Some Near-Death Experiencers
Were Dead For Several Days
Reverend George Rodonaia
(died October 12, 2004) underwent one of
the most extended cases of a near-death
experience ever recorded. Pronounced dead
immediately after he was hit by a car in
1976, he was left for three days in the
morgue. He did not "return to life"
until a doctor began to make an incision
in his abdomen as part of an autopsy procedure.
Prior to his NDE he worked as a neuropathologist.
He was also an avowed atheist. Yet after
the experience, he devoted himself exclusively
to the study of spirituality, taking a second
doctorate in the psychology of religion.
He then became an ordained priest in the
Eastern Orthodox Church. He served as a
pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church
in Baytown, Texas. Reverend Rodonaia is
one of the NDE experiencers profiled on
this page who was dead for days during his
George Rodonaia held an M.D. and a Ph.D. in neuropathology,
and a Ph.D. in the psychology of religion. He delivered
a keynote address to the United Nations on the "Emerging
Global Spirituality." Before emigrating to the United
States from the Soviet Union in 1989, he worked as a research
psychiatrist at the University of Moscow. The following
is a Dr. Rodonaia's experience in his own words from
Phillip Berman's excellent book,
The Journey Home.
"The first thing
I remember about my NDE is that I discovered myself in a
realm of total darkness. I had no physical pain, I was still
somehow aware of my existence as George, and all about me
there was darkness, utter and complete darkness - the greatest
darkness ever, darker than any dark, blacker than any black.
This was what surrounded me and pressed upon me. I was horrified.
I wasn't prepared for this at all. I was shocked to
find that I still existed, but I didn't know where I
was. The one thought that kept rolling through my mind was, "How
can I be when I'm not?" That is what troubled me.
"Slowly I got a grip
on myself and began to think about what had happened, what
was going on. But nothing refreshing or relaxing came to
me. Why am I in this darkness? What am I to do? Then I remembered
Descartes' famous line: "I think, therefore I am."
And that took a huge burden off me, for it was then I knew
for certain I was still alive, although obviously in a very
different dimension. Then I thought, If I am, why shouldn't
I be positive? That is what came to me. I am George and
I'm in darkness, but I know I am. I am what I am. I
must not be negative.
"Then I thought,
How can I define what is positive in darkness? Well, positive
is light. Then, suddenly, I was in light; bright white,
shiny and strong; a very bright light. I was like the flash
of a camera, but not flickering - that bright. Constant
brightness. At first I found the brilliance of the light
painful, I couldn't look directly at it. But little
by little I began to relax. I began to feel warm, comforted,
and everything suddenly seemed fine.
"The next thing that
happened was that I saw all these molecules flying around,
atoms, protons, neutrons, just flying everywhere. On the
one hand, it was totally chaotic, yet what brought me such
great joy was that this chaos also had its own symmetry.
This symmetry was beautiful and unified and whole, and it
flooded me with tremendous joy. I saw the universal form
of life and nature laid out before my eyes. It was at this
point that any concern I had for my body just slipped away,
because it was clear to me that I didn't need it anymore,
that it was actually a limitation.
"Everything in this
experience merged together, so it is difficult for me to
put an exact sequence to events. Time as I had known it
came to a halt; past, present, and future were somehow fused
together for me in the timeless unity of life.
"At some point I
underwent what has been called the life-review process,
for I saw my life from beginning to end all at once. I participated
in the real life dramas of my life, almost like a holographic
image of my life going on before me - no sense of past,
present, or future, just now and the reality of my life.
It wasn't as though it started with birth and ran along
to my life at the University of Moscow. It all appeared
at once. There I was. This was my life. I didn't experience
any sense of guilt or remorse for things I'd done. I
didn't feel one way or another about my failures, faults,
or achievements. All I felt was my life for what it is.
And I was content with that. I accepted my life for what
"During this time
the light just radiated a sense of peace and joy to me.
It was very positive. I was so happy to be in the light.
And I understood what the light meant. I learned that all
the physical rules for human life were nothing when compared
to this unitive reality. I also came to see that a black
hole is only another part of that infinity which is light.
"I came to see that
reality is everywhere. That it is not simply the earthly
life but the infinite life. Everything is not only connected
together, everything is also one. So I felt a wholeness
with the light, a sense that all is right with me and the
"I could be anywhere
instantly, really there. I tried to communicate with the
people I saw. Some sensed my presence, but no one did anything
about it. I felt it necessary to learn about the Bible and
philosophy. You want, you receive. Think and it comes to
you. So I participated, I went back and lived in the
minds of Jesus and his disciples. I heard their conversations,
experienced eating, passing wine, smells, tastes - yet I
had no body. I was pure consciousness. If I didn't understand
what was happening, an explanation would come. But no teacher
spoke. I explored the Roman Empire, Babylon, the times of
Noah and Abraham. Any era you can name, I went there.
"So there I was,
flooded with all these good things and this wonderful experience,
when someone begins to cut into my stomach. Can you imagine?
What had happened was that I was taken to the morgue. I
was pronounced dead and left there for three days. An investigation
into the cause of my death was set up, so they sent someone
out to do an autopsy on me. As they began to cut into my
stomach, I felt as though some great power took hold of
my neck and pushed me down. And it was so powerful that
I opened my eyes and had this huge sense of pain. My body
was cold and I began to shiver. They immediately stopped
the autopsy and took me to the hospital, where I remained
for the following nine months, most of which I spent under
"Slowly I regained
my health. But I would never be the same again, because
all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was study wisdom.
This new interest led me to attend the University of Georgia,
where I took my second Ph.D., in the psychology of religion.
Then I became a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eventually,
in 1989, we came to America, and I am now working as an
associate pastor at the First United Methodist Church in
"Many people have
asked me what I believe in, how my NDE changed my life.
All I can say is that I now believe in the God of the universe.
Unlike many other people, however, I have never called God
the light, because God is beyond our comprehension. God,
I believe, is even more than the light, because God is also
darkness. God is everything that exists, everything - and
that is beyond our ability to comprehend at all. So I don't
believe in the God of the Jews, or the Christians, or the
Hindus, or in any one religion's idea of what God is
or is not. It is all the same God, and that God showed me
that the universe in which we live is a beautiful and marvelous
mystery that is connected together forever and for always.
"Anyone who has had
such an experience of God, who has felt such a profound
sense of connection with reality, knows that there is only
one truly significant work to do in life, and that is love;
to love nature, to love people, to love animals, to love
creation itself, just because it is. To serve God's
creation with a warm and loving hand of generosity and compassion
- that is the only meaningful existence.
people turn to those who have had NDEs because they sense
we have the answers. But I know this is not true, at least
not entirely. None of us will fully fathom the great truths
of life until we finally unite with eternity at death. But
occasionally we get glimpses of the answer here on Earth,
and that alone is enough for me. I love to ask questions
and to seek answers, but I know in the end I must live the
questions and the answers. But that is okay, isn't it?
So long as we love, love with all our heart and passion,
it doesn't matter, does it? Perhaps the best way for
me to convey what I am trying to say is to share with you
once wrote in a letter to a friend. I saw this letter, the
original handwritten letter, in the library at Dresden University
in Germany. (He quotes
from memory, as follows:)
patient with all that is unresolved in your
heart. And try to love the questions themselves.
Do not seek for the answers that cannot be given.
For you wouldn't be able to live with them.
And the point is to live everything, live the
questions now, and perhaps without knowing it,
you will live along some day into the answers."
"I place my faith
in that. Live the questions, and the universe will open
up its eyes to you."
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George Rodonaia's Verified Out-of-Body Perception of an Injured
More information about George's
NDE account is described in Dr. Melvin Morse and Paul Perry's
Transformed by the Light. Dr. Morse refers to George
by his Russian name "Yuri". The following is an
excerpt of Transformed by the Light which describes George's
observation of an infant while George is out of his body.
NDE, he] could go visit his family. He saw his grieving
wife and their two sons, both too small to understand that
their father had been killed.
"Then he visited
his next-door neighbor. They had a new child, born a couple
of days before Yuri's "death." Yuri could
tell that they were upset by what happened to him. But they
were especially distressed by the fact that their child
would not stop crying.
"No matter what
they did he continued to cry. When he slept it was short
and fitful and then he would awaken, crying again. They
had taken him back to the doctors but they were stumped.
All the usual things such as colic were ruled out and they
sent them home hoping the baby would eventually settle down.
in this disembodied state, Yuri discovered something:
could talk to the baby. It was amazing. I could
not talk to the parents - my friends - but I
could talk to the little boy who had just been
born. I asked him what was wrong. No words were
exchanged, but I asked him maybe through telepathy
what was wrong. He told me that his arm hurt.
And when he told me that, I was able to see
that the bone was twisted and broken."
"The baby had
a greenstick fracture, a break in the bone in his arm probably
cause by having been twisted during childbirth. Now Yuri
and the baby knew what was wrong, but neither had the ability
to communicate the problem to the parents.
the doctor from Moscow came to perform the autopsy on Yuri.
When they moved his body from the cabinet to a gurney, his
eyes flickered. The doctor became suspicious and examined
his eyes. When they responded to light, he was immediately
wheeled to emergency surgery and saved.
"Yuri told his
family about being "dead." No one believed him
until he began to provide details about what he saw during
his travels out of body. Then they became less skeptical.
His diagnosis on the baby next door did the trick. He told
of visiting them that night and of their concern over their
new child. He told them that he had talked to the baby and
discovered that he had a greenstick fracture of his arm.
The parents took the child to a doctor and he x-rayed the
arm only to discover that Yuri's very long-distance
diagnosis was right."
knew George well; he was part of my research base and a
brief version of his story is in my book
Beyond the Light.
I say "brief" because what happened to George
is beyond the scope of books about the near-death phenomenon
and could have easily been a book unto itself. George was
a vocal Soviet dissident during the time when such a stance
could get you killed. And that is exactly what happened
- he was assassinated by the KGB. Because his case was highly
political, an autopsy had to be performed. His corpse was
stored in a freezer vault for three days until then. He
revived on the autopsy table as he was being split open
by the doctors, one of which was his own uncle. Of all the
cases I have investigated in my 26 years of work in the
field, his is the most dramatic, the longest, the most evidential,
and the most soul-stirring. Now our beloved George Rodonaia
has returned "Home" to stay. During the years
afterward, he never failed to share his story and to help
others every way he could. My only regret is, he never wrote
his own book about his experience. Yet, perhaps he did,
on everyone's heart who ever heard him. Blessings, dear
George, you will be missed." --
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People Who Were Apparently Dead For Days
There are two other
NDE accounts I should mention here. One
of them involves an African man named
What is interesting about his account is
that he claims he was actually dead for
seven days. When he returned to his body,
it was partially eaten by maggots. A friend
of his sent me photographs of his arm to
prove it. It is such a fantastic experience
that one must take keep an open mind about
The other NDE testimony
is about a Russan man who was frozen solid for 22
days in a state of suspended animation resulting
from an attempted murder and burial. The story was
printed in the January 1999 online edition of the
Russian newspaper Pravda. This remarkable event
involved the man being revived after 22 days of
being buried under the snow. The article is entitled,
Revives 22 Days After Being Killed and Buried"
and here it is:
A stockman, named only as
Granatkin, from a district food base in one of Russia's
towns, had to have a similar, albeit a more horrible
experience in his life. A man named Mechnik attempted
to kill the stockman: he hit him on the head, took
the body to the forest and buried it under the snow.
Lumbermen incidentally uncovered the frozen body
and took it to the morgue. A local pathologist refused
to do the autopsy - the body was too hard. The next
day the pathologist said that the man's eye
pupils did not look like dead. Furthermore, the
man's nails turned pink after the doctor pressed
them in his fingers. The man spent 22 days lying
under a thick layer of snow, but it appeared that
he was still alive. The pathologist diagnosed a
deep lethargic sleep, which had been caused with
a blow on the head. To everyone's great astonishment,
stockman Granatkin came to his senses and recovered.
He was lucky to wear very warm clothes on the day
of his murder; the snow saved him from severe frost
on the Internet about the above story but the text
is in broken English although it is very readable.
Here it is:
Much more complicated in
the case of the Grodno district storekeeper product
base Granatkin. Someone once tried to kill the Swordsman
him struck storekeeper fatal blow to the head by
some heavy object, took to the woods and buried
in the snow. After 22 days the body turned into
a "piece of ice", accidentally discovered the loggers.
The corpse was taken to the morgue, but the local
coroner was unable to conduct an autopsy - the body
was too hard. Decided to postpone the inquiry until
the morning... In the morning, the surgeon noticed
that the pupils of the eyes are not like the eyes
of a dead person, the nails when you also slightly
pink. These were signs that people had lain in the
snow for 22 days without moving, without food or
water, are still signs of life. However Granatkin
was breathing, no palpable pulse. The doctor diagnosed
a deep lethargy caused due to hit in the head. And
soon the "dead" by doctors... woke up!
saved from complete freeze that he was warmly dressed,
and was covered with a thick layer of snow...