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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Being of Light
said, "Come with me. We have to find out what went
But I can't
make myself move," I complained. "I can handle
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.
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
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.
all my life is?" I wanted to know.
than that," I was told.
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.
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."
does the writing on the hide represent?" I asked.
"A major choice
which is not predetermined by your resources."
of choice is it?"
of the choice would affect your decision."
get it right, so tell me."
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?"
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
"If they put
me into another body, it would be hard to get the right
sort of parents."
the life experiences which would lead up to the decision
would be very difficult to do in the remaining time.
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."
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
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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