David R's Experience

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Experience description:   

      The White Light and the Meaning of Life: A trip in a Dentist chair

The following describes what I initially thought was a Near Death Experience but upon obtaining relevant information appears to be a General Anesthetic phase 2 - Delirium condition induced by Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas).  While being an explainable scientific physical sequence of events the mind/body disassociation that occurred triggered a number of personal insights including the Meaning of Life.

The location was a dentist's chair in Kings Cross, Sydney, October 15th 2002 5pm. The first phase of root canal therapy on a persistently painful tooth was 30 minutes underway and I was breathing Nitrous Oxide through my nose.

The surgery was going well and then a background buzz in hearing started to appear. I started also to feel my perception of time begin to distort. The world around started to slow and the movement of the dentist took on a time-lapse photography feel. I was going to put my hand up and indicate the sensation was starting to overwhelm me but thought I would run with the feeling as in the process I wasn't feeling any pain associated with the operation.

A feeling of sleepiness started to occur and to avoid dozing off I thought I would focus my attention on a close friend. I imagined them as if they were standing in the room. I focused on their facial features and the feeling of comfort I felt by having them their. The sensation of buzzing was still gradually increasing and my visual input started to strobe with the beating sound of a mechanical compressor in a back room. At this stage things seemed to be going extremely wrong in my mind. I could see the dentist still working away but the buzzing and visual strobing was starting to cause what felt like sensory overload.

I changed thoughts to the love I have for my friend as a means to fight the sensations and stay awake by focusing on a single idea.

At this stage I could feel myself start to slide.  The sliding did not occur in the physical body movement sense but the concept that the mind was slipping away. This was associated with a high pitch screaming sound which was probably just the sound of the dentist drill but at the time felt like my mind/soul screaming out that something was seriously wrong. At this point a detachment commenced of the mind to body. I could feel my mind separate from my body and began to think this is what death must be like. What was probably occurring was I was starting to lose my sense of touch as my brain commenced a shutdown sequence.

I still maintained focus on the love of my friend but the distance as I observed them in the room increased as my minds eye (soul?) drifted backwards and I think at this stage I closed my eyes.

(In losing the sense of touch I felt weightlessness and so from here on the details occurred as if I was floating. The mind's journey was still as if I was in person form. The concept of the minds eye may be the third eye, soul but would be the equivalent of what you see when you dream.) I was fighting to get my mind and body re-connected and still focused on the love I have for my friend still pictured before me. However I began to further slide and in so doing couldn't hold onto my friend and hence life by the love I have for them (My mind believed my body was dying).

I began to say goodbye and could see the sadness in their face but as I drifted away a sense of emotional release occurred. At 1m the emotional pain of leaving my friend subsided with a sudden feeling I was sliding backwards to a higher purpose, at 2m the pain had gone (perhaps emotional shutdown occurred).  There was a freedom felt at this point that my soul was to exist as a self-entity. It no longer required the emotional attachment to other people because it was moving out of this phase onto a journey of higher purpose and autonomy. At this point I realized it is those who are left behind who feel the pain of grieving for those who have left them but those who pass over realize there is something more.

I was also comforted by the fact that in time the person who I loved would also be in this same position and they too would realize they were moving onto something more important than what they had on earth. They would also find themselves laughing at the paradoxical joke of life as I now found myself laughing at it. At this point in time I realized the answer to the age-old question, the Meaning of Life.

I was nonetheless desperate to hang onto life and searched my memory for any reason that I should stay on earth. Even though I feel as though I have had a successful life there was nothing that I have done that I felt I needed to stay to complete. Love seemed to be the only answer as a reason to stay. An image of my family appeared and the love I have for them but I slid past. I drifted fast onto another image of an ex-partner who flashed before me with memories of the love I had for them and then I started to see rays of a white light emanating behind me.

I could hear in my brain my name being called out (probably by the dentist) it came across in a kaleidoscopic laughing voice that I should return but as I slide further the calmer things became. From somewhere I was hearing my cousin's voice saying 'stay away from the white light', which I was trying to do but the rays of light emanating behind me were inviting. As I slid backwards, towards the light all the feelings associated with life became non-existent as probably final sensory shutdown occurred.

I turned towards the light and I just let all of life go. On entering the light I presumed my body was dead and there was no way I was going back. It didn't matter however because I was now in a place with peace and harmony. The place was dark and there was nothing around but I was at one with myself. There was no sensory input - touch, smell, hearing, taste, vision, (emotion?). The only senses active was the view from my minds eye and the feeling of complete pure calm and at being one with myself.

Imagine you are floating in the centre of a black room with no light and infinite distance in every direction. In effect you could consider yourself sitting in the centre of the universe with nothing in it except you and that was where I was.  My minds eye looked over my shoulder to see if the white light was now behind me after passing through it but it no longer mattered because I enjoyed where I was. Time now seemed to be irrelevant and I was just idly floating there without a care in the world :-)

Then it happened. Bang - I was back in the dentist's room and looking around. I remembered at the time thinking - shit what am I doing back here; get me back to where I was it was far nicer. About 10 seconds later my hearing kicked back in and I could hear the birds chirping outside the open window and interestingly no beating compressor just the quietness of birds chirping.

The journey had taken 10 minutes, how long my mind thought it took was about three.

While my mind was racing, accessing every part of my memory to try and keep my body alive. Some other part may have been interpreting a meaning to the sequence of events because after coming back the following self-evident axioms were left imprinted in my mind that weren't there prior to the experience.

- There are things in life you can do nothing about and you should make the best decision for yourself to continue. Eg if you love someone and they don't love you, don't mourn the fact move on because you can connect with other people.

- You must just live the moment and enjoy each moment with those around you who you love.

- While I came to the conclusion love was the only reason to be on earth, love should not restrict your journey through life. At the end of the day there is something far more important which is to be true to yourself.

- At the end of the day we will all die alone but the place that awaits is one without the pain of emotional turmoil and we will each find tranquility.

- The concept of death as we know it is only terrible for those who are left behind, those who pass over know an elation like no other.

Now for the paradoxical joke of life; just as Christopher Columbus said the world is round:

-           The answer to the meaning of life is NOTHING.

I have told a few people this and it is completely confronting to them as they believe there must be an answer, but at the end of the day what each person does on earth amounts to nothing except for the lives of the people they touch. At the point of sliding and struggling not to let my body die, I realized nothing I had done while alive was worthy of keeping me on earth. Not even the love that binds me to other people was enough to keep me on earth. Hence all I achieved in my life amounted to nothing and so I laughed at my life as I would a joke and then I realized if my life was a joke then everyone's life is a joke and therefore life itself is a joke, and there in lies the joke that it is a joke. Nothing times Nothing equals nothing, 0 x 0 = 0, |{}| = 0.

Now this is not meant to sound pessimistic but look at it from a different perspective. I could have had a noble profession such as being a doctor and spent my life saving sick people. But all I am doing is prolonging an agony that could otherwise be avoided if the person passed over into nirvana.  The prolonging of a persons life stops them from reaching the self-evident truth that will occur in death that they will move onto being enlightened.

So now that I have said the Meaning of life is nothing, I should further elaborate on the statement. The context in which this is stated is in the grand scheme of things beyond life as we know it in our existence on earth. It is obviously also in the context of how far I made it in the journey. Perhaps while I was idly sitting at the centre of my universe a dead loved one or an angel may have come to collect me and introduce me to god at which stage I may have been told something else on what I achieved on earth but on the journey I took that was the answer, nothing.

From the perspective of those who live on earth the Meaning of Life is Love, which unfortunately isn't Universal Love. Humans are shackled to reality by their senses; love is the culmination of sensory input into an emotional sense (a sixth sense). Universal Love would be the Nirvana on earth because all people would realize the need to connect, understand and protect their fellow person.

Whether the journey I had was simply a Brain Shutdown that sequenced the events it matters not. In the 10 minutes that passed I now have no fear of death and embrace life for all its worth. I feel a new kind of kinship with friends & loved ones and can just enjoy the simple things in life like lying in a park and looking at the sky. Whether my meaning of life is right? I'll leave for you to find out, when you take the journey.

Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience:  Yes

      Explanation:  Nitrous Oxide

Was the experience difficult to express in words?  No

At the time of the experience, was there an associated life threatening event?  No

What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience?  Transition from conscious to unconscious state as general anesthetic effects of Nitrous Oxide took place.

Was the experience dream like in any way?  Yes

Did you experience a separation of consciousness from your body?  Yes

Describe your appearance or form apart from your body:  I was still in human form

What emotions did you feel during the experience?  Calmness and at being one with myself

Did you hear any unusual sounds or noises?  A buzzing noise that then took the form of a resonating beat.

Did you pass into or through a tunnel or enclosure?  No

      Describe:  On entering the white light the next instance I was in the empty universe.

Did you see a light?  Yes

      Describe:  Initially started as rays of light from behind me that I could see going forward. Similar to the sun shining through clouds but only as thin strands. As I moved back towards the light the rays became more pronounced until turning and entering the light.

Did you meet or see any other beings?  No

Did you experience a review of past events in your life?  No

Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later?  No

Did you see or visit any beautiful or otherwise distinctive locations, levels or dimensions?  No

Did you have any sense of altered space or time?  Yes

      Describe:  Time became insignificant in the place I was in and the concept of space was infinite.

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?  Yes

      Describe:  A knowing that being on earth is only part of a persons life journey. That the purpose of human life is to connect with people and enjoy the company of fellow human beings. The only mark we will leave on this earth is the people we come into contact with and there is no other meaning to life than that.

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure?  No

Did you become aware of future events?  No

Were you involved in or aware of a decision to return to the body?  No

Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience you did not have prior to the experience?  Uncertain

      Describe:  After - I felt I could look into peoples faces and see what they were like as a person and talk with just about anybody on any topic.

Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?  Yes

      Describe:  Yes a realization of the important of enjoying each moment and being closer to people.

Has the experience affected your relationships?  Daily life?  Religious practices etc.?  Career choices?  It has brought me closer to the ones I love and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Have you shared this experience with others?  Yes

      Describe:  If the story does not marry with their belief system then they will dismiss the story or try to contort the story and place their own meaning on it. The journey however seemed to be the congealment of many things I had thought about. Hence each persons journey may simply be a reflection on what they believe at the time. If you believe in god then that will be who will be awaiting you after you pass through the light for me it was an empty universe. So the journey may be the brain affirming your belief system so you die happy :-)

What emotions did you experience following your experience?  Elation and happiness that I had the opportunity to realize what may lie beyond our existence on earth.

What was the best and worst part of your experience?  The letting go of the things that bind us to our everyday existence. That anytime is a time you could die even when you don't expect it (like sitting in a dentists chair) so enjoy each of life's moments with those you care about.

Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?  Yes

      Describe:  In too many ways to mention

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?  Yes

      Describe:  I went back to the dentist the next week. I could feel the same set of initial symptoms of buzzing etc taking place but got them to reduce the Nitrous before it became too much.

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