For Several Days
George Rodonaia's Unusual NDE
Rodonaia-Peleaez, the daughter of Rev. George Rodonaia,
has informed me that George passed away on October 12, 2004
due to heart failure. George suffered a massive heart attack
in July and it was thought that he had recovered. The Reverend
was on his way to fly to Dallas to tape an interview with
Trinity Broadcasting about his NDE when he had a final heart
attack and God called him Home. Natia would like to thank
everyone who has shown an interest in him and his NDE. He
will be deeply missed. George is survived by his wfie Nino,
his daughter Natia, his son Greg, his son-in-law Martin,
his grandson Levani, and his mother-in-law Nadia.
Rev. George Rodonaia underwent one of the most extended
cases of a near-death experience ever recorded. Pronounced
dead immediately after he was hit by a car in 1976, he was
left for three days in the morgue. He did not "return to
life" until a doctor began to make an incision in his abdomen
as part of an autopsy procedure. Prior to his NDE he worked
as a neuropathologist. He was also an avowed atheist. Yet
after the experience, he devoted himself exclusively to
the study of spirituality, taking a second doctorate in
the psychology of religion. He then became an ordained priest
in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He served as a pastor at
St. Paul United Methodist Church in Baytown, Texas.
Rev. George Rodonaia
held an M.D. and a Ph.D. in neuropathology, and a Ph.D.
in the psychology of religion. He delivered a keynote address
to the United Nations on the "Emerging Global Spirituality."
Before emigrating to the United States from the Soviet Union
in 1989, he worked as a research psychiatrist at the University
of Moscow. The following is a Dr. Rodonaia's experience
in his own words from Phillip Berman's excellent book,
The Journey Home.
The first thing I remember about my NDE is that I
discovered myself in a realm of total darkness. I had no
physical pain, I was still somehow aware of my existence
as George, and all about me there was darkness, utter and
complete darkness - the greatest darkness ever, darker than
any dark, blacker than any black. This was what surrounded
me and pressed upon me. I was horrified. I wasn't prepared
for this at all. I was shocked to find that I still existed,
but I didn't know where I was. The one thought that kept
rolling through my mind was, "How can I be when I'm not?"
That is what troubled me.
Slowly I got a grip on myself and began to think
about what had happened, what was going on. But nothing
refreshing or relaxing came to me. Why am I in this darkness?
What am I to do? Then I remembered Descartes' famous line:
"I think, therefore I am." And that took a huge burden off
me, for it was then I knew for certain I was still alive,
although obviously in a very different dimension. Then I
thought, If I am, why shouldn't I be positive? That is what
came to me. I am George and I'm in darkness, but I know
I am. I am what I am. I must not be negative.
Then I thought, How can I define what is positive
in darkness? Well, positive is light. Then, suddenly, I
was in light; bright white, shiny and strong; a very bright
light. I was like the flash of a camera, but not flickering
- that bright. Constant brightness. At first I found the
brilliance of the light painful, I couldn't look directly
at it. But little by little I began to relax. I began to
feel warm, comforted, and everything suddenly seemed fine.
The next thing that happened was that I saw all these
molecules flying around, atoms, protons, neutrons, just
flying everywhere. On the one hand, it was totally chaotic,
yet what brought me such great joy was that this chaos also
had its own symmetry. This symmetry was beautiful and unified
and whole, and it flooded me with tremendous joy. I saw
the universal form of life and nature laid out before my
eyes. It was at this point that any concern I had for my
body just slipped away, because it was clear to me that
I didn't need it anymore, that it was actually a limitation.
Everything in this experience merged together, so
it is difficult for me to put an exact sequence to events.
Time as I had known it came to a halt; past, present, and
future were somehow fused together for me in the timeless
unity of life.
At some point I underwent what has been called the
life-review process, for I saw my life from beginning to
end all at once. I participated in the real life dramas
of my life, almost like a holographic image of my life going
on before me - no sense of past, present, or future, just
now and the reality of my life. It wasn't as though it started
with birth and ran along to my life at the University of
Moscow. It all appeared at once. There I was. This was my
life. I didn't experience any sense of guilt or remorse
for things I'd done. I didn't feel one way or another about
my failures, faults, or achievements. All I felt was my
life for what it is. And I was content with that. I accepted
my life for what it is.
During this time the light just radiated a sense
of peace and joy to me. It was very positive. I was so happy
to be in the light. And I understood what the light meant.
I learned that all the physical rules for human life were
nothing when compared to this unitive reality. I also came
to see that a black hole is only another part of that infinity
which is light.
I came to see that reality is everywhere. That it
is not simply the earthly life but the infinite life. Everything
is not only connected together, everything is also one.
So I felt a wholeness with the light, a sense that all is
right with me and the universe.
I could be anywhere instantly, really there. I tried
to communicate with the people I saw. Some sensed my presence,
but no one did anything about it. I felt it necessary to
learn about the Bible and philosophy. You want, you receive.
Think and it comes to you. So I participated, I went
back and lived in the minds of Jesus and his disciples.
I heard their conversations, experienced eating, passing
wine, smells, tastes - yet I had no body. I was pure consciousness.
If I didn't understand what was happening, an explanation
would come. But no teacher spoke. I explored the Roman Empire,
Babylon, the times of Noah and Abraham. Any era you can
name, I went there.
So there I was, flooded with all these good things
and this wonderful experience, when someone begins to cut
into my stomach. Can you imagine? What had happened was
that I was taken to the morgue. I was pronounced dead and
left there for three days. An investigation into the cause
of my death was set up, so they sent someone out to do an
autopsy on me. As they began to cut into my stomach, I felt
as though some great power took hold of my neck and pushed
me down. And it was so powerful that I opened my eyes and
had this huge sense of pain. My body was cold and I began
to shiver. They immediately stopped the autopsy and took
me to the hospital, where I remained for the following nine
months, most of which I spent under a respirator.
Slowly I regained my health. But I would never be
the same again, because all I wanted to do for the rest
of my life was study wisdom. This new interest led me to
attend the University of Georgia, where I took my second
Ph.D., in the psychology of religion. Then I became a priest
in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eventually, in 1989, we
came to America, and I am now working as an associate pastor
at the First United Methodist Church in Nederland, Texas.
Many people have asked me what I believe in, how
my NDE changed my life. All I can say is that I now believe
in the God of the universe. Unlike many other people, however,
I have never called God the light, because God is beyond
our comprehension. God, I believe, is even more than the
light, because God is also darkness. God is everything that
exists, everything - and that is beyond our ability to comprehend
at all. So I don't believe in the God of the Jews, or the
Christians, or the Hindus, or in any one religion's idea
of what God is or is not. It is all the same God, and that
God showed me that the universe in which we live is a beautiful
and marvelous mystery that is connected together forever
and for always.
Anyone who has had such an experience of God, who
has felt such a profound sense of connection with reality,
knows that there is only one truly significant work to do
in life, and that is love; to love nature, to love people,
to love animals, to love creation itself, just because it
is. To serve God's creation with a warm and loving hand
of generosity and compassion - that is the only meaningful
Many people turn to those who have had NDEs because
they sense we have the answers. But I know this is not true,
at least not entirely. None of us will fully fathom the
great truths of life until we finally unite with eternity
at death. But occasionally we get glimpses of the answer
here on Earth, and that alone is enough for me. I love to
ask questions and to seek answers, but I know in the end
I must live the questions and the answers. But that is okay,
isn't it? So long as we love, love with all our heart and
passion, it doesn't matter, does it? Perhaps the best way
for me to convey what I am trying to say is to share with
you something the
poet Rilke once wrote in a letter to a friend. I saw
this letter, the original handwritten letter, in the library
at Dresden University in Germany. (He quotes from memory,
"Be patient with all that is unresolved in your
heart. And try to love the questions themselves.
Do not seek for the answers that cannot be given.
For you wouldn't be able to live with them.
And the point is to live everything, live the
questions now, and perhaps without knowing it,
you will live along some day into the answers."
I place my faith in that. Live the questions, and
the universe will open up its eyes to you.
Account of His Episode With an Infant During His NDE
concerning George's NDE account is described in Dr. Melvin
Morse and Paul Perry's book entitled Transformed by the
Light. Dr. Morse refers to George by his Russian name "Yuri".
The following is an excerpt of Transformed by the Light
which describes George's observation of an infant while
George is out of his body.
NDE, he] could go visit his family. He saw his grieving
wife and their two sons, both too small to understand that
their father had been killed.
"Then he visited
his next-door neighbor. They had a new child, born a couple
of days before Yuri's "death." Yuri could tell that they
were upset by what happened to him. But they were especially
distressed by the fact that their child would not stop crying.
"No matter what
they did he continued to cry. When he slept it was short
and fitful and then he would awaken, crying again. They
had taken him back to the doctors but they were stumped.
All the usual things such as colic were ruled out and they
sent them home hoping the baby would eventually settle down.
in this disembodied state, Yuri discovered something:
"l could talk to the baby. It was amazing. I
could not talk to the parents - my friends -
but I could talk to the little boy who had just
been born. I asked him what was wrong. No words
were exchanged, but I asked him maybe through
telepathy what was wrong. He told me that his
arm hurt. And when he told me that, I was able
to see that the bone was twisted and broken."
"The baby had
a greenstick fracture, a break in the bone in his arm probably
cause by having been twisted during childbirth. Now Yuri
and the baby knew what was wrong, but neither had the ability
to communicate the problem to the parents.
the doctor from Moscow came to perform the autopsy on Yuri.
When they moved his body from the cabinet to a gurney, his
eyes flickered. The doctor became suspicious and examined
his eyes. When they responded to light, he was immediately
wheeled to emergency surgery and saved.
"Yuri told his
family about being "dead." No one believed him until he
began to provide details about what he saw during his travels
out of body. Then they became less skeptical. His diagnosis
on the baby next door did the trick. He told of visiting
them that night and of their concern over their new child.
He told them that he had talked to the baby and discovered
that he had a greenstick fracture of his arm. The parents
took the child to a doctor and he x-rayed the arm only to
discover that Yuri's very long-distance diagnosis was right."
Atwater's Tribute to George Rodonaia
knew George well; he was part of my research base and a
brief version of his story is in my book "Beyond
the Light." I say "brief" because what happened to George
is beyond the scope of books about the near-death phenomenon
and could have easily been a book unto itself. George was
a vocal Soviet dissident during the time when such a stance
could get you killed. And that is exactly what happened
- he was assassinated by the KGB. Because his case was highly
political, an autopsy had to be performed. His corpse was
stored in a freezer vault for three days until then. He
revived on the autopsy table as he was being split open
by the doctors, one of which was his own uncle. Of all the
cases I have investigated in my 26 years of work in the
field, his is the most dramatic, the longest, the most evidential,
and the most soul-stirring. Now our beloved George Rodonaia
has returned "Home" to stay. During the years afterward,
he never failed to share his story and to help others every
way he could. My only regret is, he never wrote his own
book about his experience. Yet, perhaps he did, on everyone's
heart who ever heard him. Blessings, dear George, you will
be missed. -- PMH
Who Were Dead For Days
are two other NDE accounts I should mention here. One of
them involves an African man named
Tuwagirairmana. What is interesting about his account
is that it is claimed that he was actually dead for seven
days. When he returned to his body, it was partially eaten
by maggots. A friend of his sent me photographs of his arm
to prove it. It is such a fantastic experience that one
must take keep an open mind about it.
of 1999, the online edition of the Russian newspaper Pravda
reported on a remarkable event involving a man who revived
from death after 22 days of being killed and buried. I have
not personally verified whether this news article is legitimate
but it did appear in Russia's premier newspaper and the
best that I can do is provide an excerpt of the article
and provide a link to the Pravada article for you to decide.
The following was taken from the article entitled, "Man
Revives 22 Days After Being Killed and Buried."
A stockman, named only as Granatkin, from a district food
base in one of Russia's towns, had to have a similar, albeit
a more horrible experience in his life. A man named Mechnik
attempted to kill the stockman: he hit him on the head,
took the body to the forest and buried it under the snow.
Lumber-men incidentally uncovered the frozen body and took
it to the morgue. A local pathologist refused to do the
autopsy - the body was too hard. The next day the pathologist
said that the man's eye pupils did not look like dead. Furthermore,
the man's nails turned pink after the doctor pressed them
in his fingers. The man spent 22 days lying under a thick
layer of snow, but it appeared that he was still alive.
The pathologist diagnosed a deep lethargic sleep, which
had been caused with a blow on the head. To everyone's great
astonishment, stockman Granatkin came to his senses and
recovered. He was lucky to wear very warm clothes on the
day of his murder; the snow saved him from severe frost
Talks and rumors about the lethargic sleep were widespread
two centuries ago. A lot of outstanding people, including
Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, were afraid of falling asleep
for good. Apparently, Gogol fell into a lethargic sleep:
he was buried alive, as it turned out afterwards. This disease
does not occur in our times, though. The last occurrence
happened in 1993, when a patient recovered from profound
sleep in a US hospital. Does it mean that people have developed
immunity against stressful situations? It is not ruled out
that stresses have become more frequent in the modern society
and destroyed the time control organ in people. On the other
hand, doctors often consider their sleeping patients dead
and send them to either a graveyard, or a morgue, where
pathologists eventually kill them during an autopsy. A selective
inspection of coffins, which had to be moved from one graveyard
to another in England, discovered four skeletons, the positioning
of which in the coffins showed that the "deceased" people
came to their senses after they had been buried.
The above-mentioned incidents describe the anomalous, unhealthy
conduct of the time control organ. Modern medicine has registered
several incidents, when five-year-old children died of their
old age! There are several African tribes, which consider
it normal, when a girl of five or eight years of age gives
birth to a child and then dies from the old age at 10-18
Needless to say that the existence of the time control organ
has not been proved. Scientists, however, believe that the
organ is possibly situated in the brain, in the hypothalamus.
Some specialists say that this organ is the so-called "third
eye," others say that it is situated in the spinal cord.
Most likely, it goes about a qualitatively new function
of brain cells, which are interconnected with one aura,
Our ancient ancestors were probably aware of the phenomenon.
At any rate, modern shamans and yogi know how to hamper
the time and come out of their bodies for a while.
journey is the journey inwards of him who
has chosen his destiny, who has started
upon his quest for the source of his being."
- Dag Hammarskjold
Copyright 2007 Near-Death Experiences & the