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

 Is There REALLY Proof of Heaven or Life After Death?

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?

62 Comments

Filed under Aware, Meaningful

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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Matheus Marques
    Twitter:

    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

  5. 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,
    Michelle

    • 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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!

  16. Dan C

    Maybe it is a women sitting up there on a throne

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. Porte-Parole

    Kathy,
    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.

    http://www.sensorium.org/sensingjapan/interview/kiuchi/profile/kiu_pro.html

    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).

    http://ameblo.jp/momojuuj/entry-10601890199.html

    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.

  22. 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: http://www.spiritoday.com/dr-peter-fenwick-interview/

    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

  23. 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

  24. Russell Shipman

    Hi
    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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. jo casey
    Twitter:

    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

  28. 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.

    Cheers!
    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

  29. 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

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

  31. 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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