Although many of us are deeply moved by reading such accounts, hardly anyone understands that these stories are nevertheless examples of incomplete or partial NDEs. That is, they take us a long way into the early stages of death, but they don’t show us all the way.
From this perspective, it is natural to ask whether someone has actually traveled what appears to be all the way to death, and then has been able to return to tell us about it. Through my years of research,
I am now willing to say that there have indeed been a few NDEs that have seemingly penetrated well beyond the usual areas of experience where nearly all NDEs end. The account they make of their journeys beyond the Light, as it were, gives us a hitherto undisclosed glimpse of a radiant universe that truly resembles something of the ultimate source of creation itself.
The journeys beyond the Light, some of which I would like to share with you in this article, almost always speak of or imply the existence of a second light, which is a kind of ultimate light, the source of everything, a place from which we come and to which we will inevitably return. For these reasons, I call this extremely rare (temporary) sojourn with the Source an ultimate near-death experience, and I believe it completes the story typical NDEs can only refer to.
Here I can only give you illustrations of three ultimate NDEs from my research. More complete stories and portions of other stories can be found in my recent book, Lessons from the Light (Perseus Books).
There’s no question that one of the strangest NDEs I’ve ever encountered happened to my friend Mellen-Thomas Benedict, who currently lives in California where he is successfully developing a number of light-based healing technologies that may have arisen in part from information he received during his NDE.
During Mellen’s NDE, when he was in the Light, he heard himself asking if he could know what the Light “real” was and if he could be fully absorbed into it. At that moment the following happened and I quote:
“It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, just (his voice trembles), I just went in and (his voice falters), it was just overwhelming (he gasps), it was like all the love you ever wanted and and the more I went into it, the more I just said ‘I want to know ,
I really want to know what’s going on.’ And I was taken up into the Light, and to my surprise, through it, bam ! world fly away, I could see the solar system fly away, I could see galaxies and – it went on and on.
Eventually I felt like I was going through everything that had ever been. I’ll do it all – galaxies became stars and superclusters of galaxies, and worlds after worlds, and energy realms – it was just a mind-boggling spectacle.
And I felt like I was shooting up something, but I actually think it was my consciousness that expanded so quickly. And it happened so fast but it was in such detail that another light came right at me and when I reached this light it was like (pause) I was dissolving or something. And I understood in that moment that I was beyond the Big Bang.
That was the first light ever and I went through the big bang. That happened. I went through that membrane into what I think the ancients call the Void. Suddenly I was in this void and I was aware of everything that had ever been created. It was as if I was looking through God’s eyes, as if I had become God. Suddenly I wasn’t me anymore.
All I can say is that I saw through God’s eyes. And suddenly I knew why every atom was there, and I could see everything. And I stayed in that room, I don’t know how long. And I know that something very deep happened there.’
Mellen is not alone in recounting the experience of returning to Source and becoming one with God during an ultimate NDE. Another such person is a woman living in Florida named Virginia Rivers. Her NDE also led her to a journey like Mellen’s, as you will see when you read her description of her ultimate NDE. But in fact her story picks up where Mellen’s ends by making clear what Mellen was referring to when he said, “And I know something very deep happened there.” Virginia’s story begins when she finds herself emerging from a black void:
Immediately the blackness began to erupt into myriads of stars and I felt like I was standing in the center of the universe with a completely panoramic view in all directions. The next moment I began to notice that I was in a forward motion. The stars seemed to fly past me so fast that they formed a tunnel around me.
I began to experience awareness, knowledge. The further I was driven forward, the more knowledge I gained. My mind felt like a sponge, growing and expanding in size with every addition. The knowledge came in single words and in whole blocks of ideas. It just seemed like I could understand everything as it was being absorbed.
I could feel my mind expanding and absorbing and each new piece of information somehow fitting. It was as if I had already known it but it was forgotten or lost, as if it lay here waiting for me to pick it up as I passed by. I kept growing in knowledge, evolving, expanding and thirsting for more. As each second passed there was more to learn, answers to questions, meanings and definitions, philosophies and reasons, histories, mysteries and so much more, all pouring into my mind.
I remember thinking, ‘I knew that, that’s for sure, where has it been all this time?’ philosophies and reasons, histories, mysteries and so much more, all pouring into my mind. I remember thinking, ‘I knew that, that’s for sure, where has it been all this time?’ philosophies and reasons, histories, mysteries and so much more, all pouring into my mind. I remember thinking, ‘I knew that, that’s for sure, where has it been all this time?’
I felt completely at peace. I could have stayed in this place for an eternity as this pulsating power of love and beauty throbbed through my entire soul. Love poured into me from all corners of the universe. I was still propelled at what seemed like great speed. Yet I was able to notice everything I passed as if I were standing still. A tiny point of light appeared far ahead of me at the other end of my kaleidoscopic tunnel. The light grew bigger and bigger as I floated closer and closer, until I finally arrived at my destination.
Suddenly there was total and absolute consciousness. There wasn’t a single question I could ask that I didn’t already know the answer to. I looked at the presence I knew would be there and thought, ‘God, it was so simple, why didn’t I know?’ I couldn’t see God as I can see you. Yet I knew it was Him. A Light, a beauty that came from within, infinite in all directions to touch every atom of existence. The harmony of coloring, design and melody originated here at the Light. It was God, his love, his light, his very essence, with the creative power emanating to the end of all eternity… stretching forth like a pulsating beacon of love to bring me ‘Home’.The quality of his word, his thought, his voice in my head was magnificent, enchanting, compelling without being demanding, mild and kind and filled with more love than can possibly be described. To be in His presence was more inspiring, more inviting than any kind of love or harmony ever discovered in this reality. No experience, no closeness has ever been so complete.’
Finally, a third person with an NDE, Beverly Brodsky, now living in California, also experienced being in God’s presence during her ultimate NDE and, like Mellen and Virginia, the recipient of wave after wave of transcendental knowledge and absolute love. . Here’s part of her story about the culminating phase of her experience:
‘Then I remembered traveling a long distance, up towards the Light. I believe I was moving very quickly from here, but this total area seemed to be out of time. Finally I reached my destination. But I wasn’t alone. There, before me, was the living presence of the Light.
Inside I felt an all-pervading intelligence, wisdom, compassion, love and truth. There was neither form nor sex to this perfect Being. It, which I shall henceforth call He, in accordance with our generally accepted syntax, contained everything, as white light embraces all the colors of a rainbow when it falls through a prism. And deep within me an instant and miraculous recognition arose: I, even I, stood face to face with God.
[After a while] I was suddenly filled with all the wisdom of the Being. I got more than just the answers to my questions: all knowledge was unfolded before me, like the instant blooming of an infinite number of flowers at once. I was filled with God’s knowledge, and in that precious aspect of His Beingness, I was one with Him. But my journey of discovery had only just begun.
Now I was treated to an extraordinary journey through the universe. In the blink of an eye we traveled to the center where stars are born, supernovae explode and many other glorious celestial events take place for which I know no name. The impression I now have of this journey is that it gave me a feeling that the universe as a whole is one big object woven from the same fabric.
Space and time are illusions that keep us on our level; beyond that, everything is present at once. I was a passenger in a Divine spaceship in which the Creator showed me the fullness and beauty of His entire Creation.
The last thing I saw before all external vision ended was a resplendent fire – the heart and core of a beautiful star. Perhaps it was a symbol of the blessing I would now receive. Everything faded except a rich, full void in which That and I encompass All That Exists. Here, in unspeakable brilliance, I experienced communion with the Light Being. Now I was filled with not only all knowledge, but also all love.
It was as if the Light was given in me and through me. I was God’s object of adoration; and from His/our love I took unimaginable life and joy. My being was transformed; my delusions, sins and guilt were unasked forgiven and purified; now I became Love, Primal Being and Bliss. And, in a way, I remain there, for all Eternity.
Such an association cannot be broken. It was, is and always will be.’
These thrilling journeys across the universe to the Source of all Creation—God, the Light—from which absolute love and utter knowledge pour forth in an eternal stream seem to be almost the pinnacle of human experience. Finally we are back home and can remember that bliss is always found when we realize that we are one with God and that this is our true nature. Such is the illumination of the ultimate near-death experience.
What’s more, the people who have returned from these ultimate NDEs also assure us that this is a journey that all of us, not just a few privileged souls, will someday take. Perhaps this is best expressed by Beverly Brodsky:
“Although my heavenly journey took place twenty years ago, I have never forgotten it. Nor, faced with ridicule and disbelief, have I ever doubted its reality. Nothing so intense and life-changing could possibly have been a dream or a hallucination. On the contrary, I regard the rest of my life as a passing fantasy, a brief dream, which ends when I wake up again in the permanent presence of that giver of life and bliss.’
For those who mourn or fear, I assure you of this: There is no death, and there is no end to love. And remember, too, that we are aspects of the one perfect whole, and as such are part of God, and of each other. One day you who read this and I will be together in light, love and infinite bliss.