An ordinary near death experience & its message

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Introduction

A few months ago I came across a podcast which described the Near Death Experience of Eben Alexander, M.D., a neurosurgeon who fell into a coma due to bacterial meningitis. It was a remarkable story and Eben has been a poster child for the transformative power of Near Death Experiences (NDE) in both academia and the wider culture. It got me thinking to share my own NDE which was much simpler in comparison but nonetheless the most profound and real experience I have had in my life. It is an experience I keep returning to and it offers new insights of what it means to be alive and how to live.

The Story

It happened in 2018, while I was recovering from a knee surgery. After the surgery my movement was quite restricted and I was pretty much house bound for a few weeks. In the early days I was in a lot of pain as I choose not to take pain killers. Most of my time during this recovery period was spent meditating and contemplating life. In hindsight, this was spiritually a very conducive time for me, perhaps because my mortality was staring me right in the face.

One day I was cleaning up the apartment and pretty soon I found myself tired, mostly because I was hauling my weight on the crutches. I decided to lie down to rest. I must have been exhausted as I quickly went into a deep sleep.

The next thing I remember is being lifted up from the body and simultaneously a feeling of continuous expansion as I was moving upwards. The movement perhaps had no direction but that’s the only way I can describe the sensation. Soon I found myself as a hugely expanded space perhaps infinite, more like the sky. Not just that but also this space which I could call as ‘myself’ was full of charge or electricity, like thunderbolts in a stormy sky, both expansive and alive.

I must say that even though in this narrative I use the word ‘I’ to refer to this expansive energetic space, it is most likely indescribable. There was really no reference to my human history, identity or body in this space and likely there was no localized reference of ‘I-ness’ in this space.

In this space a question appeared ‘Would you like to leave the human experience?’

The moment this was uttered, I felt the reality of this ultimatum. It was ‘self-evident’ without a shadow of a doubt that the answer will have real consequences. Then in this same space I sensed a very faint doubt or hesitance and then an answer appeared, ‘Yes I would like to be a human’. Instantaneously I felt a contraction from this infinite space. The next moment, I opened my eyes lying on the floor.

I was totally jarred by the experience. The experience felt more real than me lying on the floor now. In other words, my being back in the earthly realm felt clearly less real than where or what I had been a moment ago. Nothing made sense in this moment about my life or its history. My human existence didn’t feel like a serious thing in comparison to the level of reality that I had been with.

After the experience I felt maybe I should write it down, but I instantly felt nauseated by this very thought. For no apparent reason it felt like a sacrilege to attempt to capture what had been shown to me. Perhaps my life was nonsensical in comparison and the attempt to make sense of a higher dimension in a lower dimension was pointless. For this reason, I didn’t return to contemplate this experience for many months, though it hadn’t left me.

Few Interpretations

Since then, this experience has come back naturally in few conversations, especially with people I consider farther ahead in their evolution or journey. Below I describe some of the interpretations offered to me at different points. All of them have been empowering and have guided me in re-discovering the context of my life, the type of questions I live with, and the purpose for my being here.

  1. On Freedom:
    One of earliest inquiries around the meaning of this event was to one of my spiritual teachers. He replied in a very matter of fact way, ‘Congratulations, you are here by your own freedom!’ This at one level did make sense to me yet I wondered why I had a slight hesitation before I made the choice to leave the transcendent experience.

  2. On Relaxation:
    Another teacher after a long silence told me that it was a real experience but next time I should let go completely into the space. This was paradoxical to the earlier interpretation which pointed that my being here was an outcome of my freedom. This interpretation also rang true and explained to some degree the hesitation that I felt before coming back. Maybe it was my discomfort of being with an expansion of that magnitude that motivated me to leave. I remain open to this possibility and continue to learn to relax as a part of my life is spent in contracted emotions and mental states.

  3. On Purpose:
    For a while I remained with these interpretations but in a chance conversation I was offered a new perspective. In previous lives I had already experienced the transcendent and this time I am choosing to embody the transcendent in the earthly realm. What was unique about this view was that it gave me an answer to the question of why I seemingly came back. Perhaps this view was about purpose, to have more clarity as to why I am here and how to creatively design my life.

  4. On Doubt:
    A more recent conversation highlighted the hesitance I experienced. This amazing human being in his most ordinary way told me that doubt is a blessing. It is a configuration of choice in a way. In that moment of doubt what I experienced was the process of making a choice, of leaving potentiality to actualize a possibility. It is a bit like a bungee jump into the abyss of the unknown, of an unknown human life that will be revealed as it is lived.

As life goes on perhaps I will continue to receive new intriguing perspectives on how to understand my life  and its relation to infinity. Overall these perspectives have been empowering as they have allowed me to rediscover purpose and to live a meaningful life. These perspectives give us a strength borrowed from our immortality and bless us with the courage to live a creative life.

Please share your comments if you have any, I would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “An ordinary near death experience & its message”

  1. It is a beautifully written article. The questions and answers are intelligent and have a honest intent to understand the nature of existence.

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  2. My dear friend, thank you for sharing part of your story. It has clearly influenced the way you approach processing the experiences of “life-ing” here and your inspired motivations. In the reflections of my own physical and non-physical experiences, there will always be a plethora of interpretations and suggestions stemming from human thought patterning trying to understand what is truly going on, as we make choices in every moment that generally dictate the unfolding of life as we experience it. Blessings to you on the journey.

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