Is There REALLY Proof of Heaven or Life After Death?

“Doubt everything or believe everything: these are two equally convenient strategies. With either we dispense with the need for reflection.”                                         ~ Henri Poincare

SMART Living 365.ocm

What’s REALLY going on & can we ever know for sure?

Ever had a conversation with someone and realized that no matter what you said, there was no way your companion would grasp what you were trying to say?   One time I was talking excitedly to my nephew Mark about some studies I had recently uncovered about how our minds work.  In complete seriousness Mark stopped me and said, “Studies, oh you can’t believe studies like that.”  In that moment the conversation ended before it began.  With that said, if you are convinced that life is finite and there is no heaven or any kind of existence beyond the physical, chances are good that nothing I can write will make any difference.  But, if you are open to some ideas that are intriguing, it might be valuable to read a bit about the ongoing debate of life after death before completely making up your mind.

I became fascinated by this topic after attending a Noetic Sciences conference that I wrote about in my last post.  One of the speakers, Dr. Eben Alexander is the author of Proof of Heaven—A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.  Besides hearing Dr. Alexander speak twice during the 3-day event, a number of related topics made the subject irresistible.  Of primary importance were two main questions:  1) Does consciousness exist separate from the body or is it merely a biological or chemical result of the brain?  2) Is life a material and limited manifestation, or actually an eternal quantum experience that never begins and never ends?   Ultimately, assuming you care in the first place, how any person then answers those two questions, largely determines whether you open the door or slam it shut on any further discussion about eternal life.

First off, I’ll admit that I am biased toward a belief that consciousness is primary and much more than just the way my brain works.  I also tend to believe that life is eternal, meaning it exists prior to and after it works in concert with my physical body. I’m fairly sure that all life recycles itself by in the material and the spiritual form. But I’m definitely skeptical about whether a “heavenly” location exists as described by anyone, including Dr. Eben Alexander.  I found his description a bit too traditionally religious for my taste and prefer a more cosmic and holistic approach to such questions. And while I will humbly acknowledge that I am as guilty of confirmation bias as much as anyone, I spent the last couple of days researching what I believe are fascinating tidbits of information that both support—and argue against—a belief in both of my earlier questions.  They are:

  • Millions of people have reported a Near Death Experience (NDE) since ancient times.  Data shows that 774 NDEs occur daily in the United States.
  •  Descriptions of NDEs can be found in the folklore and writings of European, Middle Eastern, African, Indian, East Asian, Pacific, and Native American cultures. (So NDEs are not limited to any one religion.)
  • There are numerous consistencies in the vast majority of NDEs regardless of the age, sex, nationality, religion, ethnicity, culture, etc of the person.
  • Young children under the age of 5 years who are too young to have internalized expectations of death or the afterlife report consistent experiences.
  • People who have never before heard of them also report similar experiences.
  • People who have been blind since birth relate similar visual accounts of their NDE.
  • Deathbed stories (where the person is not revived) contain similar themes
  • Hundreds of scholarly articles have been written over the last 35 years about NDE by highly credentialed and respected professionals.
  • NDEs offer affects similar to a mystical experience: a sense of cosmic unity or oneness, transcendence of time and space, deeply positive mood, sense of sacredness, noetic quality or intuitive illumination, paradoxicality, ineffability, transiency, and persistent positive aftereffects.
  • There is no straightforward relationship between religiousness and deathbed visions, although they did find that an individual’s belief system influenced the interpretation of the experience.
  • After the experience a NDE person (as opposed to others who were close to death without claiming a NDE) reported a heightened sense of spirituality in their lives including an overall tolerance for all ways of religious worship.
  • Hundreds of NDEs have been verified. (i.e. Pam Reynolds) who had a severe brain aneurysm so they lowered her body temperature to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood was then drained from her head.  She experienced an NDE while her body was in this “standstill” plus she also had an out of body experience (OBE) that allowed her to report in detail what was going on in the operating room that was verified later by those present.
  • Research in resuscitation now shows that you can be technically “dead” –no heart rate or brain function and if kept under the right circumstances (body & brain kept cool and oxygen levels monitored) your character, your memories (your soul) can be revived several hours later proving that your consciousness exists separate from the workings of your brain.
  • Increasing amounts of scientific evidence (i.e. studies) prove that consciousness is separate from the brain and can work independently of it.
  • 78% of Americans say they believe in an afterlife–while this doesn’t make it “true” it does point to something that cannot be simply explained as delusion and deserves study.
  • 48% of Americans say they believe in ghosts
  • 18% say they have felt or been visited by ghosts
  • 29% say they have been in touch with the dead
  • 24% of Americans say they believe in reincarnation
  • Compelling reincarnation evidence (especially from young children ages 3 to 5) has been documented and verified
  • Reliable evidence from past life regression to heal and erase physical and psychological issues along with verified information including the ability to speak unknown languages fluently.
  • Ongoing scientific studies that show that consciousness is a nonlocal, nonphysical, quantum reality.

Yet, in spite of the above information, a large number of skeptics disregard it and believe adamantly that NDEs are nothing more than wishful thinking or a brain’s reaction to a traumatic experience. Most of these detractors are scientists who are firmly committed to the growing material reductionist worldview provided by science since the seventeenth century. Back in the 1600s anyone who wanted to pursue science was commanded by prevailing religious authorities to stay away from anything that could be considered spiritual, invisible, related to a Deity or having to do with a soul if they wanted to keep their head on their shoulders.   And while the scientific pursuit of the material world has reaped tremendous benefits, many scientists have become so anti-religious in study and intent that they are now as fundamental in their beliefs and approach as any religious zealot.

In fact, many scientists like atheists, are pseudo-skeptics.  A pseudo-skeptic is defined as anyone who has such strong predisposed beliefs at an emotional and intellectual level that it causes blind “faith” in the truth of something or other.  Or, as said by Dave Pruett, “in short scientism is to science what fundamentalism is to religion: cocksure and inflexible.” It’s no surprise then that a Gallup poll on immortality says only 16% of leading scientists believe in life after death as opposed to 67-82% of the general population.  Keep in mind we are not talking about a religious belief—but rather a belief that some aspect of being, energy or information continues after death.

So what are some of the arguments that disprove an NDE?

  • Some say that low oxygen levels in the brain cause NDEs. (Note: A large majority of the NDE cases did not have lower oxygen levels. Plus–people who suffer oxygen deprivation typically suffer from confusion, and they ”thrash around.” Also, they seldom have memories of the experience.)
  • It’s possible that other medications can cause the hallucinations similar to an NDE.  (However, evidence shows that those on medications actually have fewer reported NDEs than those with no medication.)
  • Temporal-lobe stimulation can approximate some of the experiences of an NDE. (However, the transformative aspect of the experience is absent.)
  • Some believe that NDEs can be explained by memories that happen at the exit or entry point of consciousness. (However, when the brain suffers trauma that causes a loss of consciousness, people generally have amnesia, which can last for hours or even days. With cardiac arrest, the insult to the brain is so severe it stops the brain completely.
  • The drug ketamine leads to a similar transcendent type of experience and can be induced spontaneously.

According to my research that’s about it, most detractors say that the evidence for NDEs just isn’t good enough to prove that something real and amazing is happening and is worthy of study. They also seem to forget the aphorism, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” What makes the conversation even more fascinating is that at the same time, scientists will admit that most of what they study is merely theories. For example, according to science our Universe is made up of 73% dark matter, and 23% dark energy, with only around 4% of it making up what we even understand as material matter consisting of the planets, stars, galaxies, you, me and everything else we can see and touch.  And what is dark matter and dark energy?  Scientists don’t know for sure.  Beyond that, prevailing theories suggest a “Many Worlds Theory” with unlimited parallel universes each having their own natural laws. Or what about “String Theory?”  that theory suggests that eleven separate dimensions exist.  In spite of those mind boggling claims, scientists and other skeptics believe that attempting to validate an NDE is impossible and not worth the time and effort.

So what do you think?  As I started out saying, my nephew Mark wasn’t even remotely interested in hearing about information I thought fascinating.   As many of my other posts suggest, it’s impossible to open, let alone change someone’s mind who doesn’t want it to be changed.  Of course, I agree that it is important to study, verify and back up our claims as much as possible. But if we never step out into the unknown at some point, we likely will never make any new discoveries.  Remember how Galileo was ridiculed?  What about the Wright Brothers, electric light, space travel?  Each of those was considered impossible by most, including scientists, who had yet to see proof.  Thank goodness someone took the chance and followed through.

It is not my intention to tell you what to believe about eternal life.  What I do care about is that you take the time to think it through and decide for yourself.  Ultimately, how any of us answers those and other big questions can determine both the direction and the quality of our lives. If you are happy, find meaning, and are at peace with your worldview of life as you see it—then that is all the proof needed.  Besides, if all those parallel universes and eleven dimensions are going on around us, we just might be experiencing a form of heaven right here at this very second.


Note:  Want more?  I’ve recently written a related post about heaven that you may want to check out…It’s titled: How Do You Live If Heaven Is Real?


Filed under Aware, Meaningful

110 Responses to Is There REALLY Proof of Heaven or Life After Death?

  1. Keri

    Thank you for all that have shared. I recently lost my mother….I hope and have faith that there is someting more….all that love, life, lessons, just to disappear with a last breath. Yes I know she lives on through our memories yes but she deserves to keep those memories too. She earned them. The more I read the more I think we cant know indefinitely. I think people wouldn’t live full lives, we wouldn’t take as many risks. We wouldn’t feel life the way we should. We need not know.

    • Hi Keri. Sorry to hear about your mom. Good for you for taking the time to think it all through and realize that even if we believe there is something that comes next we probably will never have proof of it. I just know that nothing disappears with a last breath…it might not look or feel the same…but it NEVER disappears. ~Kathy

  2. Makarand

    First of all I want to clarify that I do believe in God, To me whether heavens or hell exist or not?depends upon thinking of an individual, if one is too pragmatic in life then may be he would never in his life feel that the heavens or the hell exist, and I dont see anything wrong in it! The reason why I don’t feel it is wrong is most of the times it is been said that we have been sent to this place by God itself, so when someone has been created by God I feel that the answer is yes, god does exist and heavens too, but hang on whats this hell? Seems like even the God has some villans!! Kidding. Jokes apart, If God made us he has made us for some reason, and if god has made us he knows about our life and sins before we arrive on this planet. So for me a person thinking like this would have pragmatic view but if someone is religious and believes in God he would always be cognizant about what he is doing and pray that he doesnt commit any sins to end up in hell.

    • Hi Makarand! Welcome to SMART Living and thank you for joining this conversation. Because a big part of my writing is to encourage thinking for each of us, I was glad to see this did that for you. Naturally we are all influenced by our upbringing and our culture to be predisposed to any ideas of heaven or hell. Does that make it real? For all intents and purposes it makes it real for the person who chooses to hold on to those thoughts. My encouragement is always to question anything we believe as to how “life enhancing” it is to the person with the thought. If it serves you, gives you peace of mind and purpose, then by all means continue. But if you struggle with it and it drains your life of wellbeing and happiness, then you might want to reconsider. As always, I believe the choice is yours to make. ~Kathy

  3. J

    I’m 17 and I’m really afraid of dying. I would stay up all night thinking about death, I would cry because of it. A friend of mine have tried comforting me, she told me that we wouldn’t really know when we’re dead, but that’s what I’m afraid of, the fear of not knowing, and being gone forever. It just terrifies me. I don’t believe in resurrection bc I don’t believe in God. I don’t know what to do

    • Hi J, It sounds like you really, really need to talk with someone close. Wherever you are, I hope you find a person who can talk you though this. ~Kathy

    • megan

      I feel the same way. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by when I don’t think about death and dying. My dog recently was hit and killed by a car and it definitely hasn’t helped. I feel like I have to believe there is life after death because not believing is too scary/uncertain. I just wish we knew what happened. It’s crazy that something that literally happens to everyone on the planet is also something we know almost nothing about. I’m scared of dying, but it’s pointless because there’s nothing I can do about it; it’ll happen eventually, not only with me but with everyone I love.
      I think the fact that I’ll have kids gives me hope, that at least after I die someone will be able to remember me.
      Try to focus on life and not death. It’s how I get through the day.

      Good luck,

      • Hi Megan! Thank you for coming by and leaving your thoughts about this and your own journey. It sounds like you are relatively young, so good for you for taking the time to start looking around, reading and thinking about such an important issue this early in your life. While it’s true that there is no “final” answer to what happens after we leave this planet, there are lots of different perspectives that offer not only comfort, but helpful insight. Just as there is no one way to describe or to “prove” that love exists, many of us know the feeling and rest in the awareness that it is true for us, regardless of the proof. I think eternal life (in one form or another) is similar to that. I also think it’s important to find value in your life right here, right now. When you do then it matters less that anyone remember you when it’s time to move on. Good luck to you too and may you find the answers you seek. ~Kathy

  4. Matt

    Hi there. This is a really interesting discussion. I think the issue of life after death and spirituality in general is something which everyone has pondered at some point. Whilst I have never experienced anything as profound as some of the things I have read above, I have my own reasons for believing that there is more to life than what we can see on a minute-to-minute basis.

    My own experiences have been rather basic. I live in Russia, where superstition and religion go hand in hand to some extent. In the village where my wife’s family comes from, belief in the supernatural is very deep seated. Problems are blamed on curses, witches and all kinds of inexplicable phenomena. The Orthodox church in this area plays a large role in lifting these curses and solving such problems. A few years ago, I was worried about my family’s finances. I woke up one morning feeling particularly down. I continued to feel this way through the morning and into the afternoon. When I took my daughter out in her pram for a walk, I stopped in a garden just next to a small church, and sat on a bench while my daughter slept. I sat in this place, and I can’t remember if I consciously prayed or not, but with my mind very heavy, I could think of nothing but how we were going to afford to live for the coming month. After 10 minutes or so, out of nowhere I suddenly felt a feeling of utter euphoria and relaxation come over me. It was as if I could physically feel all the negativity disappearing. It sounds cliched, but it really seemed as though an inaudible voice was telling me not to worry, and that all would be OK. I felt happy and content for the rest of that day, my mood having changed noticeably in a matter of seconds. I can’t prove anything, but I do believe that it was God that brought that about. I believe that by that church there was some kind of divine energy that I managed to tap into. It is the only explanation I can find, other than coincidence.

    My view of heaven, the afterlife, and inexplicable phenomena is this: something else is out there. I have other examples from family members who have had unusual experiences. Also, it is often said that animals can see and feel things we cannot. Have we not all been in a room at some stage with say, a cat which has suddenly jumped up startled and ran from the room for no obvious reason? To people who doubt all this, I say – believe what you want, but thousands of people around the world have religious, supernatural or near-death experiences, communicate with dead relatives, are inexplicably healed etc., on a daily basis. If there was nothing beyond our consciousness, these things would simply NEVER happen to ANYONE. The fact that they have been reported throughout human history and continue to happen today is testament to the fact that we are not alone on this earth, and that there is real hope of a future after we die.

    Thanks for the great article, and also the interesting stories in the comments section!

    • Hi Matt! Welcome to SMART Living and thank you so much for adding to this conversation. As you so clearly say we all come from different perspectives and see this so differently but it is very difficult to deny that there is something “more” going on here. While you haven’t had a near death experience, your experience with feeling the “grace of the Universe” while with your son is a lovely story. Who knows where or what it means but why negate it just because it is beyond our ability to “logically” explain it. I personally would rather delude myself with an awareness and understanding that helped me create a more peaceful and happy life than become a fearful, bitter and fatalistic person. But again, that choice belongs to each of us right? Thank you again for your comments and may your peace and contentment continue! ~Kathy

  5. john coggins

    my 24 year old son died september 27th 2014 from a drug overdose. I am searching for answers as to if there really is a heaven and I will get to see my son again as I love him so much. I got to talk with Todd Burpo on the phone, he is the minister from the movie Heaven is for real. I am still not sure heaven exists and I want it to so badly. I just want to see my son again thats all I care about.

    • Hi John. I am so sorry to hear about your son. From where I stand I think death is harder on those who are still alive than those who have passed on. Unfortunately there is probably nothing I can say that will help you find the peace you seek but I sincerely hope you do eventually reach that place. ~Kathy

  6. Shad

    Great article!

    I am a former pastor who believes that yes, there is life after death. In what form? That I haven’t yet explored beyond what I was taught through my Theological studies. However, what I can attest to through my own personal experience is an out-of-body / near-death-experience.

    Back in 1994 I was involved in a very bad car accident where the person who hit me was killed after being thrown through his windshield. As I came up a hill and preceded to make a turn – a car came around a curve and hit me. As his car continued off the road, my car was sent into a spin. Second later, another car came around the same curve and hit me. As I sat in my car trying to regain my vision and hearing through the loud ringing in my ears – I began to notice smoke and flames coming from under the hood of my car. My left arm was on the door with the window rolled down. As I FELT my arm move down to grab the door handle to open the door and get out – my arm never actually physically moved. I then felt my body ramming into the door to jar it open, but again, physically – I never moved. Within minutes a dark shadow of a man with whom I could make out no physical features approached my car. He unlatched my seat belt, put my arm around his neck, and pulled me from my vehicle. He laid me in the grass along the side of the road – and after that time I never saw him again.

    In what seemed like hours I felt myself being moved onto a hard surface which turned out to be what the paramedics used to transport me by ambulance to the hospital. The events after being pulled from my car up until fully becoming aware of what was going on hours later in the hospital were very vague. While I was in the recovery room I was questioned by an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer who asked if I could give an account of what happened. After explaining what I remembered he asked me who I had spoken too, to which I replied, “Nobody.” He insisted that I must have been given my information by someone because the details I provided were almost too accurate in that I was still unconscious and in my car when the arrived on the scene. He informed me that the information that I gave would have had to come from an eye-witness.

    I have told this story to only a few people as I have always believed that people would think I am nuts – but I know what I saw, conscious or not – physically or in spirit. So whether we exist in another world, in a heaven of sorts, or in a spiritual realm – I want and have to believe there is something before and after this life that we cannot – in our conscious minds visit while alive in this state.

    • Hi Shad! Thank you so much for sharing your own personal story on this. And I’m very glad you are still around to be able to share it! I think your story clearly illustrates that there is something going on in life that is far beyond our ordinary awareness. As you say, I don’t have any more proof either but your experience gives you the confidence and knowing that something exists. Because I believe strongly that what we seek is usually what we find, I too prefer to know that live continues in some way and on some level. Thanks again for your thoughts. ~Kathy

  7. I have just found this site tonight, that is the right way to describe it.
    I am a man of many years and as you get older you can look back and see what you could never see before. Bringing up a family struggling to survive the pressures of all this entails leaves no time to see how things have happened in your life. All the good things and bad things I now believe are to let you experience things you will not in the after life. I believe that things have happened to me many times in my life where I could have died but I survived of without being aware of this at the time. I look at this world of ours and see something that is too perfect and too fragile to be a coincidence. We are in a perfect relationship with our sun so perfect that just a minute difference would have meant we would not be here at all. Am I making sense the very existence of the human race is for me proof that we will all go to a different experience when we die. The NDE’S are a way for us to glimpse what we will all see when our time comes have faith you are more than you realise scientists are so taken up with science they cannot allow themselves to see anything else that science can not explain. If this seems to be just some one rambling I apologise just I want you to not be afraid look at your world its all a round its telling the lord exists and so does heaven have faith.
    Regards to you all who ever you are
    E R.Milner

    • Hi edwin! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us all. I so agree that if we look around in nature we can surely see that there is something amazing going on. And the good news is that there ARE some scientists who see it as well. The challenge for us all is to allow each of us to find it in the way that works for us. While I might not describe it in the way you do, as long as I appreciate and celebrate the happening, we share a common experience. ~Kathy

  8. Heather Dillon


    I am on a spiritual journey at the moment and I can across your website. I know that you wrote that some NDE are too specific to certain religions. I wanted to share my experience with you. I am 28 years old and consider myself a Christian(now).

    I grew up in a home that did not teach me about God and specific religions. I can from a family that was very abusive and had many tragedies in my life as a child. I now have PTSD because of this. The first time I experienced any existence of God was when I was 19 years old. At the time I was drinking very heavily, and I mean a bottle of liquor a night, at times. One night I blacked out and had what I consider either and out of body experience or a near death experience. I am still not sure to this day.

    When I left my body, I travel up and through the solar system. I could see planets and stars passing me at an unexplainable speed. I also had visions of Jesus and Mary and The Big Bang Theory, and Egyptian scrolls that contain the secrets of life. While I was moving through the galaxies, it was as if God himself was whispering all of the secrets of life into my ears. I can’t explain how excited this made me… But after a while, I was sucked back into my body. When I awoke, I remembered the experience and all of the visions, but It was as all of the secrets that I have been told had been wiped from my memory.

    The next few weeks I had multiple “dreams” where I visited what I would consider Heaven. During the first dream, it was as if my spirit had left my body too, I appeared in this place in an instant. I was gliding over top of a body of water. I could feel a presence that was beside me, but it did not have a figure. It was speaking to me and showing me around this place, but it spoke through the mind. There was a sense of peace that surrounded me, and I could never explain how intense this felt. It was like nothing I had ever felt here on Earth. While I was there is was as if all of my memories from Earth were
    Non-existent. I couldn’t recall how to feel pain or negativity, it simply did not exist here. As I was gliding over the water, I was looking ahead and could see the most beautiful colors that I have never even seen before. I was so amazed. That was something that really stuck out to me. There are SO many colors that we cannot even see or comprehend here on Earth. I eventually woke up and still had this amazing sense of happiness. I thought to myself, wow, if only we could figure out how to feel that way while here, it would eliminate all depression and sorrow.

    There was another time that I dreamed that I was moving through this tunnel and instantly came to a light. As I got closer to the light I could see that there was a city, made of the same colors that I had seen in my previous dream. There were Angels and buildings, but everything was very translucent. I was shown by an Angel that there that a library, and it was made of a golden translucent color. Inside of it were all of the answers and secrets to life. Everything in the history of the world was in there. I didn’t stay long, or get to see too much of this place before I was back in my body and woke up.

    I have had many spiritual dreams since then, and I have written most of them down in a journal.

    I am now 28 years old.

    Thanks for reading my story.

    • Hi Heather! Thank you for sharing your personal journey with all of us. I happen to believe there a many, many ways to experiencing life, and what’s beyond and your story proves that. As long as your experience helps you to find the peace and well-being that we all deserve in this lifetime then I think it is exactly what our soul wants us to know. I also support your keeping track of them and writing them in a journal. A journal can help us stay in touch with that still and precious part of us in a way few other things can. Good luck to you in the future and may you always find exactly what you need. ~Kathy

  9. Arshad

    Hello everyone, i am a 23 years old male, atheist, from a corner Christian city in India named Shillong. I was born and brought up in a strict Muslim family, but as i gradually grew up, i started studying science and from then onward’s i totally believe in science, but i have been good for my whole life; never prayed to a God, but never harmed an innocent as well. I have always want to believe in afterlife but science does not let believe, it gives me this very depressing though that i won’t be able to see my Family and friends after death, and this idea gives me creeps. I have lost loved one’s and i would pay anything to see them. I fear what if i won’t be able to see them at all neither from religious point because i don’t believe in it, nor through science. I am very concerned about my mental health, i have conversations inside my head with my dead girlfriend. I have started hating people, i don’t want to go out with anyone, being a guy i don’t even crave sex anymore What should i do? Help me please.

    Please excuse my English for error’s, it is my second language.

    • Hi Arshad. I’m sorry to hear you have been having a tough time lately. I don’t really have the background to help you through your current troubles but I’ll bet that there is someone near where you live that could help guide you. I believe that we all need people to talk to (in person, not just here on the internet!) and that might be your best answer. The challenge is to find someone you trust and who will allow you to come to your own conclusions without insisting you follow their way of doing things. My suggestion would be to reach out to people you know in your life and ask them if they know of anyone who you could just talk to about the “pressing issues of life.” Keep asking until something within you clicks and just feels right and then go and talk to the person recommended. It might be someone who professionally works with people or just a new friend. Stay open. Keep talking. You are not alone in this (I don’t think any of us are alone) and know that there is a person or group out there that can help you find the answers you seek. Good luck! ~Kathy

    • sean

      Arshad, you are not alone in your worries and fears, even now, late into morning hours with days after days of no sleep or comforting thoughts, i suffer through a life of worrying about the cessation of not just my own, by all consiousness. An unthinkably uncountable amount of time has passed before we ever had a single concious thought and my fear is that we return to that unconsious state when we die. I am terrified that we will never know another concious thought for the rest of eternity. I find no comfort in the idea of god or afterlife because the rational, and somewhat spiritually dead side of me can’t feel the truth in it. My rational side says that we as humans are not even a blip in time, we have been around for about 80,000 years or so. Compared to 99×9 to the power of infinity amount of years that passed even before the chaotic creation of earth makes me strongly disbelieve that humans possess the grand ability to transend life when such spiritual grandeur is possessed by no other creature on earth muchless by any other creature living throughout the vast, uncharted and unknown universe. I am scared Arshad, and i will never shake this fear so long as i have a breath in my chest. I want answers, i want closure, i want….just a shread of hope that there is more to life then darkness turned into light, superceded by endless unconsciousness.

      • Hi Sean! I realize that your comment was to Arshad but I can’t help jumping in here too. Obviously no one else can convince another that “something exists” behond themselves if they are bound and determined it is impossible. But while humans are indeed only a blip on the universal time line, we are still part of nature and nature cycles and recycles over and over again in so many infinite ways. And whenever I question my place in all of that I find it extremely helpful to go and sit somewhere in nature and just be in silence. Connecting to that deep heart in nature can often do it when nothing in the mind can suffice. Another thing that works is to find a clear space at night away from all light, lay on your back and stare into space. As Dr. Brian Swimme says, we are made of star dust and if we can but spend a bit of time feeling and experiencing that, many of our fears about what comes next dissipates. Never, for even an instant, think you are separate from that. I don’t know if these thoughts are helpful to you Sean (or Arshad) but if you really seek peace you will find it. ~Kathy

  10. Moses

    i am New Zealand Maori and maybe it’s because our people are very spiritual but it’s not uncommon to hear stories of our people being visited by loved ones or spirits who have passed on. I have experienced it myself when I was around 15 years. I woke up to see the image of a child aged around 7-8 sitting on top of our Tv swinging his legs through the tv for about 15 seconds, it might not sound long but it felt like forever! My cousin drove his car into the river and couldn’t get out because of his seatbelt when he saw our nanny Manuel who calmed him down , embraced him and told him it wasn’t his time yet and he got out. When I lived with my uncle he woke the whole house up half way through the night because he was yelling at a spirit of a man that was sitting in his lounge chair to get the f%#k out of his house! Turns out the neighbours father had passed on and we guessed it might have been him? (very small country village, neighbour was related)
    These are a few of many stories or experiences that we use to hear of but I think now they are not as common these days ( maybe the younger generation aren’t as spiritual anymore?)
    My father Inlaw passed a couple of years ago and speaks to my mother Inlaw only in her dreams, my wife (also NZ Maori) who was so close to her father is waiting for her visit, I hope it happens.
    There is definitely life after death and knowing that I am always going to be in touch with my loved ones (especially my wife) for eternity ensure the future before and after death looks bright, just believe in it.????

    • Hi Moses! Thank you for sharing these lovely examples with all of us. I too agree that it is easier to accept if you have a spiritual dimension to your life. Anyone who is stuck in materialism or science will struggle their whole life to recognize the connection that many of us can’t imagine being without. That doesn’t mean we turn off our brains, but only that we know we are so much more than our physical selves. It also doesn’t mean there is only one way to believe it happens. Your stories share that in a very personal way. Thank you again for your comment. ~Kathy

  11. Mike

    I have terminal cancer and you can imagine how much this subject stays on my mind now.
    Have always been interested, but not to this degree. Was a churchgoer during my youth; prodded somewhat by my Mom.
    I surely believe that there is more after our physical death. I believe there is a supreme, infinitely intelligent being, or computer(?) that keeps the Universe in perfect order.
    A God that judges us for transgressions, and decides, who is going to that burning lake I find very hard to believe.
    I did not ask to be born, and believing I can be punished or rewarded, is hard.
    I have always been a WWII buff, and read extensively about it.
    Remembering the Battle of Stalingrad, and knowing hundreds of thousands of young men and women perished, I could not believe that this was all of their existence. These folks were intimidated and pretty much forced to fight and potentially die for their country and beliefs.
    Not America though!
    That can’t be all there is?

    What about children in the Third World?

    I believe that our souls, inner being, are given more chances, and that the goal is to improve ourselves, and to come as close as possible to having perfect peace in our lives.

    I like that thought!

    • Hi Mike. I am very sorry to hear of your condition. I’m not surprised to hear that this topic is on your mind. It’s good (IMHO) that you are taking the time to see how you honestly feel and think about this subject because at this point that is really the most important issue. While all of us are “terminal” to a certain sense, the more imminent that possibility, the more important the conclusion.

      I too find it comforting to feel that if the Universe, God, or Nature (regardless of what you call it) is as benevolent as I choose to believe, then it is not so frivolous to throw away lives as though nothing matters. There appears to be order even in Chaos and I think your perspective of “I believe that our souls, inner being, are given more chances, and that the goal is to improve ourselves, and to come as close as possible to having perfect peace in our lives.” is comforting and helpful. May it continue to bring you peace on your journey no matter where and how it goes. ~Kathy

  12. Rick Cavallaro

    It is interesting indeed that so many of the difficult questions come down to definitions. But this doesn’t mean there is not a genuine answer that corresponds with reality. It often just means that the answer may not be intuitive. Such is the case when we ask whether light is a wave or a particle. Intuitively it must be one or the other – while in reality it is something – but it’s certainly neither a wave nor a particle. The same can be said about whether something is alive or not. We’re alive. Rocks are not. But what about viruses?

    And very much along those lines I suspect if we examined our definitions very carefully many Christians might find their position to be closer to my own. Does their God really have the form of a human? Does he really have arms and legs – when he has no need to walk around or carry things? Is he really a “he”? Why would he be? Without a Mrs. God what would be the point? And if he’s omniscient and lives outside of time – can he change his mind? What would that even mean? Changing your mind is something that happens *in* time. At one time you feel one way – and at a later time you feel another. It’s certainly not like that God would ever have to consider new information.

    This leads to the question – does he even make decisions? What would that mean?

    I think you can continue down this path and conclude that if God is omnipotent, omniscient, and lives outside of time, and indeed the physical laws of the universe, he’s really much more different than us than we might imagine.

    Ultimately one might conclude that “God” is simply the physical laws of the universe itself.

    Yup – definitions matter.

    Fortunately, if God is omniscient, he knows that belief is not a matter of choice and will hopefully judge me accordingly.

    • Hi Rick….very well said, although I tend to be a Shrodinger’s Cat kind of woman and will NEVER look in that box just to keep the cat alive! AND, if SHE is an omniscient God then She will be too busy loving to do much judging at all. ~Kathy

  13. Rick Cavallaro

    Kathy – I think you misunderstood my above reply. My point was that being an atheist does not involve a belief system – but separately from being an atheist I happen to feel confident that the God of the Bible does not exist – two separate things. And while I certainly accept that the latter is an affirmative belief – I do not by any means claim that I’m absolutely certain about it as you seem to suggest (just very confident). I’m quite familiar with confirmation bias and try my best to combat it. That’s the best we can do.

    My position is that, while there may be a creator of the universe, there is no evidence of such, nor any proof to the contrary. The God of the Bible on the other hand is just too full of obvious contradictions and we’ve learned so much about the history of the Bible that we can know its earthly human genesis and its errors. Whether there being a creator of the universe is an extraordinary claim I can’t say. But the story of the Bible and the God of the Bible is very definitely an extraordinary claim and therefore requires extraordinary evidence (if one expects to convince others of its veracity).

    With respect to what scientists believe I have to disagree with you at least in part. There is a broad spectrum of what constitutes belief for scientists. Ideally nothing on the spectrum is based on faith. That said – some of their beliefs are absolute – or close to it, while some are mere hypotheses. Ideally we are careful to assign these each to the correct bin. But in the end scientists are human and subject to all the same limitations as all other humans.

    As to a theory being only a theory, you have to keep in mind that the word theory as used by scientists is very different from what that word means in common usage. What most people mean by “theory” is what scientists would call a hypothesis. The theory of gravity (and evolution) for that matter is well proven. Wikipedia has a good page on this topic.

    • Hi Rick! Isn’t it interesting that most of what we’re discussing here has to do with definitions of different words and concepts (god, heaven, spirituality, theory, hypothesis, belief, atheist, on and on)? And there’s a quote, I can’t remember who said it, that sums it up perfectly. It goes, “without mutually agreed definitions conversation is pointless.” Clearly you and I define some things differently which is perfectly fine but makes ongoing discussion difficult.

      As I age I have become more and more comfortable with the mystery of life and uncertainty. I am quite happy and at peace there which I understand is not what everyone else prefers. That’s okay. As I’ve said before, I have no intention of changing anyone else’s mind except my own. But that doesn’t mean I won’t raise questions now and then. 🙂 ~Kathy

  14. kirsty

    My mum died a few weeks ago aged just 53 after a 6 year battle with cancer. Turns out it wasn’t cancer that killed her and we are waiting on an inquest to find out why. I lost my baby earlier this year.. and we’ll so many losses. I send my children to a c of e school to instill some ‘hope’ NOT belief as that’s a personal decision but I want them to have something to believe in.. They can decide later in life how they want to move forward with it. Today is hard. My first Xmas with no mum. A heartbroken dad. My brothers finding it so hard he’s had to be put on medication for people with ‘mental disorders’ I want to believe so much but today celebrating the birth of someone we don’t even know or have never met… when I’d rather be celebrating it with my loved ones that were taken too soon. 🙁

    • Dear Kirsty. I am so sorry to hear of all the loss in your life recently. There is likely no answer to the big question about heaven that will help fill the hole you are feeling right now. That time after such close loss is such a personal one that the best advice I could offer you or anyone else in the same position, is to take just one day at a time. As you say, hope is such a comforting thought for us all and dwelling on that to the best of your abilities, along with the love that you felt for those who are no longer with you, are likely helpful to getting you through this painful time. My hope is that gradually you and your family will find the peace you seek. ~Kathy

  15. Rick Cavallaro

    Thanks for you reply Kathy. To offer a subtle but important distinction – it’s not that I “believe” something different than the religious do (I used to be religious myself). It’s that I simply no longer have any such beliefs. If I told you that I knew there was no god – that would be a belief. Saying that I’ve come to conclude there is no evidence for the existence of a god (of the sort we most often speak of) is just to say I don’t have any such belief. In point of fact I feel quite confident that the God of the Bible does not exist – but I don’t know whether anyone or anything brought this universe into existence – and if so whether that entity is omniscient or even conscious.

    The notion that the burden of proof is on the one making the extraordinary claim is not my idea. That’s a basic premise of science. Of course everyone is free to believe what they wish with or without evidence (extraordinary or otherwise). My comment was simply an observation that you can’t expect to convince others of extraordinary claims without equally extraordinary evidence.

    I hope you enjoy Harris’s book. I’m sure you’re aware he’s somewhat of a passionate atheist. But if you can put that aside I think you’ll find there’s an amazing wealth of valid information to be found there.

    • Hi Rick! I know that it is tempting to conclude that once anyone has spent a lot of time thinking about and considering facts and ideas to confidently arrive at a place of being convinced that we/they are correct. After all, that is exactly what “confirmation bias” is all about. As humans we routinely find and latch on to those ideas that support what we believe. And after all, “belief” is defined as accepting something as true and feeling sure of the truth of it. So in spite of your confidence about there being no God of the Bible, that is still technically a belief. And make no mistake that scientists don’t believe their conclusions any more or any less. They may or may not have scientific proof to back up their theories, but many scientific theories are just that, theories. My point is, we ALL have beliefs and choose which ones we want to explore and confirm that to others might look wonky and strange. But just as you are convinced your’s are the “true” ones, others can be equally convinced to the contrary.

      With that said, I too am actually quite confident that the God of the Bible does not exist in the way that the majority of others believe. And while I can’t really address how Sam Harris takes on the subject (I haven’t read Waking Up yet), I do know after reading some of his other work and listening to talks by him that he does have what I call a “spiritual” outlook on existence in some similar ways as I do. But having a “spiritual” perspective is so much more complicated and multi-dimensional than can ever be explained by one title or label. Unfortunately those of us who don’t fit the “traditional” religious label often get cast into the “atheist” group, I am far from it. And from my previous introduction to Sam Harris, I currently hold the belief that he isn’t “really” one either. Of course after I read his book I might feel differently–but if I thought his approach was as sensational and heavy handed as someone like Richard I would never have purchased Harris’s book in the first place.

      But again, if your “beliefs” or conclusions (whatever you feel most comfortable labeling them) bring you to a place of comfort and peace in this world that by all means carry on! I just see shades of gray in every area of life — much like the Taoist perspective of yin and yang. I don’t think I’m “right” by any means, but I tend to believe things are far too complicated (and mysterious) for any one of our beliefs to be more “right” and conclusive than most others.

      Thanks for your continued thoughts on this. I’m sure once I finish Harris’s book that I’m have a better perspective on where you (and he) are coming from these days! Happy New Year! ~Kathy

  16. justin

    So I dont know where to start. I lost my younger brother in a car crash on November 30 of this year. So not even a month ago. He was 22 and wrecked right down the road from our home. I talked to him like 2 hours before he crashed. And he tried calling me twice 30 mins before it happen. I guess he wanted me to come get him cus he was pretty tired for working alot of overtime at work the past few weeks. The cops say they believe he fell asleep and he died instantly from impact. He didn’t have any marks on him. He was wearing his seat built. Just really sucks cus if I would of just picked up, he’d still be here. Like I believe in God and stuff but im always questioning it about what happens when someone dies. I can sit here and say I know he’s still here with me in spirit but my mind always wounders if this is all made up stuff. He was such a good kid. Had his head on his shoulders and knew what he was doing with his life. I just miss him being physically here. I just wish like one time I could see him again in spirit to make me know for sure that there is rlly a after life amd that I will see him and be with him again one day when my time is up. Like right now, I don’t feel like I’m in real life. Even though I know it is and he’s really gone. Its Christmas and it was the hardest thing to do was going to his gave on this day. since this happen, I always try to look for signs that he’s still here but I havent seen or noticed anything. I know none of us can 100% say there is a heaven or anything and it sucks cus I wish I could fully believe there was so I wouldn’t have to question it.

    • Dear Justin. My heart goes out to you and your family at this time. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. In my humble opinion it is far to soon to do anything but grieve the loss of your bother for the foreseeable future. I can’t imagine any explanation would come close to fully explaining how something this tragic could happen. I am sure you are still in shock about the entire situation and just need to take it one day at a time. Please attempt to surround yourself with people who love and support you right now so that you can find the comfort that you so need. And also consider that you don’t really have to believe either way right now. If you can’t believe in heaven this minute, try believing in love–and the memory of your brother that you hold in your heart. That is real and no one can take that away from you.

      ~with compassion and love, Kathy

  17. Rick Cavallaro

    While I truly wish there was a reason to believe that we somehow survive our bodies – I simply have never found such. Eben Alexander’s book is of course extremely compelling – particularly to those that would like to believe. Unfortunately his arguments are fatally flawed. In chapter 5 of his book “Waking Up” Sam Harris fully debunks Alexander’s arguments. Of course it’s not possible to prove that there is no afterlife – but it’s also not possible to prove there is. And it would seem the burden of proof is on the person making the extraordinary claim.

    Kathy – to your observation that “One thing is for sure we will all discover it for ourselves at some point” I have to say again that sadly I don’t think we will.

    • Hi Rick! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts on this. As I say in the beginning of the post my purpose is not to convince anyone else what “I” believe, but instead to ask that each of us carefully consider what “we each” believe and whether that brings us comfort and peace or not. If you are completely at peace with the decisions you’ve arrived at then that’s great. But please consider that each of us gets to decide where and who gets charged with the “burden of proof.” You are certainly in your rights to decide that it should be on the one with extraordinary claims, but others might feel equally as passionate and convinced to the contrary. For myself? I’m still not sure either way but I enjoy hanging out in the mystery of it all. Oh, and FYI…I just bought Sam Harris’ book and will probably do a blog post on it once I’m done! Who knows? Maybe he’ll change my mind! 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts on this. ~Kathy

  18. Tony

    When you lose a close one you will look for any sign they are still with us. No heaven just try to be healthy and happy and do the right thing.

    • Hi Tony! I agree that we all look for meaning and try to make sense of our world in a way that works for us. ALL of us do that whether we are for or against something. But from where I stand, if your explanation brings you peace, then what’s wrong with that? As you say, we all seek to be healthy and happy and as long as we aren’t hurting others with our actions, then all is well. Thanks for taking the time to check in. ~Kathy

  19. eduardo

    I know there is something for us all after death I’m 20 yrs old and some might say I’m too young but I was recently in a car accident well a week before that car roll over I had lost faith in God and I became a none believer of anything . in the accident I was in the stage where I can try to stay awake or close my eyes and go .I was in so much pain I chose to close my eyes and at the moment I went into this vision of me in the dark walking but I knew where I was going even tho it was all dark someone was guiding me holding my hand and I knew there was light at the end of the darkness but before I felt the light I was woken back up to life idk if I died or not but when I got out of the hospital and cleaned my wounds I saw long 5 nail scratches on my right arm like something pulled me it wasn’t glass cuz that hand was covered by my body and the police said it was a amazing we survived flipped over 4 times in the air and managed to come out wit just sore body cuts and bruises now when I feel the wind I know its god and I know something is out there waiting for my soul and that’s my true home.

    • Hi Eduardo! Thank you for sharing your personal story with us. I think stories like yours are repeated over and over again with many people who have been through the same experience. And as you say if it brought you comfort and a sense of knowing your place both in this world and those to come, how can that be bad? Hopefully science will continue to research this topic and bring more and more clarity to the rest of us. Thank you again for your thoughts. ~Kathy

  20. Eric Desplanque

    I have done lots of studying on this subject for 40+ years. I know the spirit / mind and body are separate things. I have absolutely no doubt. The biggest question I have is ….”Why?” In life or in death…I hope that answer is revealed. As far as skeptics go,…”We know what we have felt and what is truly true us …personally…there is no sense trying to argue with them…these experiences are extremely personal and we don’t need skeptics to divert our course. After all, they have hit a ‘brick wall’ that they (apparently) will never see beyond. Actually, I feel sorry for them. (Eric D.)

    • Hi Eric! Thanks for stopping by SMART Living and sharing your thoughts on this post. As you say, this is a deeply personal issue to people and skeptics will never be able to understand or relate. However, I do believe that there will continue to be those who explore and attempt to validate these claims so who knows what might eventually be revealed. One thing is for sure we will all discover it for ourselves at some point. Thanks again for stopping by. ~Kathy

  21. Well, most scientists don’t believe in life after death, that is true. But they do find out some of the most fundamental laws of science which I do believe can proof life after death, for example:

    Before someone dies, they are full of life, they talk, they eat, they digest their food they can jump up and down, what do we call this, energy. How many batteries or electricity would this take to “mimic” a human life on an average of 65 years?

    One of most basic laws of science is the Law of the Conservation of Energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.

    My understanding of it is, energy does not die, it is simply “borrowed” so this brings me to my next question, where does our energy go to when we die if we can not destroy energy? Interestingly enough, and I quote “energy can only be changed from one form to another” are they saying when we die, our energy we had as human being changes form, I wonder what that form might be, a spirit, does this mean, life after death?

    Well, science can argue all they want, this is the law of the universe, we can not put an end to energy, we can not kill energy. What we as human beings have, is energy, how am I able to lift my arm, to move my mouth, move my eyes from left to right even typing this if not for energy. Is my energy generated because of vitamins or food, why are we not running out of energy the same time day by day, why do all people not run out of energy at the same time? Maybe because we simply don’t run on batteries, but a soul. Regardless, it is an energy source, and as we now know one of the most fundamental laws of science:

    One of most basic laws of science is the Law of the Conservation of Energy.
    “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another. ”

    –Cole Turner

    • Hi Cole! Thank you for taking the time to provide the thoughtful comment to this post. I so agree that energy NEVER dies and if we are energetic beings, then how could we possibly die. Change form? Of course? But never, ever to transform? Impossible!

      Plus, I happen to think that some part of us is so beyond anything material (including energy) that is even more mysterious. Of course science hasn’t even come close to explaining that, nor does any religion that I can accept completely. But again, anyone who is fundamentally opposed to the idea cannot be convinced otherwise. Thanks again for your thoughts. ~Kathy

  22. Danny

    Although I find it a little bit more biased than I would like, still a great post! Especially when I also can add and relate to it.
    See, I was born in Bulgaria, a former communist country, and at the time I was born (1982), there was still a totalitarian regime in power – you know, no churches, no religion whatsoever, no God. The only deity was the Party and the dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels, along with a soul-crushing atheism of the type “The only heaven is here on Earth, however it has yet to come and the Party will make it so”. The censorship and brainwashing were brutal, even in the kindergarten, where every morning they used to make us children sit for five minutes on chairs, facing each other, hands behind our backs – an exercise in powerlessness and obedience. So, you see, since I was born, I had NO source of information or influence on the matters of God or the spiritual, from the outside world – in fact, it was just the opposite.

    And yet, I remember things…
    You can easily compute that now I am 32 years old, but I still remember them. These memories go as far back as I can remember, my whole conscious life. They are not clear memories, but maybe visions. What I remember is so huge and brings forth so strong emotions, elation, awe, mystery, sense of unity and love, and connectedness, that every time I turn to these memories, tears fill my eyes right away and I feel shivers down my spine and my body hairs prick. However, all these are just words – the wholeness of these memories and experience is ineffable. I would only say that I somehow connect these memories to some grand, spinning celestial objects, some huge structures that are basically spherical, but may have other forms as well. This experience has obvously been so deep that even to this day I am attracted to all kinds of spinning objects – fans, turbines, motors, etc. This mystery and awe made me love cosmic sciences and night skies since early age. I love going to observatories and to mountain trailing. Sadly, my life went on a slightly different direction, I graduated Economics, not Astronomy or Fundamental Physics, but there will always be a place in my heart for these kinds of things.
    To summarize, I was born in a non-religious environment, I still do not like religion very much, for reasons like fear inculcation, fanaticism and money, but I DO believe in God, and I believe that “God” is just a word.
    One could argue these were just fantasies that helped me save my inner sanctum in the midst of the poisonous environment I was born in. I would ask – OK, I remember and can relate to these things since my earliest childhood. Where could have I got those fantasies from? And how exactly a fantasy could have such enormity, such impact and wholeness, such emotion to it, and how could it be such an experience so as to shape my personality? All my later experiences in life are vague resemblances to what I keep as a feeling from these things. I want to stress that I have never used drugs, I am not a sect-psycho or vegan, nor any kind of fundamentalist (no offence!). I consider myself a normal person – I like good food and good drink, I have had periods when I used to drink a little more than I should have, sometimes I am lazy, I work a 9-to-5 job, I am not married but I do have a girlfriend, I listen to metal and play in a band, I like to go out with friends, but I also like to stay at home, and so on.
    So – a pretty much average person with limitations and wishes. But I cannot deny what I remember.

    • Hi Danny! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment to this post. Yes, I admit that my approach to this topic is a bit biased. But I did attempt to provide some different ways of thinking about the issue that many others might find helpful. And I hope above all that it makes people think about the issue and what they believe themselves.

      And that’s what your comment does for sure. There is no clear cut answer to this question and I would suspect anyone who thinks there is has either been indoctrinated to a certain position, or just doesn’t want to think about it. As I say in the post, I believe that just because there is no evidence of something, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t real. Your experience is a perfect example of something unexplainable. Is it real? It is to you. And I believe there are millions of others with unexplainable experiences that at least prove that there is something mysterious to our Universe that can’t be explained away by science. On the flip side, as you said, using the word “God” as an explanation, or certain religions as the one and only answer seemly equally limited. I believe we must each arrive at our own conclusions and let that be a guide to our lives.

      Thank you again fro taking the time to share your thoughts. ~Kathy

  23. Marshall

    Interesting article because nobody has the real answer. We fight with each other, kill each other and mock each other because of personal beliefs. Yet nobody knows the real answer. I do believe the man made God of religion is false, but that is me. I also believe we are the energy of the universe and when we die our energy goes on. How this plays out I do not have an answer. Like everyone I would really like to know what is after the body dies. Death does not scare me, I am old and believe I will know nothing when I die. But it would be nice if life lasted forever, but not even the universe last forever. Questions I do not believe science can ever find the answer too.

    • Hi Marshall! Thank you for stopping by SMART Living and sharing your thoughts on this. Obviously it is a huge question and there are no easy answers. I appreciate that you are open to the idea that energy is never lost or dead–it just changes. What we ultimately call that energy or how it works, is what religion is about IMHO–and there are millions of ways to interpret it. And I’m not even sure that there is proof that the Universe won’t last forever? Who is to say that it won’t just change form and be re-born either. The thing about science is that it raises even more questions when it answers some right? Maybe we are best to just embrace the mystery of it all? Thanks again for your comment. ~Kathy

  24. Sharrees

    May I see the pictures??? I have been struggling with my own faith!!! I do believe in eternity and in reincarnation just because of childhood experiences… I also had an NDE where I simply left my own body and watched…. It appeared to me that I was in the air and not in any physical form at all but still with some fashion of a conscious but different. I can’t explain it! I heard the policeman state DOA… I remember thinking that out loud and hearing screams from those who loved me… Not now!!! Not Now!!! He was jerking on my body and still doing CPR!! And the cop tried to get him to stop when I went back into my body!!! Not sure why I did, just the cries!! But odd! I don’t ever remember visions or anything… It was like I was in the air all around watching and leaving …until I was called back!!!

    • Hi Sharrees! Sorry I don’t have any photos to show you! That would be nice huh? I’m afraid all any of us can do at this point is keep the conversation open and growing. There is SOMETHING going on but I don’t think there is proof one way or another. It sounds like your example is just another piece of the puzzle. Like so many of the mysteries of life it is good to keep an open mind and use whatever is helpful and works for you to live a happy life. Thanks for sharing your story. ~Kathy

  25. jesse jackson

    interesting theosis , but you failed to include the study on how long a brain can live after death. there are many research doctrines that suggest the brain lives up to several minutes upon death and as our knowledge of brain activity is merely “best guess” we do know the brain has vast potential according to study a mere second upon the death of a brain could release terabits of information that could seem like a hundred years to us… so, really what can we really know. ? i believe we are still in the dinosaur age and the greatest advancements of knowledge are yet to come

    • Hi Jesse! I sure don’t have any final answers on this but I’m hoping that people stay open to the discussion and realize that no definitive proof at the present time doesn’t mean that it’s not real…only that it hasn’t been proven one way or another. As you say, “The greatest advancements of our knowledge are yet to come.” Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. ~Kathy

  26. Matheus Marques

    Hi, my name is Matheus, I have 19 and I’m from Brazil.

    Well, I came here to say that I loved your post, my thoughts are very similar to yours. I really enjoy this kind of topic, they are great to be discussed between people. I believe this kind of conversation only make us (humans) grow and see the world in a different way.

    • Hi Matheus! Thank you so much for stopping by SMART Living and sharing YOUR thoughts. And good for you for being young but wise enough to realize that this type of conversation is universal to all of us, no matter where we live. After all it is something we are all sure to experience one way or another–so how can it NOT be one of the most fascinating conversations there are? Thank you for visiting and please join in again anytime something grabs your interests. ~Kathy

  27. Michelle

    Absolutely loved this article, how it presented facts from both ends of the spectrum. Although I cannot claim to have had a true NDE, I have had a very mild version three times.
    I am chronically ill and have been hospitalized several times. When I was about 11, I was hospitalized for having a very serious case of pancreatitis. When they were inserting a PICC line, the line went up my neck instead of down to my heart, and so they had to take it out and insert it again. Blood was everywhere and I could barely breathe. Although I don’t think it could be considered a flatline, my heart stopped for just a millisecond, but it seemed like a minute. All of the sudden, I was wearing a black dress, standing in a black room, not looking at anything in particular. I walked a couple steps and “woke” back.
    The second time was just the opposite, when I was having surgery a day later. I was wearing a white dress, standing in a white room, not looking at anything particular, walking a couple steps and “waking” back up.
    The third time was several years later when I was hospitalized for a serious case of pneumonia. They had just put some type of CPAP machine on me and I remember just being so tired because of the effort it took to breathe. I didn’t exactly fall asleep, but I wasn’t awake. Then I had a vision (?) of myself in my room, wearing the same white dress from last time. My room looked as it normally did but in the middle of my room was a yellow ball of light. I just stared at it for a while, and after a few minutes I could hear my mother’s voice–although it wasn’t really her voice, rather the sound of her crying.
    Although these are obviously not full-blown NDE’s, they still impacted me greatly. Also, although I consider myself to be a religious person, at the time of these two hospitalizations, I was in serious doubt of my faith and skipping church frequently. I wouldn’t say that my faith contributed to what I saw in these visions, but I admit that it impacts how I interpret them, as you said above. Extremely interesting and enlightening article, thank you so much for sharing your research and thoughts,

    • Hi Michelle! Thank you so much for stopping by and joining this conversation. I think the experiences that you had are all evidence that there is so much more to life (and death) than we can normally process. That’s why it makes such an interesting topic and deserves to be part of our regular ongoing conversations. I think we all do ourselves a great disservice to ignore such amazing possibilities. Of course a person has to be willing to admit that there is something amazing and awesome going on that we might never understand–but at the same time not fear it. While your background and understanding likely contributed how you interpreted what you saw, surely it was an experience that defies a tiny or limited interpretation of what happens on the next step of our evolution?

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! ~Kathy

  28. Diane

    I have proof that life after death exist. I took a couple of pictures of my mothers ashes when I released her into a body of water and the ashes formed into an angel and my mothers face appeared in what seem to be the angel left wing and there is other faces appearing all around her. The joy I felt after seeing this is beyond anything I can describe . I’ve since reached out to various networks still no response from any, they probably think I’m a nut job. It is my hope to get this out to the masses, I believe my story and pictures will shed light on a topic that’s been in the dark for way to long. I to had issues with the afterlife, not anymore , not anymore.

    • Hi Diane! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story with us all. There are some people that won’t believe you even if your mother showed up in physical form and stood right next to you. The good news is that you got the proof that you need and you can share it with people who are willing to listen. And I happen to believe there are A LOT of people who will. Maybe you need to do your own book or blog about the subject? Either way, consider yourself VERY fortunate to have such a clear knowing about what happens when we leave this existence. And thank you again for sharing it. ~Kathy

  29. Dana James

    Your welcome, Kathy. No, I’m not a California resident…I live on the East Coast here in Maryland. There haven’t been too many people in my life that I could discuss this topic with. It’s rare that someone like yourself actually takes the time to think about the subject. Sure, most people wonder what’s going to happen to them after they die but few really THINK about it. And it’s too bad we couldn’t sit down and talk because I do have a theory about might possibly happen when we die. It’s part scientific, part spiritual and I’ve only heard someone else talk about it once. Ironically, it was in the movie, “K-Pax” with Kevin Spacey. If my theory is true, it’s both advantageous and potentially disturbing, depending on what has transpired with your life. Oh well, back to the real world! (LOL)

    • Oh darn! Sorry you live so far away! If you’re ever out this way (or we’re back your way) be sure and let me know know! And yes, I think this conversation is one of the most important any of us can have but like you said, not too many people really want to talk about it. BUT–I have had tons of readers of this post so that shows that a lot of people are at least curious about the topic. I do hope people are spending SOME time thinking about it because I am convinced that it colors our perception of our entire life.

      I loved the movie K-Pax….if you ever “publish” your ideas about it anywhere, be sure and let me know.~Kathy

  30. Dana James

    Thanks Kathy. I forgot to mention another aspect of turmoil a lot of people struggle with(including myself) is that to say this is all there is, that death is final and complete, almost trivializes and renders the love we feel meaningless. Why would love be necessary if it isn’t eternal and part of a greater dimension of thought and feeling? I even have a difficult time accepting that the love I’ve felt for all the animals I’ve had in my life will never be more than what it was. Maybe it’s the romantic in me despite needing scientific validation. Either way, I still think about the topic often and I appreciate your thoughtful article.

    • Hi again Dana! And I love your perspective on love! I guess I hadn’t really thought about it in that way before but it so rings true. Love certainly transcends the material, as well as time and space, so how could it be limited to this dimension? Love is definitely one of those things that defies scientific reductionism and yet is obviously such an incredible and important part of a fulfilled and happy life. You don’t live near me in Southern California do you? If you did I’ll bet we could sit and have a LONG and invigorating discussion about this in person! Thank you for the mind candy! ~Kathy

  31. Dana James Sclafani

    I’m not a religious person, although I was raised Catholic. I’ve been battling the conflict in my mind about whether an afterlife exists since I was a child. I would literally lie in bed at night and think, “the Universe has always been here and always will be here!” It was simultaneously unnerving and exciting but I kept these thoughts to myself. I’m at heart, a scientific thinker and usually require some kind of physical evidence before I can justify or validate a theory someone is proposing. One thing that has never made any sense to me is why do we have to die first to see Heaven or any kind of afterlife? If this existence is eternal and is a part of us, why would we have to travel through death to get to it? Perhaps human arrogance and ignorance keeps us from connecting to that higher plane of consciousness. I also believe that how we think of life spiritually is often relative to the scientific knowledge we have at our disposal at that moment. If we don’t destroy ourselves as a species, it’s quite possible that hundreds or thousands of years from now we’ll be able to witness and interact with the afterlife through technology…that science will have found a way to break through to other dimensions and make it very personal to each individual. Whatever may happen, I do hope we as humans, will at least keep an open mind and not dismiss or assert opinions without deep contemplation.

    • Hi Dana! Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts. I think most thinking people are floating around with these ideas along with you (at least I hope so) because there are no easy answers. Of course, I do like to remind myself that there are millions of things going on around each of us in any given moment and we seldom “see” or observe or are aware of them. Think of sound waves, or radio signals or the color spectrum. I think there are some people who can connect and “see” them but most of us don’t. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist only that we haven’t, like you mentioned, figured out how to “break through to other dimensions and make it very personal to each individual.” I do believe that consciousness is evolving as we all go along and that it is entirely possible that we will eventually so as you say and break through to other dimensions one way or another.

      Thanks so much for your thoughts! ~Kathy

  32. scott

    Fascinating topic. Thank you too for your open approach and polite reponse even to the naysayers ! Difficult to condense a long narrative in a short space, and this wasn’t an NDE but something mysterious: one evening I was alone, talking to a close friend on the telephone in a small room under the stairs. The conversation was intimate and after a while it seemed that the room was bathed in a warm light. I lost all sense of time, but am certain I never left the small room. When my house mates returned it seemed several hours had gone by. Stranger still the woman to whom I’d been talking asked me a few days later if i could confirm where i was that night, because at that exact time someone matching my description had been seen beside her at the hospital phone she’d been using. The hospital was a good hour’s walk away and I am 100% certain I never left the little room, yet there were several witnesses who claimed to have seen me in the hospital. And the sudden time disorientation and strange light is equally hard to explain. I have never shared this because of the naysayers… but there you have it… a mystery.

    • Hi Scott! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience. I think it is so important for us to have the freedom to share some of the mysteries we experience with each other because otherwise we downplay them far too often. Then we start doubting ourselves and listening more to what other people think about us (and our experiences) instead of validating them for ourself. And yeah, I’ve done it so I know.

      Who knows the exact details of your experience other than the fact that it felt timeless and important to you and was no doubt a great comfort to the woman “you visited.” Think what a boring world it would be if cool things like that didn’t happen. I try on a regular basis to stay open to mystery and possibility as much as I can. Let’s keep sharing the news and hopefully more people will as well. Thanks again for your comment. ~Kathy

  33. In the beginning of your post you talk about your confirmation bias. There is nothing wrong with being biased as long as you treat all information equally. You clearly did not do this. You place opposing arguments under the diminutive umbrella of “the skeptics.” You also talk about how some people are impossible to talk to. Based on your writing you are one of them. You neither provide all available, relevant information in a neutral manner nor subject the arguments in favor of your point of view to the same scrutiny as those against it. The difference between skeptics and ‘believers’ is that we require a very high standard of empirical evidence and sophisticated argumentation. Your approach to the dialogue is more along the lines of a certain cable news network.

    • Hi Clare. I’m sorry that this post was not what you wanted it to be….but I was very upfront about the fact that my perspective was biased from the beginning. My intent was to raise a few questions and get people to think about the subject enough to arrive at their own conclusions. I hope you find the information that you are looking for. ~Kathy

  34. At times we all wonder about the true meaning of life and what happens after we die. There are different ways of examining the subject. We can look at it from the point of view of religion.

    • Hi Paulo! Thank you for stopping by SMART Living and joining the conversation. Yes, I think it is vital that all of us spend some part of our lives thinking about what is most important AND what we expect will happen when we die. I completely agree there are lots of different ways to approach the topic and one of those is certainly through religion. But there are a number of other ways that don’t always get attention and that is much of what this blog post was about. Thanks again for your comment. ~Kathy

  35. Nick

    I am a believer but sometimes skeptic about the existence of god. Over the past year I’ve been believing more and more. I just don’t understand a few parts of the afterlife. I do not “follow” a specific religion because I don’t understand how ALL of them can be correct. I like to believe that there is an afterlife but we as humans are unsure of exactly what happens. To quote Charles Darwin:
    “I feel most deeply that this whole question of creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can”
    Note that Charles Darwin who had one of the smartest minds of all time , created the theory of evolution which goes against religion and some followers of religion still deny the theory even after all the facts. Just wanted to note that Darwin was not an atheist even though he went against the bible on many occasions.
    I feel as though there should me a happy medium in all religious theories. I don’t believe one should be the definite answer. Gods creation is too profound for any human to comprehend. I would appreciate any input on my comment. And wanted to say I am not an athiest and do not believe I must follow ONE religion to have a happy afterlife and not go to hell, or whatever else that may happen

    • Hi Nick! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave such a thoughtful comment. Quite frankly, I agree with just about everything you mention. (and what I don’t necessarily agree with I just want a little more time to think about!) I’m also very happy to see that you are questioning yourself about your beliefs. I happen to think that is extremely healthy and SMART because far too often we are told just to be quiet and accept what others believe without it having any meaning or value for us. What you eventually come up with will be something that is real and “personal” to you–not just a memorized version of someone else’s experience or thoughts.

      I agree that anyone who studies will realize that there a hundreds of ways of describing God. No one (or group) has a monopoly on the concept. And as you said Darwin through the years gradually came up with a way of looking at God that worked for him and he was not, as you say, an atheist. Part of the problem though is that others think you are an atheist if you don’t agree with their version. Part of the path is letting go of what others think about you AND your beliefs and just standing true to yourself.

      I personally believe there is a happy medium to all religious theories and those all center around Love, peace and compassion. I agree that the mystery of God is way too big for us to fully understand and I am certain that we don’t have to believe in any ONE religion to experience eternal life!

      Don’t give up! Continue asking the big questions and reaching for your own personal experience of the mystery. It will be one of the most amazing journeys you will ever take. ~Kathy

  36. William

    Found your site from fifty2ninety and in turn found this very interesting conversation. In 2012 I contracted endocarditis (an infection in the heart) which seems to have gone undetected for quite some time. When it was finally diagnosed in late October it was very advanced and I ended up undergoing emergency heart surgery and having two valves replaced. Three events/things that I will mention that have really stuck out in my mind since surgery:
    I had (and still have) a vivid, accurate memory of my wife driving to the hospital in the middle of the night when they had called her from the CCU. I recall what she wore, road conditions, speeds she travelled at, lights she went through.. everything. All from a position not in the back seat but above the front seats and slightly behind, between the headrests if you will. Which I ‘know’ is impossible as at the time she was driving to the hospital I was unconscious, in fact in an induced coma. Odd.
    Many weeks after surgery, before reading Dr. Alexander’s book, my wife and I were sitting at the kitchen table one morning talking about ‘where we are at, how we are doing’ and other similar husband & wife things. We both kept notes/wrote some things down. At the time I recall having difficulty trying to articulate what I was trying to get across. I was waving my arms, trying literally to ‘point things out’. I could see the look from my wife as if to say/think ‘you have really lost it’. Going back months later and looking at what we both ‘wrote’, my wife’s notes were pretty much in point form and even without knowing what the conversation had been anyone could probably put together a reasonably accurate version from those notes. What I ‘wrote’ on the other hand was, well… different. Diagrams, doodles, words, arrows all manner of odd things, including some sort of ‘symbol’ that I kept referring to during our talk in which I kept trying to make the point to my wife that she was the ‘glue’ holding things together. Talk about how to make yourself popular. Doodling and odd ‘notes’ might not seem so unusual however it was and is for me. I spent a career keeping very accurate notes, in a legible form which anyone could read and recreate an event or scene from with very little difficulty. Very odd, the notes that I made and the conversation(s) that we had. Rather like Dr Alexander speaks of in his book as ‘ICU psychosis’, right down to the waving around of the arms and ‘trying to point things out’.
    The last odd experience occurred months after the surgery when I met a fellow that I had worked with decades earlier when I trained him. In my profession at the time note keeping was an integral part of the job. So.. We meet all those decades later and I begin to relate to him the year, month, day, date and time of the first shift that we worked together. What time we got to work, what time we actually started, addresses that we went to, why we went there, who we spoke to… Everything. Almost minute by minute. Very odd. And accurate.
    Far more goes on in our minds/consciousness that we have any idea of. Of that I am certain.

    • Hi William! And thank you so much for leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts on this. I think you are correct that when we go back and piece together some of the events of our lives–especially those that carry some unique emotional charge–there are coincidences and other noteworthy events that occur as your experience has shown. And obviously, I VERY MUCH AGRE that there are much more going on in the world and in us that is beyond our current understanding. I only hope that all of the interest in this topic and other extra-ordinary experiences help to encourage more study in this area. One group that I belong to definitely studies this phenomenon on a regular basis. They are IONS or Institute of Noetic Sciences. Do check them out here on the net….Thanks again for commenting! ~Kathy

  37. Wow, what an excellent discussion. I’ve been reading your other posts and find them full of a common sense wisdom that the world needs . . . keep writing!

  38. Dan C

    Maybe it is a women sitting up there on a throne

  39. Very good article and some very valid questions and points. I believe faith is something that is not scientific, but it is just faith from the spiritual side. You believe because you know. I truly believe in the after death experiences and in no way do I believe it was somekind of illusion caused by the brain. I have known people that were non-believers of God but had an after death experiences and became strong believers in God and the Bible. Than
    Marla recently posted…“Recipe For A Healthy Christmas And Holiday Season!’My Profile

    • Hi Marla….thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this subject. It is something that touches every single one of us at some point in our lives and for that reason alone it is surely something we all need to be talking about more. I agree that there are some things that can never ever be fully understood and explained—but I am also fascinated by some of the things that are being scientifically proven that until recent times were never possible. It will be interesting to see what comes to light (NPI) in the future! Thanks again Marla! ~Kathy

  40. Hi Kathy,
    I agree with you – one should stay open-minded and ask questions about everything. I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person, but I do wonder about all the same things you brought up in this article. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for a great mid-afternoon read. 🙂
    Amanda Fox recently posted…Cutting Back On ChristmasMy Profile

    • Hi Amanda! Thank you for stopping by and adding to this conversation. I think a huge majority of us consider ourselves to not be “religious” these days so I appreciate your honesty. Of course not being religious doesn’t mean we aren’t spiritual or we don’t think about or question spiritual ideas or elements. In fact it might give us plenty more reasons to think and consider things out that actually work for us. So how we think about heaven and/or eternal life is something that touches everyone one way or another. Lots of questions there for sure…just no sure answers! Thanks again for coming by and keeping your mind open! ~Kathy

      • jane fazzari

        I can verify Eben Alexander’s experience, at least some of it was identical to mine. I did not go as far as he… I was not dying. I was not on drugs or or asleep dreaming. I was practicing self-hypnosis (in the afternoon) and went to another dimension. A spiritual place described by Alexander as overwhelming in Love and Peace far from anything we feel here. I did not see or feel any religious beings. My sense is WE ALL are a part of this energy, we call God. When you hear “God is Love” that is exactly right. That is what God is. Love. Organized religion has it wrong. There is no man sitting up there on a throne.

        • Hi Jane! Thank you so much for joining this conversation AND for posting your own personal experience. I’ll bet there are far more people than we know who have had experiences similar to you but don’t trust the “vision” or themselves enough to believe what the experience is showing them. In fact, according to Pew Research, in 2009, “In total, upwards of six-in-ten adults (65%) express belief in or report having experience with at least one of these diverse supernatural phenomena (belief in reincarnation, belief in spiritual energy located in physical things, belief in yoga as spiritual practice, belief in the “evil eye,” belief in astrology, having been in touch with the dead, consulting a psychic, or experiencing a ghostly encounter).” That is a LOT OF US who are aware that there is indeed something mysterious going on all around us. Having a new way to interpret the “energy” around us all is something that is unfolding as we speak. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. ~Kathy

  41. David

    Hi Kathy

    I stumbled on this blog after doing some research on how much science is yet to discover about reality. It doesn’t take long to learn that there are some weird accepted scientific theories such as quantum mechanics. Plus multiverse, string, holographic universe…..I’ve got an open mind but science can’t currently explain some fundamental questions and the theories respected science is coming up with are in many respects just as strange as life after death. I also understand the accepted view of science is our universe is 13.7 billion years old. That being the case how strange is it I happen to be alive at this precise moment in time, I suspect mankind hasn’t started to understand the nature of reality. David

    • Hi David! Thank you for stopping by and joining the conversation on this fascinating subject. You are so right that many of our current scientific theories are indeed very strange and mind-blowing. My husband Thom and I often watch the Morgan Freeman TV program, “Through the Wormhole” and it’s amazing what some of the possibilities are that are floating around out there–but that’s what they are–possibilities at this point because most remain nothing more than theory.

      While it is intriguing to discuss and contemplate there is no way to prove (at least not yet) many of those scientific theories, or that life exists after death, but that should never stop us for reaching for the possibilities right? And while it’s equally interesting to strive to understand the nature of reality and all that is, I think it’s important to remember that we are all still just “making it up” with whatever background and information we have at our disposal and any given time.

      And yes…it seems strange that we are alive right now…but maybe it’s stranger to think of ourselves as “ever” not alive???

      Thanks again for your comment. ~Kathy

  42. Shaun

    Im glad I stumbled upon your posts. I have a hard time thinking when we die that’s it or its just a chemical hallucination or a lack of oxygen to the brain. Their is too much that cant be explained. Im not religious but I consider myself spiritual. I question everything. How can someone explain deja vu. I know there is alot false psychics that pray on the weak and tell them what they want to hear. From what I gathered from your posts seems legitimate and I thank you for it. Alot of it has set my mind at ease.

    • Hi Shaun…thank you for stopping by and adding to the conversation. I think it is great that you “question everything” and are willing to look at all the possibilities of every issue. It is always wise to be cautious about what others say–and certainly just because a charlatan or a scientist believes one thing over another, it doesn’t necessarily make their information any more “true” or not. I like to think that if it contradicts our personal experience we have every right to question it. I am glad that some of the information I’ve addressed helped you put things in perspective for yourself. Thankfully there are lots of good and dedicated people out there who continue to question and explore the issue so who knows? Perhaps someday soon there will be even more evidence to make this issue more clear for us all. ~Kathy

  43. Porte-Parole

    I’m writing to let you know that an interesting NDE was reported in Japan in the 1990s. I’ve contacted a couple of US researchers, but I haven’t been able to get any good enough feedback yet. Apparently, they’re too busy with thier own researches to show interest in NDEs reported outside the US. I even tried to e-mail Dr.Moody, but his inbox was full and my e-mail bounced back to me. It seems that no one is aware of Mr.Kiuchi’s NDEs in the US or in the West. He’s had two NDEs so far. His first NDE in particular is arguably the only case that provides physical evidence. I’ve done a lot of google searches, but no detailed description of his NDEs can be found anywhere on-line in English. I’m not sure if similar cases have been reported anywhere else.
    I’ll give you a brief description of his first NDE. As you can see from the following site, Mr.Tsuruhiko Kiuchi is a well-known amateur astromer in Japan. Over the past thirty years, he has been recognized for his discovery of three comets as well as his rediscovery of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

    When he was in his early twenties in the 1970s, he had his first NDE. He describes it mainly during his seminars on astronomy and a little bit in his books. He even appeared on Japanese TV several years ago and talked about it. By all acounts, his NDE is quite unique in that he left physical evidence in the shrine he visited. During his NDE, he realized that he could go anywhere in any time period. One of the places he visited was “Tosa Jinja”, a shrine in Kochi Prefecture, Japan when it was still under construction sometime in the late 16th century. He realized that he could control people to a certain extent particularly when they were absent-minded. He claims that he managed to control a carpenter working there at the time and made him write part of his name ???(tsuru: Japanes stem meaning “crane” (bird) <Tsuruhiko) in indian ink on a pillar in Japanese hiragana symbols inside the shrine. Although those symbols have faded over the past 400 years, they are still legible even to this day. After he recovered from his illness, he had the chance to visit this shrine, and spotted those hiragana symbols he wrote on the pillar during his NDE. At this moment, he was convinced that his NDE was not a brain-induced hallucination. The following blog gives the photos of the Japanese symbols he wrote 400 years ago. It is the fifth and sixth photos that give the image of the faded word ?? (tsuru).

    Furthermore, he states that according to the old shrine documents dating from that period, the sudden appearance of the word caused confusion in the shrine. At the time, shrine priests believed that it was a message from the Divine, but they didn't understand what it meant or why it had to be "tsuru" (crane). We don't know what to think of his case and I hope US researchers examine this case.
    I myself have been experiencing a lot of amazing synchronicities ever since I took up meditation. I've had even a number of prophetic visions in meditation and very lucid prophetic dreams. Most of them if not all came to pass later. In an attempt to understand these experiences, I have become interested in NDEs, Vedanta Sutra, Edgar Cayce readings, etc. Unfortunately science cannot shed any light on these experiences.

  44. Good article Kathy. Thorough and nearly as long as the articles on my site!

    I’d like to bring to your attention the recent Dr Fenwick interview on Spirit Today where he talked about the Pam Reynolds case.

    Question: Notwithstanding the criticism of the Pam Reynolds case, how evidential do you think the Pam Reynolds case is?

    Peter: There are certain clear difficulties about the onset of the experience as it seems to have occurred before major cooling had happened. Having said that, there are also very good pointers to her veridical perception under anaesthesia being accurate. And the deeper part of Pamela Reynolds experience after she had gone down the tunnel etc certainly seems to have occurred after cessation of brain function during the period of cooling and blood withdrawal from the brain.

    Dr Sam ParniaA much better case, which comes from the AWARE study in the Southampton Hospital, is described in Dr. Sam Parnia’s book The Lazarus Effect. Here a patient with diabetes felt unwell, had cardiac pain and was rushed to a cardiac catheter lab. Under medical supervision he spontaneously developed ventricular fibrillation and required two sets of shocks from a defibrillator, interspersed by a round of cardio-respiratory resuscitation before the heart restarted. There is thus a very clear time-line of his level of consciousness, which was zero and lasted 3-5 minutes before his heart was restarted. He reports being called to the ceiling by an angelic being, hearing the commands from the defibrillator and watching the resuscitation process, all at a time when he was clinically dead. It is very difficult to argue in this case that the events the patient reported did not occur when he was brain dead, and I think we should accept this as a prima facie case of an NDE occurring during brain death.
    To read more:

    Lastly, paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics. So even although our present paradigm doesn’t recognise continuation of the spirit, one day soon it will.
    Grahame recently posted…Dr Peter Fenwick InterviewMy Profile

    • Hi Grahame….thank you so much for adding to this conversation with more information about the subject. This is one of the most popular posts I’ve made so clearly there are lots of people searching out information. I tend to believe that the more we can read about different people having different experiences (especially those that have been scientifically documented) then the more that the subject will become a standard–much like you say in that “paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature”. I’m personally looking forward to the day when the paradigm shift recognizes the continuation of spirit from both a before and after perspective…Can you imagine some of the interesting studies that will happen then?

      Thanks for the link to your post and for stopping by and enriching this dialogue. ~Kathy

  45. Kate

    Here’s something to think about that should help.
    I had a NDE, and in that experience I saw that souls were made up of some kind of energy. I saw that souls communicated through this energy on different levels of vibrational frequencies. For years after this NDE, I had prophetic dreams & psychic abilities(not all the time, they were random) I also had two deceased people contact me after their deaths & my great grandfather the night he died. Think about this….nothing can be “alive” without energy. Not plants, animals, or people…..or even your t.v. that has to be plugged into the outlet, or your computers, phones, lamps, ect. All living things have to have some kind of energy for movement, motion & function. There is not anything alive that does not use energy. Energy is what separates living from the non living. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change form. There are several different kinds of energy, people will argue that your energy is used for soil, but that is your physical body. What happens to the electrical circuits that run through your body when you die…it cant die, its energy….There electromagnetic, kinetic, mechanical, chemical, electrical, ect. Several different kinds of energy. Einstein’s theory of E=MC2, says that everything is made up of energy, even physical matter. In my NDE, I saw there were different vibrational frequencies that each soul communicates on…some religions call this levels of heaven or hell…I didnt see it that way. I saw that all people are different and their energy/light has a frequency that it “vibrates” on. I saw its normal, we are all different with different experiences. I didnt see a heaven or a hell…however, I did not stay that long, long enough to see a while light, an angel & deceased loved one…where ever this gray place was. I did not even know I was dying….it was fast…I was here & then I was there in a blink of an eye. I do believe what I saw was real, especially after the dreams & visions started after the NDE. It took a long time to believe it, about 10 years to really accept what was happening. Ive been told I was hallucinating from lack of oxygen, but then how do you explain the prophetic dreams & visions afterwards? Even though I experienced it, Im around so much doubt by people, that sometimes I doubt it myself, because of them, but I have to keep in mind…all these other things that have happened, were not hallucinations, they were real & I was able to validate them ahead of time with others, before they actually happened. Here’s some examples
    Two different jobs I dreamed about ahead of time, my great grandfathers death, a tornado that came through, my sisters carwreck, people I hadnt yet met, but dreamed about ahead of time & many more. These people were warned ahead of time of my dream, it usually unfolded the very next day or sometimes up to 2 months. There is something else out there, we are not advanced enough scientifically to prove it yet, but its out there.

    • Hi Kate…

      Thank you so much for adding your personal perspective to the conversation. It sounds like your experience has added a great deal to your life and certainly helped to form your belief system. I too personally believe that every thing is energy and that it would be impossible for any of it to ever end. But, as you say. when you are surrounded by those who doubt it is easy to be dissuaded. I completely agree with your statement that “There is something else out there, we are not advanced enough scientifically to prove it yet, but its out there.” Please continue to share your memories with everyone–I think most people really want to know and ultimately to believe that there is something out there beyond what we know.

      Thank you again for your sharing your ideas. ~Kathy

  46. Russell Shipman

    I wish you would credit where you get your statistics from. Dr Stevenson, the foremost investigator of cases suggestive of reincarnation, in one of his books also cites your stats on the number of scientists that believe in reincarnation vs the general populace and places the poll in 1982. Is this the same poll that you used? Then it will surely be outdated. If your stats are more recent then they have remained remarkably consistent. Also if you read the book Dancing Past the Dark by Nancy Bush Evans you will find a pretty authoritative account of many NDEs that were hellish rather than blissful and a convincing case for people with hellish NDEs being much less willing to communicate what they experienced than those with the other sort. Please accredit your stats. Thanks.

    • Hi Russell, I appreciate you stopping by and adding to the conversation. And I think it is great that you are thinking so deeply about this issue and asking questions. If you recall from the last paragraph in this blog post I state that I don’t have any answers for anyone, but that I hope to raise enough questions that people start thinking about it and arriving at their own conclusions.

      With that said, I do not recall obtaining any of the information I include coming from a Dr. Stevenson or Nancy Bush Evans–but all of it should easily be obtainable by anyone who wants to further the inquiry by googling the topics. While I appreciate your desire to read more about it, this is a blog post, not a research paper–and again, my purpose is to raise questions and get people to think–not to justify my position.

      You raised some interesting questions in your post. I sure that they can also lead others to more inquiry. Thanks again for stopping by. ~Kathy

  47. Brandon seguin

    Well I found this article very interesting and I like to hear about near death experiences…I do think there is an afterlife..however I don’t think I agree with life before life as mentioned only because if people are able to recall what they say after a NDE then why aren’t people able to remember the before?

    • Hi Brandon, Thanks for stopping by SMART Living and leaving a comment. Your question is a good one–but impossible for me to answer. However, one thing I know for sure is that just because there isn’t an easy answer for something–that doesn’t make it true or false. What I’ve found is that we usually find things we are looking for–and when people are studying NDEs they seldom even ask about any “before”. The ones who do that are those who are studying previous lives–reincarnation experts. And if you study that field there is some amazing and intriguing results in that field. I just don’t think anyone has purposefully tried to put the two together. And there are those who believe neither one is true so why bother at all? Anyway, it makes for some interesting thoughts. Thanks for your questions and your comments. ~Kathy

  48. I have had so many experiences that it’s hard to believe our essence disappears when our body dies, but I don’t believe in the traditional view of heaven and don’t believe in a hell. Little children are quick to share what they see having no idea they shouldn’t have this knowledge or experience. One that bothered a friend of mine involved her daughter. Her daughter would talk to someone named “poppa” which was my friends name for her stepfather that died from cancer a few years before. When her daughter was asked to describe Poppa, she described her mother’s step father exactly.

    It’s sad to meet closed-minded people isn’t it?
    Lois recently posted…Planning to take your money, if you let themMy Profile

    • Hi Lois. I agree that there are so many unexplained things happening that it is difficult to deny that there is SOMETHING going on here! How interesting about your friend and her daughter. Unfortunately I think lots of people are very black and white…as if there aren’t many, many shade of gray out out there–especially when it comes to the mystery of the Universe! Personally I just think it is so much more interesting to imagine that there’s more going on than we can grasp. ~Kathy

  49. jo casey

    Wow – fascinating post Kathy. I love how in depth you’ve gone with this and it’s so refreshing to be able to ponder and wonder -weigh up opinions and evidence when it comes to aspects of religion, belief and the afterlife. To me, life, our purpose and what happens before and after our time here is a wonderful mystery. Life is about asking the big questions and exploring. Too often people want to not only hold onto their own certainty about things but want to close down any debate on the subject too- and that’s a shame because how boring would the human race be (not to mention short lived) if we didn’t explore, debate and wonder?
    jo casey recently posted…Happiness Is Not Ready MadeMy Profile

    • Hi Jo…thank you for exploring the idea behind this post with me…and I like that you point out that much of what the NDE evidence points to is that it isn’t just a question of life after death…but also a question of life before life. If Life is eternal then there is something both before AND after our experience here. And YES! Being comfortable with the mystery of it all is such a lovely place to reside. I love how Einstein said it with, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” As you say, Life is NEVER boring if we keep our minds open. ~Kathy

  50. I love this. You really did your homework, didn’t you? Wow. Great job. I love your subjects and your writing. Inspiring as always.

    I’m currently doing a lot of internal work in my life and taking the time to reexamine some of the beliefs I have carried with me since childhood. I initially believed in heaven out of fear. But now I feel like I’m growing out of that fear and I’m open to different of ideas of eternal life. I believe there is one. I’m just not so sure I believe in the harps and wings I imagined as a child…

    You’ve certainly given me some things to think about. In a good way, of course. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to write this. You are such a treasure to me.

    Ginny Love Moore recently posted…Minimalism and Buried TreasureMy Profile

    • Hi Ginny! Glad you didn’t think this post was too much of a departure from my “usual”. Of course, one big reason I named my blog SMART Living was that I believe that all these topics fit together to create a whole, happy, aware, peaceful and interesting life–and it’s REALLY nice to know some others feel the same way. I so enjoy juicy conversation so one of these days we will have to meet face-to-face and really “talk” 🙂 Thanks for your support! ~Kathy

  51. Kathy D.

    This is an extremely interesting topic. I have always felt that life is eternal and that our experience here is just part of the adventure, but like you, prefer a more cosmic approach than the traditional heaven. Thank you for posting this fascinating information.

    • Hi Kathy D! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment this LONG post of mine and think about some of the ideas as they apply to your life. That’s always my main goal…I am definitely convinced that a happy and meaningful life is tied to what we think comes (or doesn’t come) once our time here on Earth has passed…~Kathy

  52. Intensely fascinating – thank you for taking the time to research this and share it!
    SarahN recently posted…Goals Update – JulyMy Profile

  53. A friend of mine gifted me a copy of Dr. Alexander’s audiobook, and I subsequently picked up a paper copy. He certainly tells a convincing tale, AND has the scientific chops to back it up.

    I also recently reviewed a book on Deathbed Visions which included stories of NDE’s and ghostly visitations. *I* believe…

    that I don’t know. I think it is possible that the spirit/soul exists after death, and perhaps goes somewhere, perhaps lingers or visits loved ones. I like to think there is something like heaven, if not heaven & hell as described in certain religious texts.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted…Who Are You? Who Who, Who Who?My Profile

    • Hi Beverly….Thanks for taking the time to read through this post (I know it is even longer than usual!) and share some of your thoughts. I agree that someone of Dr. Alexander’s credentials make his story very compelling–but still I was amazed at how extreme some of his detractors were (there’s lots to be found on the internet–both for and against). Like I said, no one can make you believe either way if you are bound and determined to stick to your original thought. Still, because death is an unavoidable part of every one of our lives, I think it deserves openness and conversation–thanks for being part of it… ~Kathy

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