through is part of life. It's impossible to run away. If you run

away, you will only come to face your suffering in an even

deeper way later on.

Besides, while it is true that the majority of near-death

experiences that have been collected have been good ones,

there is still some speculation as to whether this reflects the

actual rarity of negative, terrifying experiences, or merely the

difficulty in recollecting them. People may not want or consciously

be able to remember the darker or more frightening

experiences. Also the near-death experiencers themselves stress

that what they have learned is the importance of transforming

our lives now, while we are still alive, for we have, they say "a

more important mission while we're here." 39

This transformation of our lives now is the urgent and

essential point. Wouldn't it be tragic if this central message of

the near-death experience—that life is inherently sacred and

must be lived with sacred intensity and purpose—was

obscured and lost in a facile romanticizing of death? Wouldn't

it be even more tragic if such a facile optimism further deepened

that disregard for our actual responsibilities to ourselves

and our world that is menacing the survival of the planet?


Inevitably some have tried to show that the events of

the near-death experience constitute something other than a

spiritual experience, and reductionist scientists have tried to

explain it away in terms of physiological, neurological,

chemical, or psychological effects. The near-death experience

researchers, however, doctors and scientists themselves, have

countered these objections lucidly one by one, and insist

that they cannot explain the whole of the near-death experience.

As Melvin Morse writes at the end of his magnificent

book Closer to the Light: Learning from Children's Near-Death


But near-death experiences appear to be a cluster of events so that

one cannot understand the total by looking at its various pieces.

One cannot understand music by studying the various frequencies

of sound that generate each note, nor does one need to have a

deep understanding of acoustical physics to enjoy Mozart. The

near-death experience remains a mystery 40

Melvin Morse also says:

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