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Near Death Experiences

Evidence for an Afterlife? +  

The following article is an excerpt (Chapter 2 in its entirety) from the best-selling book Evidence of an Afterlife, by Jeffrey Long M.D. with Paul Perry (HarperOne, 2009), reproduced with kind permission of the author and publisher. You can purchase a copy of the book from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

JOURNEY TOWARD UNDERSTANDING

Build it and they will come.
— W. P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams

The year was 1998, and I was now in Las Vegas practicing the medical specialty of radiation oncology. The nineties was the decade in which the Internet exploded. Everyone was rapidly becoming smitten with this big brain in the sky, and I was no different.

Despite the steep learning curve of building websites with primitive software and slow connections, I had decided in 1997 to build the Radiation Oncology Online Journal (ROOJ.com) as a way of sharing credible information about this medical specialty with the world. It took a tremendous amount of time and effort outside of my clinical practice to assemble this nonprofit website, which I maintain as a way of providing solid information to the public about cancer treatment.

By the time I completed the ROOJ site I was an expert in website computer code. Then the idea hit me: build a website that will collect near-death experience case studies. By doing this I could amass a large number of NDE stories from around the world. Working with a large number of NDEs is important because medical studies involving a large study group produce more reliable results than do those studying a small group of people.

I built on the curiosity and work of those who had gone before me. Over the ten years since I heard Sheila recount her personal story, I had stayed in close contact with research in the field of near-death studies. Hundreds of scholarly articles had been written on near-death experience, including publications in many of the world’s most prestigious medical and scientific journals. I read the works of many major NDE researchers, including those of Dr. Moody; Melvin Morse, MD; Bruce Greyson, MD; Michael Sabom, MD; and Ken Ring, PhD. I also found myself fascinated with some of the individual stories, like that of Betty Eadie (Embraced by the Light). All of these books relied heavily on case studies. These stories of individual NDErs fed the sense of mystery I associated with this subject.

Now I was even more interested in searching for the truth than I had been ten years earlier. The implications of these experiences were so profound that I wanted to research the subject to determine if they were truly real. Read more »

Death Before Life After Life +  

In December 1943, as World War II raged across the European continent, Private George Ritchie lay perilously close to death in a Texas military hospital suffering from a severe case of pneumonia. The twenty-year-old had recently completed his basic training, and was booked on the next day’s train to Richmond to study as a doctor at the Medical College of Virginia. However, as a fever took hold, his body temperature soared above 106 degrees. On the cold winter’s night of December 20 1943, Private Ritchie left on another, far stranger journey:

I heard a click and a whirr. The whirr went on and on. It was getting louder. The whirr was inside my head and my knees were made of rubber. They were bending and I was falling and all the time the whirr grew louder. I sat up with a start. What time was it? I looked at the bedside table but they’d taken the clock away. In fact, where was any of my stuff? I jumped out of bed in alarm, looking for my clothes. My uniform wasn’t on the chair. I turned around, then froze. Someone was lying in that bed.

Private Ritchie didn’t stop to think any further, assuming that he had slept through the night and was now late for his Virginia-bound train. He rushed out into the corridor and attempted to gain the attention of an approaching sergeant. However, the sergeant appeared not to see him and brushed past without the slightest acknowledgement.

The young private decided to take matters into his own hands, and dashed down the corridor toward the exit, a pair of swinging metal doors. Suddenly he found himself flying through the air faster than he’d ever travelled before. When he finally came to a halt, Private Ritchie realised with amazement that he had traveled to his desired destination, Richmond – “one hundred times faster than any train could.” Despite still wearing his army-issue hospital pyjamas, he approached a civilian stranger to ask for some bearings, but realised to his distress that this man didn’t appear to see him either. While that fact disturbed Private Ritchie, what followed left him gaping. Reaching out his left hand to tap the man on the shoulder, he found to his astonishment that his hand passed straight through the stranger’s body.

At this point, Private George Ritchie realised that he was dead:

And suddenly I remembered the young man I had seen in the bed in that little hospital room. What if that had been … me? Or anyhow, the material, concrete part of myself that in some unexplainable way I’d gotten separated from. What if the form which I had left lying in the hospital room in Texas was my own?
And if it were, how could I get back to it again?

Within an instant of this thought he found himself rushing back to the army hospital, where he desperately searched ward after ward for his physical body. Scanning the faces of sleeping soldiers, Private Ritchie was at wit’s end when he finally came aross a body covered with a sheet. Noticing the onyx and gold fraternity ring on the middle finger of the cadaver’s hand, he was, not surprisingly, only slightly relieved to realise that this corpse was his own body.

Suddenly the room got much brighter, and a ‘being of light’ appeared to Private Ritchie. Suddenly, the episodes of his life played out before him – “everything that had ever happened to me was simply there, in full view, contemporary and current, all seemingly taking place at the same time” – while ‘the Light’ asked one simple question: “What did you do with your life?” It is important to note however, that at no time did Ritchie feel that he was being judged by the being. After this review of his life, the being – whom the newly dead man surmised was Jesus – then took him on a tour of both earthly and heavenly realms. To Private Ritchie’s surprise, the being then gave him orders to return to the human realm.

If anybody was more surprised at his return to life than George Ritchie, it was probably the army physician who had just signed the young soldier’s death certificate. An orderly had noticed some movement as he prepared the corpse for the morgue, and summoned the doctor who quickly administered a shot of adrenaline straight into the dead man’s heart. Private Ritchie returned to life with a burning throat and a crushing feeling in his chest – a full nine minutes after he had appeared to have taken his last breath. Read more »

Near Death Experience Resource List

Below you will find a list of useful resources for further investigation of Near Death Experiences:

Websites