Now I'll have to rewrite the post.
There exists a quiet, circumspect, yet substantial population reporting near death experiences (NDE's), according to IANDS, the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Annually, approximately 200,000 Americans tell a few select friends or relatives that they experienced life after death. They speak of travel beyond the moon, past Mars, no spaceship necessary, and much more. Ms. Bachrach, a journalist, set out to find them.
Less stigma draws them out, some of it thanks to Oprah's interview with actress Sharon Stone, an experiencer. Conferences are well attended.
But his is about Ms. Bachrach's book. Her subjects are varied, but some say they did see spirits during that brief window in which their hearts ceased to beat, their brains failed to respond to technology. But mostly, after death experiences, or near death experiences, are about consciousness.
The conscious self is reportedly (and we do have to emphasize reportedly, for Glimpsing Heaven is journalism) something other than the one cloaked in a human body. Consciousness is disparate. Such a different lesson than the one taught in the social sciences and medical professions: Your body and your mind are one. Mental illness is physical illness. Treat it as such. Don't ignore feelings, take care of yourself when you feel bad.
Experiencers suggest that the body we're constantly scrutinizing and pruning over, working into shape, or beating ourselves up about, matters little in the grand scheme of things. Our true selves are all consciousness, awareness, and that awareness is connected to that of others. The feeling associated with it is. Consciousness is something larger, something most talk about as feelings most commonly associated with it are peace and love.
And we're back to the sixties.
We could say that Ms. Bachrach is a journalist, not a scientist, and that she has fallen under the spell of some really, really good story tellers. But neuro-psychiatrists who study NDE's are scoring large grants. To get a grant, a doctor has to jump through some serious hoops, justify the benefits of research to society, ensure that subjects are not harmed in any way. The hope is that the data collected, some as qualitative, systematic interviews, coded and analyzed by theme, will present conclusions much like our author's.
That's what's in bold print on the back cover of Glimpsing Heaven, coincidentally.
Singer-songwriter, Pam Reynolds Lowery, had an out of body experience during a cardiac standstill, a type of surgery that necessitates freezing the body, entirely shutting off brain activity to remove an aneurysm. Her aneurysm was huge. Eyes lubricated and taped shut, Pam reports details in the operating room, conversations her doctors say she could not possibly have interpreted under the circumstances. She watched the surgery from above the table and heard music the surgical team picked out: Hotel California. You can check out any time you want-- but you can never leave. She thought it bad taste.
Pam recalls popping out of the top of her head, feeling pulled toward a shower of light, away from the operation. And yes, she saw relatives long gone, a beloved uncle, her late grandmother, whom she adored. They told her she couldn't stay with them. She had to go back. But she didn't want to leave. Death felt good.
Ms. Bachrach learns, in an interview with Pam's daughter Michelle, that soon after recovery, Pam became an empath. She had heightened ESP, could sense the pain of others, even knew why they suffered. This isn't uncommon among Experiencers, or Knowers, people who have had death experiences through any number of accidents and acts of either nature or man: drowning, strangling, lightening, heart attacks,
"Death is an illusion," Pam used to say. "Death is a really nasty, bad lie."
We can all breath easier. It seems so absurd, such surety. She can' prove it happened, but we can't prove her wrong. Much like a discussion about the existence of God between a believer and an atheist, Go prove it either way.
We have to wonder, did she suffer from depression because of her tumor? Did she have suicidal thoughts? No longer with us, these are questions research will address, certainly.
Bill Taylor, at 37, had a heart attack and experienced a long, helpless descent into darkness before looking out in space and seeing stars and planets, the universe before him, nothing behind.
He tells her:
"And being out there, I could see everything was connected to everything else. There were threads connecting all of the bodies in the universe. And I am connected to all these forms. The threads were energy-- and it was love that connected everything too everything."Love, the Great Connector.
He didn't see the Earth or the moon. "You are farther back than that."
And for those of us who are always too hot or too cold, Mr. Taylor reassures that out there the temperature is just right. Naturally it is.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung has a similar story. In 1944, Jung slipped and broke his fibula, had a heart attack a few days later. At that moment he recalls that he merited a view of the planet Earth, dipped in color. Living color. Technicolor.
But in Bill Taylor's universe, questions are answered. "Where did all this come from? What's the origin?" His questions are answered immediately. Death is merely a different type of energy. And you feel you've come home.
Ms. Bachrach tells over many such intriguing stories, along with the inevitable recently dead traveler who meets wise men in togas. But no one talks out there, not like we do. Thoughts are understood. Consciousness is interconnected for many of these people. No hell, by the way, no devil. One of her subjects felt very lonely out of her body, and the loneliness felt like hell. Much like it can down here. A solitary non-confinement, of sorts.
In death, no one wants to come back, except the one interviewee in solitary non-confinement. Why leave Heaven, worry-free, warm, loving, a huge Thanksgiving celebration minus the turkey, I'm thinking, rabbis and holy men and women at the party to converse telepathically around uneaten sushi. The holy men and women live in the top tiers, get the better seats, but stop by. It is very much as we would hope it to be.
Which could be the rub, projection. But so many people, so many projections. Are they?
Here's something to think about: While dead, we're content to stay right where we are, up there. But those tossed back into the day-to-day, oh-blah-dee existence, everyday life, don't want to return to Heaven any time soon. Having experienced something better, they still prefer life. Some feel they have a job to do, important work to accomplish.
We might hypothesize that life is more meaningful, knowing that at the end to the suffering, there's this rainbow.
Death may be fun. More fun. But life-- complicated, painful, depressing, terrifying at times-- is precious.