Okay, this is a description of a significant event which happened to me at school, circa 1990, and played a major role in shaping my religious views. I am not trying to convert anybody with this, but you may find it interesting.
As I'm sure you've observed, various fads will often go around, and at one point there was a game which became quite popular, although most people just watched rather than participating. The name of this game was either
"Suicides" - something cheery anyway.
Basically, the way it was played was that the subject (usually a volunteer, although I heard of at least one person being forced into it, which I do not condone at all) would stand against a wall, and cross their arms over their chest, so that each hand lay on top of the opposite lung. If you've seen any of those tombs of knights in churches, you'll know what I mean. The subject would then breathe out, emptying their lungs, at which point a group of other people would all push against their hands. This then meant that their lungs weren't able to reinflate, and so the subject would soon black out due to lack of oxygen. At this point, the others would all let go, the person would slump down the wall, and regain consciousness. The general effect was that the subject acted very spaced out, and made comments like
For reasons that I don't recall, I was persuaded to give this a go, as the subject. So, I assumed the position, exhaled, and saw the other boys press against me. At this point, I expected to black out, except that I didn't - I remained conscious. I don't know exactly how long this lasted, but it was significantly longer than normal. I began to get concerned, since the brain can only survive without oxygen for so long before it is damaged. I opened my mouth to ask the others to let go, but of course I couldn't speak, since I had no air in my lungs. However, at this point I finally blacked out; maybe I had been keeping some air in my mouth, which I had then released, or maybe I just have more endurance than average.
Anyway, it was here that things started to get interesting. Although it appeared to the others that I had lost consciousness, my mind was very much awake. Everything was completely black around me, but I was aware of a pressure against my back. I was also aware that I was spinning, although I was not at the central axis. In other words, it wasn't that I stayed in the same place and faced in different directions, but that I moved around. It was like being in a whirlpool, but in reverse. I started out in the centre, at the bottom, but then started to spiral up and outwards. I was on the outside, facing towards the centre. As I rose up, I felt a lot lighter, as if I was leaving the weight of my body below me. I also became aware of a light above me. However, this was no ordinary light - it was the most important thing in my mind, and my whole being was motivated towards getting into it. I guess you could call it Joy. The closer I got, the stronger the pull, and the lighter and happier I felt.
Suddenly, I felt a tug from below, and I stopped rising, and started descending back in a straight line, bypassing the spiral. As this happened, I just thought
"No! Let go of me, I was almost there!" However, I continued downwards, regaining my weight, and then found myself sitting on the floor gazing up at all the other boys. All I could say was
So, what does all this mean? I believe that my soul was leaving my body, and rising up towards heaven. However, an alternate explanation is that it was all a hallucination. The whole business of having the passage towards the light through the darkness ties in with what I've heard of other near death experiences, where people describe a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I had always pictured that as a horizontal tunnel, so I don't think I was simply seeing what I expected to see. One thing that did bother me after this was my attraction to the light. It completely overrode all of my other instincts, and I generally like to stay in control. If I hadn't been pulled back (presumably when the other boys let go, and my body started to breathe again), I would not have turned back voluntarily. It wouldn't even have occurred to me - I was entirely consumed with getting closer.
This experience has left me with the certainty that there is life after death. Also, judging from my reaction to the light, I don't think that there is any reason to fear what comes next. This has affected my life, in that I am more prepared to stand up for what I believe. At present I have no wish to die - it will happen eventually, so I plan to make the most of life while it lasts. At the same time, I am not afraid to die. I think that the important thing is how you live.
An aside: in the film Star Trek: Generations, there is a place called the Nexus. When I saw this, I was struck by the close similarity between this and the place I went to. I am not suggesting that the Nexus really exists, but if you see that film it might help you to understand what I'm talking about here.
If you would like to find out more about near death experiences, you can visit IANDS (the International Association for Near-Death Studies).
"Don't try this at home" bit. While this was a fascinating experience, I haven't repeated it, mainly because of the danger involved. I am not aware of any problems arising from this game, but it could very easily go wrong. If you go too long without breathing, you will die. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I mainly wrote this to describe my own experience, rather than to encourage others to repeat it.
This page was last updated on 2003-12-29 by John C. Kirk