Near Death Experiences
With the development of modern technology, more people today are likely to undergo experiences where they approach death, or even step over the line between the living and the dead before returning to a conscious state. Their descriptions of this experience are an increasingly popular topic for talk shows, books, television news and magazines. Although subject to ridicule and rationalisation by cynics, a growing number of people adamantly declare that they have experienced something transcendent and spiritual while they were physically dead before returning to the world of the living.
Interestingly, many of these experiences share certain common traits. Typical features include hearing someone refer to their death, "We're losing him," type comments. The patients may then feel that they have left their own body, and are able to look down at themselves from an external perspective. They are drawn toward a mystical, powerful light at the end of a tunnel, and feel a sense of peace and serenity. They are welcomed by a loved one or by may encounter a familiar religious figure. Patients then have vivid experiences of reviewing their lives, either as a series of episodes or in a flash. At some point they reach a boundary and return to life, with or without a choice being offered. Where the person feels that the choice was their own, consciousness of unfinished business or undispatched responsibilities may be sited as the motive for their return. The return to the body is often recorded as a blank, though others record this part of the experience as painful. Less often, the whole experience may be recalled as terrifying and Hellish, with anguish and dislocation as the key features.
People who have undergone near death experiences often report feeling literally revitalised by the event. They may approach life with a greater awareness of its value, or with a changed perspective about the importance of relationships as compared to mere material gain.
Stories of out of body travel can be found in almost all cultures. Whether the traveller is a priest, a Shaman or a mystic, records of these experiences share many common features with those described above. Of course, there is no physical proof of these experiences. They may well be biologically induced, the result of shock, trauma of oxygen deprivation to the brain. Perhaps these are glimpses of an afterlife, or perhaps they are simply psychological phenomena. However, the people who experience them remain convinced of their reality.
A 1982 Gallup poll estimated that eight million people have had a near death experience. Some of them trade their experiences in in Usenet. The International Association for Near-Death Studies for Near-Death Studies works to investigate these experiences at to improve our overall spiritual/psychological condition and understanding. Another page attempts to collect a diverse set of viewpoints. However, the escape from the grasp of death that characterises the context for these experiences is itself intriguing. Certainly, this just goes to show how little we know about death.
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