My last two articles were about NDEs — near death experiences.
Here is an example. A woman has a heart attack and dies. The doctors bring her back to life using an external defibrillator, otherwise known as “the paddles.” They shock the woman’s heart and get it beating again. She later reports an amazing story. Something unusual happened while she was unconscious and clinically dead.
The woman reports having an “out-of-body” experience. She floats outside her body, and she sees herself on the operating table. She goes through some kind of “tunnel’ and is greeted on the other side by her ancestors. They welcome her and are very happy to see her. She feels incredible peace. She then meets an all-loving, beautiful “being of Light.” Is the Light an angel? Or maybe it’s God? She is not quite sure what to call it. She then relives her whole life in a flash. Eventually she is sent back to this world because it was “not her time to die.” She wakes up. She is a profoundly changed person.
There are many such stories. Whatever one makes of these stories they have a profound effect on the NDE-er. The most life-changing part of the NDE is meeting the Light. The Light is totally accepting and radiates great peace and un-conditional love. One NDE-er described the Light as “total love… more than you can ever imagine… there are no words. If you take all the love you can have on earth and multiply it ten thousand times it doesn’t come close…I never wanted to leave the Light… everyone was in there.”
This encounter with the Light does not seem to have much to do with how good or bad the person was in life. Neither does it seem to matter whether a person is religious or not. The Light loves everybody. No exceptions.
We ended the last article with a question. What about judgement? If the NDE really is a glimpse of the afterlife why is there no judgement as we have been taught by religion? Where do we get the idea that judgement comes after we die? It’s not just the Christian religion that talks about judgement. It seems to be in all religious traditions.
The ancient Egyptian religion is much older than Christianity. It describes Osiris as the god of the dead. Osiris weighs the hearts of those who have died in a set of balances according to sacred law. A good heart is as light as a feather. It rises up to one of the heavenly worlds. An evil heart is heavy. It sinks down to one of the underworlds. But where is the judgement in the NDE? Is there any? The answer is, yes! But it is not what we normally think. Let me explain.
As mentioned above, some NDE-ers see their whole life flash before them. This is called a “life review.” This happens in the presence of the Light. The NDE-ers say they relive their life all over again in great detail. They also re-live all their emotions. All their feelings, including every painful emotion is re-experienced. They also feel the emotions of others. If they hurt someone, they experience that person’s pain like it was their own. Some NDE-ers also see the “ripple effect.” They see the pain spreading out and affecting many others, sometimes for generations.
This is often hard to take. The NDE-ers did not fully realize how they hurt their families and friends. Now they know. But did the Light judge them? No! Rather, the Light was comforting them and telling them that pain was simply part of being human. We often hurt those around us. And we all get hurt, often by those we love the most.
No punishment, no shame
Experiencing pain is just part of life on planet earth. But the NDE-ers were ashamed of the pain they caused. They judged themselves. They were their own worst critics. The Light did not judge. The Light was more interested in what lessons were being learned through all the pain. There was no punishment coming from the Light. The shame felt by the NDE-ers was the punishment.
Most NDE-ers are every-day common people. One woman who was an ordinary mom was so ashamed during her life review she couldn’t take it. The Light kept stopping her life review. It would then comfort the distraught woman before moving on. The Light was extremely patient and merciful. It was not interested in punishment, only in the opportunities to learn lessons. Our punishment comes from us.
I have yet to come across an NDE report by a mafia hit man or a serial killer. Imagine someone like Hitler who was responsible for the death of millions. I wonder what his life review was like? If he had to experience all the pain that he caused that would be a hell, wouldn’t it? Hitler would take thousands of years to go through his life review. It would seem like an eternity. Would he eventually pay his debt and learn his lesson? That’s an interesting question.
Here’s the good news. NDE-ers also report the good times. They report feeling joy when they did good things. They felt very positive when they supported others and lifted them up. The Light affirmed these experiences. The NDE-ers may also see the joy spreading out and affecting others for generations.
According to the Light, these are the most important events in life, when we show love. NDE-ers say it was the little things that really counted. For example, encouraging a co-worker going through hard times. Or supporting a friend going through a breakup. Even a simple smile shared with a stranger on the street really counts. These little things were super important to the Light. These everyday, spontaneous deeds of caring were from the heart. No one was looking. No reward was expected.
Many of us would overlook such small acts of kindness. We would think they are not important. But the Light was very interested in these simple acts of spontaneous, unplanned love. It’s not that the Light was keeping track of how good people were on a heavenly balance sheet. There was no counting up spiritual brownie points. Other things that seem really important in life were not so important when it came to the life review. It was not so important having a bunch of university degrees, or a top paying job, a powerful position, or a big bank account.
Being religious did not impress the Light. It was not about how righteous people appear. It was all about simple, basic love in action. These were random acts of kindness that anyone of us can do. The message from the Light was about learning to love. And making mistakes is how we learn.
Isn’t this the core message of the world’s religions? Isn’t this the main teaching of the world’s great spiritual teachers? This is also the message of twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Learning to love others and allowing others to love us is the goal of healing.
So according to NDEs there is a judgement. We are our own judges. We cannot hide in the Light. Is there a final judgement day when everyone stands before God while he sits on a giant throne in heaven? I don’t know. Or is judgement day really our own final accounting as we review our lives in the loving presence of the being of Light?
I never had an NDE. As a recovering addict, I find NDEs reinforce something that all recovery programs teach. Showing genuine love and kindness is powerful medicine and can heal anyone’s heart. There’s a second important lesson the Light imparts to NDE-ers. I will write about that in another article. Megweetch. Pray for Peace. Mahsi.
—Darrell Taylor is a retired mental health professional who has lived in the NWT and Nunavut for 20 years. He is originally from Ontario and is a member of the North Bay/Mattawa Algonquins.