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Joshua's Experience

Experience description:   

In late September of 2011 my godfather passed away of a sudden heart attack. That year his family, who are devout Catholics, invited my family over for Christmas eve in Philadelphia. We accepted the invitation and arrived early on Christmas eve to spend the evening in an upscale Philadelphia hotel. The family did not want to spend the night in their home because the memories weighed too heavily on them so soon after my godfather's death.

  That night we went to a restaurant, ate, had a few light drinks, and went back to the hotel to talk and reminisce. I went to bed at around 10:30 pm well fed, sober, and otherwise in the same state in which I have always been accustomed to go to sleep. It seemed a normal night.

  However, upon going to sleep I was immediately struck by a feeling of once again being awake and fully aware, more aware than ever. Though I realized I was still "asleep" I felt more awake than I had ever been before. I found that I was not in bed. I was sitting on the hotel room couch and my godfather sat next to me. I felt nothing but joy to see him, no confusion or amazement, just gratitude. He had a movie on and was watching it with a large jar in his hand. From this jar he pulled his favorite movie snack, pretzels. However, when he handed me the jar it became a large cup of grape soda, one of my favorite movie indulgences. I found this odd.

  Just as I was about to comment on the snack jar my godfather turned to me, smiled, and said: "It's good to see you, but you have to go now." At this point he turned his gaze upward, and I followed it with my own eyes. Rather than a ceiling I saw above us the swirling expanse of space. Just above me was a smiling man, he appeared as an Irish gentleman wearing a tweed cap and corduroy jacket. He had a receding hairline of coppery red beneath his cap and scruffy side burns that were almost long enough to be mutton chops. He glowed faintly and smiled broadly, offering me his hand. I took the man's hand, and we began to fly through space at an accelerated pace. I knew at once that we were already everywhere, and that I was being shown the universe in an instant. We passed thousands of planets and I was shown all manner of intelligent creatures living out their lives and coming to their deaths in a great cycle. I was awed, and felt great joy at being shown this knowledge.

 As we drifted on we began to approach something that I thought of as the "center" even though I realized the expanse we traversed was limitless. The place we approached looked like a large star or golden orb surrounded by a ring of land and sea that orbited it. I knew immediately that the place was vast, far larger than the Earth or even our own sun, possibly larger than our own galaxy. At the same time I realized how meaningless physical measurement was. All through this celestial voyage the man I was with spoke to me, I could not remember his words from that journey when I awoke, but they left me feeling profoundly altered.

 Upon arriving on a large mountain on the ring of land the man began to strike up a light conversation with me. He said "welcome back" when we landed and began to take me around a small village on the mountain. The place was filled with an aura of peacefulness and reassurance. The man alternately called referred to me as father, son, and brother.

 This village was inhabited by two types of being. One type were seemingly human, only their forms changed fluidly. Though their heights and biological sexes seemed to remain the same their skin, eye and hair colors were constantly changing, as did their facial features. The people were very friendly to me and acted like they knew me well, though I did not recognize them. They made me feel welcome. Most of them wore wimple black robes, the kinds a monk might wear. When I looked down at myself I found I was also clothed in this manner. The other types of beings were all male, and about three feet high. They looked like swarthy old men with big smiles and white bears, only they had very shaggy white hair and ears like sheep or goats. Many of them smoked small pipes or played guitar-like instruments. The short old goat-men told jokes with each other and were constantly laughing, they appeared to be artisans of some sort and seemed to congregate around small workshops.

 All this time the glowing man was talking to me about my life and my thoughts on it. He was very kind, though I can only remember certain specifics about our conversation. He brought me to a shop where I met a family that was picking out nuts and fruits. There was no currency or payment exchanged, they simply took what they needed. I got the feeling that the whole village setup was just for fun, or nostalgia, and that none of them actually had to eat to function. During this visit the family's small daughter seemed to collapse, as if she were dieing. She did not move, and was cold. So, I bent over her and stretched my hands over her body. Small crackling arcs of some sort of electricity jumped from my hands to her body and she awoke. I felt great compassion for this child. Her parents thanked me and were crying.

 Next, the glowing Irishman took me to the outskirts of the village, where an old stone wall met a wooden fence. The wooden fence bounded in a pumpkin patch, and the stone wall separated the village from a large meadow. On the other side of the meadow was a huge silvery stone archway of great beauty. The archway was full of light so that the other side could not be seen. Suddenly, the little girl I had awoken came up behind us. She tugged my sleeve to get our attention and asked the Irishman "where do I go now?" in a soft and inquisitive voice. He pointed toward the archway and said something reassuring. The girl smiled sheepishly and asked what she would find there. The man replied that she could only find that out for herself. She smiled and walked across the meadow to the archway. She walked through smiling and the light flashed.

  Suddenly the tone of my conversation with the glowing man took a somber tone. I got the sense that this man knew everything, and that he was very familiar with me. I knew he loved me, and I knew he was proud of me for some reason I could not understand. He continued to alternate between calling me father, son and brother. I asked the man about death. He asked what I wanted to know about it. I asked "will I be judged?" At this time my eye was caught by a scarecrow that was walking across the pumpkin patch with a long whip made of rags tied together. He was flailing the harmless whip at one of the goat-men who was laughing and puffing on his pipe as he skipped away, periodically getting smacked by one of the harmless, floppy rags. It was a game to them. The man looked at me and said something I couldn't exactly recall, but the meaning was very clear. He said no one is judged in the way we think of judgment, there is no punishment or retribution. I almost got the feeling that what he was talking about was a lot more like a performance review, or a critique.

 I then asked the man "is there nothingness, after death?" My vision was then filed with the view of a tombstone in a field, and darkness began to expand around the tombstone until it was alone in a void. I felt the man's hands on my shoulders, he was looking me in the eye with great emotion. He said "I'm not nothing."

 After this I asked him what the place was. He said "I think you understand" with a pleasant, conspiratorial smile. I asked "What can I call it?" He laughed a little, but in a friendly way, as if names were something we only needed on Earth, and he gave me a name to call the place. I have always felt like I should keep the name to myself. I have researched the name and found no mention of it, though it rhymes with a few completely random English and Latin words.

 The man then looked at me with a smile and said "It's time for you to be getting back." I didn't want to leave, but I couldn't be upset for anything in that place. He took me to what appeared to be a pie cart run by a particularly wizened and jovial old goat-man. The little man opened the doors to the cart and told me to get in. I said "I don't think I can fit." The cart was small. He laughed a gruff laugh, like a grandfather laughing at a childish mistake. He told me that matter was meaningless and that I, of all people, should know that. I felt foolish, but I couldn't tell you why. As I approached the doorway I shrank to fit as if it were a muscle reflex. I noticed that the glowing man was getting in with me, he too was going to Earth. With a wink from the goat man at the pie cart and one last feeling like a warm smile from the glowing Irishman, I awoke. 

 Throughout this experience I felt a sense of realness beyond reality. Insomuch as when I did awake, I felt as if I was going back to sleep, as if this world were a dream and only when I came to die would I again wake up and go to the places I had seen, and exist in the limitless, formless, joyous manner which I had existed. I felt utter clarity upon waking, clarity taken from that place I had visited. I felt I had traveled, gone out of myself and existed in a paradigm far more real than our own bonds of flesh. It was an experience that I can barely capture in words and still wish I could recapture in waking hours.

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

Was the experience difficult to express in words?....Yes....While many of the images and concepts I saw and spoke about can be easily approximated or communicated, the feelings that were evoked and many of the words spoken to me I simply cannot find language for.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness?....More consciousness and alertness than normal    When speaking to the glowing man about death and its implications all of my being seemed to be completely focused on him. At the same time, I felt a rhythm flowing through me that flowed through all things, and through which I could feel all things.....I felt as if I could perceive many occurrences at once, I felt as if there was a pulse connecting me with everything in existence. I could truly understand abstract concepts like death, which I saw as an amazingly complex pattern that wove into itself and from itself all living things.

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.    I could see multiple things at once, as if I were viewing from many angles. Colors were more vivid and seemed to be imbued with a pattern that constantly moved. I could see the pattern and the "regular" scene at the same time without interference in either, and I could see many of such scenes at once. When I saw people, they could be many people at once, or constantly shifting.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.    Everything I "heard" was clear and precise, as if it were being understood rather than heard with ears. There were no accents, or slurs, or difference in "voice" between people in any tonal way. Rather than was an "idea" of voice, I felt the words directly and felt emotion and tone with them, rather than "hearing" them. The glowing man's voice was intertwined with the feelings of calm, knowing, familial love and warmth. The goat-men had voices that had the qualities of wise, jolly, kind, and aged.

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?....In felt a great and profound sense of joy, complete freedom from anxiety or pain, and amazing gratitude for being where I was. I also felt amusement and a grateful lightening of spirits when talking to the goat-men. I felt a deep sense of reflection when i thought about the words the glowing-man spoke to me.  

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

Did you see an unearthly light?....Uncertain....The man who guided me glowed softly while we were in space, and the sphere of light surrounded by a ring of land and sea was very majestic and awe inspiring. However, I don't know if these are "unearthly" in the quality you mean. They were not of Earth, but they were beautiful rather than profoundly mysterious or spiritual. However, the light in the archway may qualify as "unearthly." Though, I had no direct interaction with it.

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    The glowing man was quite clearly mystical and "unearthly", although I feel he had been to Earth many times. Perhaps a better way to describe him than unearthly would be that he was omnipresent. He wasn't necessarily NOT of Earth, he was simply OF everyplace. The goat-men seemed purely people of the realm I was visiting, so they would definitely qualify as unearthly beings. The shifting people seemed fairly human, possibly more "human" than earthly people: They seemed like pure soul.

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings?....Yes    My godfather, who died three months prior to this experience, was present in the beginning. Also, as the glowing-man took me through the cosmos he showed me planets on which other sentient beings were alive and going about their (completely unable to be communicated or fully remembered since waking) daily existence.

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

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world?....A clearly mystical or unearthly realm....I passed by many "worlds" though I have no way to describe whether they were planets, other realities, or even different "locations" in time. They were simply other places. The "center" location was of great beauty and of an obviously mystical nature.

Did time seem to speed up or slow down?....Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning....There was a linear progression from event to event, but I didn't feel a sense of "time" as we generally think of it. Rather, I feel it was structured in a linear way purely for my benefit, so I could remember as much as possible when awake and limited again by physical human parameters.

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything?....Everything about the universe....This is a very, very difficult thing to express. I felt as if I "saw" or "felt" everything in existence, which I perceived as being far vaster than the universe, time, or space. I saw it as a pattern, at once gloriously complex and elegantly simple. In a way, it was kaleidoscopic. I saw it, it was beautiful, it didn't make any quantifiable human sense, but I knew it was beautiful and wonderful.

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....

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge or purpose?....Yes....I did feel, while I was undergoing this experience, a great sense of knowing. However, much of that knowing left me over the coming weeks, as if I could not contain it or express it properly as I exist now.

Discuss any changes that might have occurred in your life after your experience:....Moderate 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 have a much stronger belief in the primacy of consciousness and the immortality of the soul.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience?....No    

Have you ever shared this experience with others?   Yes   I shared it, with a lot less specific detail about the places and people, with an acquaintance who had been diagnosed with cancer and asked about my views on death. I shared the concepts and the conversation with the glowing man. It was about seven months later.

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    The feeling I had that night was the most real I have ever had. Comparing that experience to waking life is like comparing waking life to a normal dream.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience at the current time:....Experience was definitely real....See question 56.

Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience?....No....

Have your religious beliefs/spiritual practices changed specifically as a result of your experience?....Uncertain    I certainly feel much, much less inclined to believe that any transcendent mystery of the universe can be explained while living on Earth. Compared to the mere memory of the pattern I saw every religious story seems incredibly simplistic and childish.

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