Melvin Morse, M.D., (www.melvinmorsemd.com)
is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University
of Washington. He has studied near-death experiences
in children for 15 years and is the author of several
outstanding books on the subject:
Closer to the Light,
Transformed by the Light,
Parting Visions, his latest book,
Where God Lives. He is primarily interested
in learning how to use the visions that surround
death to heal grief. The stories that children have
told him about what it is like to die have lessons
for all of us, especially those attempting to understand
the meaning of death or the death of a child.
In 1982, while a Fellow
for the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Morse was
working in a clinic in Pocatello, Idaho. He was
called to revive a young girl who nearly died in
a community swimming pool. She had had no heart
beat for 19 minutes, yet completely recovered. She
was able to recount many details of her own resuscitation,
and then said that she was taken down a brick lined
tunnel to a heavenly place. When Dr. Morse showed
his obvious skepticism, she patted him shyly on
the hand and said: "Don't worry, Dr. Morse, heaven
The photo on the left
is a drawing which depicts this young girl being
resuscitated by his partner, Dr. Christopher, the
doctor who is working on her. She has floated above
her body, and met the seated figure. She told him
that the seated figure "was Jesus. He is very nice."
He wrote up her case for
American Medical Association's Pediatric Journal
as a "fascinoma", meaning a strange yet interesting
case and returned to cancer research. One night
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on television describing
to a grieving mother what her child went through
when she died. She said that the girl floated out
of her body, suffered no pain, and entered into
heaven. He thought this was quite unprofessional
of a psychiatrist, and vowed to prove her wrong.
He and his colleagues
at Seattle Children's Hospital designed and implemented
the first prospective study of NDEs, with age and
sex matched controls. He studied 26 children who
nearly died. He compared them to 131 children who
were also quite ill, in the intensive care unit,
mechanically ventilated, treated with drugs such
as morphine, valium and anesthetic agents, and often
had a lack of oxygen to the brain, BUT, they were
He found that 23/26 children
who nearly died had NDEs whereas none of the other
children had them. If NDEs are caused by a lack
of oxygen to the brain, drugs, hallucinations secondary
to coma, or stress and the fear of dying, then the
control would have been expected to also have NDEs.
They did not, indicating that NDEs happen to the
then completed the
Seattle Study, a long term follow-up of children
who had an NDE and documented their transformation
as adults. He again used control groups, including
children who nearly died but didn't have an NDE.
He found that having an
NDE is good for you, resulting in a love for living.
One girl summed up the transformation as learning
that "life is for living and the light is for later."
Adults who had NDEs gave
more money to charity than control subjects, volunteered
in the community, were in helping professions, did
not suffer from drug abuse, use many over-the-counter
medications, and ate more fresh fruit and vegetables
than control populations.
He also found that they
often could not wear watches as they would mysteriously
break, and often had electrical conduction problems
such as shorting out lap top computers and erasing
Finally, Dr. Morse studied
the entire range of death related visions. He studied
parents who had infants die of SIDS, and found that
25% of parents had a vivid premonition of the event
which they often documented in a journal or diary,
or by telling their doctor. He also has studied
cases of shared dying visions and after-death communications.
His most recent research
is on the mind-body healing aspects of NDEs. He
is currently working on a project of studying immune
system changes triggered by NDEs. He also is working
on localizing which areas of the brain are linked
to spiritual visions, and has a particular focus
on the right temporal lobe as a communication link
with an interactive universe.
He is currently working
with parent bereavement groups to learn how to best
use spiritual visions to help to heal grief. Dr.
Morse feels strongly that by understanding that
there is a scientific and biological component to
NDEs, we can understand that the experiences are
"real", at least as real as any other human perception
and experience. We must stop trivializing and dismissing
death related visions as hallucinations of a dysfunctional
brain, and start to understand that they are a normal
aspect of the human experience. We all have spiritual
intuitions and visions, now we must learn to listen
to them and trust what they have to say.
For more than fifteen
years, Dr. Melvin Morse, a practicing pediatrician
and renowned researcher, has studied the NDEs of
hundreds of children. His bestsellers, Closer to
the Light and Transformed by the Light, convinced
millions that there is indeed something that lies
beyond "bodily death" - and that NDEs
profoundly transform peoples' lives for the better.
Now, Morse continues his compelling scientific probe
into the mysteries of life and death - offering
a bold and provocative new theory on what NDEs reveal
about mind-body interactions, human memory, and
the part of our brain that literally communicates
His latest work, Where
God Lives, by Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, builds
on the author's previous research into NDEs to reveal
a startling truth: that all of us have the biological
potential to interact with the universe not just
when we are dying, but at any time during our lives
- by learning to stimulate an under-utilized area
of the brain the authors call "the God Spot."
Drawing from mounting scientific research, documented
NDEs and other mystical encounters, and the author's
personal experiences - this illuminating book outlines
a convincing new paradigm that seeks to explain
some of the human mind's most elusive mysteries,
including miraculous healing, telepathy, hauntings,
reincarnation, remote viewing, and other "paranormal"
Dr. Morse argues that
the study of NDEs provides a starting point for
understanding the mysterious link between our brains
and the universe. Though sound scientific studies
have already identified the existence of "the
God Spot" - the right temporal lobe of the
brain - Morse takes this concept several steps further.
Building on the controversial theory that memory
may actually be stored outside the brain, he suggests
that the right temporal lobe acts not as a "computer"
for our individual minds, but as a transmitter and
receiver of the universal mind - and that we can
actually learn to stimulate this part of our brains
in a number of ways besides near-death or active
dying. The challenge, he says, is to learn how to
integrate the rational (left) and spiritual (right)
sides of our brains.
Morse attempts to answer
the most important questions from the field of near-death
studies based on a single premise: that most paranormal
perceptions take place through the God Spot's link
to a universal memory bank from which we can receive
and access information - and with which we can interact
to alter reality in a physical way. Just as Morse's
previous books helped catapult the study of NDEs
and their transforming effects from a "fringe"
area to one considered mainstream and medically
valuable, Where God Lives validates the brain's
connection to the God experience with an arsenal
of powerful human stories and indisputable scientific
facts that answer formerly intractable questions
1. Can memory be stored
outside the brain?
Modern scientific thought
is increasingly exploring the notion that memories
can exist independent of brain function, explaining
why, for example, comatose patients who recover
are able to process memories of their experiences.
2. Is reincarnation the
act of "tapping in" to a universal memory
An incredible collection
of scientifically examined cases in several countries
- such as so-called birthmark studies: in which
people who claim to be reincarnated have birthmarks
that correspond to wounds of those from whom they
were reincarnated - suggest this is so.
3. Are ghosts and angels
really "trapped energy"?
The author's analysis
of more than fifteen thousand ghost stories convinces
him that these are not "spirits" trapped
between this world and another, but strong memories
and perceptions that are actually embedded in the
environment. This memory is usually perceived the
same way by all who tap into it, explaining why
there is such consistency among ghost stories.
4. Is there a type of
person who can communicate with this universal memory
bank more easily than the rest of us?
The author's research
shows that people who've had an NDE are more likely
to be "in tune" with their God Spot, and
to have other mystical experiences or possess other
5. Is there such a thing
suggest that life has a pattern and innate meaning
beyond what we, as human beings, impose on it.
6. What is intuition?
Morse argues that intuition
is the normal function of the right temporal lobe.
His research suggests that we can train ourselves
to use our "sixth sense" in a more conscious
way - as the connection between the organized patterns
of energy that represent ourselves, and the entire
pattern (universal mind) in which we are embedded.
7. Why do prayers help
some people who are seriously ill?
Sound scientific literature
on miraculous healing shows that such events almost
all involve right temporal lobe functions like out-of-body
experiences, experiences of light, visions, and
NDEs - suggesting that simple, inexpensive interventions,
such as meditation or prayer, can help us maximize
our own health.
8. Can people be "taught"
to use abilities like remote viewing and telekinesis
if they were asked to focus on them?
studies document that humans have psychic abilities
of all kinds that might be honed if we were led
to work on them.
9. Can we really use
our minds to heal our bodies?
Virtually all anecdotal
research and many controlled scientific studies
stress that there must be an interaction between
the mind of the individual and the universal pattern
or God - and studies further suggest that this universal
energy pattern can directly influence health.
Morse takes readers beyond
theory to the practical matter of how this mysterious
area of the brain can be made more accessible to
us. He distills ten critical lessons - based on
his in-depth research into the transforming power
of NDEs - that can help us all become tuned to our
God Spot. If practiced regularly, Morse says, these
simple rules can bring the restorative effects of
optimism, trust, and love into our daily lives -
but also empower us to call on the divine to help
bring about remarkable recoveries and spiritual
healings whenever we need them.
Where God Lives reveals
that the secret of NDEs is that there is no secret
- that all of us have the innate ability to heal
ourselves, if only we have the desire and determination
to enable this gift. "The ultimate message
of NDEs is that life has meaning and we are all
connected," says Morse. "It is in finding
those connections that we find the secret to good
health and a long life." Applying the rigors
of science to the study of the spiritual, this intriguing
book presents a provocative starting point for a
new understanding of how the brain works, and concludes
definitively that there is an unseen - but not unreachable
- power that guides us all.
10. Are near-death experiences
"But was it real? Dr.
Morse?" Chris, age 8, had nearly drown when his
family's car plunged over a bridge and into the
freezing waters of a river near Seattle. His father
was trapped in the car and died. His mother and
brother miraculously swam to safety. A passer by
dove repeatedly to the sunken car, and finally brought
Chris's limp body to the surface. He was flown by
helicopter to a nearby hospital and ultimately survived.
11. Not cultural
car filled up with water, and everything
went all blank. Then I died. I went into
a huge noodle. It wasn't like a spiral noodle,
but it was very straight. When I told my
Mom about it, I told her it was a noodle,
but it must have been a tunnel, because
it had a rainbow in it. Noodles don't have
rainbows in them.
"I was pushed
along by wind, and I could float. I saw
two tunnels in front of me, a human tunnel
and an animal tunnel. First I went in the
animal tunnel, and a bee gave me honey.
"Then I saw the
human heaven. It was like a castle, not
all broken down, just a regular castle.
As I looked at it, I heard some music. It
was very loud, and it stuck in my head."
to his near death experience, Chris had
little interest in music, since his near
drowning, his mother bought him a keyboard
and he has taught himself to play the heavenly
music he heard."
Chris clearly saw something
he thought was real. The image of a rainbow in a
noodle is so unique, it is unlikely to have its
source in our cultural psychology. I had certainly
never heard of one before. But was it really real?
Chris's question goes
right to the heart of the problem, as is typical
for a child. As he pointed out, if his experience
was real, then "you'll have to tell all the old
people, so they won't be afraid to die".
Are near-death experiences
actually the dying experience, the result of normal
brain function at the point of death? Or, are they
the result of brain dysfunction creating a hallucination
triggered by the biological stresses of dying, drugs,
and a lack of oxygen to the brain?
involve the perception of another reality superimposed
over this one. This "other reality" frequently is
a spiritual one involving the existence of a loving
god. There is clearly a sense of a persistence of
consciousness after the death of the body. If near-death
experiences are "real", then clearly it is possible
that this other reality is real and even our destination
after death. Furthermore, if near-death experiences
are real, then a entire class of currently trivialized
spiritual visions such as after-death communications,
shared dying experiences and premonitions of death
are most likely also real.
12. Clinical research
Our study, done at Seattle
Children's Hospital concluded that near-death experiences
are in fact the dying experience. We studied 26
critically ill children and found that 24 of them
reported being conscious while dying, and having
some sort of conscious experience. Typically that
involved the perception of a loving light, a "light
that had good things in it".
We studied over 100 control
children who were also treated with medications,
had a lack of oxygen to their brain, were intubated
and mechanically ventilated in the scary intensive
care unit, and who also thought they were going
to death. They, however, were seriously ill and
not truly near death. None of these patients reported
being conscious while dying or having a spiritual
an Atlanta cardiologist, found that 43% of cardiac
arrest patients had NDEs. Patients with long complicated
resuscitations were more likely to have NDEs. He
also found that patients who had NDEs frequently
could accurately describe their own resuscitation
in detail. In contrast, control group of patients
who had cardiac arrests but no NDEs could not describe
their own resuscitation with any accuracy.
I researched many stories
which clearly document that there is a paradoxical
return of consciousness to the brain, at the point
of death. For example, Olga Gerhardt was a 63 year
old woman awaiting a heart transplant. A severe
virus attacked her heart tissue. Finally her pager
went off and she was called to the University of
California Center for surgery. Her entire family
went with her, except for her son-in-law, who stayed
Although the transplant
was a success, at exactly 2:15 am, her new heart
stopped beating. It took the frantic transplant
team three more hours to revive her. Her family
was only told in the morning that her operation
was a success, without other details.
They called her son-in-law
with the good news. He had his own news to tell.
He had already heard it. At exactly 2:15 am, while
he was sleeping, he awoke to see his mother in law
at the foot of his bed. She told him not to worry,
that she was going to be alright. She asked him
to tell her daughter (his wife). He wrote down the
message, and the time and fell asleep again.
Later, when Olga regained
consciousness, her first words were "did you get
The story demonstrates
that the near-death experience is a return to consciousness
at the point of death, when the brain is dying.
She was able to communicate telepathically with
her son-in-law, when she seemed comatose and he
Paul Perry and I thoroughly
researched her story. Every detail had objective
verification. We even saw the scribbled note. Such
stories have been similarly well documented for
over 100 years.
classic text "Human Personality and Its Survival
After Death" meticulously documents hundreds of
14. Stories are not enough
Stories, however, are
not enough. They are convincing to those who witness
them, but lose their power when told and retold.
I have documented dozens of such stories, but they
will not convince any skeptic of the reality of
15. Experimental research
Science demands verifiable
evidence which can be reproduced again and again
under experimental situations.
Dr. Jim Whinnery,
of the National Warfare Institute, thought he was
simply studying the effects of G forces on fighter
pilots. He had no idea he would revolutionize the
field of consciousness studies by providing experimental
proof that NDEs are real.
The pilots were placed
in huge centrifuges and spun at tremendous speeds.
After they lost consciousness, after they went into
seizures, after they lost all muscle tone, when
the blood stopped flowing in their brains, only
then would they suddenly have a return to conscious
awareness. They had "dreamlets" as Dr. Whinnery
These dreamlets are similar
to near-death experiences. They often involved a
sense of separation from the physical body. A typical
dreamlet involved a pilot leaving his physical body
and traveling to a sandy beach, where he looked
directly up at the sun. The pilot remarked that
death is very pleasant.
16. Not only while dying
The experiences do not
only occur to dying dysfunctional brains. The Journal
of the Swiss Alpine Club, in the late 1800s, reported
30 first hand accounts of mountain climbers who
fell from great heights and lived. The climbers
reported being out of their physical body, seeing
heaven, having life reviews, and even hearing the
impact of their bodies hitting the ground. They
were not seriously injured.
Yale University Pediatric
Cancer specialist Dr. Diane Komp reports that many
dying children have near-death experiences, without
evidence of brain dysfunction. Their experiences
often occurred in dreams, prayers, or visions before
death. One boy stated that Jesus had visited him
in a big yellow school bus and told him he would
die soon. Others heard angels singing or saw halos
The American Journal of
Psychiatry, in 1967, reported the experiences of
two miners trapped for days in a mine. They were
never near death and had adequate food and water.
They said that mystical realities opened before
them in the tunnels. They also said a third miner
who seemed real to them helped them to safety, but
disappeared when they were rescued.
17. NDEs acknowledge
are not a denial of reality, as is often seen in
drug or oxygen deprivation induced hallucinations.
There are not the distortions of time, place, body
image and disorientations seen in drug induced experiences.
They instead typically involve the perception of
another reality superimposed over this one. For
example, one young boy told him the "god took me
in his hands and kept me safe" while medics were
frantically trying to revived his body after a near
drowning. He said and understood everything that
happened to him, but simply perceived something
we usually don't perceive at other times in our
in his extensive review of all published near-death
research states there is no reason to believe that
NDEs are the result of psychiatric pathology or
18. Not "fear"
They can occur in very
young children, too little to have a fear of death
to react to, infants who have no internal defense
mechanisms against the concept of death. Doctors
at Massachusetts General Hospital report that an
8 month old had an NDE after nearly dying of kidney
failure. As soon as she could talk, at age two,
she told her parents of going into a tunnel into
a bright light. Psychiatrists
Gabbard and Twemlow
report of a 29 month old who bit into an electric
cord and nearly died. He told his mother he went
into a room with a nice man. There was a bright
light on the ceiling. He wanted to know if I wanted
to go home, or come play with him.
The conventional medical
explanation is that these are not real perceptions
but rather hallucinations caused by the short circuiting
of a dying brain. The Russian near-death researcher
studied hundreds of soldiers who nearly died in
battle. He concluded that "the fact that different
people in different countries can recall similar
images seen by them during dying or resuscitation
does not prove life after death. It can be explained
by the dynamics of the disintegrating brain."
Calling near-death experiences
"hallucinations" implies that they are not real
perceptions of another reality. There is no reason
for this other than a disbelief that there are other
realities to perceive.
19. At least three realities
I recently discussed these
issues with theoretical physicists at the National
Institute of Discovery Science. This is a consciousness
think tank of national renown scholars in their
individual fields. They explained to me that science
states that reality is made of tiny nuclear particles,
so tiny that it is unclear if they are actually
matter or simply patterns of energy. All of the
fundamental particles in this universe have at least
two counterparts which have been documented as being
These particles last for
only a fraction of a second in this reality, yet
they comprise the elemental building blocks of reality.
In theory, there are at least three possible universes
comprised of the three basic sets of subatomic particles.
Furthermore, again in
theory, there is one possible universe which is
in which there is no time or space, and all possible
universes coexist. This is why physicists such as
Ernest Schroedinger said "if you are not shocked
by quantum physics, then you do not understand it".
may have seen such a timeless spaceless "Omega
Point" when he nearly died of a botched tonsillectomy
at age 14. He states that "suddenly I rolled into
a ball and smashed into another reality. The forces
that brought me through the barrier were terrific.
I was on the other side. I realized that the boundary
between life and death is a strange creation of
our own mind, very real (from the side of the living),
and yet insignificant."
Olaf felt he was floating
in a universe with no boundaries. "I had total comprehension
of everything. I stood at the annihilation point,
a bright orange light." As I felt my mind transported
back to my body, I thought, please let me remember
this new theory of relativity.
Certainly the information
that Olaf gained during his NDE was real. He has
gone on to develop over 100 patents in molecular
chemistry based on the information from his NDE.
20. Conscious universe?
The universe may well
be a conscious universe. Many modern scientists
no longer believe in a randomly generated universe
from some sort of primal dust. Nobel prize winning
Christian de Duve
describes the universe as one which as a cosmic
imperative to develop conscious life. The very structure
of molecules which make up living creatures dictates
that conscious life will evolve.
agrees that the fundamental laws of the universe,
which govern the creation of planets, suns and galaxies
again seems to imply that conscious life will be
the end result of those universal laws. Evolutionary
goes even further, stating that there are morphic
forms, patterns of energy which first exist in the
universe, when then result in life.
If this is true, then
it would apply to the other two universes made of
the other two sets of elementary subatomic particles.
Angels, devils, UFOs, and God now seem less like
fairy tales and more likely to be perceptions of
conscious beings in other realties predicted by
modern science. Near-death experiences may simply
be the clinical counterparts to what experimental
physicists have found in the laboratory.
21. On a rocket ship
to the moon
When Todd died after falling
into a neighbors swimming pool, moments before he
died, he came out of coma, looked at his Mom, and
said "the moon, the moon, I am on a rocket ship
to the moon." She asked me if he was just having
I told her that the most
scientific answer based on the evidence is that
he was able to share with her his dying experience.
That was important to
this Mom. It made her horrible grief perhaps a fraction
more bearable. It made her anger at an irrational
universe which would cause a child to die a fraction
less, Her son's vision implied to her that he was
going somewhere after death.
Such visions, dreams,
and intuitions have enormous power to heal. Currently,
our society trivializes such experiences and dismisses
them as fantasies of dysfunctional brains or the
mind's safety net against grief. They are real experiences,
as real as any other human perception. We only have
to listen to them to understand them. They often
contain the seeds needed to heal grief and to understand
22. Savings in health
care costs are real
My physician friends often
ask me of what use is near-death research. I answer
them in a way they can understand. If we really
understood that from a scientific standpoint these
experiences are "real", meaning that they are a
normal function of the human brain at death, we
could cut health care costs in this country by at
least 20%. That is the amount we irrationally spend
in the last few days of patients' lives, using expensive
medical technology to appease our own fears of death
at the expense of human dignity.
At the very least, near-death
research teaches us not to be afraid to die. Frequently,
dying is accompanied by visions of people we love.
Often there is no perception of the painful events
going on in the body. One child said it best when
she said "while they were sticking me with needles
and stuff, I was safe with God".
have the power to become a cultural ice breaker
with a resulting healing of our societal fear of
death. I predict that when we institutionalize the
understanding that the near-death experience is,
indeed, the dying experience, we will see a healthy
withering away of unnecessary medical interventions