01/15/13 NDE Class Notes


Previous Class Notes & Materials


01/15/13 Class Notes
By David Sunfellow

This week’s class began with a few minutes of silence. Then I shared recent NDE-related news with the class.


Sandy Hook School Children Sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”

In our last two classes, we spent time discussing the Sandy Hook School Shootings from a near-death experience perspective: 01/08/13 NDE Class Notes and 12/18/12 NDE Class Notes. One of reasons we did this was to help heal and  transform the trauma of this horrific event. While the community of Newtown, Connecticut probably wasn’t able to tap into the profoundly insightful wisdom contained in NDEs, many members of the community did find other ways to turn their suffering into something beautiful and inspiring. Here’s one example: singer Ingrid Michaelson performing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with some of the children from the school.


Publishing World Cashes In On Near-Death Experiences


On January 11th, USA Today ran a story about how near-death experiences have been affecting the publishing business. Here are a few highlights from that article:

By Craig Wilson
USA Today
January 11, 2013

Original Link

Colton Burpo, then almost 4 years old, “dies” during an emergency appendectomy, travels to heaven and reports back how “really, really big God is.” Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, Rev. Todd Burpo’s 2010 tale of his son’s round-trip to the Pearly Gates, has sold more than 7.5 million copies after 22 printings. It’s been on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list for 111 weeks and reached No. 1 eight times in 2011. It’s currently No. 94.

Eben Alexander, a Harvard neurosurgeon who was in a coma for seven days in 2008, encounters an “angelic being” who guides him into the “deepest realms of super-physical existence.” His Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife, published last fall, peaked at No. 4 in December and is currently No. 10.

Mary Neal’s To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story, published in May, tells of the orthopedic surgeon’s celestial journey following a kayak accident in Chile in which she was pulled underwater for so long that even she thought she was dead. It’s been in the top 150 for 33 weeks, reaching as high as No. 14 in July.

Key Points:

• A growing number of people are talking about these experiences, wondering how real they are.

• The fact that skeptical medical and scientifically trained people are having NDEs and writing books about their experiences is encouraging more people to take them seriously.

• While books have been written about children, in general, having near-death experiences, a new trend is developing where best-selling books are being written about individual children who have had exceptionally interesting NDEs.

• In uncertain times, people look for comfort — and near-death experiences provide a lot of comforting information about where we are all headed as well as the beautiful nature of the world and universe in which we live.

• Large portions of society are moving away from formal religion and looking elsewhere for answers. Click here for some statistics. NDEs are especially appealing because they provide authoritative answers to humankind’s big questions.

• While many believe believe that NDE stories appeal mostly to evangelicals and born-again Christians, the kind of NDE books that people are buying suggest that there’s broad, mainstream interest in this subject that goes beyond specific segments of religion.


NDE Researcher Kenneth Ring: The Golden Rule Dramatically Illustrated

We have watched the video above in previous classes. It is also featured in my two-part presentation “How Near-Death Experiences Are Changing The World“.

I recently came across an article by Kenneth Ring, published in 1998, that not only named the NDEr he referred to in the above video — Tom Sawyer — but also focused on the essence of what our classes are about, namely, how to use the information given to us by NDEs to improve our lives in this world. Ring’s article begins with this:

For more than twenty years we have been hearing about near-death experiences (NDEs), those transcendental episodes of light and love that so many people who have experienced the beginnings of death have recounted for us upon returning to physical life. By now, these travelers tales have become very familiar to us, and they have certainly helped to fashion a much more positive vision of the nature of death itself. Recently, however, NDE researchers such as myself have been more concerned with the question of what those of us who have never had such experiences ourselves can learn from those who have about how to live our daily lives. In short, what do all these beautiful stories have to contribute in a practical way to how we go about living our ordinary lives in the world? Specifically, how can we make use of this body of knowledge about NDEs so as to live with greater self-awareness and spiritual insight?

1930491115Written as an introduction to his famous book, Lessons from the Light, which is regarded by some as the best book ever written on near-death experiences, Ring’s article explores the same issues we have been exploring in this class. It beautifully contrasts, for example, the blissful, unconditional love NDErs report with the often grueling life review which holds us accountable for our every thought, word, feeling, and action. Using several NDE accounts to flesh out and illustrate these contrasting perspectives, Ring ends his article by focusing on the heart of the matter: how can we heal and transform the harm we have caused ourselves and others in our journey through life? Writes Ring:

Although the life review may be the price you pay for entrance into the Light, the presence within the Light helps you through it with the greatest and most tender compassion and love and, even at times, humor. You are not being punished; you are being shown, so that you can learn.

Just to illustrate the benignity of this process, let this one example speak for many that might be cited. A man who had quite a hard time looking at his life during his review commented:

“I feel strongly that the whole life review would have been emotionally destructive … if it hadn’t been for the fact that my friend [the being of light] and my friend’s friends, while we watched the whole thing, were loving me. I could feel that love. Every time I got a little upset, they turned it off for awhile and they just loved me. Their love was tangible. You could feel it on your body, you could feel it inside of you; their love went right through you. The therapy was their love, because my life review just kept tearing me down. It was pitiful to watch, just pitiful … it was nauseating. But through it all was their love.”

Ring’s article also discusses a technique he used to help people become more conscious of how their behavior has impacted others. After sharing several NDE accounts which talk about people experiencing their thoughts and actions as the people those thoughts and actions were directed against, Ring says this:

Read slowly and meditatively. Such quotes are… quite a bit to take in at one sitting. In the groups I have presented them to, I have witnessed many persons becoming deeply pensive when contemplating these observations and, later when discussing them, some have even burst into tears. If you should feel this way, simply upon reading them, imagine what it’s like for the near-death experiencer!

But it’s not enough merely to note that these commentaries tend to provoke some deep reflections and strong emotions in their readers. To get more of the full impact of these observations and, more importantly, to begin to make them relevant to your own life, you can easily perform a little but very instructive exercise at home. Here it is.

Please take a piece of blank paper or, if you keep a personal journal, pick it up now. Or, if you prefer, go to your typewriter or computer screen. In any event, here’s what I want you to do for the next ten or fifteen minutes (or longer, if you wish). Begin with this sentence stem, and then continue to write:

When I reflect on these commentaries in relation to my own life, I …

I can assure you that performing this exercise, and, even better, sharing it with others, can be a profoundly rewarding and even revelatory experience, and can help you to see how to bring such episodes to bear on your own life, as I will illustrate in a few moments.

Of course, each person who reflects on these commentaries will come away with his or her own insights, but perhaps it might be useful here to try to bring out some of the chief implications that have often come up in my work with this material.

Perhaps the most obvious — and important — insight that is voiced, in one way or another, is that this exercise forces one to think about the meaning of the Golden Rule in an entirely new way. Most of us are accustomed to regard it mainly as a precept for moral action — “do unto others as you would be done to.” But in the light of these life review commentaries, the Golden Rule is much more than that — it is actually the way it works. In short, if these accounts in fact reveal to us what we experience at the point of death, then what we have done unto others is experienced as done unto ourselves. Familiar exhortations such as, “love your brother as yourself,” from this point of view are understood to mean that, in the life review, you yourself are the brother you have been urged to love. And this is no mere intellectual conviction or even a religious credo — it is an undeniable fact of your lived experience…

We spent time doing as Ring suggested in our class. I encourage you to do the same. I also encourage you to read Ring’s complete article, which is full of NDE gems.


“What Is It That Keeps You From Being All That You Are Capable Of Being?”

Those of you who attended our last class, or who have been following along online, know that we went home with an assignment to think about the question Lewis Brown Griggs was asked during his first near-death experience: “What is it that keeps you from being all that you are capable of being?”

Griggs begins talking about this question at about 08:40 into his presentation (see below). He describes how this question led him to acknowledge the blessings he received early in his life: he was loved, born into an influential family, received a good education, and was given unlimited opportunities. Because he had been given more than others, he felt it was his responsibility to give back. But that led to him discovering that he felt he and “his tribe” were better than others which, in turn, led to a deep loneliness. His life work became finding ways to close the gap between his spirit and others.

During the class, several people shared what they discovered about themselves when they asked and answered the question Lewis was asked. What comes up for you when you ask yourself this penetrating question?


Future Classes

Our next NDE class will take place on Tuesday, January 22nd from 7:00 PM until 8:30 PM at St. Andrew’s (see below for directions).


A Newly Emerging Spiritual Path

Unlike spiritual paths that arose from the ideas and inner experiences of lone, isolated human beings, the path presented by near-death experiences is emerging as a direct, grassroots revelation that millions of people from all over the world are receiving and sharing. If we explore this newly emerging path deeply enough, we discover that all religions, philosophies, and cultures are honored; that science and spirituality are celebrated; that both the human and spiritual side of our natures are cherished and embraced. In short, near-death experiences present us with a universal, all-inclusive, perfectly integrated spiritual path that revolves around three core truths: 1. We are all one; 2. Love is the essence of life; 3. We are here, in this world, to become perfect embodiments of the divine. 


Donations & Discussions

The materials created for this class are available, free of charge, to whomever is interested. If you would like to support this work, you can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here. If you would like to participate in conversations with other people who share an interest in this work, we encourage you to join The Mustard Seed Venture Network. This ongoing, evolving, cutting-edge work is co-sponsored by NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE) and The Mustard Seed Venture.


St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
100 Arroyo Pinon Drive
Sedona, AZ 86336
(928) 282-4457


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