Dr. George Ritchie's Near-Death Experience

By Kevin Williams

 

In 1943, at the age of 20, Dr. George G. Ritchie, Jr., M.D., (September, 25, 1923 – October 29, 2007) was a private in the Army stationed in Texas awaiting a transfer to Richmond to study medicine at the Medical College of Virginia to become a doctor for the military. However, he got sick with pneumonia and died. The Army physician in charge stated in a notarized statement that the medical officer summoned detected "no evidence of respiration or cardiac impulse" and declared Ritchie dead. Ritchie had left his body in a near-death experience wandering around the hospital ward unaware he was dead. He found it strange no one could see him. He returned to his room and recognized his lifeless body, which had been covered with a sheet, by his fraternity ring. The room then became bright and Ritchie found himself in the presence of Jesus who then guided him through several realms of the afterlife before being told to return to his body. As the ward was preparing Ritchie's body for the morgue, he thought he detected movement in Ritchie's chest and called for a medical officer who provided a shot of adrenaline to the patient's heart causing him to breathe and his heart to beat. Ritchie then returned to life with one of the most important and profound NDEs every documented. 

Table of Contents
1. Verified Evidence of George Ritchie's Out-of-Body Experience
2. George Ritchie's NDE Visions of the Future
3. The Profound After-Effects of George Ritchie's NDE
4. More Information about Dr. George Ritchie
5. A Brief Summary of George Ritchie's NDE
 
a.  His Out-of-Body Experience and Life Review with Jesus
b.  His Guided Tour of the Earthbound Realm with Jesus
c.  His Experience of the "Receiving Station"
d.  His Description of the Horrors of Hell
e.  His Observations of the Temple of Wisdom
f.   His Vision of the Heavenly City
6. A Commentary by George Ritchie

1. Verified Evidence of George Ritchie's Out-of-Body Experience

 

A major feature of Dr. George Ritchie's NDE was his extensive out-of-body experience at the beginning of his NDE. His observations have enormous implications because they have been verified by a third-party. NDE expert Robert Mays (www.selfconsciousmind.com) has investigated and verified the details of Ritchie's out-of-body observations. While out of his body, Ritchie traveled to a distant location (523 miles away) and saw details of an unfamiliar area very accurately. What is most striking is that the location of the cafe that Ritchie saw, from the likely station hospital door, appears to be exactly due east, and the location of the blinking caution lights Ritchie saw are also at this precise latitude. Indeed, the maximum deviation from the hospital to Vicksburg could have been only 0.6 seconds of arc, or 2900 feet over 523 miles of travel. The fact that three key aspects of Ritchie's account have likely correlates at the exact same latitude, occurring at widely spaced intervals, and that Ritchie reports having traveled east strongly suggest that his "flight" was an objective albeit unusual event. Much more evidence about Robert Mays' investigation can be read on this web page: www.selfconsciousmind.com/ritchie/

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2. George Ritchie's NDE Visions of the Future

 

Ritchie's NDE occurred in 1943 when he was shown visions of Earth's future. Jesus informed him he had 45 years to accomplish his mission in life:

"It is left to humanity which direction they shall choose. I came to this planet to show you, through the life I led, how to love. Without our Father you can do nothing, neither could I. I showed you this. You have 45 years." - Jesus' words to George Ritchie

Ritchie saw increasing natural disasters on Earth (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes); families splitting and governments are breaking apart because of people thinking only of themselves; and armies marching on the U.S. from the south. He also saw explosions occurring all over the world of a magnitude beyond our capacity to imagine. He was told that if they continued, human life as we have known it will not exist.

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3. The Profound After-Effects of George Ritchie's NDE

After Ritchie had his NDE in 1943, he had no idea what he was supposed to accomplish within the 45 years Jesus gave him ending in 1988. In the late 1960s, during his post-graduate studies and residency in psychiatry at the University of Virginia, his NDE testimony attracted the attention of Raymond Moody, MD (www.lifeafterlife.com) Ritchie's testimony was the first contact of Moody's investigation into over 150 cases of NDEs resulting in Moody's publishing of his study in the ground-breaking book, Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death. Because of the overwhelming success and popularity of his study and book, Moody is considered to be "the father of the near-death experience."

Ritchie's NDE is in a class of its own. You will find his experience to be one of the most profound NDEs ever documented. His NDE is also one of the most important cases of "NDE veridical perception" which are NDE out-of-body observations later verified by third-parties. During his NDE, Ritchie traveled out of his body for a distance of thousands of miles where he observed detailed events later verified to be true. Visit the website of NDE expert Robert Mays (www.selfconsciousmind.com) who verified the veridical evidence of Ritchie's NDE.

In 1978, ten years before the allotted 45 years given to him by Jesus, Ritchie published his first book about his NDE, Return from Tomorrow (1978, 2007) co-authored by Elizabeth Sherrill (www.elizabethsherrill.com). Ritchie's book became so popular it has been translated into nine languages. In it he tells of his out-of-body experience and his meeting with Jesus Christ his travel through different dimensions of time and space with Christ; and his experience in heaven. Ritchie authored two more books about his NDE: his second book, My Life After Dying: Becoming Alive To Universal Love (1991), and his third and final book, Ordered to Return: My Life After Dying (1998), was co-authored by the famous NDE and reincarnation studies expert, Dr. Ian Stevenson (also see his Wikipedia page).

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4. More Information about Dr. George Ritchie

Ritchie's NDE initially delayed his medical education and he graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1950 after the war, operating a successful career in private practice in Richmond until 1964. He did his residency in psychiatry at the University of Virginia from 1964 through 1967, winning the William James Research Award for Research in Psychiatry. In 1967 he began a successful private psychiatry practice in Charlottesville, Virginia, for 16 years. In 1983 he moved to Anniston, Alabama, to serve as head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center before returning to Richmond three years later to oversee the Richmond-Rope Harbor Alcoholic Hospital. He also held positions as chairman of the Department of Psychiatry of Towers Hospital and president of the Richmond Academy of General Practice. He helped found the David C. Wilson Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia. He continued his private practice until retirement in 1992.

But more than anything, Ritchie was especially proud of his work with youth. He was involved with Scouting for 22 years from 1935-1957. Ritchie was founder and president of the Universal Youth Corps, Inc. for almost 20 years. The Universal Youth Corps (UYC) is an organization encouraging young men and women to follow Christ offering medical service without pay to the poor and reached out with a helping hand through charities. The UYC was the inspiration for President Kennedy to establish the Peace Corps. In 1972, one of Ritchie's UYC meetings, a miraculous healing occurred when Ritchie asked one of the boys to offer a prayer. Ritchie reminded them of the Bible verse where Christ says, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on Earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20). One of the boys asked God to heal the horse of his friend - referring to a young girl whose horse was dying from an infection so severe the veterinarian advised the family to "put the horse down." Ritchie then told the girl's father, who was also attending the meeting, that the Lord had spoken to him while the boy was praying, saying, "If you will give thanks for the horse's healing now, he will be well in two weeks." The girl's father did what Ritchie said; but on the thirteenth night after the meeting, the horse was no better. But on the next morning, sometime during the night, the horse was completely healed. Even the incision was gone. The miraculous healing had occurred just as Ritchie said God promised.

Ritchie was also a Sunday School teacher for many years and was a charter member and elder in the Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church. He was also a member of the United Methodist Church and the Baptist Church. He is best known for his NDE testimony which he shared all over the world, attending speaking engagements throughout Europe, the U.S. and Mexico.

Ritchie, an avid fisherman who loved being out on the river, died on October 29, 2007 at his home in Irvington, Virginia, at the age of 84, following a long and courageous battle with cancer. Ritchie is survived by his wife of 60 years, Marguerite Shell Ritchie, his daughter and son, granddaughters, and great grandchildren.

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5. A Brief Summary of George Ritchie's NDE

 

The following is a brief summary of Dr. George Ritchie's near-death experience. You can read his entire NDE testimony in his book, Return From Tomorrow.

a. His Out-of-Body Experience and Life Review with Jesus

 

George Ritchie dies of pneumonia in a Texas Army hospital and leaves his body unaware he is dead. He wanders around the hospital ward and wonders why people cannot see or hear him. Wanting eagerly to travel to Richmond, Virginia, to finish college, the thought instantly sends him flying through the door of the hospital and into the air - traveling thousands of miles toward Richmond. He is bewildered about these sudden supernatural powers of flight and transparency he has attained. He then arrives at a city with a bar and discovers the people there cannot see or hear him either. He also has no solidness there either. He flies back to the Army hospital where he sees his lifeless body in the morgue and realizes he is dead..

 

Suddenly, a being of tremendous light and love appeared before him. Ritchie realizes this light is like "a million welders' lamps all blazing at once." Human eyes would be destroyed in a second if they saw it. The being tells Ritchie to stand up. Ritchie is astonished to learn he is standing before Jesus Christ. More than anything emanating from Jesus was the unbelievable amount of unconditional love shining from him - a love that knew everything about Ritchie and loved him just the same. Simultaneously, as Jesus appeared to him, Ritchie watches his entire life displayed before him. Jesus asks him, "What have you done with your life?" Ritchie tries to come up with several examples but realizes he has fallen short. Ritchie eventually realizes Jesus is not judging him at all; but rather, Ritchie was judging himself. And the question "What have you done with your life?" had more to do with "How much unconditional love have you given others."

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b. His Guided Tour of the Earthbound Realm with Jesus

 

Then Jesus begins to take Ritchie on a journey through various realms of the afterlife. They fly toward a large city on Earth where they notice a group of assembly-line workers at work. They witnesses the spirit of a woman trying desperately to grab a cigarette from the workers who were oblivious to her presence. This woman had died severely addicted to cigarettes and was now cut off from the one thing she desperately desired most.

 

Ritchie realizes how the spirits in these realms immediately know the thoughts of other spirits around them. This is the reason they tend to group together with other spirits. It is too threatening to be around others who knew and disagreed with their thoughts.

 

Jesus leads Ritchie to a house somewhere on Earth where he is shown the spirit of a young man following his living family members around and begging them for forgiveness. But the family members are completely unaware of his presence. Jesus tells Ritchie the young man committed suicide and is "chained to every consequence of his act."

 

They then traveled to a bar somewhere on Earth which was filled with sailors drinking heavily. Spirits surrounded the sailors as they tried desperately, and in vain, to grasp the shot glasses to get a drink. Other spirits tried to control the sailors' alcoholic behavior. Ritchie learns these are the spirits of people who died still having a severe alcoholic addiction which went beyond the physical. He is bewildered as he observes one of the sailors passing out causing the sailor's protective aura surrounding him to crack open. When it does, it allows a spirit to scramble into the sailor's unconscious body. This scene was repeated over and over.

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c. His Experience of the "Receiving Station"

 

Jesus then takes Ritchie to another realm and is shown a kind of "receiving station" where spirits would arrive in a deep hypnotic sleep because of a particular religious belief they held to be true. Here there were "angels" trying to arouse them and help them realize, "God is truly a God of the living and that they did not have to lie around sleeping until Gabriel or someone came along blowing on a horn." These are the spirits of people who believe they must sleep in their grave until the second coming of Christ (i.e., soul sleep.)

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d. His Description of the Horrors of Hell

 

They were still somewhere on the surface of the Earth; but no living person or beings of light could be seen. Before them was a plain jammed with hordes of spirits who are the most miserable and angriest beings he has ever seen. Many were engaged in hand-to-hand combat with no weapons - trying in vain to hurt and kill those who didn't agree with them. A lot of verbal abuse could be heard between them as their thoughts could be heard by everyone around them the moment they are thought. Ritchie is horrified as he wonders what living in such a realm would be like - a place where you cannot hide from who you really are. These spirits were locked into destructive thought-patterns, rage and uncontrollable lust. Some were trying in vain to get sexual gratification from each other. The wailing coming from the hordes of unsatisfied spirits was tremendous. Other spirits were in despair saying things such as, "I always knew!" and "Didn't I warn you!" Ritchie realizes this place is truly hell. Their obsessive thoughts and emotions extended beyond the physical realm and into the spiritual realm where they cannot be satisfied. Yet there was nothing preventing any of the poor spirits in these realms from leaving. There was no condemnation coming from Jesus either - only compassion for these miserable spirits. Ritchie realizes Jesus hadn't abandoned any of them here. Instead they fled from the light to escape from having the darkness of their heart from being revealed.

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e. His Observations of the Temple of Wisdom

 

They then travel to a completely different realm where some kind of enormous university is located. Spirits dressed as monks busily and happily engaged in some form of artistic behavior or research. An enormous library exists here where all the important books of the universe are assembled. Ritchie asks Jesus if this is heaven. These are the spirits of people who grew beyond selfish desires while on Earth; but, like the spirits in hell, these spirits cannot see Jesus either.

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f.  His Vision of the Heavenly City

 

Ritchie is then taken into outer space toward a distant city made of brilliant light - similar in description to the heavenly city in the Book of Revelation (see also Revelation 21:10-27.) This is the place where people go who have become like Jesus while on Earth - a place where love is the dominant focus of life. This is heaven he realizes; but he is not allowed to enter it. Instead, Jesus shows him the future of Earth and is told to return to his physical body. At this point, Ritchie is revived from death.

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6. A Commentary by George Ritchie

  The following commentary is an excerpt from George Ritchie's book, My Life After Dying: Becoming Alive to Universal Love.

Across the ages, as he did in the Garden of Eden, God still calls out to man:

"Where are you, Adam?"

Man, with the help of the dogmas of Western Christianity, has lost his way, and sees himself totally separated from God because Western Christianity through the Roman Catholic Church stressed fallen man, with Jesus dying for our sins on the cross. The churches have not explained our potential as gods (our potential of becoming a sons of God like Jesus) with our God-given creative power, and how necessary it is for us to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God when we use this power. Quoting Psalms 82:6, Jesus asked:

"Is it not written in your law, I said, you are gods?" (from John 10:30-39)

St. Irenaeus, a famous early Christian leader stated that God became a human being in order that human beings might become God. I would change what he said only to the degree that I would say that Jesus showed us the God that God, our Father created us to be.

Instead the churches lead us to believe that the church was given the authority to decide who was going to heaven, and that those who didn't join their particular denomination were going to hell. This is incongruous with the teachings of Jesus, the Christ, who told us the tale of the prodigal son not only to help us understand the love and forgiveness of God but to help us understand that the prodigal son is the cosmic tale of each and every human being. We have all forgotten that we are sons and daughters of the most high God; that our spiritual side, the soul of man, needs to return to have total fellowship with the Father. To do this we have to come to ourselves and realize that in this human realm of existence, our human, selfish side has led us down the road of materialism and of living only for ourselves, which caused us to turn away from our Father and our divine destiny and forget who we are. It caused our spiritual death.

Jesus went on the cross to show us that we must die to this human egotistical side in order to let the soul of man, which has carried the knowledge of who it is and from whence it came, come to life and into control.

This is our ultimate destiny, to reach out and begin to communicate with the Christ, so that he can lead us back to being alive (into that perfect union with our Father) and let him pass his love and thinking through us to one another. We must come to know the living resurrected Christ within us, and depend on passing his love to one another and to God, because our human love isn't enough. When we recognize this truth, then, like the prodigal son Jesus told about, we will have come to ourselves; that is, we will come alive, and will decide to go home, for we will know that even being a servant in our Father's household is better than being dead spiritually, the way we have been living.

Then, with the Christ, the Holy Spirit and our Father - all of us joined together - we shall be helping to create a universe and no longer a diverse.

This is what I believe Jesus meant when he said:

"And I shall draw all humanity to myself, when I am lifted up from the earth." - Jesus, John 12:31-36

Christ showed us that he had to go through the death of his physical self in order for the resurrection of his spiritual self to take place. I think that his death on the cross also symbolized that we must realize we are dead before we can be raised up by the resurrected Christ within us. I find it hard to believe that in our present state of spiritual death we can conquer our self-centered lower physical nature without going through the death and surrender of our will as did Jesus on the cross. I can say from the risen Christ's having conducted me through four realms of life after death, that in the highest realm, he showed me beings who had followed his teachings and were now resurrected into spiritual beings who were like him when it came to the love, light and life they put forth.

I believe Jesus did not incarnate just to die for our sins, but that he also lived and died to show all of humanity, regardless of race, creed, or color, how much God our Father loved us. He expects us to do the same thing. When we come to realize this, then he will truly be lifted up for we shall be keeping the great commandment:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself." - Jesus, Luke 10:25-28

Our destiny is not only to come to know and rise above our human side, but, by following his example of dying to self, to come to know and activate, or bring to life, our spiritual side, which he showed was in every man, woman, and child. He showed us how to die to self and how to rise from the dead and ascend into our Higher Self, life.

I'm not saying that we have to make a sacrificial death on a cross as Jesus did. I am saying that we have to reach the place where we are willing to face the death of our self-centered nature so that our higher spiritual nature can gain control. I believe that being willing to follow such a total surrender to God's will, will bring about a resurrection and ascension of the transformed self, which can change a world into a heaven on earth. He started this transformation first in himself to show what can happen to all who would follow him. It changed him and all who followed him because he surrendered his will to God our Father, who, he showed, is pure LOVE. Our destiny is to do the same thing in order to survive and change our world. His commission wasn't just to teach and show us how to reach the highest realm, heaven, but rather how to create heaven on earth.

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"Death is nothing more than a doorway, something you walk through." - Dr. George Ritchie 

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Books by

George Ritchie

Return From Tomorrow

by George Ritchie
and Elizabeth Sherrill

At the age of 20, George Ritchie died in an Army hospital. Nine minutes later, he returned to life. What happened to him during those minutes was so compelling that it changed his life forever. Ritchie tells of his transforming encounter with the Son of God, who led him to encounters with other non-physical beings at the very doorway of eternity. Ritchie's extraordinary experience not only altered his view of eternity, but it has also altered the lives of hundreds of thousands of readers. One of the most startling and hopeful descriptions of the realm beyond, this classic will inspire readers from all walks of life. It includes a brand-new preface from Elizabeth Sherrill.

My Life After Dying: Becoming Alive To Universal Love

by George Ritchie
and Ian Stevenson

In this book, Ritchie briefly recalls his NDE and what happened later including the real miracles he has seen in his years as practice as a physician and psychiatrist. What's more, using plain, every-day examples of life, he offers penetrating insights into what is wrong with American life today - and how it can be set right. What has happened to him has changed many lives.

Ordered to Return: My Life After Dying

by George Ritchie

"George Ritchie's gripping account of his near-death experience and subsequent spiritual transformation is the best such book in print. Dr. Ritchie is the finest man I've ever known, and I urge everyone who is interested in the extraordinary visions of the dying to read Ordered to Return." - Raymond A. Moody, PhD, MD, author of Life After Life

The Near-Death Experience

by Calvert Roszell
and George Ritchie

There are remarkably detailed parallels between Ritchie, the NDE and the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The author begins with a discussion of scientific principles dealing with NDEs and a discussion Ritchie's testimony in light of Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science.

The Place We Call Home: Exploring the Soul's Existence after Death

by Robert J. Grant
and George Ritchie M.D.

At some point everyone asks the question: What happens when we die? Robert J. Grant, a popular writer, lecturer, and researcher in many areas of contemporary spirituality, offers a dramatic and encouraging look at the realms beyond physical death. This book is filled with the personal stories of those who have experienced the other side, either through death, communications from those who have died, or NDEs. These stories illuminate the answers to questions about messages from dead loved ones, the light-filled realms of the afterlife, and the real meaning of the "shadowlands." This is a hopeful and inspiring look at the dimension of life beyond the illusion of death and celebrates the eternal nature of the human soul.

I Stand All Amazed: Love and Healing from Higher Realms

by Elane Durham
and George Ritchie

Elane is a woman who has experienced an incredible amount of pain throughout her life. It would have been very easy for her to be vengeful and full of bitterness. Instead she humbly sought forgiveness, acceptance and direction from God. Elane’s NDE completely changed her life as she experienced God’s love and healing. With new understanding, Elane is a testament of love, always giving and concerned about those around her. This is the extraordinary account the author had in 1976. The forward of this book is by George Ritchie M.D.

Related Books of Interest

Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death

by Raymond Moody
and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This is Moody's ground-breaking book investigates more than 150 case studies of people who experienced "clinical death" and were subsequently revived. First published in 1975, this classic exploration of life after death started a revolution in popular attitudes about the afterlife and established Dr. Moody as the world's leading authority in the field of NDEs. Life after Life forever changed the way we understand both death - and life - selling millions of copies to a world hungry for a greater understanding of this mysterious phenomenon.

Glimpses of Eternity: An Investigation Into Shared Death Experiences

by Raymond Moody, MD

In this stunning sequel to Life After Life, Dr. Moody provides compelling new evidence that NDEs are not the mere biological products of brains in the process of shutting down. Here, he shares the eyewitness accounts of those who have shared the experiences of the dying: the "empathic death experiences" that occur when those gathered at the bedsides of the dying have their own visions of the afterlife. Brimming with case studies and drawing upon a lifetime's research as well as recent findings, this important book will change the way we think about life and death. As the baby-boomer generation begins to lose those they love, and international scientific research continues in this area, Dr Raymond Moody's book could not be more timely.

 

Afterlife: A Guided Tour of Heaven and Its Wonder

by Emanuel Swedenborg
and Donald Rose

What happens to us after we die? What is heaven like? How do angels live? In his classic work Heaven and Hell, Swedish visionary Emanuel Swedenborg gives readers a detailed road map to the afterlife, describing the process that our soul goes through after death, the nature of heaven and hell, angels and demons, all in meticulous detail. Afterlife is an abridged version of Heaven and Hell, with passages specially chosen to highlight the essence of Swedenborg's work.

Ask George Anderson: What Souls in the Hereafter Can Teach Us About Life

by George Anderson
and Andrew Barone

For nearly 50 years and more than 35,000 sessions, George Anderson, widely considered the world’s greatest living medium, has listened to those who have crossed to the other side. He has bridged the worlds of the here and the hereafter by communicating messages of hope from loved ones who have passed on, in order to help bring peace to those who continue on Earth. But souls can offer so much more than proof of something beyond this world. Ask George Anderson shares the most common questions clients ask and reveals the illuminating answers that the souls have provided on issues and concerns of our everyday life here on earth. They are invaluable lessons that will enrich all our lives because they’re imparted from a profound and rare perspective: that of the souls who have already lived it and learned from it.

George Anderson's Lessons from the Light: Extraordinary Messages of Comfort and Hope from the Other Side

by George Anderson

George Anderson remains the premier voice among those who communicate with lost loved ones. In the 25 years he has worked with bereaved families, he has earned an international reputation for his remarkable gift. Now, George Anderson offers a vivid, first-hand account of his spiritual communications. He explains what it's like to be a psychic, what he experiences, and what it means. He directly answers the many questions most commonly asked of him. "Compassionate, poignant.. The fundamental point of this intriguing book is that love binds us - an enduring spiritual bond with a lost loved one can be heartwarming and therapeutic for the living." - Publishers Weekly