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Douglas B's Experience

Experience description:   

Mine was not an NDE, though it bears many of the same characteristics. Having been raised in a series of traditional churches, I had an aversion to being taken to church as a child, which seemed like a waste of a perfectly good weekend day. In my early to mid teens, however, I became fascinated with material from the Rosicrucians (astral projection primarily), Edgar Cayce, and Jean Dixon. I was also drawn to the positive Christian types like Norman Vincent Peale and others. All of these materials were in my parent's personal library. It wasn't until I discovered a basic Unity textbook, Lessons in Truth, that I found a presentation of Christian principles that actually made sense to me. I was 16. 

Several years passed and I had been working with the meditative practice given in the book. I had some intriguing experiences that demonstrated to my satisfaction that the material realm really is composed of energy. On different occasions I would open my eyes from what seemed an uneventful meditative session only to see that everything in my immediate environment seemed alive with energy. I remember trying to explain it to my mother the first time it happened and it almost sounded silly hearing myself talking about it.  

When I graduated from High School I started down a path that I thought would be my life's work: I started singing and playing guitar in night clubs. I aspired to become a recording artist and pursued this dream for a few years. At one point I became so frustrated and so broke that I put the whole thing aside and started delving into the Unity teachings, which I had continued with through my musical stint. I felt a real urgency to "go within" and find out who and what I was. 

This, however, proved to be just about as frustrating as trying to make it in music. I remember one morning reading from a book that had been inspirational. This day it seemed as if it were mocking me. In a burst of anger I threw the book across the room and I said to God, "Why is it so hard to get this stuff? If you want me to know all this, then you're going to have to show me. I just can't get it!" 

The whole day I was mad a God, saying things like, "Why would you give me a desire that I can't attain?" It just felt like I had an unquenchable thirst to know something that seemed perpetually out of my reach. 

Then, I was getting ready for bed that night. The moment I sat down on the edge of my bed, something in me began to open up. I saw nothing, but I sensed a great expansive sensation within me. It was incredible love, all-embracing, completely satisfying, and so intense that it almost scared me, but I didn't want it to stop. I began crying in awe. I felt like all my questions were answered, that there was nothing more than this experience that I needed or wanted. It felt like it would never stop. 

Then, a "voice" spoke to me, but not audibly. I just knew what it was saying, and the message was very distinct. It said, "Do not be concerned about your life, for there is a plan." I totally trusted that this was true and I did not feel the need to ask what that plan might be. I only responded with, "Let it be that I may share with others what I am experiencing now." That was all I wanted. I just thought that I wanted to be able to do something that would show others that the spiritual dimension is not just a theory, something to read about; it is a deeper reality that we live in right now. 

That desire ultimately led me into the New Thought ministry. Through the course of my career I have done much study of the works of the mystics but have been most fascinated with their awakening process. Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill, has proven to be a very helpful resource. Along the way, I had the privilege of meeting people who had NDEs, and who were willing to share their experiences with me as a minister. The feelings they tried to describe, I realized, were very much like my own, and it seemed to me that we had all touched a very similar common spiritual ground.  

Over the last several years my fascination with NDE research has deepened tremendously, almost obsessively. There are so many parallels between the mystical teachings of those who have made a breakthrough to Cosmic Consciousness and those who are trying to describe their NDE. Both have to resort to metaphor and parable because there is no language to convey the emotion and experience that even a brief excursion like mine stirs. 

My experience lasted only a few minutes, maybe two. There were "aftershocks" that went on for about 4 days. That is, I would sort of flutter back toward that realm but nothing in my environment seemed to support it. My surroundings, it seemed, were like pouring water on the dying embers of a once blazing campfire. 

The down side of having this life-changing moment is that I feel like I am from another planet. I read of an astronaut who had the incredible experience of walking on the moon and then struggled with alcoholism because most of the people he knew had never had that experience. Everyone wanted to hear about it, but no one actually knew what it was like. This is how I felt for many years. My entire ministry has been devoted to telling others about this deeper dimension, but I can't take anyone there. I can't even seem to get back to it myself, even though I know it's there.  

My fascination with NDE research is one of those things that is demanding my attention. I do not know where this interest is leading, but there have only been a few things in my life that have beckoned in this way, so I know I must continue following it.   

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

Was the experience difficult to express in words?  Yes     Unconditional love is the idea, but it's more than that. It is the difference between looking at a photo of a mountain and actually being on top of the mountain. There are so many things about being there that the photo does not capture.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness?    The entire episode represents the highest level of consciousness and alertness I have ever experienced.

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   I felt permeated with all-knowingness. I have often wondered if I could function in any practical sense while in that state in normal life. It would be difficult to care about anything other than that beauty, that all-encompassing love.

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.
   I saw nothing different with my physical vision. It was my inner sense of vision that expanded incredibly.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.
   I would describe my hearing the "voice" as an intuitive receiving. The voice was not audible, but it was a clear as a bell.

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?   Yes   I was in my bedroom. Nothing in my environment changed. I never had the sense of leaving my body. What I sensed was that everything was a part of the vastness that I was experiencing.

What emotions did you feel during the experience?   Absolute joy, the peace of absolute knowing, totally secure, totally loved, and totally complete.  

Did you pass into or through a tunnel?   No  

Did you see an unearthly light?   Uncertain   I did not physically see a light, but I would describe the experience as one of an inner light coming on. I have read many accounts of light brighter than a thousand suns that did not hurt the eyes of the observer. It was not like that for me, not in a physical light sort of way.

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice?   I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
I saw no being but heard (intuitively) a voice. The voice was absolutely comforting and somehow familiar, though not as if it came from someone I once knew. It just seemed very natural.

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?   No

Did time seem to speed up or slow down?   No

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything?   Everything about the universe
I had a definite sense of all-knowing, like all questions I ever had about my existence were answered, or satisfied. I did not feel like I was pumped full of facts. It was more like all was well, and I was safe and okay in it all.

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure?   No

Did you come to a border or point of no return?   No

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   I had a distinct knowing that my true essence was spiritual, eternal. I knew I was not my body, that I was much more than my body.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that God or a supreme being either does (or does not) exist?   Yes   I would not describe God as "a" supreme being but as pure being-ness. The thing I definitely seemed to grasp was "omnipresence", all being everywhere equally at the same time. Paul's words, "In Him we live and move and have our being" fit perfectly the experience I had.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that you either did (or did not) exist prior to this lifetime?   Uncertain   I had no actual past-life recollections. I did, however, sense my eternal nature and I have no difficulty thinking of each individual as a single consciousness expressing through multiple incarnations. I have come to believe that we incarnate because we want to, not because we have to.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that a mystical universal connection or unity/oneness either does (or does not) exist?   Yes   I felt that the thing I was experiencing was available to all. I think of it as the universal energy of electricity running through the string of multiple Christmas tree lights: one universal energy expressing through multiple outlets.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s meaning or purpose?   Yes   During the experience, everything was absolutely easy. Even as a minister, I have had great difficulty integrating the experience into daily life. My marriage is strong (over 35 years) and I've had a stable career. But I am still haunted by the seeming distance between the demands of daily life and this deeper reality. Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense that we would take on a body that seems to "dumb down" our natural, more universal intelligence.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s difficulties, challenges, or hardships?   Uncertain   During the experience, everything was absolutely easy. Even as a minister, I have had great difficulty integrating the experience into daily life. My marriage is strong (over 35 years) and I've had a stable career. But I am still haunted by the seeming distance between the demands of daily life and this deeper reality. Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense that we would take on a body that seems to "dumb down" our natural, more universal intelligence.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding love?   Yes   That we live in a universe of absolute love was the revelation that brought me to tears. Tears of joy, that is.

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?   Yes   The message I received was absolutely clear. However, I have never encountered clear road signs along the way that said, turn here or there. I have been as frustrated as any. My choice of career and knowing my wife was the right person for me are the two clearest signs that told me these were right. I have also had a compulsion to write (I have written 4 books). 

The plan, for me, is to be true to myself and follow my dreams wherever these lead. This seed was planted in that experience and I'm still doing my best to nurture it.

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge or purpose?   Yes   What I felt I was given was available to all. It was special knowledge of this beautiful dimension. It's like Jesus saying, "You say there are 4 months to harvest. Lift up your eyes and see the fields ready for harvest." When we're standing on tiptoe, our eyes straining to see a better future, we don't see the beautiful reality that is here. I think that is what he was saying and I think that's what came across to me.

What occurred during your experience included:   Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience   The Jesus notion of a kingdom within always had an intuitive appeal to me. The actual experience I had far transcended anything I expected or believed. Again, it's the difference in looking at a mountain photo and being on the mountain. There's just no comparison.

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 the experience   I've explained to my wife and to my congregations over the years that this was the most real experience I have ever had. When I read stories of others who try to explain the feelings their NDE left them, I am totally empathetic, even though I know my experience was not nearly as deep as many of theirs. I recognize the mountain they are describing. I recognize the mountain the mystics describe. I have many forgotten memories. This will never leave.

Discuss any changes that might have occurred in your life after your experience:   I do not think I could have entered the ministry had I not had this experience. I do not think I could have spent over 30 years teaching about something that I only theorized existed. I believe many of my colleagues do this. I could not do it.

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   I feel like the man who discovered the treasure buried in the field. I have spent my life selling all I own (my preconceptions) in order to buy that field.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you?   The idea of their being a "plan" for my life. It's like, when I'm uncertain about things, I think of that and I try to know that the plan is unfolding, that what I'm going through is all part of it.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience?   Uncertain   I have always been intuitive, though not psychic. I am a very good counselor because I know how to listen to people. In a kind of strange way, having that experience gives me a whole sense of the people that share their issues. I can help them see the larger picture that I know is in them, at least enough to help them move from where they are.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you?    
The idea of their being a "plan" for my life. It's like, when I'm uncertain about things, I think of that and I try to know that the plan is unfolding, that what I'm going through is all part of it.

Have you ever shared this experience with others?  
Yes  I have spoken about it in classes and Sunday talks and I have written about it in three of my books. I sense that people believe it adds credibility to what I say as a minister.

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   It made my life I was living seem trivial and unimportant. I wanted more of what it gave me and my life felt very void of anything supporting that level of experience.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience at the current time:   Experience was definitely real   It was a major turning point, the closest thing to reality that I have experienced. Our senses are so easily engaged in trivia that they serve to mask this deeper dimension.

Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience?   Yes   Most of my life revolves around New Thought, spiritual communities, people who understand the language of spirituality (rather than religion). I spend much time alone, but I have always done that.

Have your religious beliefs/spiritual practices changed specifically as a result of your experience?   Yes   Like many others, I'm not interested in traditional religion. My interest is in exploring and teaching spiritual principles that relate to the spiritual awakening.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience?   No   I've had meditative experiences that were significant. This was different.  

Did the questions asked and information that you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?   Yes   The questions are directed to the NDE, but most are relevant to any level of the cosmic awakening. It's a therapeutic exercise. Please offer any suggestions that you may have to improve this questionnaire.  Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience?  

What could a national organization with an interest in near death experience (NDE) do that would be of interest to you?        The collection of stories is the most important thing. I think providing meeting places for those who have had an NDE is important. I would find it interesting listening to the stories, as I have in my ministry, but I wouldn't really fit in experience-wise.

Please offer any suggestions that you may have to improve this questionnaire.  Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience?                    The questionnaire is quite comprehensive, but because I have not actually had an NDE I probably can't offer the best input.