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Bill B's Experience

Experience description:   

I had experienced some transformative experiences prior to this, one on mescaline as a therapy tool and one in high school which popped up quite unexpectedly while musing about a photo of a galaxy.  These experiences, or the more precisely the drive, curiosity and risk-taking associated with them derived from a deep need to heal early life experiences.  I won't go into the details but early separations, deaths, traumas, neglects and disfunction led me to high school years of scrapes with the law, guns, and poor choices regarding friends.  But the experience I mentioned with the galaxy photo where I saw how separate I feel but realized I can't actually be as disconnected as I feel, that experience, changed me and I got it together and got on to college and much cleaner living.  But the second year of college my father died and after all the prior traumas I couldn't keep it together and failed in college.  But, I cleaned up my act once again and got married, responsible and quite focused on health and education.  This is where the mescaline experience was very healing.  I did so well that I was offered a fellowship to a very prestigious graduate school for a masters degree which I pursued and completed.  Then I got one of the best career jobs of my graduating class and went to central Illinois in January of 1975 to begin my career.  My wife and I had difficulties then and she didn't come out with me, which was very distressing to me.  The stress of the new career, my lack of sense about the politics of my position and the, frankly, despair over the loss of my marriage, all vectored into one very bad month that summer. 

Jogging most days I started to feel a lung problem and noticed my lungs were gurgling.  They had fluid in them.  Thinking it was the humid summer air laded with soybean paste from the processing plants in the area I decided to take a week and go to Colorado to get my self some perspective.  I was not doing well at my job and the despair over the marriage, given that I had lost my birth family earlier in my life, was very depressing and taking its toll. 

In Colorado I slept outside, camping, and start feeling a little better although the gurgling was still going on.  Wanting another week I realized that calling my board of directors telling them I'm taking another week wouldn't sit well and would corrode my tenuous situation even further so I had a bright idea.  Seeing a doctors office open in the small Colorado town I walked in asking for an appointment thinking they'd hear the lung problem and I could basically have a doctors excuse to give my board.  A slow day in that town the doctor saw me immediate and acted quite concerned.  He sent me to Denver to get some more tests at a hospital.  I arrive that same day and thought I was just there for some tests but they immediately admitted me to the oncology unit.  I remember laying in that bed, with no one to call, no family, my soon-to-be-ex-wife wouldn't respond, there wasn't a single human being.  I'd been so focused on education, career and marriage that it's all I had but I had no people. 

It turns out I had pneumonia but the doctors said there was something else as well but they would not give me a diagnosis.  I think they witnessed my depression and wanted to get me 'home' but the truth was I didn't really have a home and family.  I had an apartment and a board of directors that was probably planning to let me go.  After about a week the doctor said I was well enough to travel home and he'd forward my records.  I remember them asking if I had any family.  At that moment, although I can't prove this, I knew I was dying.  I didn't know if it were in a week or two years but I knew it was over for me.  Also I did know I was depressed and that can lead to a foreshortened sense of future but that wasn't what I felt.  I knew I was dying. 

Getting back to Illinois my worst fears were realized and they let me go.  I can't say I blame them as I wasn't functioning at the level I should have but I simply didn't have any energy.  I made a decision, while in Denver, that should I lose my job, I would drive the car to my in-laws in Michigan so they could give it to my wife since she didn't have a car then living on the east coast.  Then I would find my way to a specific retreat center in New Mexico and take it from there.  I thought I probably wouldn't make out of the mountains of New Mexico. 

After packing up in Illinois I started driving to Michigan in the early evening.  It was a miserable, cold and rainy evening.  Stuck in a long traffic jam I saw what seemed like miles of tail lights and at that moment I suddenly felt like a blood cell in the veins of some much larger being.  Later that evening, exhausted,  I pulled into a closed gas station to try and lay across the bucket seats and close my eyes. 

My next awareness was of being in a long tunnel; it was a cave with red stone walls.  This was more than a dream, it was very real and yet I had an awareness that I had that life on the surface, in the car.  Surprisingly I felt very happy there.  I loved that place and the sense of time was so ... ancient beyond ancient, beyond any sense of time.   The stone walls had cave paintings, much like the ones at Lascaux.  What I noticed though was the painting were knowledge of the deep of our existence, and I could read the meaning.  Moving deeper and deeper I found myself happier, more ebullient, joyful and comprehending of this cascade of knowing.  The deeper I went the more it became apparent the walls and paintings were really made of light in little rainbows of color and not stone and pigment.  Finally, very deep in this place, I came to the end of knowing.  There is such a place.  it was then I turned to my right and saw this warm, most wonderful, welcoming, familiar light.  I was home!  This is home.  This, I saw, is where we all come from and to where well all return.  It's impossible to not go home again.  The happiness was inexpressible and particularly so in my case since a sense of home wasn't something I'd ever had as a child, young man, or adult. 

The choice was mine, knowing that with a couple more 'steps' I wouldn't return to that sadly parked car, that they'd just find a lifeless body there.  It didn't seem like much of a risk to go back because, even though I knew my life there was a painful mess, the worst possible case would be that I would return home.  The best possible case would be that I would return home.  Not much of a problem really either way.  So I had the though, "I wonder if I can get out this mess I'm in?"   

I woke in the car, feeling the full weight of my broken life and I had to leave so much of the knowing behind although I've never left that knowing of home.  That stays as does the loss of fear of dying.   

For three days I think, I was sick and delirious at my in-laws, remembering very little.   Never very welcoming to me in the marriage they were clear that it was time for me to move along.  I wound up on the street and it took me 9 years or so to reintegrate into ordinary society.  This was quite a journey.  In that time there were many many changes in my ability to sense peoples state of health (kind of smelling with my forehead ... sound odd but that's it).  I experienced much creativity, felt a sense of connection to the world that I'd never felt, my body changed and oh, after that illness and those days delirious I got super healthy.  Which was a bit of a problem since I thought I had very little time to live and there I was outside of ordinary society but not dying.   

The experience changed me completely.  Although I saw much later that some emotional material from my early losses and trauma still held sway in my decision making and feeling life I did keep reaching for healing in those areas and found some remarkable allies over the years.  I did write (self-published) a book called "I Took the Buddha Shopping" about one of my mentors.  Just as one example the book opens with a scene that really happened.  I caught a glimpse of a person in a window reflection on a cold grey winters day and it scared me.  Then I noticed it was me.  I saw I had become a street person.  At that very time, another man, very successful, was being asked to run for state senator by Barry Goldwater.  We became friends.  It's that kind of story.  For now I will leave it at that.  Thank you.

At the time of your experience was there an associated life-threatening event?   Uncertain  I had been in the oncology ward of a hospital in Denver while on vacation.  I had pneumonia but there was something else but they wouldn't give a diagnostic impression and wanted to send me home for that.  I didn't make it home.

Was the experience difficult to express in words?  Uncertain     I can tell the story but the utter certainty of what I came to know is difficult to convey since it is easy to dismiss as a dream, or a delusion, or a byproduct of depression or something.  But, as those who have these experiences know it's more real.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness?    Standing facing the light full of knowing and wonder and happiness.

How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness?      More consciousness and alertness than normal   it was more aware of the 'background' of energy and knowledge that structure existence and the elements we see and experience.

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.   More lucid and aware of the energetic content of 'material/ objects.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.   Didn't hear much, odd, never thought of this but I've had hearing issues my whole life.

Did you see or hear any earthly events that were occurring during a time that your consciousness / awareness was apart from your physical / earthly body?   No  

What emotions did you feel during the experience?   All positive, joy, ebullience, happiness, energy, intellectual satisfaction ... the list goes on and on.  Oddly I notice I don't use the word love.  I think since my earlier separations from birth mother or nurturing female presences in early life I don't connect that word to feelings but the light ... I could see how that could easily be called love.  

Did you pass into or through a tunnel?   Yes   Started as a very deep cave of red stone with cave paintings and then lost time and became light and energy and accelerated knowledge conveyed via the paintings.

Did you see an unearthly light?   Yes   Everything was made of light deeper into the experience.

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice?   No

Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)?   No  

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings?   No  

Did you become aware of past events in your life during your experience?   No  

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world?   Some unfamiliar and strange place

very ancient cave tunnel of light, a lot like a red stone tunnel on earth but alive and made of light.

Did time seem to speed up or slow down?   Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
The sense of age in this place went beyond any capacity to describe or even 'know' ancient at that level.  Time so old as to be beyond time.

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything?   Everything about the universe
Had all knowing there in the tunnel.  Had to leave a lot behind when I came back.

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure?   Yes
A portal of light from which I would not return if I 'stepped' into it.

Did you come to a border or point of no return?   I came to a definite conscious decision to return to life
It was up to me, no compelling me of any kind in either direction.

Did scenes from the future come to you?  No 

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness suggesting that there either is (or is not) continued existence after earthly life (“life after death”)?   Yes   Sure, can't end.  Identity ends, changes, but existence, no.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that God or a supreme being either does (or does not) exist?   Uncertain   If God implies something separate from self not that.  If God implies everything that is, is conscious, then yes, that.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that you either did (or did not) exist prior to this lifetime?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that a mystical universal connection or unity/oneness either does (or does not) exist?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s meaning or purpose?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s difficulties, challenges, or hardships?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding love?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any other specific information / awareness that you have not shared in other questions that is relevant to living our earthly lives?   No  

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge or purpose?   No  

What occurred during your experience included:   Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your exp   I had never felt a feeling of home much less had any concept that death is home.

How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience?   I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of th   It stays clear

Discuss any changes that might have occurred in your life after your experience:   More awareness of energy, awareness of my nature and talents, more risk taking to experience and experiment with life, more social connectivity, more creative success.

My experience directly resulted in:   Large changes in my life

Did you have any changes in your values or beliefs after the experience that occurred as a result of the experience?  
Yes   More willing to go with both the plusses and minuses of life.  More alive but not more 'positive' in the sense that any kind of phony just wouldn't work for me any longer,

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience?   Yes   more psychic, aware of energy in myself and others.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you?    

Have you ever shared this experience with others?  
Yes  Years,  wrote that book about it, self-published.  Also did a one man show but it hasn't been produced yet.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience?   No  

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened:   Experience was definitely real   I don't know, scratch your nose and then ask yourself did you scratch your nose.  It's just obvious.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience at the current time:   Experience was definitely real  

Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience?   Yes   More connection

Have your religious beliefs/spiritual practices changed specifically as a result of your experience?   Yes   Less concerned with religion, as in old belief systems or needing a philosophy.  Unknowing works fine too.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience?   No     

Did the questions asked and information that you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?   Yes  

What could a national organization with an interest in near death experience (NDE) do that would be of interest to you?       Let people know it's bigger than the containers we try and put it in.