LIFE AFTER LIFE
An essay about the book, Life After Life, by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D.
The book, Life after Life, strives to draw the attention and interest of the reader to the phenomenon of life after death and what, if anything may exist beyond physical death. Is there another plain of consciousness just beyond our veiled reality? Or, when we die, is it just lights out for all of eternity?
It does not matter what, religion, race, or social class you come from, we all share two common life elements. First, a biological birth, and second, an equally biological cease to all body functions, otherwise known as death. The book follows a wide range of beliefs, feelings, and practices. A few examples of these would be philosophy, psychology, theology, and medicine. But even when all of these beliefs and practices are combined the individual is left with little more then his or her own personal convictions when dealing with a subject as shrouded as death. This usually leaves the individual searching to find a social group or system of beliefs that he or she feels most comfortable with.
The author offers support, almost entirely through interviews, to the theory of life after life, but unfortunately very little factual evidence. (When this book was written the subject was so new that no one really had a clue of how to document this experience. Luckily, this is changing with many modern advances that have taken place since.) At several points throughout the book the author stresses that all of his information is second hand, and that there is little if any practical process for obtaining information on this subject, at this time. (Fortunately things have changed a great deal since then. This book was written in 1975.)
Dr Moody’s most promising attempt of offering some basis to the theory of life after life comes near the end of the book. Here, he tries to expel some of the more common explanations for the near death phenomenon, by finding the weaknesses of these explanations. (Even decades later, these weaknesses are still debated throughout the medical establishment.) For example, one explanation states that the brain could be experiencing the effects of a lack of oxygen, thus causing the mind to create a hallucinated climax. However, in many of these cases there wasn’t any physiological stress of the required type for this experience to take place. In other words, there was no lack of oxygen to the brain for the amount of time that it would take for this to occur. Another explanation given was that most of these patients were sick and hospitalized, and most likely on some sort of drug therapy program at the time of this experience. Once again, the hypothesis given was that this caused a hallucination or vivid dream. But, as before, when many of these patient’s charts were evaluated, many were not only, not taking any drugs known for hallucinogenic side effects, many weren’t on any drug therapy at all during their hospitalization. Dr. Moody then goes onto provide a very interesting, and in my opinion most convincing, set of parallels. One parallel of many from, The Bible, that may refer to life after death, and near death experiences is, Isaiah 26:19.
Thy dead shall live together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye shall dwell in dust for the earth shall cast out the dead.
In most of the cases studied those experiencing this phenomenon talked of first rising in the air while also hearing music that was comforting and yet almost foreign to them and being flooded with feelings of rejoice. And finally almost all of these people had feelings of no longer being of this earth.
What I personally find even more remarkable then the passages from, The Bible, were the similarities found in, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book that was written around the eighth century from beliefs that had been passed down from generation to generation of sages. This book describes a set of stages, including out of body travel by the soul, that are experienced after death. These stages have an almost uncanny similarity to the stages described to Dr. Moody from people who, almost certainly, had never read or even heard of such a book.
The book, Life After Life, deals directly with mans greatest fear, or at the very least, his greatest unknown. This book may someday be looked upon as a steppingstone to further investigation into this most interesting subject. (Though the subject matter from this book had been written about prior to its publication in some journals they were considered of little scientific value. Dr. Moody gave the NDE, or near death experience, its first real legitimacy.) I honestly feel that the day will come when this book becomes a tool that will help many people deal with the fears and apprehension of either losing a loved one, or perhaps accepting their own mortality, resulting in a happier and more productive life experience.
I have two reasons for believing that this book can be a life changing piece of literature. One, this book helps to remove the mental block of an ultimate end: leaving us with the hope that there is a better place for which we should strive. And two, the book gives people some insight into themselves by helping to break through the wall of denial that always seems to shroud death making it possible to consider death with a more open and positive outlook.
This was the second time that I have read, Life After Life. And I was no less amazed this time around then I was the first time. Why does this book hold so much interest for me? Because I can closely relate many of my own experiences to the stories and experiences that are shared throughout the book. Many of my own are equally amazing though I admit to being a bit biased. And many of my experiences will have to wait for another day, but in my more youthful years these experiences caused me to do a fair amount of soul searching and research into the fields of both the paranormal and parapsychology. And even many years later I still hold a tremendous fascination in these fields.
However it was my mother’s near death experience that draws me even closer to the subjects in this paper then anything that I have experienced personally. In the mid sixties she was in the hospital for a heart valve transplant operation. The operation itself went very well considering this was a very new procedure using a pigs heart valve that had only been done successfully a few times before this. In fact there had been only a few minor complications, much fewer then had been expected. But then ten days post-op, my mother’s heart just stopped beating causing the hospital to call a full code blue to try and resuscitate her. The following is her story as best as I can remember it.
“The next thing that I knew after hearing many buzzers and alarms go off, I was standing on the bank of a dark but peaceful river. Behind me was a wall of fire that I just knew was there, but I didn’t turn around to look at it. It was right about then that I realized that I would never have to feel anymore pain ever again if I just took one step forward into that river. It was light on the other side, but I could feel that more than see it, and I’m not really sure how to describe it in any other way. Then I started to think about my husband and my two boys and that’s when I knew that I wasn’t ready cross over yet. It was at that very instant that I found myself back in my hospital room with doctors and nurses frantically moving about.”
Sixteen years later, my mother lay on her death bed. At one point, after she had coded three times already, I asked her if it hurt to much to stay? At this point she could no longer speak so she just shook her head, “yes.” Then I asked her if she had seen the river again? She only smiled. I told her the next time she saw it to go ahead and step in. And again, she smiled. About two hours later she crossed that river.
I know, without a doubt, that when I get to that river and cross it myself I will once again see my mother in perfect health with a smile on her face. And that is something that I find very reassuring.
Just recently my father told me something that I did not know about this whole episode apparently two psychiatrists documented my mothers experience before she was released from the hospital. I am going to try and see if I can get Georgetown University Hospital, which was the hospital she was at, to release that documentation to me. I’m sure that there is a lot more in it than what I have stated here.