Since the advances in medical science in the 20th century, more and more witnesses have come forward and have reported a common set of experiences that indicate that there is indeed life after death. Although experiences vary between individuals, there is a common process that people undergo during death:
- The person will have an out of the body experience, and can see their body as a third person. Witnesses have reported events and conversations, even outside of the operating room, that were later verified.
- At some point their spirit withdraws from this world and goes through a tunnel. They may encounter friends and relatives who passed away earlier.
- At the end of the tunnel there is a bright white light. Sometimes people encounter a Being of Light. This light, or Being of Light, is pure Love.
- A person then goes through a three-dimensional life review, seeing how their actions have effected others. This happens in an instant, with complete understanding. One goes through a process of learning and self judgment. Nothing is hidden, not even one's thoughts.
- The important point from the life review: that our purpose in life is to love others. Love is the answer to the meaning of life. We all have a specific purpose in this life. Even the smallest acts of love is what matters most. The Being of Light is most interested in the love we have shown to others.
- At some point the witness is told either they must go back, or have a choice of staying or going back. When they come back, they have a completely different view of life: one that is more caring of others, one where there is more empathy and love.
- A small number of witnesses have reported going beyond the life review and entering the light, and enter a vast realm of light with gardens and buildings of light.
There are some who attempt to explain this phenomenon away by oxygen deprivation of the brain. But that does not fit the entire experience: it is a life transforming experience, and even brain neurosurgeons who have died have stated it is completely different. Those who seek naturalistic explanations always ignore step #1 in the process, where witnesses have clairvoyant experiences that are later verified.
IS THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE REPORTED IN THE BIBLE?
The Bible in many cases is written in the form of a parable, in a manner that people could understand at the time. But certain aspects of the Near Death Experience are found in the Bible. One is that the gospels clearly state that Jesus is the light of the world:
"I am the light of the world." (John 9:5)
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4)
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:19-21)
Some witnesses have actually reported encountering Jesus in the center of the light. According to one study, the experience may be adapted to one's cultural influence. From Near Death Experience:
Studies that have investigated cultural differences in NDEs summarized by (Augustine, 2003) have argued that the content of the experiences do not vary by culture, except for the identity of the figures seen during the experiences. For example, a Christian may see Jesus, while a Hindu may see Yamaraja, the Hindu king of death.So is the experience adapted to one' cultural background, or is Jesus indeed the Being of Light of the Near Death Experience? There is truth in both viewpoints, but let's explore this a little further.
THE BEING OF LIGHT IN THE VISIONS OF EMANUEL SWEDENBORG
There is an odd and interesting parallel between the Near Death Experience that was (re-)discovered in the 20th century, and the waking visions of Emanuel Swedenborg of the 18th century. Swedenborg was a brilliant scientist estimated to have an IQ of over 200, who late in life had his vision opened to explain the spiritual sense of the Bible. He claimed that for a full period of 27 years, he was allowed to have complete full waking visions of heaven and hell, while still fully present in his body. He fully documented his experiences, which are reported in over 30 volumes. From this one can see that those who have had a Near Death Experience have experienced just a small portion of the life to come.
The interesting aspect about Swedenborg's visions of heaven, is that in heaven God appears as the central Sun, and it is from this Sun that all of heaven receives its light. Within the light is God Himself. And indeed, Swedenborg confirms that the God in the center of this Sun is the Lord Himself. For this I will quote from a passage that I used to interpret Psalm 72 in a forthcoming commentary on the Psalms:
“That the Lord is seen as the sun in heaven before the angels, and that His Divine love together with His Divine wisdom appear thus, may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell, published at London, 1758 (n. 116-125); and in the Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom (n. 83-172). It remains here only to prove from the Word, that the sun, when relating to the Lord, is His Divine love and at the same time His Divine wisdom. This may be evident from the following passage: In that day the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days (Isa. xxx. 26). That day is the Lord's coming, when the old church is destroyed, and a new one is to be instituted. The light of the moon is faith from charity, and the light of the sun is intelligence and wisdom from love, from the Lord at that time. Thy sun shall no more go down, and thy moon shall not be withdrawn; for Jehovah shall be an everlasting light (Isa. lx. 20). The sun which shall not set is love and wisdom from the Lord. The rock of Israel spake to me, as the light of the morning when the sun riseth (2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4). The rock of Israel is the Lord. His throne shall be as the sun (Ps. lxxxix. 36, 37). This is said of David, but by David the Lord is there meant. They shall fear Thee as long as the sun endureth; and in His days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace until the moon be no more: His name shall be continued as long as the sun, and all nations shall be blessed in Him (Ps. lxxii. 5, 7, 17). This also is concerning the Lord. Since the Lord appears as the sun in heaven before the angels, therefore, when He was transfigured His face shone as the sun, and His garments became as the light (Matt. xvii. 1, 2): and it is said of the mighty angel coming down out of heaven, that he was clothed with a cloud, and his face was as the sun (Apoc. x. 1); and of the woman, that she was seen clothed with the sun (Apoc. xii. 1). The sun here also is love and wisdom from the Lord; the woman here is the church which is called the New Jerusalem.” (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 53)In passage after passage, Swedenborg shows that the word "sun" in scripture does not refer to the physical sun of our solar system, but the central Sun of heaven, which represents Divine love. And multiple independent witnesses have stated that this Being of light is full of love, if not love itself. Swedenborg also confirmed that God in his very essence is Love itself. The central sun of heaven is described in more detail in Swedenborg's most famous work, Heaven and Hell:
"The Sun of heaven is the Lord, the light there is Divine truth, and the heat is Divine good, which proceed from the Lord as a Sun. From this origin are all things that exist and are seen in the heavens." (Heaven and Hell, n. 117)How one sees the Lord in the central Sun of heaven depends on how one receives Him:
"He is seen by every one according as He is received by him, thus in one manner by those who receive Him with the good of love, and in another by those who receive Him with the good of faith. By those who receive Him with the good of love, He is seen as a sun, fiery and flamy according to the reception. These are in His celestial kingdom. But by those who receive Him with the good of faith, He is seen as a moon, white and beaming according to the reception." (Heaven and Hell, n. 118)At times the Lord is present in angelic form among the heavens, but differs from angels in that the Divine presence is within Him:
"When however the Lord is seen in the midst of heaven, which is often the case, He is not seen encompassed with the Sun, but in the form of an angel, yet distinguished from angels by the Divine beaming through the face; for He is not there in person, since in person the Lord is constantly encompassed with the Sun, but is in presence by His look. ...I have also seen the Lord out of the Sun, in the form of an angel, a little below the Sun in its altitude; and again near by, in like form, with beaming face. Once too He was seen in the midst of angels, as a flame-like radiance." (Heaven and Hell, n. 121)
HOW GOD ADAPTS HIMSELF TO EACH PERSON
God is perceived according to how He is received by each person, and this is also confirmed by the visions of Swedenborg. There are different levels of heaven, according to one's spiritual perception:
"The doctrine of the inmost heaven is more full of wisdom than the doctrine of the middle heaven, and this more full of intelligence than the doctrine of the lowest heaven; for the doctrines are adapted to the perception of the angels in each heaven. The essential of all the doctrines is, to acknowledge the Divine Human of the Lord." (Heaven and Hell, n. 227)That the Lord became incarnate in human form is not something everyone can receive right away, so this truth is adapted to each person, sometimes in obscure form. This adaptation can be seen in the progressive revelations given in the various religions on this earth. For the Jews, Swedenborg states in Heavenly Arcana that they were not ready to receive internal spiritual truths, but could only receive external symbolic rituals. As they were expecting to sacrifice animals, so animal sacrifices were instituted. This was only abrogated when a higher revelation was given by Jesus. Moreover, God has given different religions at times to different nations. Islam is one of them, although it is a more obscure revelation than that of Christianity:
"Christians are instructed from heavenly doctrine, which is in entire agreement with the internal sense of the Word. All others, as the Mohammedans and the heathen, are instructed from doctrines adapted to their apprehension, which differ from heavenly doctrine only in this, that spiritual life is taught by moral life in agreement with the good dogmas of their religion, from which they have derived their life in the world." (Heaven and Hell, n. 516)There are even means of revelation given to other planets, but that is another topic altogether. While truth is manifold, love is one. Love is simple. The principles of love and truth is the foundation of all true revelation.
WHAT WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE
The main point here, is that multiple witness testimony combined with clairvoyant experiences is a strong indication that we live after death in a higher spiritual form. The other point here is that we will be held accountable in our life, and what is important in life is how we love others. Belief systems are only useful inasmuch as they are applied to one's life in loving others. The secret meaning of life is very simple: it is love. Moreover, the Near Death Experience, combined with the testimony of Emanuel Swedenborg, indicates that Jesus really is who He said He was. For a more in depth comparison between one Near Death Experience and the waking visions of Emanuel Swedenborg, see A Journey to Heaven by Richard Sigmund and Emanuel Swedenborg.
Here is another Near Death Experience, which I pulled at random, of Kathy Baker who wrote a book on it entitled A Room Nearby. She was clinically dead for 8 minutes. She describes the out of body experience where she can see and hear everything going on after died on the table, and interestingly, noted that there was a silver cord between her soul and her body - this is actually described in the Bible (see Eccl. 12:6). She also describes the tunnel, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the life review. But after it, some light beings gave her some future prophecies for the earth, and describes a future of massive earth changes: volcanoes setting off, earthquakes, as well as a war unlike we have ever seen, and a depression worse than we have ever known. A lot of lives would be lost, but in the end, the world will be different, at a higher spiritual level. She was told she would not remember everything given her. Again, she learns that one must live a life of unconditional love: