Monday, October 12, 2015

Proof and Belief

QUESTION

    “I found you when searching for near-death experiences and found a website that shared a link to your website.  The many stories I have read of NDE and OBE have been very inspiring and comforting.  As of lately, however, they have brought me fear and uncertainty.  What I mean is that I’m no longer sure if they are real or not.  I’m always a believer, but the last few months have been a chaotic time for me.  I first began to question whether or not homeosexuality was okay.  Then I began to question my own opinions on all sorts of topics.  But then came the longest and harshest topic that I thought I would never face again, God and the afterlife.  I first did some research on different religions and their views of God and what happens when we die.  This didn’t do for me.  So I asked God if he was there or if he truly cared about me.  I was lead to NDE.  First, I was amazed and humbled from so many stories, how they told of a bright light and strong sense of love.  I believed them and decided to see the research behind them.

    “I’ll admit that I was only looking for information that supported NDE.  I was glad and fascinated about the research suggesting that we survive our physical death.  It even came an obsession of mine.  However, I became discouraged by comments and articles that dismissed them as dreams, hallucinations, and wishful thinking.  So, I started to look for quantum physics for its strange findings.  At first I thought it may help, but again, comments and articles discouraged me.  Though, to be honest, I guess I should’ve known better since I’m not all that knowledgeable, let alone an expert, on these things.  Now I’m scared that these wonderful visions make just clever hallucinations created by the brain.  I’m afraid that atheists and materialists may be right that there is no God and that when we die, we die and that’s it.  I’m also afraid that many attitudes of scientists and their physical findings have turned me away from science, a subject that I once enjoyed.  NDE and OBE are becoming a false hope for me.

    “All I want to do is continue believing in God, spend time with my family, and know that when I’m old and my time is up, I can still be with my family in a new reality/heaven.  I don’t want to always rely on science and experts for everything.  Sometimes, I feel that the only real way for me to find out if there is an afterlife is to die and experience it.  But I promised myself that wouldn’t do anything radical for the sake of my family, the thought persists and is very tempting.  I feel that my doubt and depression is driving me insane!  Not to mention, my family is starting to become worried about me.  I want to believe, but I’m afraid of false hope and being called crazy and gullible.  I’m hoping that you can give some advice.  Sincerely, Karol.”

ANSWER

    Every one of the objections by naysayers has been repudiated in scientific, clinical studies.  None of the naysayers, not a single one of them, has done their own study to any appreciable degree; none have researched both children and adults, including cases that arise from babies and toddlers who remember; none have researched the pattern of both physiological and psychological aftereffects.  It is the aftereffects that validate the experience, not the other way around.  In other words, naysayers focus on “piece-meal,” none have focused on the whole phenomenon as it exists.  The research you want is available.  Read Irreducible Mind.  There are many others.  No question:  the near-death phenomenon (both experience and aftereffects) is real.

    The challenge is with what the public thinks about the stories.  They are incredible….but…..few, if any, write about unpleasant or frightening (hellish) experiences.  Those exist too.  Some of the more heavenly stories are either exaggerated or could use a good editor.  There’s a lot of emotion involved here:  the tendency of any human being is to describe whatever happened in familiar terms.  That means there are cultural and language constraints that may bias the account, no matter how honest the experiencer.  Remember, aftereffects can be very hard to deal with.  There’s no magic here.

    To have a larger/better perspective of what you’ve been reading and hearing, there are three books that may be helpful to you:  The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences (an encyclopedia of the field but written in a fun way), Near-Death Experiences:  The Rests of The Story (a summary of my research), and Dying to Know You:  Proof of God in The Near-Death Experience (the collective voice speaking about the collective experience - from thousands of adults and children).

    The idea of God is supported and “proven” in near-death experiences, but not necessarily the God of Holy Writ.  What children and adults see/meet/feel is a God much bigger than that, much more powerful - a challenge to what most people say they believe (pro or con).  Once you get a better perspective on the subject, you might want to explore metaphysical or mystical churches.  I am referring there especially to Unity Churches and Centers of Spiritual Living (formerly Science of Mind).  Both offer writings, teachings, and understandings that are in line with the majority of near-death experiencers and what they now know.

    Have heart.  What you seek is far more accessible than your searches have led you to believe.  Blessings, PMH

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2 Comments:

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Craig McLean said...

(I'm reposting this; I'd written a lengthy comment/reply the other day, but did not get confirmation whether it made it into the queue or not.)

Hi, Karol and Ms. Atwater! I was blown away when I read this post the other day, for it was as if I were the author; I've had almost the exact concerns, worries, and anxieties as Karol, when it came to NDEs! I'm not an experiencer (or survivor) myself, but I have been following the literature for years (my first encounters were the occasional reports in The National Enquirer in the early 1970s--well before Dr. Moody's first book; I've been pondering "mortality" since at least age 14); we have several bookshelves of NDEers' reports, and studies on the NDE, OBE, and the like. But, like you, Karol, I have been besieged by doubts, especially when I allow myself to "get bogged down" in the more scientific analyses of NDEs.

The very day (Monday) I found this post, I had been "wandering around" over on the IANDS site (an excellent resource), and found myself trying to follow the more scientific discussions on the recently-released "AWARE" study. Intuitively, I found the study, and commentary, interesting, but soon found myself "bogged down" in the more science-y terminology. Even though I knew they--like other studies--were only considering pieces of the NDE, looking for veridical evidence, rather than considering the whole picture, as PMH suggests, I still felt an all-too-familiar depression overtaking me. Heading over to this blog was the "antidote" I needed that day. For I, too, am at a point where I'd just as soon "leave the limiting boxes of scientific materialism" behind, and just read, and integrate vicariously, the "whole picture" accounts of survivors.

I, too, was once more interested in science, and still find it useful as a tool/methodology for practical application (such as the physics of aircraft performance, climate analysis, and other "earth sciences"), but in more recent years have felt "soured" by the more materialistic/reductionistic practices (and their quasi-skepticism over such phenomena as NDEs and OBEs). In this way, I feel rather "an odd duck" in this society; many folks I've met seem to be united in their hatred of religion (and I do have my own problems w/ the more fundamentalist approaches, and their narrow definitions of God/Source), and describe how they've "worked their way out of the limited boxes of Religion", whereas I feel I'm "working my way out the limited boxes of materialism". So, finding your post, Karol, has helped me to feel a little less alone in this way.

At this time, I'm finding some help in meditation practices (mostly done w/ the aid of some of The Monroe Institute's "Hemisynch" CDs; the sound technology seems to help me induce a meditative state), prayer (I find the best time for me to pray is before I get out of bed in the morning, while I'm still relaxed from the sleep state), and doing some work w/ dream analysis, and paying attention to the synchronicities which occur on a daily basis (a good e.g. for me was finding this particular blog-post on the day I was, yet again, agonizing over these questions). The books Ms. Atwater suggests are also excellent resources. I'm currently reading Dr. Kenneth Ring's book, "Lessons from the Light", in which he also suggests considering "the big picture" of the NDE, by having us empathize w/ the stories of the NDEers he's encountered.

To add a final note to this comment, I was very privileged to hear your talk, Ms. Atwater, you gave one evening at TMI, when I was part of the first-ever "NDE-Intensive" residential program, facilitated by Dr. Scott Taylor. Your strength and convictions came thru very strongly that evening, as I shared six days w/ 21 others, exploring these questions.

Blessings,
Craig

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger PMH said...

I’m not sure who Karol is but thanks for your comments. If you want to “fill up” with what experiencers themselves have to say, get the book Dying to Know You: Proof of God In The Near-Death Experience. Well over 5,000 voices from adult and child experiencers are summed in the book. No, it’s not a research book nor a personal memoir, or an opinion piece or is it a spiritual or religious tome. Nope. It’s the voice of the people speaking their own truth their own way. A very different kind of book, small, but powerful.

Thank you for all your many comments. Have a most blessed Thanksgiving. PMH

 

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