What do Near Death Experiences Tell Us About the Afterlife and Ourselves?
Paul Raushenbush teamed with Huffington Post to discuss Near Death Experiences (NDEs) with three of the most prominent figures in the field.
There are many people who report having had near death experiences (NDEs). I’m sure you’ve heard at least one or two personal accounts on the topic, and many people seem to be very interested in learning about the possible afterlife. These NDE accounts tend to reach toward our most innate questions, the ones that everyone has, regardless if they believe in a God or if they are non-believers. Paul Raushenbush with Huffington Post, and the host of All Together podcast, sat down to discuss three people’s stories about the afterlife.
Dr. Eben Alexander
Dr. Eben Alexander is one of the most well-known people who claims to have experienced a Near Death Experience. Before his experience, he considered himself agnostic. However, after a week-long coma, he awoke with a whole new perspective. He wrote two best sellers about his story: Proof of Heaven and Map of Heaven. His memories after his coma are, for him, as fresh as the day they happened. Dr. Alexander gets “confirmation from hundreds of people” that it’s the same for them. The experience from Alexander’s perspective was like becoming one with everything “as part of the understanding and knowing”. He feels that the brain doesn’t create consciousness, and instead consciousness is a part of the whole universe. When our physical body dies, our awareness is released from “the physical brain with a whole new understanding.” After his NDE, he did some research and found that “there’s a commonality that far outweighs the differences in experiences,” adding that the real barrier is the language we use to describe these experiences. It makes it difficult to see “the deeper reality and commonality that goes back thousands of years in culture that are independent of our religious underpinnings.”
Reverend Craig Darling
Reverend Craig Darling founded the Companis Workers Association. He experienced an NDE years ago. He explained to Raushenbush that he flat lined after a congenital malfunction occurred in his sinus cavity. He recalled the experience as one that “changed my life for the better.” He laughed as he shared the sensation of his body floating up, how he could see himself laying there with the staff members looking solemn and thinking, “wow, these people need to lighten up.” The second experience, he says, was much harder to describe because “no senses in the human body can help me help you to understand.” This, and other experiences he discusses in the podcast, have brought him to the conclusion that “the energy from which we come, the energy to which we are now, and the energy to which we return is all the same.”
Professor Greg Garrett
Professor Greg Garrett teaches at the Baylor University. He wrote Entertaining Judgement: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination, a novel that digs into the way our culture depicts heaven, purgatory, hell, angels and demons. He starts off discussing how often many people picture “fluffy cloud heaven” if the topic is brought up. His book is based on a wide range of different stories of people’s experiences, stories and pop culture. The primary force behind the book is his love for the “stories we tell to make meaning,” whether you are religious or not, as well as why we select these stories and the way we make use of them.