Among the phenomena receiving widespread coverage and interest today are the experiences of “dying” reported by people who, after having been declared clinically dead, have been revived.
Three persons talked about their experiences on national television during the “That’s Incredible” show on March 2, and many other cases have been documented through media articles and books.
One such book is, Life After Death, written by Kenneth Ring, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut, in which he writes about his findings on this area. Ring and his associates interviewed more than 102 persons who had come close to death through critical illness, accident or suicide attempts.
The results are an experience that is very much different from what people had traditionally accepted as “dying.”
According to Ring’s findings, 49 per cent reported elements of what he calls the “core” experience, which means feelings of profound peace, a sense that they had died, separation from the body, entering a dark region, taking stock of their lives, encountering a presence, seeing or being enveloped in unearthly light or encountering visible spirits.
Most of these sensations also were disclosed by the three people who were interviewed on the “That’s Incredible” program.
One of the problems in presenting his research was the lack of words that could adequately explain the phenomena. One man is quoted as saying that explaining his feelings of the time was like “trying to describe the end of the universe.”
One man who nearly died in a boating accident, explained his feelings to Ring in this manner:
“Use the word euphoric. Use orgasmic. Use high. It was very tangible, very real. But it was doing magnificent things to me. Afterward I looked at that lake and said, ‘That lake made love to me. It really did, it felt like that.”
One specific language problem was in describing the unearthly light that many of the people experienced, and in describing the utter peace of the darkness or void, and the quality of love and acceptance they felt in the light. Ring mentioned that another problem was in communicating, and that the people “heard” a voice that may have spoken but was more likely perceived directly by the mind.
Among Ring’s findings were:
(1) Accident victims were the like-lies to experience a rapid review of their lives.
(2) Those who attempted suicide were less likely to have the experience, and those who did seldom achieved the advanced stages because they had most likely taken overdose of drugs.
(3) Men were likelier to have the experience via accidents than illness, which was the opposite in women.
(4) After their experience, 80 percent felt they no longer feared death.
(5) Not one of the persons experienced demonic or hellish happenings.
One of the findings was that those persons who had “core” experience became ardent believers in life after death and drastically changed their behavior. Ring writes that most of them reported profound effects on their everyday lives, such as living more intensely, loving more openly, fearing death less, accepting others more and feeling more compassion.
Ring quoted a person as saying, “It’s a whole new context.”
The book looks closely at the various theories that might explain the phenomenon, such as depersonalization, wishful thinking, dreaming or hallucination. But he strongly advocates that science cannot dismiss the experience as nothing but a dream, seizure, wish or drugs.
“The wishful thinking theory is wishful thinking,” he says.
Ring notes that those who had core experience were very much forceful in that they were not dreaming. Moreover, Ring notes, the core experiences were most likely in persons who had NOT taken drugs.
“Any adequate neurological explanation would have to show how the entire complex of phenomena associated with the core experience (such as out-of-body state, paranormal knowledge, the tunnel, the golden light, the voice or presence, the appearance of deceased relatives, beautiful vistas and others) would be expected to occur subjectively authentic fashion as a consequence of specific neurological events triggered by approach to death ” Ring said.
Ring, instead, proposes his own theory. He proposes that the dying person loses all sense of pain or bodily discomfort because consciousness is free of the body. The dying or clinically dead individual may have access to the “holographic domain” or other dimension of reality often achieved in mystical or other altered states.
Ring also proposes that the presence or voice is actually oneself, not a projection of the personality, but what some spiritual traditions call the higher self.
“One lesson (of the experience) is to realize that there is, indeed, a higher spiritual dimension that pervades our lives and that we will discover it for ourselves in the moment of death,” says Ring.
In an interview with Brain/Mind Bulletin, Ring said other books on near-death experiences are being written, including one with over 2,000 interviews.
“One of the problems was the lack of words adequately that would explain the phenomena. . .”
Better and Better,
Laura Silva Quesada
and the Team