Last week , I read a news item about near death experiences. It related the stories of people who had been on the verge of death but had made it back to the world of the living. In all cases , they mentioned being aware of a bright light and of a path or doorway leading towards it . Some mentioned re-connecting briefly with a loved one , usually a mother , who had passed away earlier. Medical authorities try to explain away such occurrences by saying that these are hallucinations , a normal occurrence when the brain is shutting down. Who knows what the truth is ? No one can say anything with certainty ; it’s all a guess.
I myself have always believed in reincarnation. Partly , it is because I was brought up a Hindu and partly because, to me , the theory of reincarnation makes the most sense . Logically , the idea of Heaven and Hell does not appeal to me ; I cannot imagine everlasting happiness or everlasting damnation as a consequence of a short existence on Earth . I don’t claim that my belief is the indisputable truth ; merely that it is what makes the most sense to me . You who are reading this are entitled to your own opinion just as I am entitled to mine .
By chance , I was reading, at the time, a book by David Kessler titled “ Visions , Trips and Crowded Rooms “; it’s subtitle ‘ ‘ Who and What you see Before You Die ” succinctly explains what the book is about . Kessler , a well-known expert on death and dying , has worked with the even more renowned Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the book is a most fascinating read .
The book quotes doctors , nurses , social workers, hospice staff and caregivers on what they have observed when people are in their last moments on Earth. In brief ,these experiences can be divided into the following three categories. 1) As people are about to die , they have visions of loved ones waiting to welcome them into the next world . Very often these are of their dead parents , usually their mothers. 2) Many of those who are about to pass over think of their impending death as a journey or a bus trip . 3) The dying often talk about seeing a roomful of people waiting to meet them .
I’ve read about the first two types of experiences from many other sources but the phenomenon of The Crowded Room is new to me . A typical story goes like this :As the end approaches , those who are dying seem to see a roomful of people . Many of these are departed loved ones , including parents , siblings , favorite aunts and uncles etc. In one case , a school teacher had a vision of many of her departed pupils .
Such visions would argue against re-incarnation because it means these souls were not re-born but were waiting in another world to renew their acquaintance with those who were dear to them . It also seems to mean that the spirit is tied to its earthly identity, something I find difficult to believe . I also find it difficult to accept that all these visions are overwhelmingly positive . There are few , if any, visions of hell.
Perhaps the answer is that as we lose our earthly bonds , we see what we want to see. Perhaps , also , our puny minds are too small to grasp the great mystery of life .. and death.