Near Death Experiences

Picture of soul leaving the body

I just finished reading Life After Life by Raymond Moody, MD. In the book, Dr. Moody presents his own model for a canonical near death experience (NDE). He acquired the data by interviewing over a hundred and fifty people who have experienced NDEs. He then parsed out the fifteen stages that are most commonly reported. It is estimated that at least 3% of all people have experienced an NDE in their lives. Thus, even though I myself have not experienced one, it is quite a common occurrence.

It is notable that the clarity and depth of the experience are strongly correlated with how long the patient was considered dead by their attending physician. People that were dead longer reported more vivid and complete experiences than those who only came close to death.

The Early Stages

Firstly, the experience is ineffable, because space-time components are not the same as in our normal 3.5D experience. Additionally, since language requires a common experience upon which all of us participate, the people that remember NDEs complain that it is difficult to express their experience.

Having left their bodies and perceiving the scene from above, the person hears doctors or other spectators pronounce them dead. There’s also corroboration from the attending physicians after the fact, that despite being dead, they remember every aspect of the operations in great detail. Dreaming or hallucinating are completely different experiences than this; thus, those cases can be ruled out.

Then they hear a noise: whistling or buzzing. Often, concurrently with the noise, they experience getting pulled rapidly through a dark and narrow tunnel.

Photograph of a Person Walking Through a Dark Tunnel

The most commonly reported stage by subjects is that they have a spiritual body rather than a physical one. And that the body itself is one of the most indescribable aspects of the experience. They’re invisible and inaudible to others. They don’t experience kinesthesia. They have a feeling of weightlessness. The person can move or focus their attention anywhere almost instantaneously. They feel no pain. They can pick up the thoughts of those they focus upon instantly when their target thinks it. For example, they know what the doctor will say before he says it. Lastly, they feel that they are timeless. Or, that time for the physical world is moving much more slowly than what they now experience.

The Later Stages

The most interesting part to me was the subjects who experienced the being of light. The being of light has a personality and a sense of humor. They radiate unconditional love and warmth and act as a psychopomp, or spirit guide. Notably, these reports transcend all religious beliefs. Oftentimes the person didn’t believe in anything before the occurrence, since that is the norm. The being communicates a panorama of highlights of their life almost instantaneously to them. It uses the Socratic method. It queries them and leads them to understand whether or not they expressed love to their fellow man. The being expresses that they should learn as much as they can. Upon returning to their body, the subject feels they have a lot to learn and more to live for.

The being of light will then take them to a border or a limit, such as a door or a fence with a gate. If they cross the limit, they’ll presumably be in Heaven. However, the being feels they should be alive so that they can live and learn. Thus, it sends them back into their body instantly as they’re being resuscitated, giving them some mission to fulfill.

In Conclusion

Dr. Moody then directs us to a few historical parallels in faith and logic. Following that he poses some common questions and ventures a few explanations from different perspectives. I would personally recommend this book to anyone, since it gives us some hope of continuing on after death. Furthermore, it gives us some hope that our loved ones are either reincarnated or are in a better place. It also stands to reason that it’s possible that there are realities that we are yet unaware of. And if there is any possibility whatsoever, logically we should not be atheists.

Categorized as Musings

By Jason

Hi. I'm Jason. I like to start too many projects. I embrace the concept of failing fast and often, perhaps a little too naturally. With the help of my friends and family, I was able to become a leader in computational quantum physics AI and now I'm the Chief Technology Officer of a pharmaceutical company, Bound Therapeutics. Everyday I try to make the world a better place. In my blog, Simply Jason, my primary focus is on poetry, but I'll share with you my other musings, too. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. I’m not sure if you’ve read any Matt Fraser books but his perception of what spirits have told him is directly in line with this.

    1. The being mostly wanted them to learn how to love unconditionally. I myself wouldn’t condone unconditional love. I believe love should have conditions, otherwise you could get hurt. That said, from an incorporeal being’s perspective, assuming they’re beyond just 3.5D, I can imagine a kind of utilitarian acceptance of both good and evil emerging. This is generally what was reported. Some people did ask the being questions, but for the most part, the light being was in control of the conversation.

  2. Was the goal of the study to find out common NDE? Do some people have quite different NDE than what’s described here? Did these people have anything in common before they had NDE?

    1. Yes, the goal of the study was to create a model experience and name it NDE. For the most part, the NDEs are in agreement. It’s that the earlier stages are more common, because even people that are only briefly dead have experienced them. Whereas the later stages with the being of light required a longer time in the near death state. However, it’s a very good question, because a few of the visions are different, but not in a general sense. For example, one person might see a fence instead of a gate. The generality was that they saw some kind of barrier. In one case, the barrier was a dense mist or fog. The people were from all different backgrounds and were considered of sound mind once they recovered.

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