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Copyright © 2003 Near-Death Experiences & the Afterlife
Last modified: February 02, 2003
PMH Atwater (http://www.cinemind.com/atwater/) survived three death events that produced three different near-death experiences in 1977. She is one of the original researchers of the near-death phenomenon, having begun her work in 1978. Today, her contribution to the field of near-death studies is considered on par with those of Raymond Moody and Kenneth Ring. Her first two books, Coming Back to Life and Beyond the Light, are considered the bibles of the near-death experience. With the publication of Future Memory, she has expanded her work into areas of brain development that call for a reconsideration of what is presently known about transformation consciousness. She has done extensive research into the after-effects and the analysis of common elements of the near-death experiencce. Her research into children's near-death experiences led to her writing, Children of the New Millennium. Her latest book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to NDEs, is in my opinion the most comprehensive book on near-death experiences.
The following are Atwater's insights into the near-death experience from her book, Beyond the Light:
"Any pain to be suffered comes first. Instinctively you fight to live. That is automatic.
"It is inconceivable to the conscious mind that any other reality could possibly exist beside the Earth-world of matter bounded by time and space. We are used to it. We have been trained since birth to live and thrive in it. We know ourselves to be ourselves by the external stimuli we receive. Life tells us who we are and we accept its telling. That, too, is automatic and to be expected.
"Your body goes limp. Your heart stops. No more air flows in or out. You lose sight, feeling and movement - although the ability to hear goes last. Identity ceases. The "you" that you once were becomes only a memory.
"There is no pain at the moment of death. Only peaceful silence ... calm ... quiet. But you still exist. It is easy not to breathe. In fact, it is easier, more comfortable, and infinitely more natural not to breathe than to breathe.
"The biggest surprise for most people in dying is to realize that dying does not end life. Whether darkness or light comes next, or some kind of event, be it positive, negative, or somewhere in between, expected or unexpected, the biggest surprise of all is to realize you are still you.
"You can still think, you can still remember, you can still see, hear, move, reason, wonder, feel, question, and tell jokes - if you wish.
"You are still alive, very much alive. Actually, you're more alive after death than at any time since you were last born. Only the way of all this is different; different because you no longer wear a dense body to filter and amplify the various sensations you had once regarded as the only valid indicators of what constitutes life. You had always been taught one has to wear a body to live.
"If you expect to die when you die you will be disappointed.
"The only thing dying does is help you release, slough off, and discard the "jacket" you once wore (more commonly referred to as a body). When you die you lose your body. That's all there is to it. Nothing else is lost.
"You are not your body. It is just something you wear for a while, because living in the Earth plane is infinitely more meaningful and more involved if you are encased in its trappings and subject to its rules."
"There is a step-up of energy at the moment of death, an increase in speed as if you are suddenly vibrating faster than before.
"Using radio as an analogy, this speed-up is comparable to having lived all your life at a certain radio frequency when all of a sudden someone or something comes along and flips the dial. That flip shifts you to another, higher wavelength. The original frequency where you once existed is still there. It did not change. Everything is still just the same as it was. Only you changed, only you speeded up to allow entry into the next radio frequency on the dial.
"As is true with all radios and radio stations, there can be bleed-overs or distortions of transmission signals due to interference patterns. These can allow or force frequencies to coexist or co-mingle for indefinite periods of time. Normally, most shifts up the dial are fast and efficient; but, occasionally, one can run into interference, perhaps from a strong emotion, a sense of duty, or a need to fulfill a vow, or keep a promise.
"This interference could allow coexistence of frequencies for a few seconds, days, or even years (perhaps explaining hauntings); but, sooner or later, eventually, every given vibrational frequency will seek out or be nudged to where it belongs.
"You fit your particular spot on the dial by your speed of vibration. You cannot coexist forever where you do not belong.
"Who can say how many spots there are on the dial or how many frequencies there are to inhabit? No one knows.
"You shift frequencies in dying. You switch over to life on another wavelength. You are still a spot on the dial but you move up or down a notch or two.
"You don't die when you die. You shift your consciousness and speed of vibration.
"That's all death is ... a shift."
"Time and space, as we know them, exist only on the Earth plane. When you leave the Earth plane, you leave such constraints.
"There are realms and dimensions of existence without number, ranging from the slower, more dense vibrations of form to higher, finer streams of non-energetic currents. And there is more beyond that, realities that cannot be measured or described in the convenience of mathematics or mind-play.
"Hell refers to levels of negative thought-forms that reside in close proximity to the Earth plane. It is where we go to work out, or remain within, our hang-ups, addictions, fears, guilt, angers, rage, regrets, self-pity, arrogance, or whatever else blocks us from the power of our own light. We stay in hell (and there are many divisions to this vibratory level) for however long best serves our development. There is no condemnation here, only the outworking of our own misjudgments, mistakes, misalignments, or misappropriations (what some people call sin). In hell, we have the opportunity to either revel in our folly or come to grips with the reality of consequences - that every action has a reaction, what is inflicted on another can be returned in kind. We experience the "flip side" of our despair or our demands, "living through" the extremes of whatever we dread. This is not a "punishment for our sins" but a confrontation with any distortion of our sense of values and priorities. We do not leave until we have changed our attitudes and perceptions.
"Heaven is a term used to describe levels of positive thought-forms that reside in close proximity to the Earth plane. It is where we go to recognize or enjoy our worth, talents, abilities, joys, courage, generosity, caring, empathy, giving-ness, virtue, cheer, diligence, thoughtfulness, patience, loving kindness, or whatever else reveals the power of our own light. We stay in heaven (and there are many divisions to this vibratory level) for however long best serves our development. There is a sense of benefit here, as if one has found one's true home and all is well (what some people call "recess", or a time of rewards). In heaven, we have the opportunity to assess our progress as a soul, to evaluate pros and cons and outcomes, to remember all truths including that of our real identity. We experience the glory of love and the power of forgiveness.
"This is not an end point, but, rather, the realization of our purpose in creation's story, how we fit, and what possibilities for future growth and learning exist. We do not leave until we are ready for our next advancement either in the world of form or beyond it.
"No one knows how vast creation is ... only that it has always been and will always be. Shapes and embodiments change and alter, substance is recycled, but existence exists, as does energy.
"Existence is life, never ending and ongoing, forever and ever eternal. Yet its only true movement (without the distortion time and space give) is expansion and contraction, as if the existence that exists were capable of breathing. What appears as a progression, a time-line of starts and stops and ever-changing variations, is but an overleaf, an illusion, that helps us to focus on whatever spot on the dial we currently inhabit so we will accomplish what we set out to do (or at least have an opportunity to), and not be distracted by The Truth that undergirds reality.
"Using television as an analogy, the picture we enjoy seeing, the progression of a storyline with characters acting out a script, is but a trick of perception. What exists, what is really there, is quite literally one electron at a time (with black and white, and three at a time with color) fired from the back of the television tube to the screen to be illuminated once it hits the screen as a tiny dot. The continuous barrage of electrons-turned-into-dots creates the appearance of images, as scanning lines roll from top to bottom separating information coming in (new dots) from information fading out (old dots). You adjust the vertical hold on your set, not to remove strange bars appearing in the picture, but to place all screen activity within the range of your own perceptual preference. A television picture tube is nothing more than a "gun" that fires electrons at a screen. Your mind connects the electron dots into the picture images you think you see, while it totally ignores the true reality of what actually undergirds the operation. The way television operates, at least in our daily experience of it, is an illusion.
"Existence is a lot like television. What exists, what really exists, can't be fathomed by how it appears to operate or what it seems to be."
"God is the one presence, the one power, the one force and source of all. There are no competitors to God, no reality existent outside of God. God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere). There is no place where God is not, simply because nothing exists without God.
"God is neither a man nor a woman nor a thing.
"God is no one's father or mother or benefactor. These terms are used only to help us understand relationships - ours to God - not to establish a more human type of parentage. We use such terms as a matter of convenience or because it is comforting to do so. We call ourselves children of God because we do not know what else to call ourselves, and it seems as good a term as any to use. We are made in the image of God, not in the sense of physical appearance, but with respect to the power of our souls and the potential of our minds. God is the Creator; we are co-creators. It would be more appropriate and more in line with Truth, if we called ourselves extensions of God or, perhaps, thoughts in the Mind of God. It would even be appropriate to use another name for God, like The Force, The One, The All, The Is-ness, The One Mind, The Source, or whatever conveys that sense of deity that is without limitation or boundary, beyond what can be comprehended.
"While God is more than any name, protocol, hierarchy, concept, or grandiosity could describe or define; God truly is as near as our next breath - as close as our next thought. We are part of God and existent with God. A belief in separation, that we could possibly exist and have our being apart from God, is the only real sin. This belief is of our own making. God has not decreed separation; this we did ourselves by our own perception that somehow, some way, we could transcend That Which Cannot Be Transcended.
"God is not dependent on our belief, for our belief or disbelief in God does not affect God - only us.
"God is not a member of any church or religion. It is the churches and the religions that are members within the vastness and the glory that is God. There is no one religion just as there is no "chosen" people or person, nor any single way of regarding what cannot be fully comprehended. We are all "sons" of God in the sense that we are all souls of God's creation, without gender, without form, without nationality, complete and whole and perfect as we explore the never-endingness of God's wonderment. A spark from the essence of All God Is resides in each and every one of us has an unbreakable connection, that thread or cord that ensures we remain a part of That Which We Could Never Leave.
"The splendorous joy of recognizing and acknowledging our special-ness, our greatness, as creations of God and as co-creators with God, is akin to being engulfed by overwhelming floodtides of God's Glorious Love."
"There is no sense of "crime and punishment" in God's Light, only the clear, complete, and total knowing that you are loved unconditionally and fully - right now and forever more.
"Truth in this light, God's Light, is so powerful and so piercing, there is no way you could lie, exaggerate, avoid, or deny what you have done with God's gift to you, the gift of an embodied life in the Earth plane replete with abundant opportunities to learn and develop and grow - be the best that you can be. This gift, the Earth life God gives us, comes with a catch: We are to give the gift back.
"We cannot keep the life we have on the Earth plane, not our possessions or attachments or relationships. What we can keep is our memories and our feelings of what we have integrated into our heart of hearts from the experience of being here, plus the love we have shared with others. This that we can keep enriches God's experience of us as well as enriching our experience of ourselves and one another. How joyful this is depends on what we did about who we are.
"Each gain or loss anyone makes affects everyone else to some degree. That's because we are connected, somehow, as sparks from the Mind of God. Everything created either has a soul (independent power mass) or is capable of being ensouled (from out of the group power mass). Because human forms contain larger portions of a soul mass than many other types of form, they represent opportunities of greater diversity, challenge, and involvement. Yet even animals, minerals, plants, and planets, enfold degrees of ensoulment replete with intelligence, feeling, and volition. Density of structure or shape may seem to deny this, but the creative fire is ever-present, nonetheless.
"All souls are holy in God's Light, and all souls are loved.
"And all souls have a purpose for their existence and a reason for being who or what they are.
"Whatever form a soul empowers "fits" in creation's story, for each soul has a job to do, a position to fill in the greater scheme of things.
"And all souls evolve. Nothing stays as it is because nothing is static, regardless of how "otherwise" conditions may appear to be.
"Evolution is not restricted to linear progression. It only seems so.
"Thus, the drama of creation's story is unbounded - neither limited by our perception of it, nor by our ability or lack of ability to comprehend it. This drama is as stupendous as it is terrifying, as awesome as it is wonderful, as miraculous as it is mysterious, as beautiful as it is the ultimate act of all-consuming love. To witness even a glimpse of such glory, to know the Real Truth of it, leaves a mark so deep and so profound you are forever uplifted and transformed.
"You return from your near-death experience knowing we affect each other because we are all part of each other, and that we affect all parts of creation because all parts of creation interweave and interrelate with all other parts. Any sense of aloneness or separation dissolves in the Light of "such knowing.
"We each matter. And we are each challenged to "wake up" and realize that we matter. Once we so awaken, our task is to act accordingly.
"To know is not enough. We must express that knowing. How we do that is up to us.
"Although we are each connected to the other and to all others, we are individual in our choices, in the power of our will, and in the product or result or consequence of our ever having breathed a breath in the Earth plane. The responsibility we have for this totality of our being-ness is as freeing and exciting as it is humbling. And it represents high adventure.
"The greatest fear we have in living out our Earth life is not what might happen to us, but what might be expected from us if we recognized who we are."
Atwater has identified four distinctive types of near-death experiences. She discovered elements similar to those described by Moody and Ring but different patterning from what was billed as the classical version; each pattern type was accompanied by a subtle psychological profile suggestive of other forces that might be present. These four types have consistently held up throughout two decades of interviews, observations, and analysis regardless of a person's age, education, gender, culture, or religion. In her book, Beyond the Light, Atwater used separate chapters to discuss each of the four types. Below is a shorter rendition of the scenario patterns.
"Involves elements such as a loving nothingness, the living dark, a friendly voice, or a brief out-of-body episode. Usually experienced by those who seem to need the least amount of evidence for proof of survival, or who need the least amount of shakeup in their life at that point in time. Often, this becomes a "seed" experience or an introduction to other ways of perceiving and recognizing reality. Incident rate: 76% with child experiencers, 20% with adult experiencers."
"Encounter with a threatening void or stark limbo or hellish purgatory, or scenes of a startling and unexpected indifference, even "hauntings" from one's own past. Usually experienced by those who seem to have deeply suppressed or repressed guilt, fears, and angers and/or those who expect some kind of punishment or discomfort after death. Incident rate: 3% with child experiencers, 15% with adult experiencers."
"Heaven-like scenarios of loving family reunions with those who have died previously, reassuring religious figures or light beings, validation that life counts, affirmative and inspiring dialogue. Usually experienced by those who most need to know how loved they are and how important life is and how every effort has a purpose in the overall scheme of things. Incident rate: 19% with child experiencers, 47% with adult experiencers."
"Exposure to otherworldly dimensions and scenes beyond the individual's frame of reference; sometimes includes revelations of greater truths. Seldom personal in content. Usually experienced by those who are ready for a mind-stretching challenge and/or individuals who are more apt to utilize (to whatever degree) the truths that are revealed to them. Incident rate: 2% with child experiencers, 18% with adult experiencers."
Note: Atwater has noticed that all four types can occur at the same time during the near-death experience, can exist in varying combinations, or can spread out across a series of episodes for a particular individual. Generally speaking, however, each represents a distinctive type of experience occurring but once to a given person.