Physician says near-death experiences are evidence for life after death

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A hospital doctor has undertaken the “largest ever scientific study” of near-death experiences and concludes that it provides evidence for life after death.

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Radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long, based in Houma, Louisiana, has drawn on some 1,300 accounts of near-death experiences reported on a website. He makes the case for his conclusion in a new book written with Paul Perry, Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences (HarperCollins, 2010).

Through their work at the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, Dr. Long and his wife Jody have gathered thousands of accounts of near death experiences (NDE) from all over the world. In addition to sharing the personal narrative of their experience, visitors to the website are asked to fill out a 100 item questionnaire designed to isolate specific elements of the experience and to red flag any counterfeit accounts. These are maintained at the NDERF website.

Currently the database contains over 1,600 NDE accounts regarded as “legitimate”, far more than any other NDE research database in the world. The people whose stories are captured in the database span all age groups, races, and religious affiliations and come from all over the world, yet the similarities in their stories are as awe-inspiring as they are inexplicable.

Typically, people who have had a near-death experience report some or all of the following:

  • floating above their dead or dying body as a disembodied consciousness;
  • being drawn to a bright light, perhaps through a tunnel;
  • being immersed in light and love, or being greeted by beings of light and love, sometimes identified as spirit guides, angels or simply God;
  • meeting deceased friends and relatives;
  • reviewing the events of the life just lived, understanding its purpose and the impact on others;
  • seeing a symbolic landmark, such as a bridge, representing the point of no return;
  • being told “It is not your time yet,” or being given the choice to either stay in the afterlife or return to Earth life;
  • on returning to life, enjoying very positive psychological after-effects.

Medicine, says Dr. Long (below), cannot account for the consistencies in the accounts reported by people all over the world. Such consisteny cannot be chalked up simply to neurological reactions to medication or “everyone having seen the same Hollywood movie.”

Dr Long

One might argue that the “stereotypical” near-death experience is now so well known that people are just reporting what they believe the researchers want to hear. However, this does nto appear to be the case. Interviewed on MSNBC’s Today programme, Dr. Long argues:

I think if near-death experiences were culturally determined, then people that had never heard of near-death experiences would have a different experience. But we’re not finding that. Whether you know or don’t know about near-death experiences at the time it happens, it has no effect on whether the experience happens or not, or what the content is.

One line of evidence to come out of the research, for example, is the fact that even congenitally blind people have the same sorts of visual experiences as everyone else. (See for example this video.)

In an interview with Time magazine, Long says that a near-death experience has two components:

The person has to be near death, which means physically compromised so severely that permanent death would occur if they did not improve: they’re unconscious, or often clinically dead, with an absence of heartbeat and breathing. The second component [is that] at the time they’re having a close brush with death, they have an experience. [It is] generally lucid [and] highly organized.

Hundreds of research articles have been written over the last 35 years about the NDE. Long notes that there have been at least 20 “rational” explanations for the NDE put forward by skeptics. Not one of them is consistent with the gamut of actual evidence, however.

Long describes how this research has affected him personally:

I’m a physician who fights cancer. In spite of our best efforts, not everybody is going to be cured. My absolute understanding that there is an afterlife for all of us — and a wonderful afterlife — helps me face cancer, this terribly frightening and threatening disease, with more courage than I’ve ever faced it with before. I can be a better physician for my patients.

All religions the world over share a belief in the afterlife. Traditionally, this belief has had to be taken on faith. As the scientific evidence from NDEs accumulates, this may no longer be the case. Hoever, this does not, in itself, validate the teachings of any particular religion. Evidence of life after death does not, for example, prove that sinners go to Hell. Indeed, the evidence provided by NDEs actually contradicts many religious conceptions of the afterlife.

The collection of NDEs on Dr. Long’s NDERF website is well worth a look, and is a great contribution to the accumulation of evidence for the fact that, whatever our human personalities, we are all eternal spiritual beings.

Read more:

For more of my posts about near-death experiences, here’s an index:

PersonalitySpirituality.net

6 Responses to “Physician says near-death experiences are evidence for life after death”


  1. 1 Theresa 25 Jan 2010 at 2:09 am

    Hi Barry

    Thanks for the article and especially the link to the NDER website. Some of the experiences that I’ve managed to read have really been uplifting. The case of
    “Anita M’s NDE 2766″ was truly inspiring (not just the case experience, but her later comments also).

    • 2 - barry - 25 Jan 2010 at 7:03 am

      Great – thanks for the tip Theresa.

      You’re right. It’s one of the most remarkable and illuminating accounts I’ve read. It also verifies the notion of how our vibrational state creates our reality in life.

      For other readers: see http://www.nderf.org/anita_m%27s_nde.htm for this astonishing and very articulate account by woman of Indian descent living in Hong Kong. In April 2002 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and after nearly 4 years of battling the disease, she was taken to the intensive care unit of her local hospital in February 2006 where she was given less than 36 hours to live. As she was literally dying, she found “on the other side” that she could choose life instead, which she did with amazing consequences.

      barry

  2. 3 Anirudh Kumar Satsangi 29 Jan 2010 at 7:06 am

    In Bhagavad-Gita Lord SriKrishna says to Arjuna:

    “I taught this immortal Yoga to Vivasvan (sun-god), Vivasvan conveyed it to Manu(his son), and Manu imparted it to (his son) Iksvaku. Thus transmitted to succession from father to son, Arjuna, this Yoga remained known to the Rajarisis (royal sages). It has however long since disappeared from this earth. The same ancient Yoga has this day been imparted to you by Me, because you are My devotee and friend, and also because this is a supreme secret”.
    At this Arjuna said: You are of recent origin while the birth of Vivasvan dates back to remote antiquity. How, then, I am to believe that you taught this Yoga at the beginning of creation? Lord SriKrishna said: Arjuna, you and I have passed through many births. I remember them all, you do not remember.
    1. Radha Soami Faith was founded by His Holiness Param Purush Puran Dhani Huzur Soamiji Maharaj on the prayer of His Holiness Huzur Maharaj who later on became second Spiritual Head of Radha Soami Faith. The prime object of the Radha Soami Faith is the emancipation of all Jeevas (Souls) i.e. to take the entire force of consciousness to its original abode. There is a tradition of succession of Gurus or Spiritual Adepts in Radha Soami Faith. I am one of them as is evident from the following facts or ….
    “My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state.
    HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith.
    Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”

    • 4 - barry - 30 Jan 2010 at 2:24 pm

      And your point is?

  3. 5 Diane Yule 28 Feb 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I had what I believe to be an NDE when I was a child, about eight years old.

    For a while I had been having out of body experiences (or dreams, I don’t know), floating face downwards on the bedroom ceiling and seeing my sleeping body on the bed. This happened several times, perhaps between three and eight times, it is so long ago, I can’t remember. I remember I had a fear that I would float through the ceiling and would not reconnect with my body again. I also remember going back into my body which was a very unpleasant experience. I went into the side of my body (I know, it sounds mad, but true)- awful.

    One night, I floated towards the corner ceiling of the bedroom and began to go down a tunnel with a bright light at the end of it. When I eventually reached the tunnel, not so long, it was like looking through the porthole of a ship. It was very bright with a flowing, watery, goldy, silvery sort of appearance. There were some beings there who were looking through the “porthole” at me. I didn’t know them, I’m not sure if they were human, but I wasn’t afraid of them. One of them said to me “Go back”. I remained at the window and the same being or another,I can’t remember, said kindly but firmly “Go back, it’s not your time yet”.

    I don’t think I said anything, but I turned around and remember going back through the tunnel, into my bedroom and ultimately, back into my body.

    What I marvel about most is the phrase “It’s not your time yet”. As a young child, I don’t think I would have been exposed to this phrase, but I instinctively understood it. I can perhaps understand tunnel like experiences – lack of oxygen to the brain perhaps, but I have read so many NDE’s which mention the words “It’s not your time yet”.

    I am not a believer, but I find this tunnel experience enormously interesting.

    • 6 - barry - 28 Feb 2010 at 8:27 pm

      And what I marvel about most is the phrase “I am not a believer”!

      Thanks Diane,

      - barry


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