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Have you ever imagined yourself visiting Heaven? How do you think it would be? How about feeling the presence of God? Would you feel scared? Would you not care at all? Or do you think it would feel pleasant, lovely, and peaceful? How do you imagine this encounter?
Just play along for a little, even if you don’t believe in God. If you could go visit God, how do you think this experience would go?
Some people claim having visited God or at least a Heavenly realm. These individuals agree that the experience has been life-changing and felt more real than our physical world (unlike a dream).
How did they get to Heaven?
They were able to reach another world by undergoing what is known as a Near Death Experience. I assumed that a lot of people would be familiar with this phenomenon, until my friend told me that he also had a Near Death Experience once, when he almost crashed his car but thankfully nothing happened and he continued driving his intact vehicle. So let’s be clear, an NDE is not about almost getting into possible fatal accidents. During an NDE a person actually dies (many times these people are declared death by physicians) but returns back to life or resurrects after a few minutes. Many physicians are skeptical about the veracity of these spiritual experiences, and in a world full of deceit it is great to question everything. Nonetheless, our world is also limited and diminutive while our universe extends beyond what our primitive human minds can visualize. If a God bigger and more powerful than the universe really exists, trying to prove its existence with our modern science is more futile than measuring the Nile with a school ruler.
All of these experiences could be complete rubbish, and we are free to make our own interpretations of them. However, my scientific brain tells me that it is always best to keep an open mind when searching for the truth. This has allowed believers and non-believers alike, to discover mind-blowing truths about our universe, that at some point were seen as crazy, unthinkable and complete nonsense. Take, for instance, the amazing anecdote of Anita Moorjani, a cancer survivor who had an NDE.
On February 2, 2006 Anita didn’t wake up and her oncologist said that she wouldn’t make it through the night. Although she looked lifeless, she was more conscious than anyone else could have imagined.
“During this experience I felt as though I crossed over into another dimension, where I became aware of things far beyond that hospital room where I was in… I became aware of my best friend who I had lost to cancer. I had been in a lot of guilt because I didn’t spent her last days with her because it was too painful for me to watch her die when I was dealing with my own illness. When I met her in the other realm all I felt from her was unconditional love and understanding. She completely understood why I wasn’t there and it was just really amazing. It was such a relief for me.
I was given a choice as to whether to come back or whether to go onward into death. At first, I absolutely wanted to go onward into death because this realm was so amazing. It was just so beautiful, and also I didn’t want to come back into a sick body, but then, the next thing that happened was I started to understand that if I chose to come back into my body, my body would heal very quickly.1“
– Anita Moorjani
Anita chose to go back into her body, and then she began opening her eyes and coming back from her terminal coma. What happened with her cancer? Within four days after waking up her tumor had already shrunk by 70%, and within three weeks doctors could no longer find cancer in her body! Anita had been diagnosed with cancer four years earlier and had decided not to undergo any chemotherapy during those four years. She had used other alternative treatments instead, but her cancer kept spreading and growing within her body. So how do we explain that three weeks after her paranormal experience her cancer disappeared?
The decrease in size of a cancer without apparent reason is medically known as spontaneous regression. Still, let’s not forget that cancer is without a doubt, one of the deadliest ailments of the world. “Across the globe, 10 million people are diagnose with cancer annually and almost 7 million die from cancer.2” Although it is hard to obtain an accurate number of the frequency of spontaneous regression, what are the chances of having a sublime experience where you understand that your cancer will get cured and three weeks later it disappears? Coincidence or a miracle? It’s up to you to decide.
Perhaps all of these NDE’s are delusions and hallucinations. Writer Luke Dittrich even wrote an article trying to debunk American neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, who also claims to have experienced an NDE. Nevertheless, some defenders have stepped forward with counter-claims suggesting that Dittrich distorted some of the evidence. So what side of the story can we believe? We can make conclusions, but we will only know for sure at the time of our own deaths. Personally, I feel that Anita’s story is remarkable and gave me goosebumps, but I admit that I’m biased because I do believe in an afterlife.
Anita and others have encountered their family, friends, and even their pets in their NDE’s, but where is God? One woman, Pam Reynolds, discovered that she was standing on God’s breath during her experience, which is as inspiring as that of Anita’s. Doctors discovered that Pam had a giant aneurysm at the base of her brain. Neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Spetzler, J.N. Harber Chairman of Neurological Surgery and Director of the Barrow neurological institute in Phoenix, Arizona, took Pam’s case and performed surgery on her to remove this aneurysm. Being such a delicate procedure her body had to be cooled down to a temperature between 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), blood was drained out of her brain, and her heart and breathing had to stop. She was clinically death during an entire hour of the surgery 3.
“Pam’s case is unique in the fact that she had a near death experience at a time that she was fully instrumented and under medical observation, and I think if you wanted to construct a laboratory experiment where you had someone and took them as close to death or perhaps even into death, as possible, and then bring them back and ask them what they can recall, Pam’s case probably comes closer to that than any other so far that we know of.4“
– Dr. Michael Sabom, Cardiologist
During the surgery Pam left her physical body and was able to see and hear things that occurred during the operation even thought she had no brain activity at that point. Suddenly, she noticed a small dot, a light above her body and she felt drawn to it. As she got closer to the light it got brighter and more intense, and then she started noticing the presence of some family members that had already passed, including her grandmother and her uncle.
“I ask if God was the light, and the answer was no, God is not the light, the light is what happens when God breathes, and I still remember thinking: I’m standing in the breath of God.5“
– Pam Reynolds.
Socrates was declared the wisest man by an Oracle, and he didn’t believe it. However, he ended up concluding that he was indeed wiser than others only because he was aware of how little he knew while others boasted of actually knowing. So before accepting or rejecting these stories, just keep an open mind and let’s agree that as humans we know very little, even about our own physical world. Reflect on these stories, ask questions, and search for the truth, whatever it might be. It is possible that many NDE’s are in fact hallucinations and delusions, but Anita’s and Pam’s story have really touched my heart. Some try to explain the similarities found in many NDE’s as being caused by biological characteristics that all humans share. Yet, if NDE’s are only hallucinations, why do people see relatives and friends that have already passed and not other people from their present? Just some food for thought.
Watch Anita’s story:
Watch Pam’s Story:
1 Paranatural: Life After Life. National Geographic Channel. Film.
2 Jessy, Thomas. “Immunity over Inability: The Spontaneous Regression of Cancer.” Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine 2, no. 1 (2011): 43-49. Accessed April 7, 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312698/.
3 Kate Broome, The Day I Died (United Kingdom: BBC, 2002), Documentary.
4 Broome, The Day I Died.
5 Broome, The Day I Died.
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