Meditation and Reflection

TGI Monday: Near-death experiences and the mystery of the mind


Are near-death experiences just the mind “losing the plot” and “going a bit weird”? What is consciousness? How do we explain the thousands of out-of-body testimonials throughout all ages and cultures, which tell of people floating through the air and looking down on themselves? Is it a moment of just going to another place? Apocalypses and Gnosticism? What about angels? How do they fit in? Is the tunnel of light a glimpse of heaven or a taste of resurrection life? Do we witness a form of transfiguration? What about Jesus communing with the dead?

How do we explain the myriad of accounts of people who died and came back to life? Are near-death experiences just dreams caused by oxygen deprivation? ‘For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens‘ (2Cor 5:1). Did St Paul have a near-death experience?

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities (2Cor 12:2-5).

This is a timely debate as the Government moves to ban ‘legal highs’ and sundry mind-altering drugs. But it’s funny, isn’t it, how people are more fascinated by near-death experiences than with the unavoidable finality of what happens after death itself.

For future episodes, please feel free to send your questions directly to the TGI Monday team.