I had to make one more post about God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience by Jeffrey Long and Paul Perry because the many subjects covered in the book are certainly interesting ones.
Heaven: The vast majority of NDErs experience heavenly realms, and one of the quotes that struck me came from a woman who talks about art as something reaching for the beauty of Heaven. She states, “I realized that everything we create that is beautiful—all paintings, woven rugs, tapestries, carvings—all have their seed from Heaven. We saw all this before we came to earth, and we try to recapture some of Heaven while on earth.” The discussion of music that NDErs hear is also well-developed and lovely. I didn’t hear music during my experience, but I can only imagine that it would be more pure and alive, as the grass seemed to be more pure and alive on that other side.
Other NDErs write about how everything is about love. I heard the exact statement, “Love is all that matters.” Another NDEr named Diane sums up this idea by saying, “It is all about love. We must love ourselves, and in this way we love God. He is within each of us. We then can love others, even our enemies. We are here to love life, and to express back to our Creator our joy at having life and seeing how beautiful our world is regardless of how we make it.” The heavenly realms described in this section are similar to the one I saw, and the peace NDErs discuss offer readers lovely images and thoughts.
Hell: The authors of this book reassure us that only a very small percentage, “…of all NDEs shared with NDERF are hellish.” They point out that these types of experiences are difficult to study, but ultimately end up providing motivation to the NDEr to reconsider their lives prior to the experience. The authors use the term “a walk through the Valley of Death” instead of hell as many of these experiences are simply just a glimpse at a hellish realm, and some souls choose God or call out to God and move onward in a more heavenly direction.
The authors also make it clear that “bad” people do not only have hellish NDEs, and “good” people do not have heavenly experiences. Some of the hellish experiences may not be NDEs and could be intensive care unit (ICU) psychosis, illicit drug experiences, and so on. However, some of these hellish experiences are experienced as real and intense, but many experiencers walk through these scenes and end up heaven.
The vast majority of NDErs experience a God who is made up of a powerful form of love and is deeply compassionate and resides within everyone. Forgiveness may be the specialty of God and a form of love we can’t fully understand while caught up in the details of these lives.
Reincarnation: One NDEr profiled in the book talks about the possibility of reincarnation and says that God showed a hall that had “…millions and millions of doorways leading off the hall.” Basically, these doorways were particular paths back to a life on earth, but God let this NDEr know that souls have the choice to stay in heaven.
Not every NDEr comes back with this kind of knowledge about reincarnation. I didn’t receive specific knowledge about reincarnation during my NDE, though it has always seemed like a possibility to me, perhaps because certain places in this country and around the world have felt familiar to me and not because of what I’ve read in books or seen in movies.
Books like The Afterlife of Billy Fingers offer greater depth on the possibilities in the extended version of the afterlife. I know that my communications with my father in the afterlife have let me know that he is willing to return to a form because he loves so much about being human and wants to live better the next time. Personally, I fantasize about not coming back to form and exploring how I may be able to help humanity on the other side. This topic isn’t a large part of this book, but since one of the NDErs mentioned it, I feel compelled to address the topic briefly.
Religion: One of the most fascinating parts of the book to me is the section on religion. Some NDErs directly asked God, “What is the right religion?” One man received the answer, “They all are. Each religion is a pathway trying to reach the same place.” He was also told to “…always look at who benefits with regard to rules that religions make. If it is a particular people or the power structure of the religion itself chances are that the religion isn’t of God.” I have always loved the parts of the Bible where Jesus speaks directly, but I since I was a child I have resisted the ideas of certain sexist passages in the Bible.
Another NDEr asked whether only one religion will make it to heaven and was given the reply, “…everyone who believes and has faith, even those who don’t think they do, will make it. It depends on what’s in their hearts.” Again, this rings true for me. Kindness and goodness seem to be the true indicator of a person who is on the right path. Most NDErs, myself included, know how fragile life is and how we shouldn’t waste any of it on anger. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and we should have gratitude and excitement about our lives. Faith makes the journey all the more beautiful.
Most of the NDErs profiled describe a God who is powerful and deeply loving. They struggle to find the vocabulary to describe a God who is everything that exists and everything that doesn’t exist. One NDEr describes our purpose as learning how to “…experience life and learning how to love, create, and develop to the highest we can be.” Sometimes, the best we can do is work towards harmony because “..the universe is full of order, so it always finds a way to balance everything because it can’t exist without perfect balance.”
When NDErs are given information about religion, “…they generally understand that no earthy religion is the ‘chosen religion’ or ‘the one true religion.’” When or if they return to the same religion, they sometimes feel differently about the experience. One NDEr writes, “Many times I’d like to take over the pulpit and tell people what is really on the other side and that the guilt preached by Christian churches is completely inappropriate.”
During my NDE, I was aware that I judged myself much harsher than the light of God judged me. I know that guilt isn’t the way to overcome an addiction or an issue in one’s life. Self-love is the first step that helps. If we begin to love ourselves enough not to harm ourselves and look for ways to heal the wounds and deep seated pain that is often the cause of addiction, we begin to heal. The few times I have attended a Baptist funeral or evangelical sermon, I usually want to pick up a Bible and hit the pastor in the side of the head. Of course, I don’t do that because that wouldn’t be loving or kind, but that is how I feel after experiencing first-hand a love that surpasses all understanding and then hearing harsh judgements in a place of worship.
I agree with an NDEr who writes, “My God is loving and compassionate and lives within me as spirit lives within every one of us.” God lives inside Christians as much as the Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, and the spiritual/not religious. Though this may be a difficult concept for some, it is a concept that makes complete sense if you fill your heart with love for all living beings. That love for all brings you closer to the love of God.