I listened to an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Long, a Near-Death Experience (NDE) researcher. And although the topic is familiar to me, it was a reminder that the NDEs are all pointing to what’s already here.
Any story, and any cosmology, is pointing to what’s already here in our experience.
What are some common features of NDEs? And what do I find if I use them as pointers for what’s here?
ALL AS THE DIVINE
A common experience in NDEs is of all as the divine, and beyond what we can easily put words on.
It may seem very different from our daily life experience, but we can find the essence of it here and now and bring the noticing to life and allow it to transform us.
In a conventional sense, we are this human self. That’s not wrong.
And yet, is it what we most fundamentally are in our own first-person experience? What do we find when we look a little closer?
We may find we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what all our experiences happen within and as. We can make this noticing into a habit and explore how to live from it. And we can allow this to transform our perception, life, and human self in the world.
The easiest approach to finding this may be through some simple structured inquiries, guided by someone familiar with the terrain and guiding others. Personally, I find the Big Mind process and Headless experiments most effective here.
LOVE, PEACE, HOME, ACCEPTANCE
Most report a sense of infinite love, of profoundly coming home, a deep peace, and a deep acceptance.
When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what all our experiences happen within and as, we find these as characteristics of what we are and this noticing.
All our experiences happen within our sense fields, and they are part of a seamless whole. Noticing this oneness invites a love independent of feelings and states. Since this is what we more fundamentally are and always have been, there is a profound sense of finding home. And there is also an inherent acceptance in this since it already allows and takes the form of whatever is here.
NO BODY / SINGLE EYE
People with NDEs often report panoramic vision, a vision free from depending on the two eyeballs, and generally sensing free from physical sense organs.
When we find that all our experiences are happening within our sense fields, we may also find that it’s all happening within and as what we are. Here, we notice that all our experiences are happening within our seamless field of experience. In a conventional sense, we still see with eyes, hear with ears, and so on. But in our direct experience, it’s all much more immediate.
The thought that we see through the eyes, hear through the ears, sense with the skin, and so on, is still correct in a conventional sense. But it becomes peripheral and the more immediate experience and noticing of what’s here in the sense fields take center stage.
Some report a kind of life review. They get to see a series of instances from their life and the impact their actions had on themselves and others.
Our mind always seeks to process unprocessed material and experiences. It brings it up in daily life and dreams. Often not as explicit memory, but in the form of contractions and reactivity. We may not even notice it, or we notice just a feeling or discomfort without recognizing what’s behind it. And often, the resolution and healing process doesn’t go further unless we actively engage with it and allow and invite deeper and more thorough processing.
In this sense, the life review is ongoing. And we can engage with it more intentionally through therapy, inquiry, and so on.
A few who experience NDEs report a kind of hellish experience. It may be turmoil, despair, confusion, anger, struggle, and so on.
This too is part of our daily life experience. If we look for it, most of us can even find it here and now even if it’s at a very low level.
It’s what happens anytime we identify with a struggle with what’s here in our experience.
Following an NDE, many say their life is transformed.
It leads to changing our priorities and putting what’s most important – typically connections, love, service – at the center, and the rest more in the periphery.
It leads to appreciating life in a fresh way. They find a deeper appreciation of life as it is.
It leads to a realization that we are not, most fundamentally, this human self.
If we explore what’s on this list and make it into a part of our daily life, that too leads to this type of transformation. It transforms our perception, orientation, and life in the world.
These types of NDEs are found across cultures. There is a universality to them.
And the same universality is here when it comes to finding what we most fundamentally are in our own experience, and the rest on this list.
HOW CLOSE IS THE MATCH?
I imagine it’s easy to look at this list and think: Yeah, this is contrived and an intellectual exercise. The two – NDEs and what’s here now – are obviously very different.
So how close is the match between the two?
On the surface, it can certainly seem like an intellectual exercise – until we engage with it ourselves, examine it, and actually find it all here and now. Then, we see that the essence is the same. What’s in an NDE is no different from what’s already here, and what we can find when we look.
And finding this in daily life can be as transformative as any NDE experience.
MY OWN STORY
I have been fascinated by NDEs since I first heard about it when I was eight or ten years old. I read anything I could find about it, even back then.
Why? At the time, I didn’t really know. I was just fascinated by it.
Later, I have seen some connections.
When I was little, before school age, I had flashbacks to an earlier time. There was a profound sense of being home, infinite love, all as consciousness, profound understanding, and so on. I was without body, and there were other beings there – infinitely loving and wise – I communicated with now and then. It was all golden light and consciousness. These flashbacks would often happen when I sat outside and saw the light filtered through the leaves of birch trees.
Later, when I was in my teens, I realized that this seemed like flashbacks to a time before this incarnation. I realized that this was very similar to what people describe in NDEs.
And when the initial awakening shift happened in my mid-teens (age sixteen), I also realized that the essence of these flashbacks pointed to what’s already here, and what was revealed in the awakening shift.