Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Religion, Hallucinations, and the Living in NDEs


"My question is quite short. It pertains to religious beliefs. Through your respectable research and experience, has there been a certain religious belief that a majority of near-death experiencers has followed? I have read a couple of Kevin Williams' articles and was directed to a couple: Christian Gnostics, Christian Reformative Universalism, and Buddhist. What is your take when it comes to having a certain organized belief to follow that matches the experience that one has gone through?"....Josue.


I know of no particular, special, or predominant "religion" that near-death experiencers tend to switch over to or follow after their episode. I can say this, though: of my research, one-third stayed within the church of their faith after their experience, two-thirds either left their church or were never a part of a faith-tradition to begin with.

With the one-third who stayed, I noticed they were much more evangelist afterward, or in some way took a more active part in trying to reenergize and uplift what already existed. It's like they became change agents, not for something new per se but to improve what they already had.

With the two-thirds who left known religious pathways, invariably they headed to Eastern religions, Native American practices, shamanism, Buddhism, immersed themselves in meditation and mindfulness practices, and became more introspective in the sense of connecting with "The God Within" - beginning what is traditionally known as "the inner journey." Many of these people joined metaphysical churches, such as Unity and Religious Science/Science of Mind (now called United Centers of Spiritual Living). Some went the psychic/intuitive route, preferring study groups or at-home ceremonies and rituals of sacredness. After about a decade or so, the majority of these people returned to some type of church home - usually the metaphysical ones - but also to those mainstream churches that had converted to guitar services, or those that had become more tolerant, more open, and more personal. They were drawn by congregations who practiced "laying on of hands" in healing work, walked labyrinths, made prayer shawls, and participated in sacred work. Basically, they came back to a church of some kind because it seemed as if they once again valued being in a community of their fellows, people of a like-mind.

What researchers of the near-death phenomenon generally say is "experiencers become more spiritual and less religious afterward." The numbers bear that out. Blessings, PMH


"I recently read a text about the 'hallucinatory' nature of some near-death experiences. It is explained there how some discrepancies were discovered between the 'real' environment and what people see when they are out of their bodies. The case apparently happened to the near-death skeptic, Susan Blackmore, who had this experience. I think you know the story.

"Also, some people seem to see still living persons when having an NDE. Do you have an explanation for these cases?"....Raphael


I recommend reading "The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences." Both of your concerns are covered in-depth, and much more broadly, in the book.

Let me make this clear to start with: we know scientifically that the near-death phenomenon is not a hallucination. Many different types of imagery do appear to experiencers. You can trace the overall tenor of these images to either the culture of the individual or to language constraints... or... to what might be most needed for the individual to process at that moment in his or her life. I learned long ago in my work to, whenever possible, have the experiencer draw his or her episode. It is those drawings and how the individual interprets them, that you find out what is really going on and why the imagery was described in the manner used. That "need factor" trumps the idea of "hallucinations." When you dig deep, and you can, all sorts of incredible truths emerge that do more to color these episodes than any superficial rendering can.

Living people, on occasion, do indeed appear in near-death imagery - mostly to children, but sometimes to adults. In every case I have encountered of this, the "purpose," if you will, of the living greeter was either to alert or relax the experiencer - so the episode could deepen. Once this occurred, living greeters disappeared and greeters more in line with typical near-death states moved forward. I write a lot about greeters and how they vary, especially with children. You might include in your reading, my book "The New Children and Near-Death Experiences," for a more in-depth treatment of this. Blessings, PMH


*** "Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences," by Jeffrey Long, M.D., with Paul Perry, has just been released. I am certain it is a good book. Bear in mind, though, that the book is based on Jeffrey's website and the e-mailed stories he has collected. This puts his conclusions at risk. Still, his approach is unique and well worth considering.

*** Spiritual Retreat time for near-death experiencers!!! Yup, despite the cold and winter snow and rains, one can now register for the Spiritual Retreat for Near-Death Experiencers to be held July 15-18, in Missouri. This time there will be a joyous extra. . . the wedding of host Linda Jacquin and her beloved Eric Cusimano!

Labels: , , ,