What’s it like to die?
That is the opening sentence to Dr. Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life which was first published in 1975. The phrase Near-Death Experience (NDE) coined by Dr. Moody doesn’t simply refer to coming close to death, but rather an event in someone’s life that gives rise to an other-worldly experience.
While teaching a philosophy course at a university, the subject of immortality would arise. Inevitably, each semester a student in this course would approach Dr. Moody to share an experience that student had had during a brush with death. After hearing several of these student remembrances, Dr. Moody noticed some commonalities that prompted him to conduct research into those experiences. The anecdotal evidence seemed to indicate there is a form of awareness that exists apart from normal consciousness. This awareness might provide some information about what awaits us after death of our physical bodies.
Here is a short list of the elements that frequently arose in Dr. Moody’s NDE research:
- Awareness of events from a perspective apart from the NDEr’s body
- Meeting and communicating with others particularly deceased loved ones
- Having a review of events that occurred throughout the NDEr’s life to that point
- Encountering a being of light that emanated love beyond what can be experienced in physical reality
The publication of Life After Life prompted many individuals to undertake their own analyses of NDEs. In 2009 The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences – Thirty Years of Investigation was published by Janice Holden, Bruce Greyson and Debbie James. This is an excellent reference manual for people who are interested in the research of NDEs.
People in all cultures around the world have had NDEs with similarities of experiences but also with culture-based differences. Of notable interest is the research into childhood NDEs where experiences arise in children before a child has been exposed to religious or cultural understanding of death.