Many others on this thread have voiced similar occurrences and from my studies in transcendental psychology (NDE and the like) it is documented that there are commonalities that are documented from such experiences so there is a lot of truth to be taken from these accounts. The following is my own.
Just before my 18th birthday during the summer after graduating HS I was tearing around on a 3 wheeler with friends. This old trike was not cared for by the owners but I didn’t know that so I was doing my best to whiz around just as fast as the newer quads I was riding with. I broke off from the group and ended up hitting a slight bump and forcing the pins holding the front axle to the frame to shear in two thus rendering the trike into two entirely separate pieces.
The image in your mind may now be me with my ass falling behind on the main portion of the trike whilst my front (still grasping to the handlebars in disbelief) is falling forward causing a rift in my seating position. The handlebars bounced up and struck just below my voice box effectively internally severing my trachea.
I fell to the ground and was promptly run over by the back half of the trike (which broke my leg and ended up being the boring part of the story). In shock I stood and tried to call for help but as those of you paying attention may have surmised I was unable to force air past my voicebox due to the crushed\severed windpipe and I eventually fell over into a more or less fetal position. When they found me and gathered around while waiting to paramedics to arrive (a 15 min chopper flight) I accepted my fate. I was about to die.
I told those friends and family around me that I loved them and my time had come, goodbye.
Once paramedics arrived I described to them that my collarbone had broken and went through my windpipe and out the back of my neck (even though there was no external injury). They being paramedics did what they were trained to do and got me on a stretcher and used a BVM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bag_valve_mask) in an attempt to get oxygenated air into my body. This failed as they did not have any inkling that the air had no guidance system and simply filled up my body cavity. Eventually I was on a helicopter and then I passed out.
From here there are two stories to tell – the one that I experienced, and the one that occurred through other’s experiences. My own first.
As I was fading I had the realization that death was imminent and thought “Aren’t I supposed to see a tunnel and light and all that nonsense” then it happened. I saw the tunnel and light. Only after I made the realization of what was occurring and connected it to our culturally normative thoughts behind what happens at the time of death did I see that ‘tunnel’. This has lead me to recognize how ingrained cultural beliefs are and how far they can be from reality.
Memory fades but this has lasted vividly for many years since it’s occurrence. As has been mentioned, the feeling of complete one-ness with all of existence was my main perception. That the self is not me or I but rather one as many or all as one. There is actually a Family Guy sketch where they are stuck in Purgatory that gives a decent visual example – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OC7RB6pxX0) and it is simply white nothingness. Except not nothingness but simply an all encompassing light. That was it for me. There was no concept of time or space, just existence along with the whole of everything including the number 42.
What happened in the living world was this:
The chopper took me towards a large urban medical center (45 min flight) but when the technicians realized I wouldn’t make it that far they turned around and went to the small local hospital. There a team of surgeons couldn’t figure out what was wrong so one bright young lad went a decided in order to save my life which was quickly drifting away (at this point my blood oxygen count was well below normal and brain death was a real possibility) decided to slice open my chest and figure it out.
There they found a mess of torn trachea and did a quick fix by sticking a tube in and shipping me off to a different medical center where I spent the next six hours in intensive surgery with a team of doctors who were prepared to break my chest and ribs to get at my collapsed trach which would inevitably recoil behind my heart (as the trachea is like a stretched spring inside your chest). Drainage tubes for my lungs were installed (which I still proudly show as “jesus scars”) as were a host of balloons to keep my lungs and trachea from collapsing.
I spent a week in a coma and another so doped up that I saw golden retrievers dancing with purple hippos in the ICU. It was an exciting and terrifying hospital stay for the next 30 days.
Since my family was told I died, would be brain damaged, may be a vegetable, etc. while I was asleep you can understand there were (and still are) some strong feelings regarding the incident. However when I was told I would need a tube in my neck to breathe the rest of my life and therefore would not be able to swim again – I promptly said “fuck that shit” and made up my mind to recuperate.
Although I was still high enough to wonder why I couldn’t just swim backstroke and keep the tube out of the water……. Within 12 months I was competing in college nationals and now race Ironmans always showing off my scars.
My sister was shot while she was walking her dogs in our small town in Alaska. The bullet ricocheted around piercing her bowel in 9 places. Even though we had one of the best Rhode’s Scholar docs in the north at our ER and the only flight out of town was miraculously minutes away from takeoff and held up to fly her to Anchorage, she bled out and died on the operating room table. She knows because she vividly remembers everything the surgeons said as she lay dead on the table.
What she told me later is remarkable: She recalls drifting up and into a very bright light. She was no longer in pain, and felt compelled to travel into the brilliance. It lead to an amazing river. Seriously, the look on her face when she describes this place helps me realize that radiant, endless joy is not just a possibility but an eventuality. She describes playing in a river that consisted of pure knowledge. Anything she ever wanted to know was at her fingertips.
As she played in this amazing river she could sense figures on the distant shore. They were our people, she explained. Our family. Our animals. All waiting patiently for her to finish playing in the river and wade towards them on the shore. Though she was not ready to leave the marvelous river, she knew without being told that they would wait patiently and joyfully.
But she never made it to the shore. As she was playing an amazing thing happened. Seriously, people, if you could see the look on her face when she describes this next part you would laugh for pure joy. A being approached her. She did not know what it was except to describe it as pure, unconditional, ebullient LOVE. It radiated love. It pulsed love. And ALL THINGS diminished before the radiance of that love.
The next part makes me chuckle a bit even though that seems out of place. She said it spoke to her and said that she had to go back, that it wasn’t her time. She said, like a little kid, “But I don’t want to.” When she recounts this experience she emphasizes that to be in proximity of that being is ALL THERE IS. She describes it as a completion. A peace. A welcoming. To leave was incomprehensible.
But to decline was also incomprehensible. She felt infused with a purpose. Very, very, very reluctantly she returned to life. She is amazing. They patched her femoral artery and explained that the graft would eventually give. In all probability she will die within minutes. Living with that sword of Damocles should be terrifying. No. To her it’s a promise that she will get to return. Life is what we are here to do, she explains, but after…..sweet, benevolent, all encompassing love.
With every single breath my sister is heartbeats from death, and I have never met anyone who is more alive. Fearless.
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