Life After Life by Raymond Moody

Controversial as it undoubtedly is, there is a great deal of evidence for some sort of life, or at least consciousness, after the point of clinical death.  The subjects Moody studied describe out-of-body experiences in which they are aware of what is going on around them and are watching from outside their bodies.  These events are often corroborated with an amazing degree of accuracy by the living persons who were also on the scene.

Furthermore, Moody has found from accounts of the 150 or so persons he interviewed that there emerges a certain pattern of events after the “death.”  The person may be at first unsure what is happening, and may travel along a dark tunnel.  People they knew who have already died assist them, and they encounter a “being of light” so radiant with love that they never want to leave its presence.

All this would seem to confirm religious beliefs in an afterlife, yet many of these people state that they were surprised by how different their experiences were from what they had been taught to believe about “heaven” and “hell.”  Some people, notably those who nearly died from suicide attempts, reported feeling regret that they did not persevere with their life’s work.  However, no one reported anything like the traditional idea of pearly gates or a hell full of fire.  Many of the people were required by the being of light to undergo a sort of “life review,” but in nearly every case they report that it was presented not with a sense of judgment, but rather as a learning experience.

Moody has a Ph.D. in philosophy as well as an M.D. in psychiatry, and the material in his book is very logically presented.  He begins with describing in detail the common elements of the near-death experiences, frequently quoting from his interviews with those who have had these experiences.  He then discusses parallels in literary sources such as The Bible, Plato, Emanuel Swedenborg, and The Tibetan Book of the Dead.  Next, he examines one by one the various questions and arguments that he has encountered most often whenever he speaks or writes about near-death experiences, such as “How do you know these people aren’t lying?” and “Couldn’t it have been some sort of neurological activity in the brain?”  He concludes with a chapter called “Impressions” in which he describes the personal effect his studies have had on him.

I found this a very compelling book.  Moody’s tone is calm and reasonable, and he is clear throughout that he is not attempting to “prove” anything, but to present what he has found.  It is worthwhile to read this book and draw our own conclusions about what it may reveal about life after life.

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