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Thomas Sawyer’s Near-Death Experience

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The late Thomas Sawyer’s (died 2007) near-death experience (NDE) is a very interesting study in the process of reincarnation. It is a process he learned during his NDE in 1978 when he was an avowed agnostic until his pickup truck fell on him and crushed his chest flat. He was clinically dead for fifteen minutes; yet he came back to tell about his NDE of going through a tunnel; meeting a “light that was God;” and was sent back to tell people about the unconditional love of God. He has talked about these topics and shared his NDE on such shows as Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey, Unsolved Mysteries, and Good Morning America. Dr. Ken Ring has written a wonderful article about several after-death communications (ADCs) from Sawyer after his death in 2007 to several people which you can read and/or download here: “The Death and Posthumous Life of Tom Sawyer: A Case Study of Apparent After-Death Communication” (PDF) in the Journal of Near-Death Studies, Winter 2008, Volume 27, Number 2. Interestingly enough, my article played a role in Sawyer’s ADCs to these several people. The following are excerpts from Thomas Sawyer and Sydney Farr’s wonderful book entitled What Tom Sawyer Learned From Dying.

1. Tom Sawyer’s Near-Death Journey Begins

Thomas Sawyer

Everything had gone blank. I then had a feeling of absolutely, positively, waking up, very quickly and sufficiently. I had the sensation of normalcy; I had all my five senses, and they were extremely acute. All pain and pressure was gone. I felt I could see very clearly, but the problem was I saw nothing but absolute, total blackness.

In this capacity, though, I was looking at absolute nothingness or darkness but my eyes were not straining. I had the desire to look around inquisitively. What is this place? Where am I? Well, again instantaneously, this darkness took the shape of a tunnel.

It was perfectly level, however slightly ambiguous in that it was straight before me and it was cloud-like. It was very vast, as opposed to small and confining, and was anywhere from a thousand feet to a thousand miles wide. That didn’t matter to me but I want to give you some reference point. I was very comfortable and inquisitive. It was cylindrical. If you took a tornado and stretched it out straight, it would be similar to that, without the houses and the doors floating around inside. It absolutely extended to infinity. This measurement of infinity was the first empirical knowledge that I had within my near-death experience.

Simultaneously with the awareness of this tunnel, I had a feeling of forward motion; it was very comfortable, it was very usual. Moving through this tunnel there was an acceleration. There was not any wind vibration, nor any noise. There was no motion sickness or anything like that. It was like floating within a vacuum. I saw that I was increasing speed, but there were no g-forces of the kind you would naturally experience in accelerating movement. I went faster and faster through the tunnel.

The next empirical knowledge I had was that I had attained at least the speed of light or conceivably faster. Whisking through the tunnel at this speed, I had the depth perception, the visual perception of the tunnel whisking past me (or I through the tunnel).

The next thing is that way, way off in the distance to infinity there appeared this little speck of light. That light was very special; it was the first identifiable object that I was able to focus on, to realize that it was nothing like what I’d seen before. It was extremely bright. This speck of light was brighter than something that would immediately blind you. It was brighter than a million billion carbon arcs, or welder’s torches, anything you can possibly compare it to. It was the brightest thing I’d ever seen in my life.

There was a tremendous eager anticipation because this was the first thing that wasn’t blurry or ambiguous. The appearance of this light way off at the end of the tunnel brought me a sense of great love and a feeling of camaraderie. That was something extraordinary, greater than anything that I’d experienced during my thirty-three years of life. It was utter beauty. The light was way off in the distance and got larger as I got closer to it.

I was eager to get closer to the light. I was still Thomas Sawyer, with all of my personality and characteristics, yet here I was, separate from the light by just a spatial measurement of visual connotation. Now being at the end of the tunnel and standing before the light, it seemed that it covered the entire vista before me. It was more beautiful than I’ve tried to describe, because I could use all the superlatives, and then I’d have to say: but it was more.

2. Tom Sawyer Meets Jesus Christ

I had never experienced anything that divine. It was white, possibly, blue-white, but certainly white. It was paradoxically absolutely everything. It included Thomas Sawyer. It included the tunnel that was behind me. It included the entire universe that I was ever aware of. It was absolutely, positively, everything. It was also absolutely the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever seen, that I’ve ever been near or experienced.

The light I am describing is whatever most people would describe as God. That’s the description. It meant the same to me as the word “God”. It was in fact the light of Jesus Christ.

From the onset of this rather super-conscious state of the darkness of the tunnel, there was something that was totally missing, and that was what we call time. There’s no such thing as time in heaven! The chronology of my accident is as I told you: there was the darkness, I was moving through the tunnel, and there was a light at the end of the tunnel. There was then a confrontation with the light at the end of the tunnel whatever more. That’s the chronology in that order.

There were such feelings of warmth and love coming from the light that it made me feel good. Now it was right before me and instantly began communicating with me. Instantaneously it emanated to me, thought-pattern to thought-pattern. And to describe it I coined the phrase: superluminal telepathic communication: a telepathic thought-pattern to thought-pattern rapport that functioned as fast as or conceivable faster than the speed of light.

It was pure communication that was complete in every respect. I will do a bit of role-playing here because the communication was not in words.

The light emanated to me: “Tom, you have to be where you are and in the condition that you are. Before you is the light. You have the opportunity to ask any series of questions. Any question that you can conceive of will be absolutely, unequivocally answered. If it’s a series of questions about something that you would require some kind of knowledgeable background to intelligently formulate your questions, you will instantly have that background.”

In other words, as I thought of and formulated a desire or a question, it would already have been recognized, acknowledged, and therefore answered. And the dialogue that took place, took place in no time. It didn’t require a fifteen-minute duration in time; it simply happened.

One of the questions which I did ask was, “What about the Jesus stuff?”

Now that was not a singular question; it’s hard for me to describe so you can understand the way it is.

“What about the Jesus stuff?” is like saying, “Okay, all kidding aside, was Jesus of Nazareth real, was he a live person? A historical truth? Was he the son of God? Is he divine? Is he at the right hand of the Father? What about the Jesus stuff?”

I can break off here and tell you that was basically answered in the affirmative. At one point I felt as if I were a speck of light on Jesus’ shoulder, and I was able to experience full knowledge of all of Jesus’ incarnations from the beginning of time.

At the time this happened to me I was an agnostic. As far as religious and spiritual aspects, I practically did not have any religion at all. I had a Catholic Christian background, but that was meaningless in my life. I was perfectly comfortable without any of that stuff. But I did have some theories, I did have a cultural and religious background. I had certain preconceived ideas and was thinking that, should they be verified or should they not be verified, whatever the truth is, that’s what I wish to know. So there was a desire for that type of knowledge. That’s one question.

A vast majority of the questions in this question-and-answer period were of those things connected to total knowledge and a divine entity that some of us call God. “What about the Jesus stuff” was a priority for me to ask. A majority of my questions were of a personal and private nature, regarding that particular time in my life as well as future scenarios.

The question-and-answer period went on, and then rules and regulations were emanated.

“Tom, you have a choice. You have the opportunity to choose to return to normal life. If you have that desire, that will be facilitated instantaneously with no problems, no strings attached.”

In other words, if I decided to return, the instant that I even considered it, I would be immediately returned.

However, I could decide to become part of the light.

“If you choose to stay and become part of this light, totally homogeneous with it, that’s okay. But, if you choose that, then you will never again be able to choose, on your own decision, to return to normal life. And that’s okay.”

In order to make that choice intelligently; I had to have a complete life review.

3. Tom Sawyer’s Life Review

I know that I experienced a total life review, but I have never been able to fit it properly into any of that basic chronology. It had to have happened from the center of the tunnel or the movement within the tunnel, prior to what I call the confrontation with the light. And the best way to describe it is to give you an example.

When I was around eight years old my father told me to mow the law and cut the weeds in the yard. We had a cottage in the back and a double house in the front. Aunt Gay, my mother’s sister, lived in the cottage out back. Aunt Gay is a very delightful person; she’s a friend of mine as well as my aunt. Aunt Gay was very clever, as was my mother I’m sure it’s a genealogical trait! Everybody liked Aunt Gay. She was always fun to be with. Certainly all the kids thought she was a cool person to know. She had described to me her plans for some wild flowers that grew on little vines in the backyard.

“Leave them alone now, Tom,” she said, “and as soon as they blossom we’ll make tiaras for all the girls, and flower necklaces for some of the guys.”

And then everybody could pitch in and she’d teach them how to weave such things. That was typical of her. We were looking forward to that.

However, my father told me to mow the lawn and cut the weeds. Now, I had several choices. I could explain to my father that Aunt Gay wanted the weeds left to grow in this particular area. If he said to cut them all, I could have explained to Aunt Gay that father had just told me to mow the lawn and said to cut that patch of weeds. I could ask if she wanted to make her request to my father. Or, I could methodically and deliberately go ahead and mow the yard and cut the weeds. I did that. Well, worse that that, I even came up with a name for the job. I called it “Operation Chop-Chop.” I deliberately decided to be bad, to be malicious.

And I went ahead, feeling the authority that my father gave me when he told me to cut the grass and the weeds.

I thought, “Wow, I got away with it; I did it. And if Aunt Gay ever says anything I’ll just tell her father told me to do it. Or if father asks me I’ll say, well that’s what you told me to do.”

And I would be vindicated. It would be okay; it would be a perfect Operation Chop-Chop. End of story. My Aunt Gay never said a word to me; nothing was every mentioned; I got away with it totally.

Guess what? I not only relived it in my life review, but I relived every exact thought and attitude; even the air temperature and things that I couldn’t have possibly measured when I was eight years old. For example, I wasn’t aware of how many mosquitoes were in the area. In the life review, I could have counted the mosquitoes. Everything was more accurate than could possibly be perceived in the reality of the original event.

I not only re-experienced my eight-year-old attitude and the kind of excitement and joy of getting away with something, but I was also observing this entire event as a thirty-three-year-old adult; with the wisdom and philosophy I was able to attain by that time. But it was more than that.

I also experienced it exactly as though I was Aunt Gay, several days later after the weeds had been cut, when she walked out the back door. I knew the series of thoughts that bounced back and forth in her mind.

“Oh my goodness, what has happened? Oh well, he must have forgotten. But he couldn’t have forgotten, everyone was looking forward to Oh no, knock it off. Tommy is he’s… He’s never done anything like that. I love him so… Oh, come on, cut it out. Gee, it was so important. He had to know … he couldn’t have known.”

Back and forth, back and forth, between thinking of the possibility, and saying to herself:

“Well, it is possible. No, Tommy isn’t like that. It doesn’t matter anyway, I love him. I’ll never mention it. God forbid, if he did forget and I remind him, that will hurt his feelings. But I think that he did, though. Should I confront him with it and just ask him?”

Thought-pattern after thought-pattern. What I’m telling you is, I was in my Aunt Gay’s body, I was in her eyes, I was in her emotions, I was in her unanswered questions. I experienced the disappointment, the humiliation. It was very devastating to me. It changed my attitude quite a bit as I experienced it.

I experienced things that cannot be perceived. I watched me mowing the law from straight above, anywhere from several hundred to a couple of thousand feet, as though I were a camera. I watched all of that. I was able to perceive and feel and know everything about my Aunt Gay regarding our relationship in that general time frame and regarding Operation Chop-Chop.

In addition to this, and what is probably more important, spiritually speaking, I was able to observe the scene, absolutely, positively, unconditionally. In other words, not with the horrendous emotional ill-feelings that my Aunt Gay experienced not knowing for sure, and yet being afraid to question for fear that she would inflict some kind of dis-ease, or ill feelings on my part. God forbid, if I did it by accident and her reminder would hurt my feelings. And yet she experienced hurt in losing the flowering weeds, not being able to do the things for all the children she had promised, and constantly questioning whether I could have done it on purpose. I did experience that in this unconditional way, with this unconditional love that is only God’s eyes, or the eyes of Jesus Christ, or the light of Jesus, or the light of Buddha enlightened, the spiritual entity.

It is that combination that is God unconditionally, not “Boy, Tom, you sure did a good rip-off,” or “There, Tom, now do you feel bad enough?” Or, “You sure were bad.”

None of that, only, as in the eyes of God, simple, pure, scientific observation, complete, totally, non-attachment. No judgmental aspect whatever. This is simultaneous with the total devastation of what I created in my aunt’s life. And the arrogance, the snide little thoughts, the bad feelings, and the excitement of what I created in my own life at that young age, that was one event.

I wish that I could tell you how it really felt and what the life review is like, but I’ll never be able to do it accurately. I’m hoping to give you just a slight inkling of what is available to each and every one of you. Will you be totally devastated by the crap you’ve brought into other people’s lives? Or will you be equally enlightened and uplifted by the love and joy that you have shared in other people’s lives?

Well, guess what? It pretty much averages itself out. You will be responsible for yourself, judging and reliving what you have done to everything and everybody in very far-reaching ways. Very small, seemingly inconsequential things such as the day when I, nine years old, walked through Seneca Park and loved the appearance of a tree. In my life review I could experience a bit of what the tree experienced in my loving it, two little photons of love and adoration. It was somewhat like the leaves acknowledging my presence. Can a tree experience that? Yes, it can. Don’t go kicking trees anymore!

You do have that effect on plants. You do have an effect on animals. You do have an effect on the universe. And in your life review you’ll be the universe and experience yourself in what you call your lifetime and how it affects the universe. In your life review you’ll be yourself absolutely, in every aspect of time, in every event, in the over-all scheme of things in your lifetime. Your life.

The little bugs on your eyelids that some of you don’t even know exist. That’s an interrelationship, you with yourself and these little entities that are living and surviving on your eyelids. When you waved a loving goodbye to a good friend the other day, did you affect the clouds up above? Did you actually affect them? Does a butterfly’s wings in China affect the weather here? You better believe it does? You can learn all of that in a life review!

As this takes place, you have total knowledge. You have the ability to be a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, and much more. You are your own spiritual teacher, maybe for the first and only time in your life. You are simultaneously the student and the teacher in a relationship.

My life review was part of this experience also. It was absolutely, positively, everything basically from the first breath of life right through the accident. It was everything.

During this life review I experienced what I can only describe as “in the eyes of Jesus Christ.” Meaning, I watched and observed this entire event as if I were in the eyes of Jesus Christ. Which means unconditionally.

It does not mean, “Gee, Tom, by being Christ-like, you don’t hit people, you love people.”

No to that. Nor was it, “Wow, God has really made you a very good specimen and your reflexes are superior. You did an excellent job in beating that man up.”

No to that either. It’s not judgmental or negative. I can’t describe it other than with the unconditional love of Christ, the Christ who has absolute unconditional love. You will have the experience of observing something without any emotion or righteousness, or judgmental attachments. You will be able to observe history only as history, without the emotional attachments to the facts and figures. I want to also say that, to offset that, there were experiences of absolute love and joy.

Well, having had this life review, I was also given a choice. I could decide to return to my normal life, which meant that I would survive the truck accident, my heart would be beating and I would be alive and physically, basically, okay. If I decided to return to normal life it would be facilitated on my own desire.

If, however, I decided to stay and become part of that light, enter into it, be homogenous with it, that would be done. I would never again on my own decision be able to choose to return to normal life.

4. Tom Sawyer Chooses to Enter into the Light

“Tom, you will have given of your free will you will be dead, and I cannot change that!”

Well, I chose to stay and become part of that light and that was facilitated.

I made a forward motion. It was as though I leaned forward because there was a slight forward motion toward the light or an effort toward the light it was a symbolic gesture. I didn’t actually have to make a physical motion. It was at that point that I made the attempt to feel more of the light. And the word “feel” includes all of the essences and emotions of the light.

What happened then? I’ve been making an analogy to Star Trek, where the guy is standing there and says, “Beam me up, Scotty.”

You see the image of the physical person there and then he just becomes little photons of light. I really like that. That’s very descriptive. Scotty wasn’t standing there but I just kind of became little photons of light and there is only the slightest of memories of anything after that. Even though I was in my soul body, not my physical body, that which I was before the light blended in and ceased to exist. In other words, if you have pure light you have all of the masses of photons in the universe in a purified state only white light. One of the last things I can recall is that I was blending into and becoming homogeneous with that light. I had the feeling of the light just engulfing me. About the only accurate word that I can use to describe what I felt then is the word “power.” But it wasn’t an earthly type of power, it wasn’t greedy power, or an I’m-better-than-you-power.

There’s no language to explain what happened in the light. It was divine power. What I’m sure of is that, as that was facilitated, I became total knowledge. That was so extraordinary. Having had that experience for just a split-second out of time certainly has been very humbling for me. I cannot ever comfortably say that I even became like God. God is total knowledge. What does total knowledge mean? It’s divine power. I’m not total knowledge now. There have been a few little fancy phrases and helpful hints and so on that have leaked out of my subconscious or super-conscious that certainly did come from that total thing called knowledge.

The memory of where I was and what condition I was in comes as little bombardments or packets of total knowledge that can be described by many analogies, such as a machine gun, with each bullet being a packet of knowledge just blasted into my being.

There are characteristics and aspects of that part of my experience that I would really wish to talk about a little deeper. I’ve not found the words. I tried writing it; I tried taping it. I’ve not found phrases or even analogies to deal with that.

Some of the things are regarding the aspect of, “What is the light?”

Well, the light is God. And what is God? God is unconditional love. God is total beauty. God is everything!

What happened when I went through the tunnel? Did I see the face of Jesus Christ? Yes, I did. But the most important thing that I have been able to say is probably the aspect of total knowledge. It was a feeling of divine power. It’s overwhelming for me to say that I, Thomas Sawyer, was divine or experienced total knowledge. I remember one or two photons of that experience. I don’t even know how to measure it. I made up a phrase: bleams of light. A couple of bleams of light information I can recall from that last stage or stages. I don’t even know if it’s singular or plural.

You might ask, didn’t I feel grief or regret because I’d be parted from Elaine and my children and this nice life I had lived for thirty-three years? Yes, to all of that, but this was beyond paradise, this was heaven, this was perfection. This was not a mosquito bite; this was not heat and humidity; not all of the stuff that we call reality; not all the joy of being able to share and to love people. It was everything that we experience joyfully and sorrowfully, only in a perfected state. It was perfection.

5. What Tom Sawyer Learned About Reincarnation

Reincarnation is not a linear thing. One of the problems in defining it is that there is no analogy to it. It is outside of time, yet we can’t help but think of it in terms of the past and the future, and this incarnation. The whole story is so big and so involved.

Reincarnation is an opportunity to reach a goal. The goal is true self-realization. Self-realization is to know that you are a soul, a part of God, yet also the Whole. Perhaps no one has a very good image at all of his or her soul – the whole self. And they have no idea of what proportion their personality is in relationship to their soul.

As an example, a characteristic of your personality is one percent of all of your personality characteristics put together, and all of your personality characteristics make up your personality, and your personality is only about five percent of your soul, then we are blinding ourselves to 95 percent of the rest of our soul in order to reincarnate.

Reincarnation is an opportunity to evolve through many personalities. The definition of reincarnation is that your personality is who you are in your current lifetime, and that it can be reincarnated as an entirely different personality with the characteristics of the previous personality and previous personalities including even characteristics of another soul altogether. That is, characteristics of your present personality may be the reincarnation of other characteristics of personalities from your previous lifetimes as well as characteristics from personalities from other souls.

If a person dies and goes totally homogeneous back into the light it is reasonably improbable that there will be another reincarnation. It is improbable. However, it is more usual for people to die and go partially back into the light while remaining partially in the realm of the Earth realm. That means remaining partially within the earthly confines of the human condition with an attachment of sorts to the human condition.

Once you go into the spirit realm, you may realize that you haven’t learned everything you should, so you find another personality, another body and your soul is maintained throughout. As you transform into another personality, your soul does not get bigger or smaller. You carry with you characteristics of your former personalities. The simplest example is to say that the phrase “burning off bad karma” means that you have characteristics that you have to deal with.

It is true that future scenarios are not absolute, and that free will changes, and subtle manipulation on different spiritual realms can change your future characteristics and personality. We are preparing for future incarnations here in the current incarnation we find ourselves in.

Once you enter into the light and blend with God, you become God. God is light and light is love. You can’t take a knife and cut out a part of love and take it away. If you theoretically cut love in half and take it, there’s not half love here and half love there. Each part is wholly God.

We may have perceptions that we are separate from God, that we are less than God. But the divinity is within us, the light is in every cell in our body and that, collectively, makes the soul. We can think of that in terms of being subordinate or less than and separate from God. But since you are a part of the Whole, God is not minus that part of you. God is still 100 percent even when God appears, in this physical existence, to be separated.

The incomprehensible part is at that point at which you no longer exist and you become only light when you fully merge with the light. This is because the character and the characteristics that you are, the uniqueness that is you and nobody else, still exists when you cease to exist as a personality. But every bit of your personality is available for reincarnation. That’s the paradox part.

A single soul has the same power as God! You have exactly the same intensive power as God. You have the same potential as God within the human condition. The oneness of the whole, or the wholeness of the one, being God, is ultimately powerful and unconditional love.

You cannot conquer, or divide, or diminish unconditional love. It exists omnipresent, that’s true, it exists like that. For example, if you take one “cupful” of God, you have God in the cup, and that can’t be diminished at all. Now if God, by God’s own infinite wisdom and love, decides to allow a cup of light to be used in such a way as a soul, and for the purpose of incarnating into the human condition to our level, the light involved in that is our soul. Our soul is that light, that one cup, that small amount, which was purely, divinely God. It has the full power of God; that is, one cup of light has the same luminous unconditional love, the same power of God.

All souls are equal at the soul level.

Yet some say, “He’s a highly evolved soul.”

The soul doesn’t evolve, the personality does. To state that the soul evolves at all is not correct. Your personality can be evolved – highly evolved, lesser evolved, or no evolvement at all to where you’re just stagnant. You have the ability to create negative karma. To go backwards, to be born with certain characteristics and personality that can be culturally conditioned, or decommissioned, if you will, and go pretty much backwards. You can actually lose a little bit in your actual evolvement to a spiritual recognition, a spiritual reality.