message from her extraordinary
near-death experience during the
minutes after her heart suddenly
stopped and she lay on the
sidewalk, not breathing and
without a pulse. Swept into a
peaceful, loving place of
brilliant golden light and warm
comfort, she saw, for the first
time, the meaning of life - and
death. After her near-death
experience, she became the
cofounder and president of the
Association for Near-Death
Studies (IANDS). The
following is an excerpt of her
near-death experience as
described in her book,
After The Light.
The first thing I remember was the
urgent sound of a woman's voice. "I'm
not getting a pulse!" she said. "I'm not
getting a pulse."
In fact, I said, I felt fine. Really
good. Come to think of it, I'd never
felt better, or more alive. I was
healthy and whole, calm and together for
the very first time in my life.
Though I still couldn't see, I could
hear everything - mostly the scramble of
many voices talking all at once. It
didn't bother me. I let it go. I let
My next awareness was of an entirely new
environment. I knew I was not alone, but
I still couldn't see clearly, because I
was enveloped in a dense, dark gray fog.
I felt a sense of expectancy, the same
anticipation one feels when waiting for
a plane to take off or arrive. It seemed
natural and right to be here, and for me
to wait as long as it took. Earthly time
had no meaning for me anymore. There was
no concept of 'before' or 'after.'
Everything - past, present, future -
Suddenly, an enormous explosion erupted
beneath me, an explosion of light
rolling out to the farthest limits of my
vision. I was in the center of the
Light. It blew away everything,
including the fog. It reached the ends
of the universe, which I could see, and
doubled back on itself in endless
layers. I was watching eternity unfold.
The Light was brighter than hundreds of
suns, but it did not hurt my eyes. I had
never seen anything as luminous or as
golden as this Light, and I immediately
understood it was entirely composed of
love, all directed at me. This
wonderful, vibrant love was very
personal, as you might describe secular
love, but also sacred.
Though I had
never seen God, I recognized this light
as the Light of God. But even the word
God seemed too small to describe the
magnificence of that presence. I was
with my Creator, in holy communication
with that presence. The Light was
directed at me and through me; it
surrounded me and pierced me. It existed
just for me.
gave me knowledge, though I heard no
words. We did not communicate in English
or in any other language. This was
discourse clearer and easier than the
clumsy medium of language. It was
something like understanding math or
music - nonverbal knowledge, but
knowledge no less profound. I was
learning the answers to the eternal
questions of life - questions so old we
laugh them off as clichés.
Why are we
here? "To learn."
purpose of our life? "To love."
I felt as if
I was re-remembering things I had once
known but somehow forgotten, and it
seemed incredible that I had not figured
out these things before now.
ecstasy of knowledge and awareness was
interrupted. Again, without words, I
learned that I had to return to my life
appalled. Leave all this, leave God, go
back to that old, oblivious existence?
The girl who
always did as she was told dug in her
heels. But to no avail. I was going
back. I knew it. I was already on the
way. I was on a trajectory headed
straight for my body.
That's when I
saw my body for the first time, and when
I realized I was no longer a part of it.
Until this moment, I'd only seen myself
straight on, as we usually do, in
mirrors and photographs. Now I was
jolted by the strange sight of me in
profile from four feet away. I looked at
my body, the body I knew so well, and
was surprised by my detachment. I felt
the same sort of gratitude toward my
body that I had for my old winter coat
when I put it away in the spring. It had
served me well, but I no longer needed
it. I had absolutely no attachment to
it. Whatever constituted the self I knew
as me was no longer there. My essence,
my consciousness, my memories, my
personality were outside, not in, that
prison of flesh.