and Near-Death Research
is a former student at the University
of Connecticut and wrote a research
paper based on her study of the near-death
experience for her senior honors thesis
under the direction of
Her paper was published in the
in the fall of 1993. In her study, 70
percent of the group of near-death experiencers
demonstrated belief in reincarnation.
In contrast, a Gallup Poll found that
only 23 percent of the general population
endorse this belief. Previous research
has indicated that, following a near-death
experience, the group tended to exhibit
a significant shift in their beliefs
on a wide range of subjects including
a general tendency toward an increased
openness to the idea of reincarnation.
Ms. Wells' study was designed to examine
the factors underlying this belief shift.
The following are some excerpts from
her study reprinted by permission.
Claims have been
documented by other researchers of direct knowledge of reincarnation
which became available during the near-death experience
itself. An example of this type of knowledge can be seen
in a letter written to Dr. Ken Ring by John Robinson:
is a matter of personal knowledge from what
the being with whom I spoke during my near-death
experience told me about my older son, that
he had had 14 incarnations in female physical
bodies previous to the life he has just had."
Ring has also heard
testimony of this kind of direct knowledge in some of his
interviews. One experiencer, whose account is recorded in
Ring's audiotape archives, commented:
whole life went before me of things I have done
and haven't done, but not just of this one lifetime,
but of all the lifetimes. I know for a fact
there is reincarnation. This is an absolute.
I was shown all those lives and how I had overcome
some of the things I had done in other lives.
There was still some things to be corrected."
whose testimony is included in Ring's audiotape archives
gave this account:
had a lot of questions, and I wanted to know
what they [the light beings she encountered
in her near-death experience] were doing
why are you just kind of milling around here?
And someone stepped forward ... it wasn't just
one ... I got information from a number of them
... that they were all waiting for reincarnation."
Additionally, in a case documented
Dr. Melvin Morse,
a girl who had her near-death experience when she nearly
drowned at the age of 7 reported seeing during her experience
two adults waiting to be reborn (Morse,1983).
One very interesting case involves
a near-death experience that resulted from a suicide attempt.
On April 30, 1976,
put a gun to her heart and shot herself. Instead of the
nothingness she sought from suicide, she had endured a near-death
experience. A brilliant and loving light, she identified
as Christ, presented a review of her entire life and all
the events that brought her to the point of her suicide
attempt. This light gave her access to unlimited knowledge.
She was told that she could remain in the light, provided
she later reincarnate to re-experience and overcome all
that brought her to the point of suicide. Or, she could
be revived to live out the rest of her life and overcome
her problems here and now. Obviously, she chose not to stay
in the light so that she could resume her life and not have
to face the same problems in a future life. She was allowed
to take only as much knowledge as she needed to sustain
her, and was told she would be given insights along the
way as she finished out the rest of her life.
interviewed during Ms. Wells' study described the general
process of reincarnation as one consciousness separating
into individual souls to be embodied in matter. One experiencer
took this idea even further, stating that reincarnation
takes place more on a collective level rather than an individual
level. In other words, this experiencer felt that a collective
energy recycles itself through matter and that our sense
of individuality is a product of our present incarnation
only. One experiencer believed that a Higher Power created
a finite number of individual souls, some of which then
are placed in human embodiments in order to learn lessons.
A strong minority
of experiencers saw individual choice as the initiating
force behind the reincarnation process. Some others mentioned
karmic patterns or ties to other souls as influencing the
The majority of experiencers
mentioned learning or enlightenment as the main purpose
underlying reincarnation. Here are some comments by experiencers:
needs to embody itself in matter to experience
it and learn. There are karmic patterns to learn
lessons and to work spirit in matter."
is a series of learnings. The lessons are universal,
the two most important being truth and forgiveness."
at our own rate to reach the light. If you do
things that take you away from the light, then
you are perpetuating your time here."
"The inner quality
is there, the inner self remains, but the external
aspect that may have seemed very strong is dissolved.
Individuality wasn't the same there. It was
the same as everybody and everybody was me.
Your spirit is always you. You are not the personality
that you are on Earth. In the other realm you
are everything, light is everything."
Most of the experiencers
said that they felt the cycle of reincarnation would eventually
come to an end. They indicated that at this point there
would be existence as pure spiritual being and/or a merging
with God. Here are some comments by experiencers about this:
"Then you exist
as pure spiritual form, as a pure spiritual
an integral part of God. When everyone reaches
that point it is nirvana."
indicated that the cycle of reincarnation would probably
come to an end for earthly embodiments, but that one would
continue to incarnate into other realms or dimensions.
The beliefs expressed by the experiencers
are not unique and they tended to follow the standard view
of reincarnation as expressed in much of the new age literature.
By way of example, the following excerpts taken from Irving
S. Cooper's book,
Reincarnation: A Hope of the World,
are representative of this view and are quite similar to
many of the statements in the study:
"The chief purpose
of reincarnation is education. To this end we
are born again and again on Earth, not because
of any external pressure, but because we, as
souls, desire to grow.
"It is a universal
process, and prevails not only in the human
kingdom but also throughout the whole of nature.
Whenever we find a living form, the consciousness
of that form is also evolving, using temporarily
for that purpose the physical form in order
that it may gain physical experience. In each
incarnation we have a different physical body,
a different name, and may have different souls
acting as parents, but these changes do not
in the slightest imperil our individuality ...
Reincarnation is not an endless process, and
when we have learned the lessons taught in the
World-School we return no more to physical incarnation
unless we come back of our own accord to act
as Teachers of humanity or as Helpers in the
glorious plan of evolution."
In summation, there
is much evidence that the near-death experience affirms
reincarnation to be a fact. Generally, such experiencers
affirm that reincarnation is a divine process whose purpose
is for self-God-realization.
is like killing a plant or flower before
it's full-grown or before it's served its
purpose ... The only thing that I can think
and comprehend is that to try and understand
reincarnation. That somehow, instead of
evolving, you would regress."
- Dr. Kenneth Ring
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Experiences and the Afterlife