blinkstar.gif (494 bytes) Hal

Surprisingly, this is not related to my heart failure, except perhaps as one of many causes leading to it.

 

When a lad of 12, my parents did the fashionable thing. They took me to a doctor for a sore throat. He did the fashionable thing. He recommended a tonsillectomy. During that surgery, the anesthetic (ether) got overlooked. That I did not know until much later.

 

When I saw a movie entitled, "Beyond and Back," I realized for the first time that my experience was more than a hallucination brought on by my medication during surgery. In an effort to recall more of the event, I began studying meditation techniques. After a while I got good enough at visualization that I felt my own imagination might begin to embellish my recall. At that point, I quit adding little remembered pieces to the written account.

 

My first awareness was a view of my body as a field of twinkling lights. I noticed that each nerve would flash brightly and then be seen no more. Soon, my body looked very sparsely defined. I felt at that time that I might be dying. Not much later, my hands and feet were gone altogether and my midsection was getting sparse. The feeling was very peaceful. More peaceful than I had ever known. I seemed to be shrinking to a ball shape centered near my throat. Would I lose consciousness as the ball of active nerves shrank past the boundaries of my cranial cavity. As I pondered the idea, I fell through the surface of the operating table.

 

"Oh no!" I thought. "If I re-materialize here, I'll be trapped in the mechanism. I have to get out of here!"

 

With that thought, I felt motion, a sensation of immense speed. Before me was a field of bright points of light rushing by. As each point passed by, it reddened and went out. I quickly figured the speed required to make that happen -- the speed of light. I was perceiving the matter passing by as light. I concluded that I was going so fast because the remnant of physical matter with me, could not follow and the purpose of this was to finish the separation of body and spirit. Then I realized how far I must be getting from home.

 

"I MUST STOP OR I'LL NEVER FIND MY WAY BACK!", I thought emphatically. And stop I did.

 

The matter, formerly perceived as light, was now dark. All was darkness. Try as I could, I could neither see nor feel myself nor anything else. I took care not to lose track of which way was "back" because I was still interested in going there. Try as I could, I could perceive no response to my attempts to move. Carefully, I turned about to look back along the path I had come. There was nothing to be seen, nor heard, felt, nor smelled. I was alone. I wondered why I wasn't afraid.

 

I wondered if the blackness was all there would be. I'd have to make do with my memories and imagination. Did I have enough memories to last an eternity? I'd know when they ran out, that was certain.

 

A brief flash of light occurred behind me as I studied my reverse course. I spun about to look for it, but all was still darkness. I returned to my musings. Strange how logical I could be. I could determine if any proposition were correct or incorrect, or that I needed more information before it could be decided. I was absorbed in thought when a faint glimmer of light came again. It was gone as quickly as it came. I strained to see. No, it wasn't there. Perhaps it was a product of wishful thinking.

 

I had willed to stop most forcefully, and it became so. Maybe all it took was more will to move. I tried to summon more will.

 

Then came another brief burst of dim light. Perhaps there was something out here after all. My eyes must be adjusting to darkness. While waiting for more light to appear, I returned to my musings. Soon there was another glimmer of light and it was noticeably stronger than before, but very short-lived. I had hope. That was good, since I had lost track of which way was "back."

 

The dim light became brighter and more steady. It seemed very distant. I wondered how I might go in that direction. Will seemed ineffective. I tried swimming motions, but that didn't work either.

 

The light was getting stronger. I wondered how might I get its attention - if it had any attention to be gotten. It seemed to be moving slightly. Maybe even coming my way? I watched and waited. Closer it came. Again I wondered about attracting its attention. Did I want its attention? Yes. It was the only other thing present in the darkness.

 

It was coming my way and would probably pass near. I could observe it. Would it see me? I couldn't see me, so it was not much cause to think it would either. Nearer it came, and brighter. In its light I could dimly see myself. Closer and brighter it came. It was headed right for me. I tried to get out of its way, but nothing changed. The light grew very bright and I tried to look away. A strange light, it shone into my eyes no matter which way I looked. I turned to face the oncoming light.

 

Now it was so bright that I feared its intensity. I raised my arm to shield my eyes. The light passed right through my arm, more intense than ever.

"Stop!", I thought. "STOP, I'LL BE INJURED!"

 

And the light replied, "I will not harm you."

 

These were not words but thoughts which passed between us.

 

Still closer and brighter the light came. I strained to detect its surface but could not. It was about the size of a beach ball, with no discernible surface.

 

I asked, "Who or What are you?"

 

It replied, "That's not important right now. You are not where it is expected to find anyone."

 

I gave my name and insisted upon reciprocity as a courtesy. And was rebuffed again.

 

The Being of Light (I lack a better description.) began to look through my life. It simply shone into me and scenes from my life projected around me as if I were seeing them again. It was a lot like looking at a hologram, but full color 3D with sound and scent.

 

We flitted from scene to scene - sometimes on fast-forward - sometimes pausing to note some major or minor detail. When we paused at the first deed of which I was ashamed, I started to make an excuse. To no avail. My motives were as visible as my actions. On went the movie. I must be dead, I thought. People say your life flashes before your eyes when that happens. "I was snapped back to the task at hand - the life review. It was judgment to be sure, but more like fact-finding than fault-finding. The only condemnation was me regretting some of my mistakes.

 

"Then the movie stopped abruptly. The end of my life had been reached. The Being of Light was surprised and I felt it. There was something missing.

The Being of Light said, "Come with me. We have to find out what went wrong."

 

But I can't make myself move," I complained. "I can handle that."

 

"Come," said the Being of Light.

 

With no movement at all, we were now at a large library. The one who had been doing my life review was no longer a ball of light but now a hooded and robed figure. And still inscrutable.

 

"Look what I found out there," it said to the library staff.

 

One of the clerks went to large bead rack, much like an abacus, and began calculating. One clerk wore a short robe with a classic Greek pattern decorating the lower edge. His robe had a hood, as did the robes of all the others. I concluded that his hood was not for warmth and asked my guide.

 

The guide confirmed my observation, the hoods were not for warmth. When I pushed to know the purpose of the hoods I was informed that I would know when it was time to have that information. I sensed that my guide disapproved of the non-traditional attire, but had no cause to criticize as the work done by that individual was always excellent.

 

Another clerk observed the placement of the beads on the top row and thought, "Oh, no! The Old section."

 

That was clay tablets to be moved and sorted through.

 

A moment later, two of the beads in the top row were moved again. It would be in the section written on hides stretched over wooden frames. Much easier to sort through.

 

When the calculation finished, we set off through the stacks counting rows as we went. I observed stacked sheets of papyrus, then scrolls. Then came rows with stacked wooden frames. We passed these quickly and came to a row with hides stretched over sticks. A clerk was now counting bays, then shelves, then hides. One hide was selected and pulled from the stack. Another clerk carefully counted the entries until he found the right one.

 

The writing was like none I'd seen before. It reminded me a bit of Hebrew and runic writing. I couldn't read it. But I could read the mind of my guide! Hah! Blocked. I tried to read it through one of the clerks. Frustrated again. I tried to memorize the shapes of the letters but was frustrated there as well. My guide informed me that I wasn't supposed to know what the entry said. I asked what was I allowed to know? I was informed that the entry described my life. It was hardly larger than a business card.

 

"That's all my life is?" I wanted to know.

 

"Much more than that," I was told.

 

"How so?" I asked.

 

"People always do the best they can with the materials and information at hand. If an individual's resources are known, then the resulting choices can be anticipated."

 

"So much for choice; everything is pre-determined," I thought.

 

"Not so," my guide said. "Almost all of your choices are free. It is the drive to do well which limits what you will choose. And it makes you predictable."

 

"What, then, does the writing on the hide represent?" I asked.

 

"A major choice which is not predetermined by your resources."

 

"What sort of choice is it?"

 

"Knowledge of the choice would affect your decision."

 

"Then I'd get it right, so tell me."

 

"That would interfere with your free will."

 

Round we went. Free will was something they would apparently bend heaven and Earth to protect. The decision I was to make must be my own free choice.

 

"Will I know it is the one, once I've made it?"

 

"Perhaps."

 

I noticed that this was nothing like I had been taught in Sunday School. I wondered if they really didn't know. Certainly, they had done nothing to prepare me for this experience.

 

Then they got into a hushed discussion of what to do about me. I caught snippets of the conversation.

 

"He has to reach a certain level of maturity in order to make the decision correctly."

 

"If they put me into another body, it would be hard to get the right sort of parents."

 

"Then, arranging the life experiences which would lead up to the decision would be very difficult to do in the remaining time.

 

"How about putting him back where he came from? His body is badly damaged. Can we fix it?"

 

"Yes, but we'll have to change his life's affliction."

 

"But, they cure that in his time!"

 

"Yes, but not before its done it's job."

 

My next recollection was of feeling VERY sick. I thought I was still dying. Actually, I was beginning to recover. Ether can give one a truly vile hangover.

 

Conjecture:
Since I was a severe asthmatic as a child, my blood had adapted to significant oxygen deficit. That made me more resistant to the anesthetic. That broke the pattern of events in surgery and resulted in the ether drip being forgotten. That, in turn, resulted in an overdose of ether. I have no evidence to support this conjecture except recalling that they had wheeled me into the operating room and were most surprised when I asked a coherent question. They expected me to be "out." The near-death experience is circumstantial evidence that something went wrong during surgery. The ether is my best guess.

 

"But already my desire and my will were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed, by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars." - Dante Alighieri, Paradiso

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