Near Death Experiences – A Form of Illumination That Changes Lives

When most people think of the enigma of near death experiences, they conjure up images of someone floating out of his body and going through a tunnel, of seeing a brilliant white light and meeting an angel or heavenly guide.

An Awakening

But the most amazing part of a near death experience (NDE) is what happens after the person returns to life.

In this article I will show you how near death experiences are similar to sudden spiritual illuminations – illuminations which may tell us something about this world and the one beyond.

For most people, a NDE leads to an awakening that shows them how to transform themselves, solve problems and improve their lives in powerful ways. It is almost always a life-changing event that accelerates their efforts toward personal transformation.

Although I have been studying NDEs for years, I have just recently realized the average NDE has much in common with the remarkable enlightenment experiences of mystics and spiritual seekers.

Transcendent Illumination

In 1901 Richard Bucke, M.D., published a book about people who had undergone extraordinary inner illuminations. It was the first book of its kind. And, today, over a hundred years later, Cosmic Consciousness is still in print!

Cosmic Consciousness studied the nature of transcendent illumination. Bucke wrote about the experiences of famous individuals, such as Pascal, Thoreau and Francis Bacon, whose spiritual eyes had been opened by means of amazing inner experiences.

What do near death experiencers have in common with recipients of cosmic consciousness?


Both groups tend to report similar outcomes: the loss of the fear of death, an overwhelming sense of joy and attunement with the cosmic universe, intellectual and moral quickening, a newfound sensitivity to others, an enhanced intuitive capability and a deep reverence for life, among other things.

In both groups the experience is unforgettable.

And life-altering.

Jacob Boehme

Richard Bucke wrote about the life of Jacob Boehme (Behmen), the German philosopher, who had his first illumination in the year 1600. Jacob had a total of three major revelatory events, the last being in 1610. In the end, Boehme, like the other individuals about whom Bucke wrote, found himself radically changed by his strange encounters with enlightenment. He was left with no fear of death, a profound sense of joy, and a new, incredibly rich view of the world.

Boehme, a simple, uneducated man, went on to write about his experiences and live an extremely productive and inspired life. He found considerable fame. Many learned scholars met with Boehme to discuss his philosophy, and Boehme’s ideas influenced the thinking of philosophers for years to come.


The lives of many near death experiencers have been touched in similar ways. Their accounts of extraordinary journeys into the unknown sound much like those of the historical figures featured in Bucke’s famous, one-of-a-kind book.

Although NDEs are not glamorous experiences (quite far from it), they often result in a type of illumination, which can alter a person’s life in profoundly positive ways. Others can draw inspiration from these amazing accounts, and find new ways of enhancing their lives.

For example, by embracing your relationships more and seeking the hidden beauty in every moment, you can apply the wisdom of the NDE to your every day life. You may endeavor to see the old experiences with new eyes — mundane experiences like walking or gazing at the architecture of clouds.

And, I believe, these illuminating events can teach us much about the nature of reality and what it means to be human. No one knows for certain what happens upon dying, but NDEs seem to suggest people retain consciousness after clinical death. Certainly, by studying the stories of people who have undergone a NDE, and those who have had flashes of cosmic consciousness, we can come to a greater appreciation of the hidden realities within and without.

Most of all, we can ponder the riddles of existence and ask those questions which most need to be asked.