In recent years there have been many books and videos by people who have had near-death experiences. In fact, about one in five people who return from a clinical death (often on an operating table) have had a profound, even life-changing experience.
Paramhansa Yogananda has explained the process of dying: “When the heart begins to grow numb, there is a sense of suffocation because without heart action, the lungs cannot operate. This sense of suffocation is a little painful for only one to three seconds, but because souls reincarnate many times, they retain the memory of this painful feeling of suffocation. This memory causes fear of death.
“During this feeling of suffocation, attachments to possessions and loved ones sometimes come strongly to mind, and there is a struggle to bring the breath back. At this time, a condensed review of all the good and bad actions of this lifetime takes place in the mind of the dying person. The senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing vanish in succession, with the sense of hearing being the last to leave.”
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Sri Yukteswar describes the astral world in great detail. But sometimes it is easier to relate to the accounts of “normal people” who have little knowledge of spiritual teachings. I recently learned of such an account: the near-death experience of a young woman who had a dreadful head-on collision and ended up “dying” during an operation. While out of her body she had some deep insights which help us see how entrenched attitudes and habits keep us bound. Here are some important takeaways:
- She heard the silent prayers of her mother, her aunt, and others. Feeling the sorrow in those prayers, she almost wanted to go back. (Comment: We sometimes question whether prayer is effective, but the souls of those we pray for are helped, sometimes profoundly.)
- A light beckoned. “The light was so incredible; I had never felt any love like that—a mom’s love, romantic love, nothing could compare.” In her life review, she felt that God and the angels didn’t judge her negatively for the things she had done, although they were sad for some of the choices she had made. They just wanted what was best for her.
- The past as well as the future flashed before her. It wasn’t the major events or relationships in her life that were emphasized, but rather her interactions with people who had played small roles. She felt what it was like to be on the receiving end of her actions, and learned the impact she had had on others.
- She saw that the main choice she should have made was to be good to herself, to treasure herself, to treat herself with compassion. Though it was hard for her seeing the mistakes she’d made in life, the overall experience was immensely joyful.
It is enlightening to see that the little choices we make in life can have profound effects on our life’s journey. But great lessons come from simple truths: As this woman says, “Love is all that matters; it is all that we take with us when we go.”
Swami Kriyananda taught us another simple truth: “Be kind to each other along the way.” Life can be joyful or sad depending on whether we make our small, everyday acts ones of love and kindness. The tapestry of our life will be woven from a thousand little threads. It is good to remember Paramhansa Yogananda’s advice: “The minutes are more important than the years.”
P.S. If you would like to learn more about Tricia Barker’s near-death experience, here is her thirty-five-minute account of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GFT_89YMWE.
Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (7:10):
Thanks for sharing such a soul touching story
so important to remember that the little interchanges we have with others effects our karma. Sharing our love transforms us and the world.
Fabulous message, Jyotish. I’ve seen Tricia Barker on YouTube, and know of countless other NDE stories. Very inspiring, so many of them…completely aligned with our spiritual path. And yes, so many stories of prayers making a difference in people’s lives.
Profoundly helpful. I am now working with seniors who are in their final stages of life This will help give us clarity as we move forward. Thank you Jyotish.
Thank you Jyotish! This was profoundly moving to me, and so helpful in remembering the deeper truth, that loving others and expressing love is the most important thing. Recently, I found this from Swamiji: “A much more lasting and useful spiritual goal is to develop love and devotion for God, and the ability to manifest love every day in our lives. This is the way of the masters.” —Swami Kriyananda” – underlining the importance of love.
Thank you dear soul. What a wonderful reminder and preparation for the ‘final exam’ and to live life with love, as fully as possible…NOW! The picture you painted is most inspiring. I am drawn to the Light, but not quite ready to go…yet. Namaste
So wonderful Jyotish! It reminded me of another NDE told, where upon entering the near astral realm, the person said the only question he was asked was; “How much did you Love?”
Love everyone, everything. The sky, the sun, the stars, the trees, the creatures of the forest, the soil, and every human being that crosses our path. Love is the summation, for God is Love.
So profound!! This message hits me hard
Thank you ~ I appreciate the message from experience.
I started studying NDEs in 1980 with Raymond Moody’s book and enjoy listening to people share their NDEs, thank you for including the synopsis of Trisha Barker’s NDE. I do love how much it helps people to have the reassurance of their continuation, with new understandings and often a whole new life for people touched by these things.
I learned something from this article; as nurse, who sometimes takes care of people who are in the dying process, that it is important to be considerate of the environment and especially the sounds they are hearing. To make it calming, comforting and reassuring. Thank you 🙏🏽
Wonderful! What a powerful and wonderful glimpse into the world beyond!
One day I was at my chiropractor. A gentleman, older than me ,was seated in the waiting room with me. Tall, very athletic, serious countenance. Absolutely clearly out of the blue, the man turned to me and began speaking to me. Why? I had no clue…
And this is what he told me:
He was a military pilot during the Vietnam War. Shot down, he was close to death. And he had an NDE, though he did not call it that, he used some other term.
And he began to describe the experience. What was most powerful to me was not the experience itself, but his countenance as a person. He had the demeanor of a very serious, no nonsense, military person. Perhaps, you know, maybe the absolute last person who you might think would believe in such things. And yet, there it was. The testimony of this person.
And, without pride, without ego, simple, direct, matter of fact.
And, he concluded by saying that after the experience, he felt that he was supposed to share the experience with others.
I don’t know that I am conveying this well, in words. It was the power of the presence of the man, in person. I guess you might say that there was some spiritual light or spiritual power about him? Not sure exactly what or how to phrase that?
I absolutely believe Paramahansa Yogananda to be a God-realized soul, the epitome of the achievement of man, fully united with God through spiritual union / trance / samadhi, while on earth and now in the world beyond.
Victory to His mission!
May everyone be filled with the peace and love and joy and blessings of God!
To me, all his disciples are like flowers of light and love, spreading the consciousness of God throughout the world.
His story was vivid indeed and we are left only imagining or visualizing what happened to him which is beyond our actual comprehension. I say this because how can we really cognize the feelings of being shot down and feeling that you are now dying. I was horribly wounded in a night ambush in Viet Nam and felt the drawing down of my consciousness into darkness but leaped back into the conscious mind and continued the fight until the reaction came and got us out of there. Saying these things is not enough to convey the depth of the experience. Thank you for sharing and respecting the moment with this man. It was all set up in your karma for your betterment ours as well.
Thank you. The testimony was profound.
Thank you. The testimony was profound.
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish ji,
Thank you for this blog. I understand the importance of prayers and what effect it can have.
Thank you. Happy SRW.
Dearest Jyotish Ji – thank you for sharing that beautiful story with key takeaways. Love your audio message – the most important quality to develop is love and Kindness. Love and kindness to other people, to ourselves and most of all to God and Guru.