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Dr. Raymond Moody’s Near-Death Experience Research

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Dr. Raymond Moody released his best-selling book, Life After Life (1975) which focused public attention on the near-death experience like never before. It was Moody who actually coined the term “near-death experience.” Moody is also the author of the following books, Reflections on Life After Life (1978), The Light Beyond (1989), Reunions (1994), The Last Laugh (1999), Life After Loss (2002), Paranormal (2013), Glimpses of Eternity (2016), Coming Back (2017), Making Sense of Nonsense (2020). Dr. Moody recorded and compared the experiences of 150 persons who died, or almost died, and then recovered. His research describes the results of decades of inquiry into the NDE phenomenon. He outlines nine elements that generally occur during NDEs.

1. Dr. Raymond Moody’s Nine Elements of the NDE

Raymond Moody

a. A Strange Sound: A buzzing, or ringing noise, while having a sense of being dead.

b. Peace and Painlessness: While people are dying, they may be in intense pain, but as soon as they leave the body the pain vanishes and they experience peace.

c. Out-of-Body Experience: The dying often have the sensation of rising up and floating above their own body while it is surrounded by a medical team, and watching it down below, while feeling comfortable. They experience the feeling of being in a spiritual body that appears to be a sort of living energy field.

d. The Tunnel Experience: The next experience is that of being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light. Also, although they sometimes report feeling scared, they do not sense that they were on the way to hell or that they fell into it.

e. Rising Rapidly into the Heavens: Instead of a tunnel, some people report rising suddenly into the heavens and seeing the Earth and the celestial sphere as they would be seen by astronauts in space.

f. People of Light: Once on the other side of the tunnel, or after they have risen into the heavens, the dying meet people who glow with an inner light. Often they find that friends and relatives who have already died are there to greet them.

g. The Being of Light: After meeting the people of light, the dying often meet a powerful spiritual being whom some have identified as God, Jesus, or some religious figure.

h. The Life Review: The Being of Light presents the dying with a panoramic review of everything they have ever done. That is, they relive every act they have ever done to other people and come away feeling that love is the most important thing in life.

i. Reluctance to Return: The Being of Light sometimes tells the dying that they must return to life. Other times, they are given a choice of staying or returning. In either case, they are reluctant to return. The people who choose to return do so only because of loved ones they do not wish to leave behind.

2. Dr. Raymond Moody on the “Being of Light”

The following is an excerpt from Moody’s excellent book Life After Life concerning the “Being of Light.”

What is perhaps the most incredible common element in the accounts I have studied, and is certainly the element which has the most profound effect upon the individual, is the encounter with a very bright light. Typically, at its first appearance this light is dim, but it rapidly gets brighter until it reaches an unearthly brilliance. Yet, even though this light (usually said to be white or “clear”) is of an indescribable brilliance, many make the specific point that it does not in any way hurt their eyes, or dazzle them, or keep them from seeing other things around them (perhaps because at this point they don’t have physical “eyes” to be dazzled).

Despite the light’s unusual manifestation, however, not one person has expressed any doubt whatsoever that it was a being, a being of light. Not only that, it is a personal being. It has a very definite personality. The love and the warmth which emanate from this being to the dying person are utterly beyond words, and he feels completely surrounded by it and taken up; in it, completely at ease and accepted in the presence of this being. He senses an irresistible magnetic attraction to this light. He is ineluctably drawn to it.

Interestingly, while the above description of the being of light is utterly invariable, the identification of the being varies from individual to individual and seems to be largely a function of the religious background, training, or beliefs of the person involved. Thus, most of those who are Christians in training or belief identify the light as Christ and sometimes draw Biblical parallels in support of their interpretation. A Jewish man and woman identified the light as an “angel.” It was clear, though, in both cases, that the subjects did not mean to imply that the being had wings, played a harp, or even had a human shape or appearance. There was only the light. What each was trying to get across was the they took the being to be an emissary, or a guide. A man who had had no religious beliefs or training at all prior to his experience simply identified what he saw as “a being of light.” The same label was used by one lady of the Christian faith, who apparently did not feel any compulsion at all to call the “Christ.”

Shortly after its appearance, the being begins to communicate with the person who is passing over. Notably, this communication is of the same direct kind which we encountered earlier in the description of how a person in the spiritual body may “pick up the thoughts” of those around him. For, here again, people claim that they did not hear any physical voice or sounds coming from the being, nor did they respond to the being through audible sounds. Rather, it is reported that direct, unimpeded transfer of thoughts takes place, and in such a clear way that there is no possibility whatsoever either of misunderstanding or of lying to the light.

Furthermore, this unimpeded exchange does not even take place in the native language of the person. Yet, he understands perfectly and is instantaneously aware. He cannot even translate the thoughts and exchanges which took place while he was near death into the human language which he must speak now, after his resuscitation.

The next step of the experience clearly illustrates the difficulty of translating from this unspoken language. The being almost immediately directs a certain thought to the person into whose presence it has come so dramatically. Usually the persons with whom I have talked try to formulate the thought into a question. Among the translations I have heard are: “Are you prepared to die?” “Are you ready to die?” “What have you done with your life to show me?” and “What have you done with your life that is sufficient?” The first two formulations which stress “preparation,” might as first seem to have a different sense from the second pair, which emphasize “accomplishment.” However, some support for my own feeling that everyone is trying to express the same thought comes from the narrative of one woman who put it this way:

“The first thing he said to me was, that he kind of asked me if I was ready to die, or what I had done with my life that I wanted to show him.”

Furthermore, even in the case of more unusual ways of phrasing the “question,” it turns out, upon elucidation, to have much the same force. For example, one man told me that during his “death:”

The voice asked me a question: “Is it worth it?” And what it meant was, did the kind of life I had been leading up to that point seem worthwhile to me then, knowing what I then knew.”

Incidentally, all insist that this question, ultimate and profound as it may be in its emotional impact, is not at all asked in condemnation. The being, all seem to agree, does not direct the question to them to accuse or to threaten them, for they still feel the total love and acceptance coming from the light, no matter what their answer may be. Rather, the point of the question seems to be to make them think about their lives, to draw them out. It is, if you will, a Socratic question, one asked not to acquire information but to help the person who is being asked to proceed along the path to the truth by himself. Let us look at some firsthand accounts of this fantastic being.

3. Examples of Near-Death Experiences with the “Being of Light”

Example 1: “I heard the doctors say that I was dead, and that’s when I began to feel as though I were tumbling, actually kind of floating, through this blackness, which was some kind of enclosure. There are not really words to describe this. Everything was very black, except that, way off from me, I could see this light. It was a very, very brilliant light, but not too large at first. It grew larger as I came nearer and nearer to it.

“I was trying to get to that light at the end, because I felt that it was Christ, and I was trying to reach that point. It was not a frightening experience. It was more or less a pleasant thing. For immediately, being a Christian, I had connected the light with Christ, who said, ‘I am the light of the world.’

“I said to myself, ‘If this is it, if I am to die, then I know who waits for me at the end, there in that light.'”

Example 2: “I got up and walked into the hall to go get a drink, and it was at that point, as they found out later, that my appendix ruptured. I became very weak, and I fell down. I began to feel a sort of drifting, a movement of my real being in and out of my body, and to hear beautiful music. I floated on down the hall and out the door onto the screened-in porch. There, it almost seemed that clouds, a pink mist really, began to gather around me, and then I floated right straight on through the screen, just as though it weren’t there, and up into this pure crystal clear light, an illuminating white light. It was beautiful and so bright, so radiant, but it didn’t hurt my eyes. It’s not any kind of light you can describe on Earth. I didn’t actually see a person in this light, and yet it has a special identity, it definitely does. It is a light of perfect understanding and perfect love.

“The thought came to my mind, ‘Lovest thou me?’

“This was not exactly in the form of a question, but I guess the connotation of what the light said was, ‘If you do love me, go back and complete what you began in your life.'”

“And all during this time, I felt as though I were surrounded by an overwhelming love and compassion.”

Example 3: “I knew I was dying and that there was nothing I could do about it, because no one could hear me … I was out of my body, there’s no doubt about it, because I could see my own body there on the operation room table. My soul was out! All this made me feel very bad at first, but then, this really bright light came. It did seem that it was a little dim at first, but then it was this huge beam. It was just a tremendous amount of light, nothing like a big bright flashlight, it was just too much light. And it gave off heat to me; I felt a warm sensation.

“It was a bright yellowish white – more white. It was tremendously bright; I just can’t describe it. It seemed that it covered everything, yet it didn’t prevent me from seeing everything around me – the operating room, the doctors and nurses, everything. I could see clearly, and it wasn’t blinding.

“At first, when the light came, I wasn’t sure what was happening, but then, it asked, it kind of asked me if I was ready to die. It was like talking to a person, but a person wasn’t there. The light’s what was talking to me, but in a voice.

“Now, I think that the voice that was talking to me actually realized that I wasn’t ready to die. You know, it was just kind of testing me more than anything else. Yet, from the moment the light spoke to me, I felt really good – secure and loved. The love which came from it is just unimaginable, indescribable. It was a fun person to be with! And it had a sense of humor, too – definitely!”