more interesting and rare type of NDE is called
the "group near-death experience". This
is a phenomenon where a whole group of people have
a NDE at the same time and location. They see each
other outside of their bodies and have a shared
or similar experience.
gives a definition of a "Group NDE":
"These are rare,
but they do occur. With this kind, a whole group
of people simultaneously seems to experience the
same or similar episode. What makes these so spectacular
and challenging is that all or most of the experiencers
see each other actually leave their bodies as it
happens, then dialogue with each other and share
messages and observations while still experiencing
the near-death state. Their separate reports afterward
either match or nearly so. Reports like these emerge
most often from events of a harrowing nature that
involve a lot of people.
"Shared and group
experiences imply that no matter how sure we are
that near-death states mean this or that, and are
the result of whatever, no single idea, theory,
or pat answer can explain them. Even clues from
the powerful patterning that researchers like myself
have identified, fail to explain all aspects of
are two excellent examples of group near-death experiences.
NDE Example #1
Gibson is a retired
nuclear engineer and a prominent near-death experience
researcher. His research culminated in the publication
of several major works on the subject including
research on how
near-death experiences support
doctrines of the Mormon church.
interviewed a fire-fighter named Jake who had a
most unusual near-death experience while working
with other fire-fighters in a forest. What makes
it unique is that it happened at the same time as
several co-workers were also having a near-death
experience. During their near-death experiences,
they actually met each other and saw each other
above their lifeless bodies. All survived and they
verified with each other afterwards that the experience
actually happened. Jake's near-death experience
was so interesting that
Gibson's local chapter of IANDS
invited him to tell his story at one of their meetings.
What follows is an excerpt of Jake's near-death
experience from Arvin Gibson's book,
The Fingerprints of God.
Jake was a member of an
elite fire-fighting group called the "Hotshots;"
a crew whose job it was to be dropped into particularly
troublesome forest fires and bring them under control.
During a wilderness fire
in 1989 a helicopter dropped Jake, as crew boss,
and two 20 person Hotshot crews onto a fire at the
top of a steep mountain. The fire was burning below
the crews in thick Ponderosa Pine and Oak brush.
The slope of the hill
the men and women were working on was about 40 degrees.
They worked their way down the steep slope, when,
part way down, to their horror, the wind changed
to an upward direction. The trees in front of the
men and women traveling down the hill erupted into
flames with explosive force.
Jake explained how fire-fighters
have a fire-resistant pack that is carried on their
web gear. The pack includes an aluminum foil-type
material which they can throw over themselves as
they crouch to the ground in an emergency. These
foils are only effective if the people can deploy
the shelters after properly preparing the ground
by reaching mineral soil with no residual flammable
organic materials. The problem in this case was
that the enormous winds caused by the inferno erupted
all around them and the immediacy of the crisis
made the shelters useless.
The panic stricken crews
started to try and go back up the trench trail they
had built. Trees exploded and fire engulfed the
immediate area, and oxygen feeding the conflagration
was sucked from near the ground where the people
struggled to breathe. One by one the men and women
fell to the Earth suffocating from lack of oxygen.
They were reduced to crawling on their hands and
knees while they attempted to get back up the hill
to a safer area.
Suddenly Jake had the
is it. I am going to die."
And with that thought
in mind he found himself looking down on his body
which was lying in a trench. The noise, heat and
confusion from the inferno surrounding them was
gone and Jake felt completely at peace. As he looked
around Jake saw other fire-fighters standing above
their bodies in the air. One of Jake's crew members
had a defective foot which he had been born with.
As he came out of his body Jake looked at him and
"Look, Jose, your
foot is straight."
A bright light then appeared.
Jake described the bright light in this manner:
"The light - the
fantastic light. It was brighter than the sun shining
on a field of snow. Yet I could look at it and it
didn't hurt my eyes."
Standing in the light
was Jake's deceased great-grandfather. His great-grandfather
acted as Jake's guide throughout his near-death
experience. Jake met with others of his ancestors
and had an extensive experience. (Only the portions
pertinent to this discussion are repeated here.)
ultimately communicated by mind thought to Jake
that it was Jake's choice whether or not he should
return to Earth. Not wanting to come back from the
beautiful and peaceful place that he was in, Jake
argued with his great-grandfather. Explaining that
it would be devastating to return to a horribly
burned body, Jake pled with his great-grandfather
to remain. Jake said that all of this communication
was by questions he would think of and have instantly
answered in his mind.
Jake was informed that
neither he, nor any of his crew who chose to return,
would suffer ill effects from the fire. This would
be done so that:
"God's power over
the elements would be made manifest."
Returning to his body
was one of the more painful events of his life.
When I asked Jake why it was painful he said:
"When I was there,
everything was so perfect, and my spirit body, it
... it was so free. It felt like everything was
limitless. When I came back, well you know, there's
always something plaguing you, like arthritis, or
sore muscles, or ... but not there. Getting back
into my physical body felt cramped - held back.
For example, when I used to play football for a
few days after a game or hard practice I was always
sore. The same thing was true after coming back
into my physical body. I hurt and felt constrained,
and it was hard to get used to for some time."
Finding himself again
in his body, Jake looked around and noticed that
some of the metal tools they had used to fight the
fire had melted. Despite this intense heat, and
the fire still raging around him, he was able to
walk up the hill in some sort of protected bubble.
He did not hear nor feel the turbulence around him.
Upon reaching the relative safety of the hilltop,
the noise of the fire was again evident, and he
saw other members of the crew also gathered there.
The entire happening was
so profound that upon escaping from what they had
supposed would be sure death the group of saved
people knelt in prayer to thank the Lord for their
deliverance. All of the crew escaped and the only
visual evidence on them of what they had been through
was a few singed hairs.
Jake said that in comparing
reports of their different episodes the men and
women were astonished that they had each undergone
some type of near-death experience. Throughout the
summer as the crew worked together they continued
to discuss the miraculous adventure which they had
lived through. Others of the crew confirmed, for
example, that they also felt the ill effects of
returning to their physical bodies. They, too, had
met with other members of their deceased families
and were given the choice of remaining where they
were or of returning to Earth.
NDE Example #2
following group NDE appears in the
International Association for
(Volume XIX, No. 3, 2000) and is described in a
greater way in Eulitt's book,
May finally made the transition
into spirit on February 19, 2002, due to complications
following a surgical procedure to repair one of
her heart valves. She was 52 years old. The
following is her near-death experience as described
to Dr. Stephen Hoyer:
During the fall of 1971,
when I was 22 years old, I shared a near-death experience
with my cousin, James, and his best friend, Rashad,
who was from India. Both young men were on a break
from school and were staying with my family on our
farm. One afternoon the three of us went to the
cornfield to cut fodder. To get to the field we
had to go through a metal gate, and we took turns
climbing down to open and shut it. By late afternoon
a storm started brewing in the west, and we decided
to quit for the day. It was James' turn to open
the gate, and as he did so, he reached up for my
arm to climb back up onto the wagon. I was leaning
the wrong way, and his weight pulled me toward him.
Rashad grabbed my other arm to steady me, and we
were in just this position when the lightening hit
I saw the lightning sparkle
along the top of the gate. The next thing we knew,
we were in a large room or hall made of dark stone.
The ceiling was so high and the gloom was so thick
we couldn't see the top. There were no furnishings
or wall hangings, just cold, black stone all around.
I knew I should be afraid, but I just felt peaceful,
floating along there in the gloom with my two friends
in the great, dark hall. The stately walls of this
place loomed above us and seemed to radiate both
great power and also great masculinity. I remember
thinking it would have suited King Arthur. It was
at that point that I realized that the three of
us were united in thought and body. Images of Arthur
came to me from James and Rashad. James saw only
a cosmic version of the king. Rashad seemed to [be]
envisioning himself in the time of Arthur. As we
all became conscious of each other's thoughts, I
suddenly knew James and Rashad better than I have
ever known anyone else.
We realized there was
light coming into the chamber from an archway at
one end. It was more than just light. It was a golden,
embracing warmth. It gave off a feeling of peace
and contentment more intense than anything we had
ever felt. We were drawn toward it. We weren't talking,
but we were communicating with each other on some
other level, seeing through each other's eyes. As
we came to the archway and passed through, we entered
a beautiful valley.
There were meadows and
tree-lined hills that led to tall mountains in the
distance. Everything glistened with golden sparks
We saw that the sparkling
lights were tiny, transparent bubbles that drifted
in the air and sparkled on the grass. We realized
that each tiny sparkle was a soul. To me, the valley
appeared to be Heaven, but at the same time I knew
that James and Rashad were seeing it differently.
James saw it as the Gulf of Souls. Rashad saw it
as Nirvana, and somehow we knew all this without
speaking. The light began gathering at the far end
of the valley, and slowly, out of the mist, a pure
white being began to materialize. I saw an angel
with a strong, bright face, but not like you'd usually
imagine. She was closer to a strong, Viking Valkyrie.
I knew she was the special angel that watches over
the women of my family, and I perceived her name
to be Hellena. James saw this same being as his
late father, a career Naval officer, in a white
dress uniform. Rashad perceived the being to be
the Enlightened One, or Buddha.
The being spoke first
to Rashad and welcomed him. He said that Rashad's
time on Earth was done. He was worthy now of Nirvana.
Rashad asked why James and I were there and was
told that we were part of the reason why he was
worthy of Nirvana. His two great friends loved him
so much that they had willingly accompanied him
on his last journey. At the same time, however,
James received a different message. He had been
worried about what his father would think about
his anti-war protest activities, and his father
told him he was proud of him for standing up for
what he believed. He knew he was not a coward because
a coward would not have made this journey with Rashad.
I received yet another message in which Hellena
told me she was glad I had remembered the example
of strength, honesty, wisdom, and loyalty taught
to me by my family.
We spent what seemed like
an eternity in this place as we talked to our separate,
yet joined, entities. They said they appeared to
us in this way because back in the real world we
were physically joined when the lightning struck
us. They said it also symbolized the joining of
all religions and doctrines. They said I would live
to see a new age of tolerance, that the souls and
hearts of humanity would be joined as the three
of us were.
The guides taught us that
doctrine and creed and race meant nothing. No matter
what we believed we were all children joined under
one God, and that the only rule was God's true law
- do unto others as you would have them do unto
you. We should treat all people as if they were
a part of our soul because they were. All living
things in the universe were connected to one another.
They said that soon humanity would mature enough
to assume a higher place in the universal scheme
of things, but until then we must learn acceptance
and tolerance and love for each other. They said
there would come a new age when people would not
be able to endure seeing others homeless and hungry.
We would realize that only by helping each other
could we truly help ourselves.
Eventually we were told
that it was time to go. We would not be allowed
to stay longer because it was not yet time for me
or for James, only for Rashad. The enlightened one
told Rashad he would have a little time before he
returned to take care of his worldly affairs. James'
father told him he would return to this place soon
after Rashad, but the two of them had to go back
for now so that I could. I said I would willing
stay here in this valley with them, but Hellena
told me that I had not fulfilled my destiny; that
I had children yet unborn.
We drifted slowly toward
the archway. The pull became stronger and we were
literally thrown back into the world. We floated
for a while there, hovering above our bodies. Some
of my cousins had been in the next field and had
seen what had happened. We saw them all come running
to where we lay. James and Rashad's hands were still
stuck to my arms. We saw my cousins pry their fingers
loose so they could turn Rashad over to help him.
When our hands were pried
loose, James and I re-entered our bodies. We felt
as if we were on fire, but it turned out that we
had only minor injuries. Rashad, it seemed, being
on the end, had taken most of the charge. The doctors
said that the lightning had caused damage to his
heart, lungs, and liver. He remained in the hospital
for several weeks. During that time, tests revealed
that James had a brain tumor that would eventually
claim his life.
As soon as Rashad could
travel, James took him home to India. He offered
to stay, but Rashad told him that he wished solitude
for his final time. Rashad took on the life of the
Ascetic, in the Vedic tradition. He asked his wife
to stay with her family because he wanted his last
days to be spent in spiritual awakenings. About
a year and a half later, on a cold day in January,
Rashad returned to Nirvana. James and I knew when
his soul left the world without being told.
James lived about three
years after he found out he had the brain tumor.
He gave most of his considerable inheritance to
a charity that educated young people in India. I,
on the other hand, have survived for another thirty
years (so far) with the knowledge that this experience
which I shared with my closest friends has been
a guiding force in my life. I strive every day to
meet my destiny, whatever it may be, with the same
quiet dignity and resolution they showed when they
met theirs. They have truly been my pathfinders,
and I know that the connection I shared with them
so long ago is the same connection we all share.
We just sometimes fail to realize it.
interesting experience is called the "Shared
kind of phenomenon is a NDE that is actually shared
with a person who is not near-death, but who is
in close proximity to the actual NDEr.