My NDE (at 21 years of age) left me changed.
Recovering physically took quite a while.
Mentally and spiritually, however, I became aware that I had a new, and at times incredibly strong, connection to that other side. It was as if I had brought some of ‘heaven’ back with me! Sometimes I even wondered if I was the same person who had entered that Kombi van! (I had fallen severely ill with what was most likely a form of encephalitis, or meningitis, whilst living alone in a van at an isolated sea village. I had lain unattended for three days, in midsummer Australian heat, with no food or water, and when near death (so I believe) I was taken to a ‘heavenly place’).
I noticed that my connection to ‘heaven,’ to that blissful dimension of love and bliss and light, waxed and waned unpredictably as I went about my normal life. Some days I felt normal, just like anybody else, and then at other times the connection would become very strong indeed.
Sometimes I sought it, but mostly it happened spontaneously.
The connection was characterized by a definite feeling in the back of my head––a presence, a visitation, a feeling of strong intimate connection with something wonderful, something or somebody much, much greater than me. There always seemed to be a purpose, a mission, to the connection.
I was a willing conduit.
The feeling was generally wordless. Visions and messages were communicated, wonders and small miracles, bliss and peace attended it, and other people (and even animals) were sometimes profoundly affected by the power and light and bliss that would pour out of me, (surprising me as much as others), from that incredible dimension I was connected to. My own NDE seemed to be sharing itself with others, and always with a feeling of meaning, of destiny, of intended blessing.
Shortly after my NDE in early 1980,(I was 22), I had a remarkable SDE (Shared Death Experience) wherein I literally re-experienced the light and incredible bliss of the NDE and shared it with a young guy about my age who professed to be a confirmed atheist and total skeptic concerning god, life after death, the paranormal.
I had traveled, with a group from the ‘Jesus People’ style Christian community I belonged to, to a distant town with a large population of alternate lifestyle folks. The intention was to ‘proclaim the gospel,’ to ‘witness’ to our own kind (the young hippies in town), believing that we could get our message across where our ‘straight’ Christian brethren couldn’t.
That was the theory anyway.
The leaders of our little mission encouraged us to bravely ‘preach hellfire and damnation’ to them, thinking that this would surely instill enough fear to ‘bring them to the Lord.’ Personally, I had rejected this hell doctrine from the start, but hid this from other Christians, who often seemed obsessed with it. God was pure love and acceptance as far as I was concerned. That was the only message I was interested in passing on. ‘God loves you.’ Cliched but true.
So at the first chance I got, I slipped off by myself and hid out behind a large tree.
I quietly said to God, ‘Look, I’m leaving this totally up to you. I don’t want to just rock up to people and lay the hellfire theme on them. Not into it. The Bible says that what is impossible for man is possible for you, so if you want me to tell people about you, YOU make it happen. I’m not doing anything’.
Pretty slack missionary or what? Near the big tree was a shed full of prize-winning chickens in old wooden and wire cages. I decided to hide from my fellow zealots in there, and walking slowly around I became engrossed in the amazing variety of bird breeds, shapes and sizes.
A really huge and somewhat featherless rooster caught my eye. He was the tallest chicken I had ever seen, with massive thighs, long legs, and huge clawed toes. A young long-haired guy about my age was also taken by the rooster, and we had a bit of a laugh about it being half emu (a very large Australian bird similar to an ostrich). He said to me, “I haven’t seen you around here before.” I told him that I had driven down with a group of friends from up North. “Wow, that’s a long way to drive just to come to the market!” he said.
I reluctantly admitted that we were from a Christian community, and that we were here to ‘witness’ to people about Jesus. He reacted with revulsion, and let me know pretty clearly how much he despised Christians. “There is no God, it’s all BS! A couple of my friends went mad and joined your crew.” Then he softened a bit and said, “But you seem pretty cool. Why the heck would you be into this church stuff?”
I began to tell him about my NDE, and as I told the story I felt as if I was right back there in my Kombi van again (where I had lain, alone and close to death, for three days). When I got to the part where I screamed to God to help me, and what happened after that, something amazing happened: I was suddenly filled with an unspeakable bliss, and a light so bright (it seemed to me), it was as if I had become a human lighthouse.
My physical body felt as if it just sort of peeled back and vaporised, and then it wasn’t me standing there, but God, an angel, a divinity. I was so blissed out that I couldn’t say a word. With surprise I saw that tears were streaming down this young guy’s face. He was gaping at me in awe and wonder.
Stepping towards me, he gripped my upper arms really tight and said, “WHO ARE YOU?? Who are you?? Oh God, it’s real!! It’s real!” I found my voice. “Can you feel that?” I said. “This is why I believe!” “Feel it? Oh yeah, I can feel it!” He was obviously overwhelmed. Letting go of my arms, he stepped back.
“Thank you so much, man, thank you so much! …I’m really sorry, man, but I have to go, this is too much, it’s too intense… This is freaking me out.” He headed for the shed door, and as he exited, he turned, waved with a blissed out smile, yelled “Thanks man!” once again, and literally ran away.
I remained there transfixed by utter bliss and rapture. God had blown me out as well! So, what actually occurred? It seems to me that as I honestly and enthusiastically related my own close encounter with death, and then with the realm of eternity, my own still very strong connection to that eternity had opened wide. Pure, overwhelming love, light and power poured out and enveloped us both! Just as when I lay between life and death in that old Kombi van.
It also appears that it was very important for that young dude to meet the reality of God/the Great One, the infinite mysterious wonder, just then, at that exact point in his life. The unwitting but willing conduit of that blissful light had been placed there just for him.
If you enjoyed David’s story, you might enjoy Jeremy Kagan’s account in the post A Personal Guidebook to Death.
David Stewart Lovegrove is an Australian writer, novelist and visual artist, an acknowledged Master of Internal Chinese Kung Fu, and a Yoga practitioner. After high school he trained and worked as a General and Psychiatric Nurse for a number of years, and subsequently pursued a number of other occupations including Farmer, Christian Pastor, Groundsman / Gardener, Art Sales Representative and Professional Musician. He trained as a
Visual Artist at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney (Australia’s only classical art school), and gained a Masters degree in Visual Arts from Griffith University, Brisbane.
An experienced speaker, David is very well known in the Australian literary speaking circuit and has presented at hundreds of literary festivals around Australia.
He has a YouTube channel, The Portal Superpowers, where he interviews experts on the edges of human experience.
You can visit his website at David Lovegrove Art.