Topical Index > The Spiritual World > NDEs
20th July 2007
SCIENTIFIC PROOF FOR NDEs
I hope this email will help wrap up the doubts about NDEs for the inquisitive and the skeptics; as well as us attributing everything a patient sees to "hallucinations" from meds like Ketamine, or because of stress; also helpful for those who hold to "sleep-till-resurrection". (The "sleep" Jesus refers to is a "sleep of the body", not the soul or spirit. Maybe I can write on that one day. It's been documented that these saints do actually force themselves to sleep while the angels attempt to wake them up!)
You remember Genesis 1:3? Day 1 of Creation. This was Light beyond the Sun's electromagnetic spectrum. (See my article Night & Day to find out more). The Sun was created on Day 4.
[Diversion: For those who need a Creation GAP-Theory, try the gap between Gen 3:24 & 4:1, not Gen 1:1 & 1:2. Was Adam's age calculated from the time he left the garden? How long where they there for? It still won't amount to the evolutionary hypothesis (neither reproducible nor observable) of millions of years though, held by most scientists and those who consider a pre-Adamic race of men existed (which really negates the work of Jesus Christ, who is the 2nd Man & last Adam i.e. a new "race" of men different ruled by the Spirit. This is our destiny 1 Cor 15:47). Another thought: Was Adam black & Eve white, or Adam white & Eve black? Check the genetic evidence for our different colours. Far more plausible than the weather or soil doing it! That will throw a spanner in the works of those who think there are "superior" & "inferior" races; when in fact there is only one race - HUMAN!]
Dr. Melvin Morse, M.D., Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Washington, (voted best Paediatrician in the North-West of USA) shows us the scientific documentation and proof for that Light. Many Scientists bat their eyes at his research because it doesn't fit in with their "belief" system. Now if that isn't religious thinking in the face of actual scientific data (not hypotheses) I don't know what is!
He conducted two studies. The first, documented in his book Closer to the Light, looked at children who'd had NDEs. The second, documented in his book Transformed by the Light, looked at the effects of a NDE on adults who'd had it during their childhood. Using various scientific parameters, he reviews their stories and the resulting data is remarkable. The words below are from the summary of Transformed by the Light (1993 Edition). Read the book for its startling stories & data! It helps us understand the actual intricate interactions between spirit, soul & body; and the role of the brain in all this. He also shows how our fear of talking about NDEs is really a symbol of our fear of death and medical/family-needs to feel in control in these situations. The scientific explanation is in no way playing down the spiritual, but actually shows that God has an order and explanation for everything, including limbs re-growing! His latest book is Where God Lives.
You can skim through the high-lighted areas and read in-depth later.
Tony: MD's Afterlife Story | Near Death Chronicles | The Tripartite Man
From Dr. Melvin Morse's Book Transformed By The Light.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When I look for the bottom line of the Transformations study and the reality of near-death experiences, I narrow it down to these four points:
 The Experience Is Not Like Any Medically Described Hallucinations
NDEs are not like any hallucinations that we know of, nor are they akin to drug-induced hallucinations, schizophrenia, transient psychosis, psychotic breaks, anesthetic reactions, or dreams.
The near-death experience is a logical and orderly event that involves floating out of body, entering into darkness and experiencing a wonderful and indescribable light. People who have them know what is happening to them. Unlike people who have hallucinations or episodes of mental illness, NDEers have a feeling of being in control of the situation and do not feel detached from their being.
The real problems begin when people who have had near-death experiences tell others about their marvelous journey, especially members of the medical profession. They are then led to believe that the experience was a hallucination, bad dream, mental illness - anything but the otherworld journey that it really was.
I believe that we doctors are the ones who cannot understand the experience and have an improper perception of someone else's reality. It is the medical profession that is, in a sense, blind to these experiences.
 The Near-Death Experience Has Been Independently Verified by Witnesses Whose Testimony Would Be Acceptable in Any Court of Law in the Land.
We cannot ignore the powerful stories of those who have shared these experiences with the dying. From the registered nurse who sees the lady in white at the foot of her dying patient's bed, from the mother who simultaneously experiences her dying child's deathbed vision, from the teenage girl who has a vision of her brother's death and shares his NDE... These people have nothing to gain by inventing these stories. Rather, they expose themselves to ridicule and a variety of unpleasant accusations by bravely stepping forward and talking about these shared experiences.
Does it make sense for medicine to ignore the testimony of these people. Does it make sense to deny the reality of the near-death experience?
 The Right Temporal Lobe Is Where the Mind and Body Come Together.
The near-death experience probably takes place in the right temporal lobe, a spot just above the right ear and deep within the brain. My research and that of other scientists going back fifty years confirms this spot as the anatomical location of the NDE.
Some people think the experience is lessened by showing where it originates in the brain. I disagree. When we reveal the right temporal lobe as the place in the brain where the NDE occurs. I disagree. When we reveal the right temporal lobe as the place in the brain where the NDE occurs, we are talking about the area that houses the very spark of life itself.
Some researchers believe that the right temporal lobe is an area of the brain that allows us to perceive other realities and perhaps even enter into them. Dr. Michael Schroeter, a philosopher and neuroscientist at the University of Heidelburg in Germany, is one who believes that the right temporal lobe is where the brain, mind, and soul converge in the human body.
When I met Schroeter while lecturing in Germany, he told me of a patient who had a near-death experience and floated out of her body. She saw a ball of light approach her body and listened as her body and the ball of light carried on a conversation. Finally the ball of light said: "You won't join us for another thirty years." She then returned to her body.
This and many cases like it have led Schroeter, myself and others to believe that the temporal lobe is a receiving system, one that allows us to hear voices from a source outside our bodies and perceive the light that comes to us at the point of death.
TRANSFORMED BY THE LIGHT
I have found the experience of the light to be the keynote event of the near-death experience, the element that always leads to a transformation. I do believe that the light seen by NDEers comes from a source outside the body.
Why believe this? Neuroscientists have documented the existence of these circuit boards of mysticism within our temporal lobe. It is through this neurological machinery that we have the ability to have out-of-body experiences, see white figures, some of whom look like dead relatives, hear heavenly music, have a three-dimensional life review -all the elements of a near-death experience except the transformative experience of light.
It is this loving light that is the essence of the near-death experience. The other indicators of the near-death experience can be recreated by short-circuiting the right temporal lobe. This was done by Wilder Penfield, the Canadian neurosurgeon, who used electric prods to touch this area of the brain during surgery, thereby producing out-of-body states in patients.
These circuit broads have also been activated by the use of anesthetic drugs such as ketamine, in which patients on the operating table say they are leaving their body. LSD, peyote, and other psychedelic drugs can also trigger some of these circuitry, leading to out-of-body sensations, tunnel experiences, and the like. Yes, I even believe this area works its magic during periods of intense fear, when a person needs to dissociate from something that is going on or even to slow down time, possibly to avoid an accident.
These building blocks of the spiritual journey can be activated many ways, since they are part of the basic circuitry of our brains.
The experience of light cannot be activated artificially . It is activated only at the point of death or during some very special spiritual visions. This spiritual vision of the loving light results in the personality transformations that we saw in our study group. The most powerful and lasting transformations were seen in people who saw the light.
DUAL NERVOUS SYSTEM
This story [about an accident victim who had a fear-death & near-death experience, one after the other --Tony] illustrates my belief we have two nervous systems, each guided by separate portions of our brain. We have the conventional, biochemical nervous system which regulates motor and sensory abilities. It is guided primarily by the left side of our brain and is closely associated with our "internal narrator" which is associated with our left temporal lobe.
The other is a subtle, electromagnetic nervous system which is responsible for healing bone breaks, regeneration of body tissue, and the psychosomatic linkages between the brain and the body.
It also accounts for our paranormal abilities, such things as telepathy, precognition, and out-of-body sensations. This is the silent person, the inner conscience, the part of us that communicates with God.
It is within this silent second brain - the circuit boards of mysticism - that we can understand the nature of the near-death experience. When the brain dies and input from the biochemical nervous system ceases, this area of the right temporal lobe turns on, usually for the first time in our lives. It allows us to receive a wonderful and loving light which one patient called "the glow of God."
Those who recover from nearly dying are transformed by this light. They understand that their lives have purpose and meaning, usually involving love of family and mankind in general. They reactivate dormant areas of their brain and discover newly born abilites, both of the paranormal and intuitive variety . They become happy people with hobbies and intellectual pursuits. They spend time alone in meditation. They spend more time in community affairs and helping professions than the "ordinary" population.
Please note what the near-death experience does not do. It does not transform the experiencer into a messianic prophet with a message for mankind. No, these are simple, ordinary people who do not perceive themselves as being any different than anyone else. They do not have any particular religion or philosophy of life,other than to live it to its fullest.
Many times their spiritual transformation changes them so much that they become alienated from families. They usually view their near-death experience as a private matter, one that they rarely discuss with others. Yet still the transformations occur.
 The Near-Death Experience Transforms People Who Have Them
As pointed out above, the experience of light transforms those who have near-death experiences. This transformation is probably the result of a vivid experience of the loving light being imprinted throughout the brain. This memory gives the experiencer a sense of purpose and meaning. Just as the survivor of a near-fatal event who does not have a near-death experience will have a bad memory imprinted that results in post traumatic stress syndrome, the NDE creates a post traumatic bliss syndrome which results in personality transformation.
That the right temporal lobe is functioning at the point of death is a mystery to some neuroscientists. Yet research suggests that as the brain is dying, portions of the right temporal lobe start to work properly for the first time. The fact that it is processing memory into our long-term banks shows that it is working very well.
So then comes the question: What is the energy source that activates this neurological circuitry? As the Russian neuroscientist Vladimer Vladostock points out, the brain in time of coma is desperately trying to save its energy supply and should not be acting to generate complex visions and hallucinations. In an article published in Critical Care Medicine, Vladostock concludes that an NDE might be harmful to the dying patient because it contributes to the energy deficit already present. In case after case, patients say they returned to life after encountering the light and being told that they had to return. The NDE did not rob them of energy, it filled them with it.
RESUSCITATED BY AN NDE
A nurse who worked at a midwestern hospital for twenty years told me a story that illustrates the resuscitative power of the NDEs.
She said that one of her young patients had a cardiac arrest and nearly died. The resuscitation was plagued with technical problems which ultimately rendered the machinery on the crash cart useless. Yet just as the resuscitation team was giving up, the patient came back to life.
That evening he was angry. He said he was "having fun in heaven," and that he didn't want to return. "But I saw this light and it told me I had to come back to life."
She thought he was delirious. She assured him that it was the doctors that made him come back, not a talking light that he saw in his dreams."
You're wrong," insisted the boy. "The machine they were trying to use wasn't plugged in. It was God that made me come back." She checked the cords on the crash cart and discovered he was right. Now she believes that he did come back on his own.
Because of the light? I think so. I am convinced, after more than a decade of studying the near-death experience, that this light that comes to us when we die is real. I do not think it is simply a byproduct of human brain activity. Rather, I think it is the very source of all that we consider to be uniquely human, namely a soul.
The light that comes to us is not simply a reflex spasm of the optic nerve. It is not the stars that we see after banging our head. It is a different kind of light, alight that contains everything in the universe. One woman explained it best when she said that it was not like a light that you see with your eyes. "It was not something I would call 'God,' and yet God was in the light. My grandparents came out of the light and spoke to me, and yet they were part of the light. It wasn't God but it wasn't not God either."
The light that comes at the point of death is real. My studies have proven its existence by showing that it leads to verifiable and reproducible changes in the people who come in contact with it. And the fact that it comes at a time when the brain has little energy of its own points to the possibility that it comes from a source outside the body, independent of human consciousness.
OBVIOUS, NOT EASY
And now at the end, we come back to the basic question: So what? "So what are we supposed to do with this information?" ask my colleagues in medicine, many of whom can be as cynical as even the most abrasive radio talk show host.
As a practicing physician, I feel we must leave it to the philosophers and the scientific researchers to discover the true nature of the near-death experience. The next decade will be filled with brilliant consciousness research, much of it examining in detail the circuit boards of mysticism and all the other circuit boards packed into our skulls.
I think our job as physicians is to understand that this experience is real and not caused by drungs. By understanding this experience, we can understand death. As author David Meltzer states so nicely: "Death teaches us to live; it gives us a boundary to map our living within. Death's hammer breaks through the mirror separating us from light."
As a society I feel that our challenge is to use this information in a practical manner when dealing with issues of death and dying. This is especially true when caring for the terminally ill, a ritual that often dehumanizes and degrades the participants.
Some journal articles (a large reference section is in the book)
Near Death Experiences in a Pediatric Population
Near Death Experiences: A neurophysiologic explanatory model
Pediatric Near-Death Experiences
2004 German Study of NDEs