Every religion in history has suggested a concept of what comes after death. We humans find most of these concepts to be comforting as they relieve our anxiety about the unknown. Some of us have had experiences that confirm our beliefs. Others profess the beliefs of their religious traditions, but still have some uncertainties. There are folks who think there is nothing after death and it’s just lights out and no consciousness. Other than the group that has had an afterlife affirming experience, there are going to be many who are truly afraid of the unknown existence (or lack there of) after they die.
I’m going to attempt to relieve some of your fears.
The Scientific Model Applied to Near Death Experience
Radiology Oncologist, Dr. Jeff Long, develop an exhaustive survey which can be seen on his website. (Be sure to click on ‘New Experiences’ to read many accounts of Near-Death Experiences.) For several year, people who have had Near-Death Experiences (NDE) have voluntarily completed his survey sharing their experience. The surveys consistently show up to 9 lines of evidence which have been categorized by Dr. Long and used by the community of researchers who study NDE. Dr. Long presents his findings based on 613 surveys in his book Evidence of the Afterlife,
In this fascinating interview, Dr Long talks about his findings as well as some individual cases. See ‘A Glimpse Through the Thin Curtain between Life and Afterlife‘ for a couple of examples of what Dr Long describes as common shared experiences between the dying/dead and the living.
The 9 lines of evidence are:
1. Crystal-Clear Consciousness
The level of consciousness and alertness during near-death experiences (NDEs) is usually even greater than that experienced in everyday life even though NDEs generally occur when a person is unconscious or clinically dead. This high level of consciousness while physically unconscious is medically inexplicable. Additionally, the elements in NDEs generally follow the same consistent and logical order in all age groups and around the world, which refutes the possibility that NDEs have any relation to dreams or hallucinations.
2. Realistic Out-of-Body Experiences
Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are one of the most common elements of NDEs. What NDErs see and hear of earthly events in the out-of-body state is almost always realistic. When the NDEr or others later seek to verify what was observed or heard during the NDE, the OBE observations are almost always confirmed as completely accurate. Even if the OBE observations during the NDE included events far from the physical body, and far from any possible sensory awareness of the NDEr, the OBE observations are still almost always confirmed as completely accurate. This fact alone rules out the possibility that near-death experiences are related to any known brain functioning or sensory awareness. This also refutes the possibility that NDEs are unrealistic fragments of memory from the brain.
3. Heightened Senses
Not only are heightened senses reported by most who have experienced NDEs, normal or supernormal vision has occurred in those with significantly impaired vision, and even legal blindness. Several people who have been totally blind since birth have reported highly visual near-death experiences. This is medically inexplicable.
4. Consciousness During Anesthesia
Many NDEs occur while under general anesthesia – at a time when any conscious experience should be impossible. While some skeptics claim that these NDEs may be the result of too little anesthesia, this ignores the fact that some NDEs result from anesthesia overdose. Additionally, the description of an NDE differs greatly from that of one who experiences “anesthetic awareness.” The content of NDEs that occur under general anesthesia is essentially indistinguishable from NDEs that did not occur under general anesthesia. This is further strong evidence that NDEs are occurring completely independently from the functioning of the physical brain.
5. Perfect Playback
Life reviews in near-death experiences include real events that previously took place in the lives of those having the experience, even if the events were forgotten or happened before they were old enough to remember.
6. Family Reunions
During an NDE, the people encountered are virtually always deceased, and are usually relatives of the person having the experience – sometimes they are even relatives who died before the NDEr was born. Were the NDE only a product of memory fragments, they would almost certainly include far more living people, including those with whom they had more recently interacted.
7. Children’s Experiences
The near-death experiences of children, including very young children who are too young to have developed concepts of death, religion, or near-death experiences, are essentially identical to those of older children and adults. This refutes the possibility that the content of NDEs is produced by preexisting beliefs or cultural conditioning.
8. Worldwide Consistency
Near-death experiences appear remarkably consistent around the world, and across many different religions and cultures. NDEs from non-Western countries are incredibly similar to those that occur in people in Western countries.
It is common for people to experience major life changes after having near-death experiences. These aftereffects are often powerful, lasting, life-enhancing, and the changes generally follow a consistent pattern. As the NDErs themselves almost always believe – near-death experiences are, in a word, real.
Some people experience reviews of their lives during a NDE after which they make changes to their lives when returning to earthy consciousness. They say the reviews are done in a loving manner and show them the error of their ways. In this video, NDErs talk about their experiences.
In a conference presentation Dr. Long mentions that only 1 of the 16 atheists who took the survey remained an atheist after their NDE. Even those who do not have reviews make a sustained effort to improve their contribution to the world, their families, and/or society. Obviously, the impact of these experiences is huge. You know how hard it is to make changes in your personality, attitudes and your life in general.
All NDEs used in his study included at least 7 out of the 9 lines of evidence. This commonality points to the conclusion that NDE is a real experience of profound significance and meaning, and also provides evidence of life after death.
Dr. Long’s study is one of many. There are studies with slightly different conclusions, using different sample types and sizes. And there are studies that reached no conclusion whatsoever. You can take a look at addition videos made at conferences of the International Association for Near Death Studies. Many additional resources are on the site for the curious and for those who have had a NDE.
Now that we’ve seen what modern technology and the scientific method tell us about the afterlife, or at least the beginning of it, let’s see what additional information scripture has been telling us for centuries.
What More does Scripture Tells Us about the Afterlife
Your Soul, your Inner Being, is a piece of God and is your true identity. Are you aware of that center of your being that is love? Your deep down connection with God that nobody sees, but can be evidenced by your interactions with the world.
(If you have trouble sensing this in yourself, I hope that you will select a phrase from my suggestions or another scripture or phrase from an inspirational source and meditate on it for as many sessions as it takes to own it. The second part of your session, clearing your mind, is just as important as this enhances your ability to hear ‘the still small voice’ when God communicates with you.)
Paul, who met Jesus after Jesus’s resurrection, and a pretty inspired guy, wrote “We are the children of God: And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This is enormous! Among the many implications of this, it says that just as Christ went to Heaven, so shall we. You are heir to all the heavenly riches.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of two sons, one who took his inheritance and left home and the other who stayed at home to work the land. He compares the father in the story to God the Father who tells his disgruntled loyal son ‘you are always with me and all that I have is yours’. Jesus is telling us that God will provide for all our needs, including an afterlife.
All the great religious figures of the past, despite their earthly contributions, have left their bodies behind and are continuing their spiritual ministry on a different plane. The same plane that you and I will experience. God tells us ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you…I am with you always, even until the end of the world’.
When you are sick, God will be there with you. When you come to your last moments, God will be there. When you pass into the afterlife, God will be there to help you through. Then you will see how little there was to fear.
Do not fear this human sense of life or the loss of it. The human sense of life is not your real life. Your real life is the life you are living in your Soul. That is your life, your real being….Just as you outgrew infancy and childhood, just as adulthood merged into the middle years, so will you outgrow the entire human experience and, unless you fight to cling to this present experience, that transition should be a progressive step. Begin as soon as you can to look on the experience of passing, not with horror and not as if it were the end of something beautiful. It is not the end: it is the beginning. It is but the end of one phase of experience and the beginning of another.
What is man’s state of being when he passes from this world? One thing is certain, and that is that those who are not on the spiritual path will not be placed on that path just by the act of dying. It is safe to assume that they will be in the very same state of consciousness when they awaken as they were when they left here. But, and this I know not from assumption, but from experience; those who are on the spiritual path, regardless of how little progress they seem to have made, are instantly, by the act of passing, lifted into a higher atmosphere than they experienced here on earth. Joel S Goldsmith
Your body is only your mechanism for walking around in the world and hopefully learning something from the experience. So find your Inner Being.
Relevant Scripture Verses
Gen 25:8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years, and he was gathered to his people
John 5:24 Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.