Near-Death Experiences News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Near-Death Experiences News Articles in Media
Six decades ago, a 21-year-old Navy fighter pilot on a mission over the Pacific was shot down by Japanese artillery. His name might have been forgotten, were it not for 6-year-old James Leininger. Quite a few people, including those who knew the fighter pilot, think James is the pilot, reincarnated. James' parents, Andrea and Bruce, a highly educated, modern couple, say they are "probably the people least likely to have a scenario like this pop up in their lives." But over time, they have become convinced their little son has had a former life. From an early age, James would play with nothing else but planes, his parents say. But when he was 2, they said the planes their son loved began to give him regular nightmares. "I'd wake him up and he'd be screaming," Andrea [recalled]. She said when she asked her son what he was dreaming about, he would say, "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out." Over time, James' parents say he revealed extraordinary details about the life of a former fighter pilot. They say James told them his plane had been hit by the Japanese and crashed. Andrea says James told his father he flew a Corsair, and then told her, "They used to get flat tires all the time." James also told his father the name of the boat he took off from, Natoma, and the name of someone he flew with, Jack Larson. After some research, Bruce discovered both the Natoma and Jack Larson were real. The Natoma Bay was a small aircraft carrier in the Pacific. And Larson is living in Arkansas. "It was like, holy mackerel," Bruce said. "You could have poured my brains out of my ears. I just couldn't believe it."
Note: For a fascinating follow up over three years later by a Fox News affiliate watch the five-minute video clip available here. Another intriguing, well documented case is available here. For an excellent survey of powerful evidence of life and death, click here.
For years Dr. Eben Alexander III had dismissed near-death revelations of God and heaven as explainable by the hard wiring of the human brain. He was, after all, a neurosurgeon with sophisticated medical training. But then in 2008 Dr. Alexander contracted bacterial meningitis. The deadly infection soaked his brain and sent him into a deep coma. During that week, as life slipped away, he now says, he was living intensely in his mind. He was ... guided by “a beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes” on the wings of a butterfly to an “immense void” that is both “pitch black” and “brimming with light” coming from an “orb” that interprets for an all-loving God. Dr. Alexander, 58, was so changed by the experience that he felt compelled to write a book, Proof of Heaven, that recounts his experience. He knew full well that he was gambling his professional reputation by writing it, but his hope is that his expertise will be enough to persuade skeptics, particularly medical skeptics, as he used to be, to open their minds to an afterworld. Having trained at Duke University and taught and practiced as a surgeon at Harvard, he knows brain science as well as anyone. And science, he said, cannot explain his experience. “During my coma my brain wasn’t working improperly,” he writes in his book. “It wasn’t working at all.” [Proof of Heaven] rose instantly to No. 1 on The New York Times’s paperback best-seller list and is there again for next week. The publisher has printed nearly one million copies, combined hardcover and paperback, to be snapped up at airports and as stocking stuffers at big retailers like Target. Another 78,000 digital copes have been sold.
Note: Dr. Alexander's book was the New York Times #1 bestseller for half a year. For an inspiring online lesson which dives deep into near-death experiences (and the possibility of reincarnation) using solid, reliable sources, click here. For other inspiring articles on near-death experiences, click here.
On the morning of Nov. 10, 2008, I awoke with the early symptoms of what proved to be an extremely severe case of bacterial meningitis. As I wrote here three weeks ago, and as I narrate in my book Proof of Heaven, over the next several hours my entire cerebral cortex shut down. Yet in spite of the complete absence of neural activity in all but the deepest, most primitive portions of my brain, my identity—my sense of self—did not go dark. Instead, I underwent the most staggering experience of my life, my consciousness traveling to another level, or dimension, or world. Brain activity and consciousness are indeed profoundly tied up with one another. But that does not mean that those bonds can’t be loosened, or even cut completely. Modern physics is pushing us [to believe] that it is consciousness that is primary and matter secondary. Totally objective observation remains a simple impossibility. And while in our ordinary earthly life we miss this fact completely, it becomes much more apparent in near-death experiences, when the body and brain cease to mediate our encounter with the larger reality and we encounter it directly. Make no mistake: consciousness is a total mystery. We simply do not know what it is. My seven-day odyssey beyond my physical body and brain convinced me that when the filter of the brain is removed, we see the universe clearly for the first time. And the multidimensional universe revealed by this trans-physical vision is not a cold, dead one, but alive with the force that, as the poet Dante wrote some 600 years ago, “moves the sun and other stars.”
Note: The author of this article, Dr. Eben Alexander, has been a neurosurgeon for the past 25 years. His engaging, best-selling book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, click here. For other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences, click here.
Is there life after death? Radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long says if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes. He makes the case for that controversial conclusion in a new book, Evidence of the Afterlife. He talked to TIME about the nature of near-death experience. [TIME:] How do you respond to skeptics who say there must be some biological or physiological basis for that kind of experience, which you say in the book is medically inexplicable? [Dr. Long:] There have been over 20 alternative, skeptical "explanations" for near-death experience. The reason is very clear: no one or several skeptical explanations make sense, even to the skeptics themselves. Or [else] there wouldn't be so many. [TIME:] You say this research has affected you a lot on a personal level. How? [Dr. Long:] I'm a physician who fights cancer. My absolute understanding that there is an afterlife for all of us — and a wonderful afterlife — helps me face cancer, this terribly frightening and threatening disease, with more courage than I've ever faced it with before. I can be a better physician for my patients.
Note: For a deeply inspiring online lesson presenting incredibly powerful near-death experiences, click here.
ABC’s Bob Woodruff probed the mysteries of near death experiences – including his own – in a special “Primetime Nightline.” ABC15 spoke with Woodruff. He told us so many people he interviewed for the story had an out-of-body experience, similar to his own when his group was hit by an IED 5 years ago while covering the war in Iraq. He told us when he woke up 36 days later he remembered seeing his body floating below him. Woodruff says others he spoke with describe experiences like his, but the thing he found interesting was, all of them say they weren’t scared. “Everyone said it was comfort, there was a lack of fear, and certainly no pain. All of them share that, no matter who they are that’s gone through this and it’s very, very interesting.” Woodruff also spoke with several doctors and scientists, who don’t necessarily reject these out-of-body experiences, but they’re just looking for answers. ABC15 wanted to know, how the people he interviewed felt about coming back to this world. Woodruff says, “Almost everybody said not only that they thought about staying, but generally wanted to stay. I, in some ways, was fine with staying.”
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A fellow at New York City's Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Sam Parnia is one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of death. Last week Parnia and his colleagues at the Human Consciousness Project announced their first major undertaking: a 3-year exploration of the biology behind "out-of-body" experiences. The study, known as AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation), involves the collaboration of 25 major medical centers through Europe, Canada and the U.S. and will examine some 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrest. TIME spoke with Parnia about the project's origins, its skeptics and the difference between the mind and the brain. What sort of methods will this project use to try and verify people's claims of "near-death" experience? When your heart stops beating, there is no blood getting to your brain. And so what happens is that within about 10 sec., brain activity ceases — as you would imagine. Yet paradoxically, 10% or 20% of people who are then brought back to life from that period, which may be a few minutes or over an hour, will report having consciousness. So the key thing here is, Are these real, or is it some sort of illusion? In my book What Happens When We Die? ... I wanted people to get both angles — not just the patients' side but also the doctors' side — and see how it feels for the doctors to have a patient come back and tell them what was going on. There was a cardiologist that I spoke with who said he hasn't told anyone else about it because he has no explanation for how this patient could have been able to describe in detail what he had said and done. He was so freaked out by it that he just decided not to think about it anymore.
Note: How interesting that when something amazing happened that this cardiologist could not explain, he chose not to think about it rather than consider that there might be some deeper explanation. For an excellent analysis of how this kind of thinking stops scientific progress, see our essay on fluid intellignece available here.
For a parent, it was unthinkable and terrifying -- a simple split lip that suddenly erupted into a disfiguring, life-threatening infection in a sweet-faced 5-year-old boy. But while Jake Finkbonner's mother and father spent days fearing their son would die, Jake at one point found himself experiencing something he said was beautiful. "I was in heaven and I spoke to God," the boy, now 11, said. Doctors determined that Jake had been infected with a rare, flesh-eating bacteria -- necrotizing fasciitis -- that had entered the cut on Jake's face and spread like wildfire, literally eating away at his face. Jake said that, at one point, his body felt so light that he could almost "lift off." It was then, he said, that he had a vision. "I was able to look down at the hospital. I saw my family. And then I went back to the house where I saw my family," he said. "The only thing is, I didn't see myself." Jake said he spoke to God, who sat in a high chair and was very tall. "He wasn't the size of a normal person," he said. He said he was enjoying himself so much that he asked God if he could stay, "but he said that my family needed me ... and he sent me back down." Jake said that these days, he sometimes finds himself thinking about heaven before he goes to bed. He has advice for others facing life-threatening illnesses. "Don't be scared at all," he said. "Either way, it will be a good way. If you go to heaven, you'll be in a better place -- if you live, you'll be back with your family."
When doctors returned to check on the patient who had almost died and been in a deep coma before being resuscitated, he thanked them for all the work they had done. He had, he told the surprised team of medics, been very impressed and had watched everything they had done. He had heard all that had been said, too, and, at one point, had been concerned when resuscitation was about to be abandoned. He then went on to describe in detail the room where he had been treated – although he had never been conscious in there. That near-death experience is one of a number recorded by Dutch doctors and one of thousands of similar cases that have now been documented in a major worldwide study. New research shows that many critically ill kidney dialysis patients have similar experiences, and that almost one in 10 heart-arrest survivors also report near-death experiences whose features include out of body sensations, bright lights, dark tunnels, and images of life events and spiritual entities. Near-death experiences are surprisingly common. In the latest study, researchers quizzed 710 kidney dialysis patients and found that, out of 70 patients who had suffered a life-threatening event, 45 had gone though a near-death experience. Near-death experiences occur in both sexes, in every culture, and at all ages.
Ari Hallmark could be one of the most remarkable 7-year-olds you will ever meet. Somewhere between gymnastics and finishing up the first grade, she’s managed to become an author. What adds to Ari’s remarkable story is the subject of her book, titled To Heaven, After the Storm. On April 27th of last year, Ari, along with her mom and dad, Shane and Jennifer Hallmark, her grandparents, Phillip and Ann Hallmark and her two cousins, Jayden and Julie, sought shelter in a bathroom to ride out an EF-4 tornado that came through the Ruth community of Marshall County. Her book talks about it all. Only she and her cousin Julie survived. However, Ari says for a while, she joined her family members in Heaven. She describes in vivid detail seeing her father Shane, who had been bald all of her life, with hair. She writes that, “my daddy did not have his glasses.” She says an angel came to her and told her it was time to go back. She says she then remembers waking up in a field near the house. The proceeds from Ari’s book will help a ministry for other children dealing with death. Her therapist suggested the idea. “She’s was like, ‘Hey, let’s make a book. And do it to help other kids’,” Ari says.
Note: For more on the beautiful story of how this seven-year old girl foresaw her family's death in a tornado and went through an inspiring near-death experience, click here. For many other most inspiring stories of near-death experiences, click here.
The concept of the near-death experience – one's life flashing before one's eyes, seeing a white light at the end of a tunnel, encountering loved ones waiting on the other side – is familiar to most of us. But many don't know that Raymond Moody is the man responsible for introducing this phenomenon to the mainstream, and in the process, completely changing our views on death and dying. In Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife ... the pioneering researcher reveals how he became the first doctor to extensively study and eventually unveil this previously unknown experience of the near-death experience to the general public. From his childhood curiosity about the soul to his academic exploration of philosophy, from his early research into the afterlife to the publication of the bestselling book Life After Life, Moody's entire life has been devoted to a deeper understanding of what comes next – and to exploring better ways for the living to encounter the dead. In this fascinating account, readers will discover the surprisingly thin line between the living and the deceased – and why Moody's lifetime of scholarship shows that we have evidence for our deepest hopes: that our existence continues beyond this life. Raymond Moody, M.D.'s seminal work, Life After Life, has sold over ten million copies and completely changed the way in which we view death and dying. He is widely acknowledged as the world's leading expert in the field of near-death experience.
How realistic is your favorite paranormal TV drama? “Proof,” a new summer series on TNT ... stars Jennifer Beals as a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon recruited by a billionaire to investigate near-death experiences. You may or may not believe in such phenomena, but there are serious researchers exploring this realm. The University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies [is] one of only two university-affiliated labs in the country still doing parapsychology research. How realistic does “Proof” seem to real-life near-death researchers? [According to] Jim Tucker, director of U.Va.’s perceptual studies lab: “Patients who’ve died for a time have accurately reported conversations that took place outside of their hospital rooms. Some have reported seeing deceased relatives that at the time they didn’t know were deceased." But the researchers give a thumbs-down to the show’s treatment of reincarnation studies. “Seems a little unrealistic,” said Tucker, after watching an episode where a patient undergoes hypnosis and suddenly remembers a past life. Tucker and his colleagues “don’t place much stock in the idea of hypnotic regression of adults in order to remember past lives.” The Virginia lab has extensively explored the potential of past-life memories, he said — but with an exclusive focus on very young children who, in their early years of talking, have spontaneously reported what seem to be accounts of previous lives, no hypnosis involved. "They left out the most important part, which is that the children we work with report actual memories of past lives."
Note: See our near-death experience resource center for lots more fascinating, reliable information on this vital topic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about near-death experiences.
Nina De Santo was about to close her New Jersey hair salon one winter's night when she saw him standing outside the shop's glass front door. It was Michael. He was a soft-spoken customer who'd been going through a brutal patch in his life. She'd listened to his problems, given him pep talks, taken him out for drinks. When De Santo opened the door that Saturday night, Michael was smiling. "Nina, I can't stay long," he said, pausing in the doorway. "I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for everything." They chatted a bit more before Michael left and De Santo went home. On Sunday she received a strange call from a salon employee. Michael's body had been found the previous morning -- at least nine hours before she talked to him at her shop. He had committed suicide. If Michael was dead, who, or what, did she talk to that night? Today, De Santo has a name for what happened that night: "crisis apparition." A crisis apparition is the spirit of a recently deceased person who visits someone they had a close emotional connection with. As they chatted face to face in the doorway of her shop, De Santo said they never touched, never even shook hands. "I'm in a really good place now," she recalled him saying. And when she held the door open for him, he refused to come in. He just chatted before finally saying, "Thanks again, Nina." Michael then smiled at her, turned and walked away into the winter's night.
Matthew Dovel says he calls himself "a hostile witness to heaven and hell." Dovel is one of the thousands of Americans who have reported what are called near-death experiences. Many people brought back from the brink of death swear they've been to heaven. Far fewer report visiting hell, but Dovel believes he's seen both. Dovel's first near-death experience happened when he was 12 years old and was trying to swim the entire length of a pool underwater. As he surfaced, his friends playfully pushed him back under. "I was completely out of breath," he said. "The instant that I took the breath of water in, a white light engulfed me. And I flashed back over my life. It was just all these good moments in my life. I was completely happy to be at this place." In that moment, Dovel says, a "beautiful creature" came out of the light. He said you've got to go back." Dovel had been rescued by his friends, but that glimpse into the afterlife left him confused and profoundly depressed. "A rage came over me and an uncontrollable anger towards God that I had to come back." The next decade became a constant cycle of booze and cocaine-fueled binges [ending in a suicide attempt]. Dovel's lifelong wish to return to heaven ... ended in a personal vision of hell. "It was extremely hot and very humid and dense," he said. The experience then became extremely painful not physically, but emotionally. "I'm living in my past," he said. "And all the people that I had met throughout my life, they would come to me and ... start pushing and screaming and I would relive a moment that I had caused them pain. This is something so horrific that when I came out of that, I quit a $1,000-a-week drug habit cold turkey." Dovel sobered up and devoted his life to suicide prevention through International Suicide Prevention, his nonprofit organization.
Note: To see an ABC News "20/20" report on Matthew Dovel's near-death experiences, click here.
The elusive concept of a "good" death has become a hot topic, inspired by the leave-takings of two great communicators, the Irish writer Nuala O'Faolain and the American computer science lecturer Randy Pausch. It is also the subject of a new book, The Art of Dying, a nod to the medieval texts Ars Moriendi that set out [advice] for dying. The authors, Dr Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick, argue that, obsessed with prolonging life, we have lost the habit of helping people to die a good death. "Hi-tech around the deathbed is sometimes more concerned with the feelgood factor of the relatives and the medical profession, who need to feel they have done everything they can, than with the peace and comfort of the dying," they say. We are very good at making sure that when people die they are as comfortable and pain-free as possible, they add, but not so good at catering for, and teaching others to care for, the spiritual needs of the dying. So it is time for those dying and those around them to think about where and how they want to die. "Our fear of death and love of life," say the Fenwicks, "mean that we seldom prepare either for death itself or the process of dying. So although all of us will die, hardly anyone is prepared to 'die right'?." By "right", they mean pain-free and in an untroubled frame of mind. A "good death", they say, is the death a person wanted - whether surrounded by family at home, in a hospice with professional carers, or even alone. But 67 per cent of people die in hospital among staff untrained and unequipped to answer their emotional, social and spiritual needs.
Note: For a highly inspiring 12-minute video by Prof. Randy Pausch about his impending death and gratitude for life, click here.
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