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THE INFLUENCE OF A NEAR-DEATH

EXPERIENCE ON THE PERCEPTION OF A CALLING

By

Michael J. Nanko

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OVERVIEW

INTRODUCTION TO THE NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

-What is the near-death experience?

-Why do we hear so much about the near-death experience now?

ASSUMPTIONS about the near-death experience

Near-Death Experience SURVEY

CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

OVERVIEW

This paper is an exploration, a first-time study 1 about those unique individuals who have come "near-death" and who subsequently now sense a special "calling" to their lives. ~Vhat I intend to accomplish with this paper is threefold: Provide the reader with a fair survey on the state-of-the--

art of near-death experience research; bring to the surface some preliminary evidence (or intuitions) that persons who come near-death and have a "core" near-death experience, are more likely than not to come away with a new-found sense of purpose, calling or mission in life; furthermore, as a byproduct

of the efforts of this project I hope to facilitate the .process of understanding my own calling. Of course only the first two objectives are subject

to any scrutiny after reading this paper.

Since the reader is familiar with the ideas of CALLINGS and I could not

do much justice to the topic - - I shall only introduce and define what I understand, at this time, a calling to be. However, I hope it is not too presumptuous to venture that the reader is less acquainted with the general are of near-death research. Thus, disproportionate emphasis will be placed on discussing the near-death experience (NDE), that is, what is it and how is it experienced.

But first, let us consider what we mean by a calling. According to Webster's New World Dictionary a "calling" is defined as" "one's occupation, profession, or trade; as an inner urging toward some profession or activity; vocation." The Random House Dictionary adds that to "call" means (among many other things) " to summon to an office or duty; to summon by or: as if by divine command.;

a mystic experience of divine appointment to a vocation or service,"etc. William Coulson describes calling as the "individual's sense of something particular, special and unique to be done with his or her own life. At the one end, this sense of mission may come clearly from one's early background and its realization represent a summing up of what has been prepared for by life. On the other (end) it may be experienced as a divine call, a cosmic responsibility (1983)."

Gross' (1958) points out that the term "calling" refers to occupational situations in which the person's work is felt to be his whole life. He identifies with his work as a burden and feels an obligation somehow to be

good or highly proficient at it. This marks the distinction between the person who is totally dedicated to his occupation, and the person who looks upon

his occupation primarily as a means of income.

In CALLING: A Reappraisal of Religious Life, Joseph Sikora claims that:

"Every man is called by God to abandon the road which by nature he is inclined to t.ake , and to enter upon the road which leads to eternal life (p. 9)." Sikora and other religiously-oriented writings on "calling" that I have screened seem to indicate that we are all called by "God" with some differences. For example, Sikora believes that every man has his unique vocation to

respond to the particular call of C~d to him, as this call comes to him

in the many circumstances of his life. Hill (1979) in his writings on

John Milton discusses the differences Milton expounded on with regards

to calling. lulton wrote about the differences in meaning of vocation,

or call to God, between the Old and New Testaments. Milton makes a' : distinction betwe'en "universal" and "special" callings. General (universal) vocation is when God invites all men to a knowledge of his true Godhead,

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and this is done in a variety of ways. Special vocation however, means

"God calls some out of the entire human race ... to supernatural knowledge

of Jesus Christ our Redeeemer and to saving participation in his benefits

(Milton as cited in Hill, 1979, p. 14)."

It has become apparent, even in my limited exposure to the literature

on callings, that there are a myriad of perspectives on this topic.

It is a rich, provocative , and sometimes emotional subject area. For

the purposes of mutual understanding - - a "calling" for this paper

is not necessarily limited to any particular participation in an occupa-

tion or profession. Neither is calling limited to a religious context

of divine call. Rather, without interpretation at this moment as to its

stimulus or origin, a call will be considered as similar to Coulson's

way of describing it: " a sense of something particular, special or unique

to be done", it is a sense of purpose, meaning I and direction in life.

It is ever-changing and process-oriented.

,

It .1'3 a sense of destiny and

it feels "right '~ .

Let us now turn to an inspection of the Near-Death Experience.

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INTRODUill:ION_TO NDE

Descriptions of the experiences of persons who almost die in the course of severe illness or injury, or who are believed to be dead but subsequently revive or are resuscitated, have been preserved in writings dating back to antiquity. The Bible and several works of anthropology include such examples. Recent reviews of such accounts have been collected from the literature of medicine and psychology (Steve~son & Greyson 1979), of parapsychology (Rogo 1978), and of religion and folklore (Holck 1978). Accounts of these neardeath experiences have prompted an unusual, and at times bitter, debate among medical and psychological professionals. The last two meetings of the

American Psychological Association are good instances of these vitriolic exchanges.

vmat is the near-death experience?

When people come very close to physical death or pass into a temporary state of clinical death marked by the absence of heartbeat, respiration,

and other vital signs, they often report upon their recovery a remarkable experience which they say occurred to them while on the threshold of death. Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of this experience has to do with the findings that it seems to be much the same from person to person. That is, no matter what the person's race, cultural background, religious persuasion or social standing, the near-death experience (hereafter referred to as NDE) tends to follow a common pattern. And, almost always, that pattern is characterized by inexpressable beauty, peace and, ultimately, transcendance. The above pattern can be broken down further to delineate "principal features of NDE!! (Moody, 1975):

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a A feeling of extreme ease, peace and well-being a Finding oneself out of one's physical body.

a Floating or drifting through a dark tunnel or passageway.

a Perceiving a brilliant golden or golden-yellow light which seems to radiate warmth, love and unconditional acceptance.

o A telepathic and non-judgmental encounter with a lIpresencell or

"being of light".

o A panoramic life review.

a Entering into a transcendent realm of almost indescribable beauty.

o Meeting with deceased loved ones or spiritual guides who inform the individual that he or she must return to earthly life.

vfuen considering the NDE, it is this composite set of principal features one has in mind. It should be emphasized, however, that most persons do not experience all these features and that not everyone who comes ciose to death will report an NDE. An individual, hcwever , who does have an NDE will tend to describe one which is fundamentally similar to that pattern listed above.

There are a few additional observations about the NDI that needs mention in this introductory section:

a Near-death survivors say the experience is quite unlike that of a dream or hallucination, but is "unquestionably realtf•

o During the NDE, one's mind and senses seem to be functioning at an extremely acute level.

o Experients of these near-death episodes tend to lose permanently all fear of death and become more loving, compassionate and spiritually-oriented individuals.

o In a smaller pr-opor-ti.on of cases, information is received by the

experient that is considered ostensibly paranormal, i.e. precog-

nitive or clai~voyant.

o Also from the scientific point of view, there is no generally

accepted explanation for NDEs.

Why do we hear so much about the NDE no"d

George Gallup Jr. of the reknown Gallup polling organization has recently

published a book, Adventures in Immortality (1982), in which he presents Gallup

survey data on the number of near-death survivors there are and'of that number

how many appear to have had NDEs. According to Gallup's figures (sampling

error of 3%), about one in seven adult americans bave corne close to death at

least onee. And approximately one in twenty adult Americans, or about 5% of

our population, has had an NDE. ~nen one translates these fractions into total

numbers we find that of 160 million adults, 23 million could statistically be

claimed to have come close to death and 8 million have reported an NDE. Thus,

a lot of people living today have had an NDE.

Secondly, it has only been during the 1970's that the NDE has become truly

know~ to the general public. In large measure, this has been due to the

pioneering research and writing of two individuals: the SwiSs;.-born

thanatologist, nisabeth Kubler-Ross, and the American philosopher/physician,

Raymond Moody, Jr. Moody's best selling book, Life After Life (1975), which

has been translated in some 35 languages, supported Kubler-Ross's earlier

findings that she wrote about in On Death And Dying (1969). Both have

affected our view of death cn an international scale.

1 Ooe reason miqht be that medical techno1ooy increases the numbers of patients who wll1 C::llrV1VR fn!'> revlved) orim rncr cl_os!'> rnpti!'>i'lth.thE'>x!'>fnr!'>. mo r a npnn]_~ Ilvlna to talk

Many other studies conducted by physicians (Greyson & Stevenson 1980; SaboID & Kreutziger 1978), nurses (Osis 1961), psychologists and sociologist (Hunter 1967; Canning 1970), have since been reported wh.i.ch confirms and extend the results originally described by Kubler-Ross and Moody. the wor-k of thesG) two was very striking and opened some eyes and minds, however, better work has

since been done with regards to methodology, Kenneth Ring, a professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, has expanded upon this

early research with help;from academic and physician colleagues and has derived from the data 5 Tfstages" of the NDE (1980). The core NDE, for Ring, appears to unfold in a characteristic .ray. He found that the earlier stages of the experience where most common and that, overall, the apparent later stages manifest themselves with systematically decreasing frequency. Thus, it seems that not only are some of the "principal features" (listed prior) are more common than others, but also that they are meanigfully ordered in frequency.

The first stage relates to the affected accompaniment of this experience.

For example, the feelings of peace and contentment. A large number of NDE interviewees never get beyond this stage.

The second stage is one of detachment from onels body. Just less than half of all cases reached this stage. Most of these persons 'expressed a sense of being totally separated from their body. Of these out-of-body episodes a third claim that they had distinct and clear experience of looking do.m on their

body. Most of those reporting this phenomenon commented that they found all this very natural at the time and aware of acute hearing and sharp but

detached mental processes. Visually, the environment was often described as very brilliantly lighted.

The third stage seems to Ring to be a transitional one between "this world" and whatever may be said to lie I~eyond". Entering the darkness. This space

is characterized as peaceful, without dimension, and movement is

indescribable. Respondents often report a "tunnel exper-Ience" and a sense that they floated or drifted through it. In total, about 25-30% of tIDE repo~ts include this experience.

In stage four, one-sixth of Ring!s sample and majority of MoodyTs samples report that they saw a light. They usually describe it as a brilliant golden light. This light is never said to hurt the eyes or difficult to look at. On the contrary, it is claimed to be restful, comfortable, and very beautiful. Virtually all NDE experiencers felt drawn to the light and many felt enveloped by it.

The last stage suggested by the data and experienced by over one-tenth of Ring's sample and by a higher percentage of Sabom's (1982) respondents, is called "entering the light.1I Typically, one finds oneself in another world so to speak. "It is a world of preternatural beauty. The colors are unforgettable." There might be physical or natural-style structures that do

not correspond exactly to anything in our world. This also is the stage in which "presences" are seen or felt. In Moody, Kubler-Ross, Ring, Osis and Haraldsson, and other NDE research, respondents in this state report being greeted by deceased relatives and other loved ones. In a few cases, the presence is not always described as analogous to our regular senses. Some have chosen to describe the experience more along the lines of telepathic sort of interaction.

As Ring has reported his data~ the number of NDE cases decline markedly

through the five stages. That is, most persons do not experience all five

stages, but eventually return to ordinary consciousness from an intermediate

stage. This brings on the question as to how does the NDE terminate. vmat is

the return trip like?

The respondents who could answer this question reported that the experience

tends to end abruptly and that they have no awareness of how they "got back.1I

A few persons, however, reported that they had the impression they returned via

lithe tunnel.lI Ring also categorizes the types of "return trips;"

1) About 40% said basically that they return abruptly without any knowledge of why it ended when it did.

2) Another 10% said that they felt that they simply "willed" themselves back. They were determined that they would not die.

3) Another small percentage (10%) found themselves exhorted or enjoined to go back by the spirits of loved ones. They were told such things as It your time has not come yet" or lIyou still have work to doll or "you must take care of your childrenlt or It your family needs you,!! etc. This pattern of return was exemplified mostly by those who reached Ring's fifty stage of the NDE.

4) The fourth pattern, characteristic of another 40% of the respondents

in Ring's sample of NDErs is quite extraordinary. For these individuals There is an awareness of a IIpresence.1I In some cases, the presence

is seen~ in others it was either sensed or intuited. Moody, Ring and others have also described the "be.ing of lightt1 as the same as a presence of some sort. Along with this being of light might be

auditory or telepathic-like communication to the NDEr. The presence conveys a very definite message to the experiencer. The brunt of the communication from the presence is usually that the individual has reached a point where it is up to him to decide whether he or she wishes to go on further into the experience or return to the body. In some interesting cases,

the presence will lay down the consequences of such a decision. In rare instances, the respondent would claim that he was provided information which would occur in the future if he chose to go back to his body. The resultant experience is that the individual is facilitated to take stock

of his life in such a way as to make the necessary decision. In this type of case, the person is afforded various kinds of life reviews via flash-· forwards~ flashbacks, and other ways to revieYl one's life.

Before the work of Mood# and Kubler-Ross became well-known, many people who had had such near-death experiences were afraid or reluctant to talk or write about them for fear of ridicule - or worse, leading others to believe that they were somehow "cr azy . II About 21% of the patients intensively interviewed by

Dt'. Garfield at the Cancer Research Institute of the University of California School of ~edicine in San Francisco reported NDE experiences in the pre-terminal or terminal phases of their illnesses. Based on 173 dying patients he found that their general reluctance to report these perceptions, was directly related to the fear of either being labelled l1insane" or having their experiences disqualified as hallucinatory. Indeed, before NDE research and its accompanying publicity many thought that the NDE was unique to themselves, and that they had no framework to help comprehend it or how to communicate it to others.

Assm1PTIONS

Although the field of NDE research is relegated to the study of anecdotal reports, no one undertakes such research without certain assumptions as to Uwhat will happen." Of course, eveniihose assumptions are vague or implicit, they exert a guiding influence on what one chooses to examine and how that examination is to be conducted.

The assumptions guiding contemporary interest in NDEs can be divided into the f'o Ll.ow.i.ng very general groups:

1. The rtParapsychologicalrt assumption states that the mind can become independent of the body and separate from the physical dimension. For many, this possibility that the mind can function in other realms of existence suggests that the "mind" can possibly survive physical death.

2. The "Psychophysiological" assumption has also been useful to some physiologists, psychologists, and parapsychologists looking to explain veridical material gained during out-of-body experiences (OBEs)

without subscribing to the idea that the mind can be independent of

the body. This approach typically postulates that the aBE or NDE is

a complex tapestry of hallucinatory material and psychically-derived information. Such an assumption, while leaving the explanation of psychic processes undetermined accommodates almost all aspects of the aBE or NDE: The veridical information acquired is attributed to the psi-conducive properties of the condition, and non-veridical contents are simply fantasy-constructs of the unconscious which provide a subjectively compelling flexplanation" for the origin of the information.

3. The "Pathologicalt! assumption states that NDEs are the result of a mind disorganized by abnormal psychophysiological conditions such as' toxicity, lobe seizures, or other traumas to the brain and body. Any pattern in the "content" of the NDEs or suggestions of their transformative effects are explained by psychology/psychiatry as ego-defensive maneuvers designated to deal with the disrupting condition. Several such examples have been suggested in the NDE literature: depersonalization, regression, autoscopy, and indiscriminate acceptance of all afferent stimuli (Noyes & Klett~, 1976).

4. The lIj1..rchetypall1 assumption states that a variety of abnormal conditions can activate latent unconscious processes (matrices) deep in the mind. producing the archetypal elements which constitute NDEs. This point

of view first came to my attention in the work of Stanislov Grof and

Joan Halifax (1979) who advocate that certain neurological substrate

of the mind are the basis of man's personality and therefore should 2

be investigated to gain deeper understanding of human nature. Of

course, Jung's psychology is the principle foundation of the archetypal

implications of the NDEs •. Especially relevant here is the rebirth

archetype.

It is true that because NDEs are such rich and varied experiences and so

little understood, that their features can be "massaged" to support almost an

of the above assumptions. It is reasonable to assume that each of these four

assumptions may have some validity and that the most comprehensive explanation

may be that the tIDE is amalgam of pathological, psychological, and

parapsychological components which are intergrally intertwined in ways that we

may likely never fully understand.

NDE SURVEY

Although I have from time to time talked with individuals who have been near-

death, and could summarize that data, it is the assignment that "liveTl bodies

be interviewed for our papers. Is is indeed an awkward position to make any

analysis based on three respondents to a verbal survey. Yet, my past experience

in talking with others informally leads me to feel· at least marginally

confortable with the presentation to follow.

Because I wished not to lead or cue the respondent I asked only three basic

questions:

1) Please tell me the specafic conditions that precipitated your NDE?

(That is, were you in an accident? Surgery? Illness? 'fuat about the

medical reports tells us you-wer-e near--deat.h.j

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2.) Please tell me what you experienced when you were near-death?

3.) ~lliat would you like to do with the rest of your life?

~r after your ND~ did you have a sense of purpose or mission in life?)

The three persons intervie#CWere not acquaintances of mine. One was referred

to me by a friend in Santa Barbara; another from the Southern California Society for Psychical Research; and one from IANDS:

RESPONSES

Question #1) All three had their NDE precipitated by a hospital surgery:

Cardiac catheterization; abdominal surgery; and one was a tonsillectomy.

Question #2) A woman named Helen felt she left her body, went through a cylindrical

void~ being next to a beautiful light that grew brighter and wider. "I felt my-

self not only being drawn~o but becoming part of that magnificent golden white

light.

,)

It surrounded me, it filled me; I felt that it was part of me, she says.

She also experienced novel sounds and visions, including being in a "boundless area,

warm, beautiful and all-encompassing. 11 No fear, just a knowing, peace, love, and

serenity. She was met in this episode by her deceased parents, along with other

people. HI sensed a pervading feeling of complete unity and love and was aware of

some presence. :which some may call God, Christ, or total Cosmic Consciousness ~ n

She had rTtelepathic communication" with parents who told her she cannot stay.

Virginia1s experience was 23 years ago. She found herself elevated in the

hospital operating table after she went into cardiac arrest after a tonsillec~

tomy. She saw dark mist and clouds all about •• no fear ••• no pain ••• no

other feelings than a sense of love, peace and JOY. Ineffable~really. Saw a circle of light (see next page) ...

3 IANDS= The International Assn for Near-Death Studies located at Univ. of Connecticut.

in distance and "this indescribable beautiful feeling of love was coming from the

light~and drawing me toward it. I knew instantly that the light was God. I

was not a religious person at the time, but I knew it was God." As she was

moving toward the light she thought of her two kids for the first time. She

knew that her children needed her and thus she had to go back, although reluctantly.

She emotionally states, III wanted to stay and go to the light. I made a logical

and unemotional decision to return to my children.1I

Iris had a delayed reaction to abdominal surgery and went into a coma wherein

her heartstoppeBeating. She also saw herself from another vantage point in ( out-of-body)

her hospital room. She was concerened with the (necessary) things that the

doctors were doing to her body, etc and the pain her ''body'' looked like it was

in. She was then suddenly drawn to a black tunnel •

"I moved quickly • • •

frightened and excited •

• I felt peace , without pain, and free." Th.ere was

a bright light at end of tunnel • • . saw a valley

unearthly music experienced

.••• saw figures of people dressed in shrouds who called her by name. A man

in a white beard told her to go back-her family still needs her enjoy your

life. This man was her grandfather who died two years earlier.

Question #3) Helen said that after she recovered she began to feel a joy and

a sense of "purpose" and a courage that ITI never knew existed in me. I seemed

to be seeing all of life with eyes that not only looked different but saw

everything differently." Helen feels that it is her mission as a laype-rson to

bring crucial information about the NDE to society. She has started writing about

her experience, she has participated in a film, she has been on television and radio,

and changed from a somewhat introverted person to a social flower. She still

has some pain and sorrow, but they are now easily overcome.

Virginia feels that she is best suited in life as "a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. I am a homemaker. I love being a homemaker and I am a very good homemaker. I have no particular talents (?) I am just a plain ordinary person.1I Since tnis experience occurred when Virginia was 20 she has had 23 years to reflect and try to understand the experience. She was meant to be who she is, nothing more, nothing less.

"Lf we could all have the opportunity of seeing my valley rim her NDE) during

the course of our lifetime, how much more purposeful our lives would be,~ exclaims Iris. My experience helps me in everyday life and also in dealing with patients

I worked with as a medical assistant and now as a respiratory therapy technician. She went back to school to train for the latter position so that she could help and touch and understand all those people in similar conditions to the one she was in. She states, !'Intuitively, I know by their searching eyes (patients) and/or by their anger who of my patients have gone beyond orthodox medical understanding. And wonderfully, I have connected with other critical care specialists who intuitively

understand more than we have been formally taught.1t Iris feels that she must try and help bring "compassion" to medicine in her own small way and to try and connect psychologically with some of the difficult and dying patients.

CONCLUSION

Although the sample of participants in this survey is extremely limiting, there

is still however some important findings to be offered. It is interesting to note that all three participants had what would be considered a Itcorelt NDE. They experienced all five stages that Ring outlined in his wcr-k , t-!oreover, all ... three

had a Itpeak" experience, including some synchronicity-like events that were quite

dramatic. All three were admittedly lInot religiouS'lI at the time they had their

NDE. Yet all three now report to me that they may not follow a specific religion

,i

per se, however, they are more \'religiousi' or 'sp iz-L tual than they have ever been.

Two of my interviewees experienced deceased relatives while in their NO episode.

Also, two felt the presence of "God" or "Cosmic Consciousness.lI I came away with

the feeling that all three may have felt that they experienced a Godhead through

their experience of the light at the end of the tunnel. The love they expressed

for living£however, at first they were angry and depressed for having to come back to this lif~~ is close to being unconditional' :they fe-Lt; a. renewed' sense of love for themselves, family, friends, at for society at large.

Even though Virginia claims that she is Honly a homemakerl1 I contend that I was

lucky to talk with three individuals, whom had a common experience, and whom all

had a sense of "calling 11 after their experience, albeit of different degrees. I

would also conjecture that the calling experie~ed ' by Iris is the most special or

genuine, almost a divine call. Helen appeared to say the "rightltthings, yet she

also sounded like a polished used-car salesperson. Virginia1s NDE gave clarity to

her mission or purpose in life, and she became good at it.

All three have a sense of purpose, meaning and direction. All have a feeling of

connectedness with their world and a "God." They are committeq to others, both in

altruistic and self-serving ways. None felt they had any talent to offer other than

themselves as a person. All felt they were doing the right thing in their lives,

but none felt they had "arrived," had finished growing and contributing. Hithout

asking, I received the impression that none of the three considered themselves as

doing anything truly special now (with the possible exception of Helen) , however, there were perceived differences in what they were doing before and after the NDE (especially in their philisophy of living) .

While writing about this topic two thoughts came to mind: The rebirth archetype and the idea of "supernatural renovation" which H~ll brings out of Hilton's writings. I would like to just scratch the surface of what these thoughts

might mean to the present study. Supernatural renovation is the divine operation which, according to Milton, "restores man's natural faculties of fautless· understanding and of free will more comp Le t.ed.y than before" and, in addition,

" makes the natural faculties into the minds of those who are made new (Milton

as quoted in Hill, 1979, p. 4)." Milton made the distinction between natural

and supernatural renovation; the former depends on a humanly-generated response to the divine call, the latter is the work totally of God alone. This regeneration and "special calling" (vocatio specialis), is indeed an issue that could

be pursued in relationship to those who survive their encounter with death, experience the "core" NDE, feel they have been made anew,including a fresh orientation to religiousity or spirituality, and with a sense of calling.

The three women I interviewed are as close to renovated and "called" individuals as I have met in some time.

The second thought. In Archetype of the Collected Unconscious, Jung had a lot

to say about rebirth, which I feel has several parrallels to the content and meaning of the NDE. This form of the archetype concerns rebirth wi thin the span of an individual life. A key word is renewal. "Rebirth may be a renewal without

any change of being, inasmuch as the personality which is renewed is not changed in its essential nature, but only in its functions, or parts of the personality, are subjected to healing, strengthening, or improvement."

Jung and others since him cite voluminous examples of the rebirth archetype on

micro and macro levels. In any case, Jung believes that all ideas of rebirth are

founded on the fact that " nature herself demands a death and rebirth. " Likewise,

the process of individuation requires constant transformations and rebirths. This

process of rebirth into"another being" can be the other person in ourselves - -

that larger and greater personality maturing within us~ whom we have already met

as the inner friend of the soul. This could be the "post-NDE" personality.

Rebirth is not a tangible process that we can observe and display to others.

It is not a thing, it is a "psychic reality" which is expressed only in verbal

statements. We can only infer from the active imaginations, the dreams, the

feelings, and the experiences of the individual.

The argument could be made that the NDE is like an archetypal rebirth. For example,

the person experiences the dark tunnel and passess through until he reaches the

"light" (and the enlightenment), there are very profound changes (as we have

noted in the survey and the general NDE literature). There are quite often

changes in perception, outlook, a renewed zest for life, and a "spiritual"

orientation that was nor demonstrated before. And in 80% of all NDErs there

is a consistent report on "fear of death" scales and related measures that this

fear is dramatically reduced or absent (at least on this level). By no means

am I making the case that these wonderful traits come automatically or immediately

after the NDE. One is not "filled with rebirth" immediately. It takes place

during the long process of physical and psychological healing.

<tJ"Y._

Since I cannot pursue this line any further now,I shall close the rebirth/NDE

idea with some closing remarks. Research on the NDE may be unfolding a series

of facts which may support the hypothesis that we experience something very much

like a rebirth during this discreet state of consciousness. It is the collective psychic structure that functions to assist the human personality during this monumental crisis of individuation. According to Jung's work, this archetypal experience will contain the psychic wisdom and racial memory of mankind. The collective unconscious or the collective experience of the human race has therefore come up with this rebirth-like experience as the best possible way to exit this life. It is optimally functional in an evolutionary perspective. This might

be what could .be called a "healthy death" which is a paradoxical statement itself.

Enough speculation. The NDE is a subjective and highly personal exploration of an inner state. Although we may suggest theories regarding the nature of

this phenomenon, the experience of death stands as an existential reality outside the present limits of empirical knowledge. Regardless of whether this experience is "real" or hallucinatory, it profoundly changes the life of the ND survivor and results .Ln some sense of a II calling" for their life.

REFERENCES

Canning, R. Mormon return-from-the-dead stories. Utah Academy Proceedings,XLII cited in THE SOCIOLOGY OF DEATH, by Glen Vernon. New York:The Ronald Press 1970.

Coulson, W. & Coulson, J. AN INVITATION: To Inquire About Calling. USIU course handout, March 1983.

Gallup, G. Jr., & Proctor, H. ADVENTURES IN IMMORTALITY • New York:~1cGraw-Hill 1982

Garfield, C. More grist for the mill: Additional ND resea~ch findings and discussion. ANABIOSIS NEY1SLETTE~, Vol. 1 (1), May 1979.

Grof, S. & Halifax, J. THE HUMAN DICOUNTERS WITH DEATH. New York: Dutton 1977.

Gross, E. HOP.K AND SOCIETY. New York: Crowell, 1948.

Hill, J. S. JOHN HILTON: POET, PRIEST, and PROPHET. London: Hill, 1979.

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