The following group NDE appears in the International Association for Near-Death Studies publication Vital Signs (Volume XIX, No. 3, 2000) and is described in a greater way in May Eulitt’s and Dr. Stephen Hoyer’s book, Fireweaver: The Story of a Life, a Near-Death, and Beyond.
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 us.
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 of light.
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.