By Paul Perry
There is no way to express the debt of gratitude I have for Raymond Moody, MD, PhD. And that includes all the initials that follow his name. As a medical doctor he has diagnosed my ailments or explained those of others in a simple, patient and complete way that I wish existed in all who practice his profession.
As a PhD in philosophy, Raymond has explained the fine points of the near-death experience so clearly and completely that I have been able to write five books with him (fifteen in total) on the lively subjects contained in the world of near-death studies. Sometimes when I need company I will put on an audio tape from the good doctor and listen again to what he had to say about Greek philosophy, some odd-ball mental disease or, oh yes, our work, which is why I was recording him to begin with.
Being around Raymond is always educational and never confrontational. He’s the perfect teacher and most of all, the perfect friend.
And he’s wacky. He not only wanted to be a comedian, he has even taken the stage to entertain his colleagues, exploring the mysterious world of laughter one joke at a time. And yes, he has a comedy record album too, an item so extinct that he doesn’t even have a copy. If you have one let me know so I can convince him to reissue it. After all, aside from national politics, there isn’t enough humor in this world.
I first met Raymond through our mutual book agent, Nat Sobel. Nat had ushered Life After Life through a difficult publishing process, a time when most publishers would not publish a book about near-death experiences let alone believe they even existed. But that was the seventies.
Now it was 1988 and Nat had sold the concept of a third book for Raymond, one to be called, The Light Beyond. The problem was that Raymond was writing too slowly for the publisher. Nat decided Raymond needed some help with the writing, which is where I came in.
Nat invited me to lunch, an old oak burger bar near Union Square in New York City, and asked if I wanted to write a book with Raymond Moody.
“Who’s that?” I asked Nat.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” he said to me. “You’re a top editor at American Health magazine and you don’t know who Raymond Moody is? He’s the guy who named the near-death experience!”
“What’s that?” I asked, and I wasn’t kidding.
A look of disgust came over Nat’s face.
“It’s when people start to drown and find themselves swirling in a tunnel that goes to heaven,” he said.
I still couldn’t connect with the person or the subject. Nat just shook his head.
“Look kid, for an editor at a national health magazine you don’t know much about some things. Get on a plane and go see Dr. Moody in Georgia.”
I followed Nat’s orders as I always have and met Raymond at his home in western Georgia. I found that Nat was right. I didn’t know much about some things. And after a few days with Raymond I wanted to know everything he would tell me.
That was three decades, five books, two movies and countless adventures ago. Within that time frame I have learned a little or a lot about a list of astonishing things, including:
- Greek philosophers
- Near-death experiences
- Out of body experiences
- Mental illness
- Past-life regressions
- Tree communications
- Shared death experiences
- Heaven & Hell
- Generosity of spirit
And so on. The list of subjects Raymond can address is enough to, well, become a one-man faculty. Which brings us to the University of Heaven, the new online school on whose site your are currently tuned to. There are other faculty members of note teaching at UH, but I would bet that Raymond’s spirit infuses all of their work. He, like the rest of us (I’ll be teaching too) will be imparting what we know about the subjects that fit into the magnificently large arena that encompasses the school’s name and Lisa Smartt’s dream.
What an adventure it’s going to be. I am thankful to Raymond, for bringing me along for the intellectual ride of my life.
Paul Perry is the co-author of several New York Times bestsellers, including Evidence of the Afterlife, Closer to the Light, Transformed by the Light, and Saved by the Light which was made into a popular movie by Fox. His books have been published in more than 30 languages around the world. In 1986, he began collaborating with Raymond Moody. The two have written five books together: Paranormal, Glimpses of Eternity, The Light Beyond, Coming Back and Reunions. Paul is also a documentary filmmaker and owns SAKKARA Productions, a film production company.