A Christian testimony about a Near Death Experience
by Robert Randle
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I remember watching "Oprah" many years ago, and all these White people were on the show talking about their own personal near death experiences and of course, everyone has to write a book about it. In fact, at one time, books of this kind of phenomenon were quite popular and bestsellers on The New York Times booklist; no doubt spearheaded by Marianne Williamson's book, "Return to Love" (which incidentally, I purchased and it influenced me, too). After watching a few interviews of the guests, I wondered, "how come no Black people have these near death experiences?"
I was more than a little cynical and stated that I guess when we die, we don't get to come back and tell about it. This is where the Creator says, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS," "END OF THE LINE," or something like that. As the old oriental saying goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” One day, by accident or perhaps it was more than that, I met a man who was trying to get government funding to study the effects of TM (“transcendental meditation”), and he was looking for volunteers. After he and I talked about the subject matter, this experience seemed to be a perfect vehicle for me to achieve cosmic awareness. However, the funding did not come through for the project and we lost touch with one another soon afterward. It was later that I remembered his words to me about "effortless effort", but I didn't understand the meaning at the time.
It seemed so puzzling and enigmatic to me; how can you initiate something without trying in the first place? From the brief encounter with the stranger, I learned that TM techniques involve being in a relaxed state as to transcend this mortal plane of illusion (called 'Maia' in Hindu philosophy) and become one with the universe; easier said than done, I might add. I tried several times, but without any success. However, I think part of the process is to still the mind, and in the society in which we live, amid all the noise and other distractions of everyday living, this would be very hard to accomplish. I more of less gave up on trying to achieve "enlightenment," and after a few failed attempts, I forgot all about it. In the meantime, I continued to read more books and I think at this time I was reflecting on something that I read in Egyptian history or mythology having to do with the symbolism of the pyramid; "You have to go down before you can go up." I thought about the words of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who said something about "going into your closet to pray and God who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Anyway, on this particular day I was not pondering anything profound, at least not on a conscious level, when it suddenly happened! I was lying on my bed, my body quite relaxed, my mind calm, when I took a seemingly normal exhalation, and everything changed; I thought forever! As best as I can describe it, although it has been many years since, and I am not so sure that even at this moment, I am entirely comfortable describing what occurred. To start with, I felt as if my essence or ‘being' was pulled or drawn out of my physical body, in a downward direction, if you want to call it that. Not only was this pull almost the feel of something like that of a magnet, maybe because the sheer sudden and unexpected nature of it. Anyway, the force pulled my essence from the body, and it seemed to me at least, through the bed, the floor, everything; but it was seemed like a rip or tear in the very fabric of material reality itself.
The curious thing is that it seemed for a moment that I was conscious of still being in my body, and it was immobile and felt heavy, very heavy, like it weighed a ton. Afterward, I experienced what could be something like a cosmic blink, and I was no longer in my former body, or even in the reality or universe that I was formerly part of; that much I realized as my eyes opened ("spiritually-speaking"). No, I didn't see that bright light at the end of some tunnel or meet any angelic messenger or guardian spirit, nor did I see deceased relatives or other people I knew back on earth in their glorified bodies.
It seemed to me that I was part of something that I can't even find the words for. I suppose that I was becoming more consciously aware of “Essential” things, but not thinking about anything in the human sense of the word. I knew that I existed, but without the physical body that I previously had. I had a brief, albeit fleeting consideration of what I might be (as far as form) and what I likened it to was if someone could picture a thought' or consciousness,' something like that; then that what I was, or part of, but on a universal scale; at least, that's what it seemed to me.
The experience was beyond anything to compare it to or conceivable in the imagination of mortals, because there is no human vocabulary to describe it. In the words of the Chinese Daoist in portraying the Tao: "If you experience it, you can't describe it; if you can describe it, then you haven't experienced it." There was the sense of everything all-at-once, and yet, N-O-T-H-I-N-G-N-E-S-S. As I write this, I can still glimpse that part of it that will always remain within me, but I still can't put it into exact words because there is no conceptual framework on which to use as a guidepost.
Interestingly enough, although I don't really know why, but I started to rationalize or started thinking, and realized that I wasn't breathing (in the human sense) because I existed is some form other than a physical one as far as I could perceive. Instead of continuing to experience the timeless moment, for some unknown reason I just couldn't wait to get back and tell somebody or anybody what this was like. Then suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, it dawned on me that I might not get the chance, ever again! Then a sense of awe and finality filled my being and I thought,"Oh My God!"
The next thing I remember was a re-awakening (in a sense) and being in my physical body, conscious and sentient, but still not breathing as of yet. Then suddenly, I took the deepest inhalation, possibly similar to the breath of life ("neshamah" in the Hebrew) as recorded in the Jewish Old Testament; this is my best guess of the experience because I did not remember how to start the process of respiration [breathing].
After what seemed like timeless moments, I came back from where I emerged from to where I had been, and I pondered for some days over the meaning and purpose of what happened to me because I did not converse with any celestial being or archangel and so I wasn't quite so sure what to make of it all.
I shared the experience with a few acquaintances that are knowledgeable in metaphysical things; some of them having had a near death experience or out of body experience (OBE), which is what I had. The only difference between the two may simply be one of degrees or duration, because in my case, I don't believe that I was "clinically dead". I think what happened is that for a moment, my body and mind were so relaxed that I was allowed to slip past the normal boundary of reality and experience something akin to "enlightenment;" or ascendancy on some higher plane of existence; probably what the ancient yogis, priests, hierophants, and monks aspired to, and which some did achieve.
Maybe what I experienced at that time was attaining a ‘oneness' with what some might call the "Group Soul" or "Universal Mind", which is the Collective Conscience of all human experience that each of us, based on our experience and lessons on earth, leave a record of. So, what great message did I bring back from beyond this veil of reality? Well, not much; just this: "Love is the total absence of fear." Perhaps Marianne Williamson is right after all. Love is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning of all things and the end of all things.
Although, as a believing Christian I know the Scriptures don’t appear to substantiate what happened to me, but nevertheless I cannot deny the profound thing I experienced which was an “epiphany,” nor will I attempt to devalue it just for the sake of appeasement to some of the doubters. All I know is that it was deeply moving, spiritual, unforgettable, and I will never be able to view LIFE or DEATH again in the same way as I did before.
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