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Spirituality

Do Near-Death Experiences Prove Anything?

David Langness | Nov 22, 2014

PART 1 IN SERIES What Comes Next: Life After Death

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Nov 22, 2014

PART 1 IN SERIES What Comes Next: Life After Death

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Know with true certainty that man was not created for the life of this world as it is mortal and there is no certainty therein. Is it possible that this great creation and glorious being should terminate in mortality? Is it meet that the result of God’s great creation which is unlimited-that is, man-should live in this world a certain number of days with many difficulties, troubles, without repose and rest, and then die and end in mortality? No; verily, by truth, this is not meet! Nay, rather, this glorious being and grand creation was made for the eternal life, spiritual happiness, revelations of the heart, divine inspiration, heavenly perfections and virtues of the kingdom. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablet to the Baha’is of Ithaca, New York, Star of the West, Volume 9.

During the war in Vietnam, I had many friends who died in firefights. Only one came back.

Wounded soldier in a field hospital during the Vietnam War

Wounded soldier in a field hospital during the Vietnam War

Our platoon, on patrol in the jungle east of a place called Phu Bai, ran into a large force of North Vietnamese troops, and the shooting started. My friend Colin, a sergeant from San Francisco, got hit almost immediately. With three AK-47 bullet wounds in his torso, he had no vital signs when we got to him, but a Medevac helicopter landed and another soldier named Hamilton and I got Colin’s body on a stretcher and put him on the helicopter anyway. I took off his helmet and said a quick prayer before the helicopter took off.

The next day I expected to hear that our platoon would take up a collection for flowers for his family. Instead, I heard that the medics on the helicopter and the doctors at a field hospital had resuscitated him. Miraculously, he was alive and was expected to recover.

A week or so later I hiked over to the field hospital on our Army base to see if I could pay Colin a visit.

Colin’s Near-Death Experience

“I died,” he said, smiling.

“Yeah, I know,” I told him, shaking my head, amazed. “You were a goner when we got to you.”

I found Colin lying in a hospital bed, patched and sewn up, multiple tubes running into him. His treasured good luck charm, a leather-wrapped peace symbol he always wore around his neck, still lay against his chest. Some of his dried blood had stained the leather.

Obviously still in pain and immobilized, he managed to grin widely when he saw me, his eyes alight.

I stood there and looked at him, dumbfounded.

“How long was I gone?” he asked me.

“Maybe just a few minutes before we put you on the chopper,” I told him.

“I saw you doing that, you and Hamilton.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him, puzzled. “You were dead, man. You weren’t seeing anything.”

“I could see it, I could hear everything. After you and Hamilton put me on the stretcher,” Colin said, looking inward as if he could still see it happening. “He picked up the front, and you lifted the back. You took off my helmet. Hamilton said ‘I’m going to miss this dumb hippie.’”

A cold shiver ran up my back, because those were Hamilton’s exact words.

Proof of Life after Death?

That startling wartime incident, and others like it, sparked my lifelong interest in near-death experiences. Since then I’ve read multiple books and research studies on “NDEs”, and met and talked to several people who had similar experiences after their own clinical deaths.

So in this series of articles, we’ll take a look at near-death experiences and explore what they might mean, whether they’re scientifically credible, and if they actually prove anything about life after death.

Baha’is believe strongly, as do most of the world’s great Faiths, that human life continues after death. As you can see in the quote from Abdu’l-Baha above, the Baha’i teachings say that the entire purpose of this physical existence involves attaining that immortal world.

We live on this plane of existence, in other words, as a preparation for the next.

Of course, no one has discovered any scientific proof of the existence of that next world. For centuries people have made attempts to cross the barriers of death and time, but no one has ever succeeded. That’s understandable, because science, by its very definition, studies and measures the physical universe, not the spiritual, metaphysical one. Baha’is believe that an immortal, non-material, transcendental existence does await us—so it would, by definition, go beyond the boundaries of what scientific inquiry and physical proof can accomplish.

That means the accounts of those who have undergone near-death experiences come probably as close as we’ll ever get to understanding what awaits us when our bodies stop functioning and our souls continue.

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Comments

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  • Sharon Yambasky
    Jul 10, 2017
    -
    My name is Sharon… On April 2, 2011… then went to a movie with my husband… Then I had 2 grand mal seizures that stopped my heart. Apparently I was born with brain tumors and they waited a really long time to get mad. I never had a headache…
    The next thing I remember I was in the back of an ambulance. I saw myself lying on the stretcher and the ambulance attendant next to me said " no pulse, no heartbeat , she is blank blank effing toast. ...I had no conscious need of air , Yet I knew I was not breathing. I heard everything They said I was calm and relaxed as if waking up in the morning. I was not afraid. When he said I was toast I thought twice… Please God, I sat up gasping for air, Then another seizure… I saw and heard it all
    Read more...
  • marilyn sanchez
    May 23, 2016
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    Hi David. this is your old friend Marilyn. I was run over as a pedestrian in 2008 and was dead 7-10 minutes. I had a beautiful experience and in my was allowed to decide whether to return or stay in the world of light. i love this topic.
    • May 26, 2016
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      Hi, Marilyn! Wonderful to hear from you. Would you consider writing about your experience for BahaiTeachings?
  • Lothar Depping
    May 23, 2016
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    Hello, carol campbell and all.
  • Jul 11, 2015
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    The book ;Not every sea has pearl has mentioned a few personal experience of the author of the book whose name I don't remember during the ministry of AbdulBaha.
  • Mar 25, 2015
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    I must share with a newer Baha'i who is not online but was pronounced dead and had a profound experience...thanks!
  • Jan 25, 2015
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    Very fascinating. I would like share my experience which left me perplexed. I didn't understand and saw anything. My Dad passed away last year in August. He was amputed and diabetic. Three months before he became very weak, could hardly eat and speak. Then again and again he would check the clock saying time has slow down. When we talked to him he would just show three fingers pointing up the ceiling and one day he told my bro who is the big black lady behind him but there was nobody. One day he told me to look overthere there ...is somebody near the wardrobe. Nobody's there. Another time he would say there is somebody at his back. Then he stopped talking just making signs and three fingers up. It was very interesting cos It was the first time I experienced such situation but unfortunately Dad passed away three weeks after. What should I understand? Can't figure out? Thanks for reading.
    Read more...
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