are?'

'You have no preconceived ideas to get in the way of your understanding. You understand that you cannot truly know me while you carry the limitations of your body. You know whether I am good or bad and whether or not you trust me. This is complete enough knowledge.'

Then the Being took me into the presence of the Great Intelligence that created everything: It is everything and exists in and through and as all things. I would call it 'god', though this word has too many misunderstandings attached to it in our world to be accurate.

In this Presence, I simply stood there. I felt love everywhere. It was thick and heavy and it had a literal physical presence. This Presence was exquisite and magnificent. I also felt its gratitude for all of humanity and for all who must suffer in this place. It had weight, presence, and form. It is one thing I have never heard spoken of, that god is grateful to us and for us and for all that we are and do.

Then, I was taken into the Universe. I surfed on sound. I tasted colors that we can't see and for which we have no names on earth. I experienced the fullness of the songs that the planets sing to each other and the laughter of the stars. I experienced all that is, and the wonder of what exists. There was indescribable beauty and such vast love and joy.

I returned to the Being, who led me from the Presence. I carried some of the Presence with me and will do so forever. I was taken back towards my body by a long route through more stars and beautiful things. While we 'walked', the Being and I spoke at great length.

The final conversation went much like this:

'You don't have to go back. It's your choice.'

'If I don't go back, I will have failed. Much will fail.' I didn't want to go back, but I felt a powerful draw to do so.

'You will be loved and welcomed home regardless. You will be celebrated and there will be rejoicing and welcome.'

I looked then at my body lying there. 'I will know only pain if I go back.'

'Yes. Still, the choice to return is your own. We will not decide. We love you always.'

'I want to stay so badly.' I looked at the Being and felt its understanding and willingness to accept that.

'I'll go back.' It wasn't a choice, but it felt like acceptance and knowledge. I knew I would go back. I had promised. I had work to do even though it was really, really hard work. But I didn't want to go back.

The Being waited patiently as feelings of my pain and desperation warred with my mental knowledge and commitment. I had just spent eternity in magic, wonder, and a wealth of love and gratitude, listening to celestial songs and ballets in a perfect world.

Now I would return to squalor, abject misery, terror, and agony. And I knew it wouldn't end soon either. I did return to my body and all the inherent pain, after an exploration of magnificence I cannot even describe at all. And here I remain, for now.

Number 2

I have finally decided to write about another NDE. I suppose, with the 'strangeness' of our world, it's just the right time. I've told this in part, but not in full, and not in as great detail as really happened.

I was under 6 years old when I had this one. My foster mother had a great liking for strangulation as punishment. She was strangling me, and I remember my world view narrowing down to a pinprick. As the world narrowed and moved away down my tunnel vision, I had an intense urge to keep fighting. I was past the point where I normally gave up fighting. But this time, I felt a deep urge to keep struggling.

As the world narrowed and then vanished, all I could feel was my body and hers against it as I became momentarily blind. I could feel myself slowing down, but my emotions began to cease. I was no longer afraid, and now it seemed as if my body was fighting on its own.

Then I was out of my body, standing there watching the scene. My body was now limp, and she was shaking it by the throat as if expecting more of a fight. I turned to the Being beside my Awareness, as it were.

It reached out to me, like taking my hand would seem in real life. 'Let us take a tour,' was all it communicated to me.

I glanced back and saw that she had begun to resuscitate my body. I felt worry, but not for the body. 'Will we have time?'

The sense of a smile. 'Plenty, and some to spare. Time here will not pass while we are there.'

We were somewhere else. I didn't really sense a transition as much as just being somewhere else. I felt only awe and wonder. We were at the base of plants that were like trees but more akin to seaweed. They waved back and forth like great fronds of ferns. Some were red and some were gold. The red ones had gold veining; the gold ones had green veining.

Moving gracefully through them were intelligent creatures, almost impossible to explain. They glowed with bioluminescent light, though they were what you might think of as 'mermaid-like' in appearance. They were long and lean; their faces narrow, but still kindly and elegant. Their eyes were wide set, but not quite on the side of their heads. Their fingers were webbed and light seemed to move along the surface of them.

I understood that this was a different world and a different planet than Earth. This world was completely covered in water, and they had no concept for earth, dirt, or ground. They lived their entire lives on the water currents of their vast world.

We sank deeper into this world where there were more strange creatures. These creatures were similar, but less evolved. They were curious and able to sense us, whereas the other creatures had not. They were gentle, filled with joy and pleasure at our presence. They flocked around us, similarly to dolphins. These were of a color we have no word for. Oddly, I no longer remembered the color, as soon as I returned to my human body.

These creatures lived down in the darkness where their sun could not reach, and they saw in colors that we humans cannot. They were like joyful dogs greeting a long-missing, beloved human. They made strange sounds, which I knew my human ears would never hear. They made high-pitched sounds, but these sounds were not painful. These creatures sang in these beautiful, high sounds, and the sound traveled in the water. Then I heard others of their kind return their song from far away. I could hear and understand their very simplistic song about visits, joy, and how great was their teaching.

In my human-thinking, I had come simply to see. But they believed I had come to learn and they were to teach me. I went with them at the gentle urging of the Being beside me. They took me into their homes that were honeycomb-like caverns under the ground where the water flowed in musical patterns.

We swam in these caves and they showed me how much was alive around us. Algae was on the walls. Some of the caves were inhabited by microscopic life that grew in small, hard shells and created walls in the caves. Some of them were gigantic ancient life that grew cone-like, huge shells and ate of the life that bloomed in the water. These gigantic creatures could sleep, sometimes for decades, before the algae bloomed and woke them.

They showed me the way to know when they were going too far up. I could feel the sense of 'coming apart' when they reached the limits of their depth altitude. They showed me another school of their kind, which swam around me in circles, brushed against my energy, and asked me to bless them. I blessed them and told them that they would prosper for their kindness, for their 'washing away' of some of my grief. They left, satisfied that they had given and received blessings duly in return.

The pod I was with brought me back to their own place again where we had met. They wished for a blessing in their turn. I told them that they would grow greater because they had taught me; and they, too, were satisfied.

Then we went up into space and traveled among stars and planets. Although not occupied by life, each was beautiful in its turn.

When it was time to return, we came to my body almost precisely as we had left it. This was odd to me because I had just spent eternity among the strange creatures of the other planet, among the stars, gas giants, ringed planets and frozen planets, and burning magma planets.

I stood at my body and looked back at the Being. It was infinitely patient as it waited. I did not ask, and it did not make any suggestion, but I knew it was time to go back. I felt a surge of love for that Being. Then I felt the emotions of my body as I woke up coughing and vomiting.

Number 3

I was with the sadistic torturers (foster parents) from the ages of 3 to 7 years old. It was during these times that I had my NDEs.

I will do my best to make this coherent. It's sort of like trying to unpack someone else's clothing and put it away neatly in a house you've never been in before. It's overwhelming and hard to put things into logical and understandable order.

One thing I want to make sure is understood is that I did a LOT of fighting against what I was told, taught, or had downloaded during these NDEs. This one, in particular, has plagued me for my entire life. I'll try to express my own struggles over it at the same time that I try to express the messages clearly. Also, this one was a particularly fascinating NDE and there are things to express from that standpoint, which will also be a challenge.

As I rose from my body, I found my friend waiting there for me. My friend was a humanoid-shaped form of light who radiated kindness, love, and patience. We ignored the commotion of the foster mother trying to revive the body.

'What is it that you wish to ask, but have not?' It conveyed the question soundlessly.

'Why?' With that question, I asked a dozen others, 'Why me? Why suffering? Why this horrible world? Why did I go back when I could leave? Why would I come here and accept such horrific things when I am a spark of the divine, a portion of the Great Intelligence?' It was a cry of confusion, anger, pain, and loss.

It held out a proverbial hand and asked me, 'Are you sure you want to know? All that you suffer now will go easier on you if you do not know.'

I pondered, searching myself. Did I want to know if it would bring me more pain? In the end, I decided that I wanted to know. I could tell that my friend already knew my decision. There was a nod, and we were off.

First, we went into the chamber of the Great Intelligence, what you might call 'god'. This was the loving, vast, incredible Being who made all things, is all things, exists as and through all things. I received the download that answered my questions of 'why' as far as I am allowed to have those answers while here on earth.

After a great length of time in that Presence, I reluctantly went with my friend. It took me to a world with two suns. One sun was brilliantly red-gold and the other sun was a pale white. One might confuse it for a moon, if they had only known Earth's skies. But in that place, I knew it was another sun. It was smaller than the greater sun, but greater by far than our own sun. Both suns were many millions of times further from that planet than our sun is from ours.

This planet had vast cities, unlike anything here. There were magnificent, towering edifices that were gleaming with crystalline shine. They were not built, but rather grown in a process I do not, and did not understand. They were teeming with life, not merely the intelligent species of that planet, but with animals. Some of these animals were climbing creatures who nested far up in the tops of the great hollow houses. Even as I watched in wonder, they launched themselves off and glided from one vast pinnacle to another; scurrying up the side and disappearing inside the houses. They were similar in body to flying squirrels, but their faces were more like ant eaters; though this is an imprecise comparison because no such things exist.

It was joyful and beautiful. The intelligent beings who lived there were filled with laughter, happiness, and sublime contentment.

I understood immediately the fullness of life on this planet. I could see when it broke apart from a sun, spinning and cooling and collecting debris; until the first of these creatures heard itself laugh and understood the sound for what it was. In that moment, self-awareness was awakened and the seeds of civilization sprouted.

These people were golden-skinned and willowy in appearance. They were somewhat similar to humans, although their faces were more softly defined and rounder. They wore clothing, but it was to express themselves as the clothing had no other cultural or physiological purpose. They danced and wove cloth through the air. I wished to go closer and learn more, but it would have been disrespectful.

I was brought to another planet where the people lived in sprawling huts that were far apart from each other. These people were not like what I expected of intelligent species. They were not bipedal and used their feet much like hands, although their 'back legs' were hooved. They curled their hands into fists to run, and there were hard protrusions on the backs of their knuckles. Perhaps this was where my innocent childhood belief that I could grow up to be a horse came from. Though they did not look like horses or any earth creature.

These people were joyful, peaceful, and lived in harmony. They were very attuned to the planet they lived on. They spoke of the planet and to the planet. There were two other intelligent species there, and all three lived together and worked together in a strange symbiotic manner. The tents these creatures lived in were made by gentle, ape-like beings, and the ape-like beings were carried on the bellies of the four-legged beings. The third race of beings were ape-like as well, but more similar to humans in their faces, without the prominent forehead of Cro-Magnon humans, but not as softened as modern humans.

The third race of beings could see us, and raised their hands in greeting. This prompted the others to do so, as well. It was a strange sight. We bowed and sent them blessings before moving on.

As we went from place to place, I saw wonders everywhere. I was shown non-intelligent species. I was shown splendors of every kind, like waterfalls and being taken into the heart of a burning flame. I skimmed the surface of a sun, playing in the shifting energy and heard its jubilant joy at giving life to so many wonderful things.

It was the most joyful, beautiful, wonderful, amazing experience anyone could possibly have. The size, the scope of it cannot be expressed. I met with incredible, spiritual beings like my attendant, friend, and my guide. They all were filled with contentment and joy.

Everywhere in the universe was great love, dignity, respect, and compassion. It was so exquisite that I can't contain my tears, as I have a diminished capacity to remember this experience because this is all that my brain can encompass while in this reduced, small, and limited form. To go from where I was and into this has been almost unbearable. To truly know what lies beyond and to know beyond all doubt that it is magnificent and fantastic beyond all conception, makes living here, in this form, so hard. I try not to think about it. Another reason I have rarely spoken of my experience is that it makes me yearn even harder to return to it.

After a great deal of time exploring, seeing beautiful and wonderful sights, we stopped in space near a nebula. Nebulas are even more beautiful than they appear in photos.

'That is the answer to your question: Why?' I understood that everything that we do here on Earth, all that we are, all that we experience, allows creation to exist. Every beautiful thing, every wonderful being and creature, whether on earth or in any universe, relies upon people who are on the extremely rare places like Earth.

The Great Intelligence (god) is a paradox. It is completely loving and fully unlimited. Which by the definition of paradox, means it is impossible. It cannot be limited only to love, it cannot be limited to only being unlimited, or it is not unlimited.

Earth is a place where the unlimited becomes limited; where the singular becomes many. Here, it can know community and loneliness. It can know heartache and hope. It can know all which an unlimited being of pure love cannot. It can conceive and perceive evil, which in truth it cannot do either. To solve the paradox, it must experience helplessness and limitation and all as Real. In this place, on earth, it is all so REAL.

So, what is free will? Free will is the option to come here to help solve the paradox of 'god'. To be all that we are not, so that everything wondrous and joyful may continue to exist. So that love itself may continue to exist. So that the Unlimited is not limited.

Why are the answers to ‘Why?’ always 'simply to exist' and 'to choose love' and 'to learn how to love'? Because all you need to do, to solve the paradox, is to exist. And as we exist here, each time we choose love, we expand the universe. Love is life's longing for itself. Despite the reality of what we live, even the darkest souls among us cannot help but to reach, to yearn, and to move towards goodness and towards love.

For love is the true nature of who we are. And when we experience horrible things, the question, 'Why?' comes to mind because it is the central question of love, life, and of this world. The answer is, 'So that all things might continue to exist.'

Every soul chose to come here and to suffer because of love. Each soul loves the universe, loves life, and loves this world and ALL of the worlds. Each soul loves ALL of the people so immensely and intensely that they chose to come here so that all the universes may teem with beautiful, joyful LIFE.

Every creature that I saw acknowledges that your life gives them the gift of life. And when each soul goes 'home' after they die, they will know the rewards of their own gift, too. The 'reward' for their sacrifice will be joy, love, and feeling incredible, wonderful, beautiful joy at the LIFE and the LOVE everywhere in the universe.

When you go home, you meet your own soul. You willingly came here to forget yourself. You willingly came here to save every beautiful and wonderful thing. By suffering what 'god' cannot, you give the gift of life.

Number 4

Most of my NDE/STE experiences are so similar to each other that I don't really bother with them, so that’s why I only wrote 3 out of the around 8 that I had. Those are the ones I remember most vividly and the others did include a lot of ‘similar’ experiences. They were all positive. I visited with the higher power, the Presence / Light in all of them.

Here are some other ones that I found less ‘interesting’ and never actually planned to write about. However, people expressed interest in them, so I wrote them.

The first of these, I call, ‘The Womb’. It's similar to ‘void’ experiences except that I saw flashes of pink (sometimes other colors, but usually pink) like muted, dark lightning. I was floating in darkness; everything was peaceful and incredibly calm. I existed; it wasn't frightening. I felt wrapped tightly in immense love. (I think it's important that you remember I was between 3 and 5 years old--I was more 'in' my human mind in this NDE than in any of the others, but I was more like a normal, inquisitive child and without my impediments, brain damage, and autism). This one was also the result of the violence I experienced from foster parents as a child. I do not remember which punishment led to this one, but I vaguely connect being drowned and resuscitated with this one.

I could sense what I usually call my ‘attendant.’ Guide, guardian angel, whatever you wish. It was there, as a presence, but not as a being of light this time, just sort of there on the periphery of my ‘knowing.’

I asked, ‘What is this place?’ It answered telepathically, ‘It is your memory.’

Being obviously smarter than the average idiot, I said, ‘I don't remember this.’ (This makes me laugh every time I look back on it--I was IN the memory, so obviously I remembered it!) I went on, ‘Why am I here?’

‘This was a place where you felt loved. You came here to feel safe.’

I thought on this for a while. ‘Is this my mommy?’ (I was five, btw, so Mommy was a perfectly fine word).

‘Yes, but not this one.’

I didn't know what to say to that, so I said nothing for a while, just floating in the peaceful weighted darkness. There were pink flashes again, and I asked, ‘What's happening?’

‘Light is coming.’

‘Am I getting born?’

‘No. This is the womb of creation. This is your way of understanding it.’

‘The first time I knew I was me.’ (It made sense at the time)

‘Yes. The first time you knew yourself. The first time you felt love.’

‘That's when you know yourself? When you know love, you know yourself.’ (I felt rather clever figuring that one out. I still laugh at the childlike joy I took in this ‘deep’ tidbit, lol!)

At this point, although I couldn't see a body or even really sense a body, I did what I would think of as flips or cartwheels. ‘I exist.’ (Again, I felt particularly clever and delighted by this. This 'realization' filled me with immense joy and laughter).

‘You have always existed; you just forget from time to time.’ (Now it was the attendant's turn to express amusement and great love towards me.)

I hung suspended in the vast sea of nothingness, watching the rare flash of color around me. Then I admitted it was time to go, and we returned to my body.

Number 5

I seriously don't know HOW to describe this one.

There were people there. I was in an adult body, a woman. (I was not 'me'. I was another 'body'--again, I don’t know how to express that.) I was wearing a toga, as were all the people around me. (As a child, I described it as wearing white curtains. I didn't have any idea what a toga was.)

The floor was ‘granite’ in a way, but it was basically a hard invisible surface, below which was a universe. Like images of space, galaxies, nebulas. It was 3-d, but we could walk on it. (Sorry, I know that's weird. Like I said, I have no idea how to explain it.) I would call the ‘decor’ Ancient Greek, maybe? It's hard to say. White marble pillars to a white marble ceiling, like a temple without walls.

It would be much like a party. Everyone was talking and calm and relaxed, happy. There were ‘attendants’ like mine going around the party with ‘drinks.’ Beings of light.

‘Come, they've been waiting for you,’ my attendant said after a few moments. It had been standing slightly to my right and behind. It grew larger and floated, and people moved away to let us through. They glanced at us and murmured, but went right back to their conversations after.

The interesting thing is that it was all very sedate, calm, and subdued, but I could feel the joy radiating off of them. They were very happy. I knew them all, but yet I didn't. They were not ancestors of mine; they were not people I knew in person. They were, though, familiar.

We traveled (sort of a tunnel, but instant) and we were in what I call ‘the chamber of the higher power.’ The Presence.

I looked at the people around me. ‘What is this?’ I meant the gathering of people. I knew where we were, but not why we were there or what 'this' was all about.

One woman who looked older, came to me and put her arm around me. I found her deeply comforting. ‘Don't worry, dear. Everything's going to be okay, but you have to hurry.’ She led me forward into the group, where we had a conversation that I don't remember anything at all of.

There were other such ‘conferences’ going on, as well. It was a very joyful conversation, filled with happiness, hopefulness, gratitude... but it was also very serious and weighty. Again, I remember nothing except having the conversation.

I remember my reluctance when it came time to go back, as well.

When I was about to go back to my body, I turned and looked at my attendant. I was so, so, so deeply sad (I'm crying writing it) as I asked, ‘Will they find me?’

‘If not, you will find them.’

I returned to my body, to the pain and terror that was the only reality I knew. It was hard, and I cried that night, something I tried never to do in that place.

I don't know who ‘they’ were, or why I was afraid they wouldn't ‘find me.’ So, the NDE is nonsensical and strange. I got no real answers from it, and I have no real answers about it, I'm afraid. I may have been given information, but I wasn't allowed to retain any of it. My take on it, just a deep feeling I have that I can't explain the origins of, is that this is where we go when we sleep. We plan together in this ‘place’ every night. It felt much more ‘physical’ or ‘concrete’ to me than the rest. Almost as if this was ALMOST, but not quite IN the physical realm. Closer to being what we humans call ‘real’ and less embedded in the plane of true reality to which we all return.

Numbers 6/7

I had two experiences which sort of ‘fit in together’ in an interesting way. I have often said that I experienced more ‘pure’ NDEs as a child because I had less indoctrination. This issue of 'indoctrination' or in a word I'd consider more specific, the greater the ‘in-soulment,’ the less ‘true to reality’ the experience becomes. These two experiences offer a bit more insight into that.

Because I already had the foundation of this concept from my early NDEs, it was easier for me to somewhat get past it later, but I struggled with it considerably thanks to very, very heavy Seventh Day Adventist indoctrination from ages nine to fifteen.

The STE that I experienced began at the end of a three-day ‘fasting and praying’ episode. I was rapidly losing my faith in Christianity, and I was desperate to sustain it. I went out into the woods to ‘fast and pray’ and I actually did a water fast. I had nothing but water for three days and nights.

At the end of the fast, I had some fruit juice as a way to begin transitioning back to eating again. I was lying on the couch and began to feel as if my body and soul were separating. I got very, very dizzy and the world seemed to fade in and out just before the experience/vision began.

I felt myself rise from my body. This experience felt very different from the NDEs. It was more like a dream, but had a different quality from other dreams. It definitely shared similarities with my NDEs, but I was less 'fully present' in it. I felt like my human self, in other words.

I entered a tunnel, but the transition was extremely quick. I was almost immediately at the other end, standing in the clouds. I saw a man and thought it was Jesus. However, having been raised Seventh Day Adventist, I was afraid. The ‘devil may appear as an angel of light’ verse came to mind. I had just been studying the bible intensely for the last three days—and I was a particularly devoted student of it most of the time, so it was pretty heavily on my mind.

I'd been taught about how to ‘test demons’ so I began to ask this Jesus figure questions, to make sure it wasn't a demon in disguise. ‘Say, Jesus Christ is Lord,’ I demanded and he did. I announced, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’ and he just stood there smiling. ‘I command you in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost! in Jesus’ name I pray, depart!’ He crossed his arms and kept smiling. He kept smiling patiently all the way through my repertoire of ‘demonology’ attempts to exorcise him.

When I ran out, he asked me, ‘All done now?’ and I sheepishly apologized.

But then I couldn't stop myself. ‘You're not a demon.’ I knew that. I knew it on every level of my being.

‘No,’ he agreed.

‘You're not Jesus?’ I asked.

He shrugged. ‘I am if that's what you want to call me.’ I was too afraid of him being anything else. ‘You have to be Jesus.’ He smiled and we returned to the kind of communication we'd had when I was a child... where I knew what he was thinking. ‘I knew you were going to say that.’

We spoke for some time about matters which were personal to me at that time (not related to religion or the like—it was about my baby). He once more had bad news for me; it was going to be rough. He also told me that it was never intended that I become trapped in religion the way I had. I had been in a very, very intense ‘crisis of faith’ for years.

After we parted, I had personal information that came true, including that I would not remain a Christian, but that the transition out would be difficult because my fear levels were so high. Also, sadly, his statement about my baby came true.

Many of the deepest and most troubling issues I'd had with Christianity came to light during and after that experience. One huge challenge I'd had around how I had been raised was around LGBQT issues, and the idea that 'god' would make a person a certain way and then hate them for being that way. This tied in, indirectly, to the fact of my autism and why would 'god' make me autistic and hate me for being autistic? I naturally understood that this extended to others who had things about them that they couldn't change. This conversation with 'Jesus' helped significantly relieve the immense inner turmoil I was undergoing with regards to gay people.

Number 8

A decade later, I had the most recent (and last, to date) NDE. I was in the laundry room, doing laundry, when I stood up too quickly and the world began to draw away from me, down a tunnel. I dimly realized I was getting tunnel vision (I had locked my knees once and almost passed out, so I now had a name for the phenomenon). I saw the part of the world I could see get tinier and tinier and in a dim part of my mind I thought, ‘Crap, I'm fainting.’

I watched as the washing machine came towards me in that far distant pinpoint that the world had become, and then everything went black. I was later informed by my doctor that my blood pressure had gone so low that I wasn't getting blood to my brain until I fell over and it sort of ran into it. My heart wasn't able to push blood to it.

I've told the following story before to some people, but I always told it as a ‘vision’ because I didn't want to talk about NDEs with them. (I don't like to tell this next NDE. It seems to me like arrogance, because the 'angel' [soul] in the following was 'me.' That being said, it's a representation of ALL humans, so I want to make sure that this is understood. In the places where I say, 'me' or 'I', it actually is YOU. It was about me, but it wasn't JUST about me.)

I don't remember leaving my body on this one, I just remember being in the tunnel of light for a moment, then I was once more in the clouds. This time, the person who greeted me was in the form of a Buddhist monk. (I was interested in Eastern Mysticism at the time.) He was sitting in the lotus position and smiling at me. We greeted each other as old friends. Once more I acknowledged, as I always seemed to do, that he was not what he appeared to be, but was rather a spirit, a soul, a being... not truly definable using earthly language.

I then told him that I was struggling with the concept of ‘free will’ from a spiritual perspective. He told me that he would show me, in the form of a ‘parable.’ (Though I don't really like parables, so I more interpreted it like ‘Aesop's fables,’ where a truism is given in a story form, which I suppose a parable is. However, Aesop's fables were much more direct and their 'message' immediately decipherable, so no confusion is possible.)

The scene below us changed from clouds, and we were watching a scene below us as it played out. It looked like a vast sort of train station, or bus station. One whole wall was lined with 'ticket windows' where you could go up to the window and purchase your ticket. People were buying tickets and then going to the portal, which was ‘birth,’ into various worlds (according to your ticket's destination).

At the top of the 'ticket booth' was a description of where the booth sent you. It was an archetype of what kind of life you would lead. I knew it was just a representation, there's FAR more to it than that, but this was just trying to get the concept across to me. So, each label was describing a life archetype.

The lines were longer the closer they were to the 'entrance' to the train station. At the far end, though, there were several windows with no one in the lines at all.

As we watched, an angel (a being with wings, gentle, beautiful, and sweet, but with an unmistakable aura of immense power) came in. Around her neck was 'proof' of her vast experience. She had a chit on the end of a necklace. It was a sort of 'honor' medal, a ticket to any life of any kind, anywhere. She could choose a vacation incarnation at any destination at all.

She held the chit in her hand as she walked. The people in the lines turned to stare and whispered about her. She was like a celebrity, and they were all amazed at her, in awe, staring and gawking and excited. Such souls were rare, and it was very exciting to them to see her there.

She passed all of the 'exciting' and 'fun' and 'holiday' type incarnations. She got to the end and turned to go back, but then stopped. She looked at the last two lives. The very last. No one at all stood at either. She went to the far end, and placed her chit on the counter, pushing it towards the angel working that station.

He shook his head. ‘You don't want to do that,’ he advised. ‘You'll fail. Even you would fail this one.’

She nodded. ‘I know. But I have to try.’

He looked sad. ‘You're going to waste this on going to such an impossible life? Why?’

She shrugged back, ‘Someone must. Why not me?’

He protested once more, but slid the ticket to her. She took it and held it as tenderly as she had held the chit a moment ago. She marched up to the portal of birth and resolutely held out the ticket. The angel working the portal shook his head. ‘Why would you do this? You're going to fail.’

She smiled, a wry, sad smile. ‘I know. But someone has to try.’

‘Very well,’ he told her and accepted her ticket. As he stepped aside and held his arm out, she stepped forward, took a deep breath, and leaped into the portal.

The other angels left their lines and gathered around to stare into it, watching. ‘She's going to fail,’ one of them said. ‘But someone had to try,’ another repeated her words from earlier. ‘What if she doesn't fail?’ someone else asked, and they grew hushed and watched more closely.

The clouds returned and we sat together in silence for a while. He was a jolly, smiling monk, and I was me, just me. I couldn't see that that radiant creature from the story was 'me'. ‘You should get back if you're going,’ he told me.

I looked at him. ‘Everyone expected me to fail.’

He nodded. ‘Even you. You most of all.’ Then he continued, ‘Your life was supposed to end a long time ago. You decided to keep going. We still expect you to fail, but you've already surpassed what you originally intended.’

I basically replied, ‘Thanks for the vote of confidence,’ to which he just laughed that jolly monk laugh, and I returned to my body in a pool of bloody vomit. Nice transition back, thanks for that, my monk friend.