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NDE's, OBE's, and spiritual vision

Nov 03, 1993 06:39 AM
by eldon

A few weeks ago, Brenda and I attended a one-day program at the Krotona
School of Theosophy on Near Death Experiences. It was put on by Dr.
Robert Ellwood, a Prof. in the School of Religion at USC (and also a
member of the Los Angeles T.S.), and his wife, Gracia Fay Ellwood, a
graduate student. Following are some notes and ideas regarding what
they presented.


There are different parts to the experience. Early on, there is a
beautifly sense of peace, and one does not want to go back to the
living. One encounters either a welcoming committee or a being of
light. If what one meets is a welcoming committee, the individuals
say to go back, they remind one that his life is not yet finished.
If one meets a being of light, the being asks one what he has done
with his life, leading him to decide on his own to go back.

Fifty percent have a memory of an NDE, fourty percent a sense of
peace, thirty-seven percent an out-of-body [OBE] experience,
twenty-four a tunnel or darkness, sixteen percent light at the
other end, and ten percent experience going into the light.
A few experiences, on the other hand, were painful.

The general affect of a NDE is an increased love for life, and
an increased desire to learn, to know things, to understand life.
When out of the body, the observation of physical things and events
is present, the person can see what is going on in the operating room
or about him. Regarding non-physical things, the experience is
subjective, colored by the religious background and expectations of
the individual. This is because the experience is generally understood
and interpreted in terms of what the individual knows.

An important part of the NDE is the recollection of one's past life.
All the events are relived, in passing. The NDE is clear, lucid, as
real an experience as being awake and alive in the physical body.
It is different from the typical OBE (astral projection).

The question was asked if, since NDE usually are followed by an
awakening of an interest in the spiritual, could not astral experiences
also be used to that effect? The answer was no, because OBE's tend to
be quite different.  In an OBE experience, people report the mind to
not work as clearly as in an NDE, it is foggy, much less clear and
conscious. Something different is happening. We were told that the
closest affect to an NDE would probably come from psychadelic drugs,
and not astral projection (OBE's), although it is not to be recommended.

NDE's happen, we hear, much more frequently that we'd expect. At nearly
every audience where they would speak, there would be someone raising
a hand and sharing an experience.


When I was in junior high school, I read all of Leadbeater's books on
Theosophy, and wanted to be psychic like him. My dreams were more
vivid at that time, and I'd sometimes be self-aware in a dream. My
thoughts and interests were directed more in that direction, so that
area of my life was more active. Since then, my interests have shifted
more to philosophy and the higher mind, and the focus has been on
knowing and understanding things, rather then just seeing them.

The assumption that the study of NDE's is *real*, and that of the
theosophical teachings is less real, possibly shaky, somewhat
insubstantial, says more about one's relation to the teachings,
than it does about Theosophy.

The teachings *can* become as real and as proven by experience as
anything in life. But this experience is not with the seeing with
psychical eyes, the visiting of other planes, the production of
phenomena to the amazement of sceptics and friends.

The experience comes from establishing a firm, unshakeable
relationship with the source of wisdom and understanding, Mahat,
an opening of the "eye of wisdom" (a poetic figure of speech, not
a literal "eye") rather than an opening of the "eye of psychic sight".
There is a way to "see" knowing, understanding, wisdom, to appraise
it at a distance, in the same manner as we see a physical panorama
with our eyes and look at both things near and far. This is the true
form of spiritual vision.

                           Eldon Tucker (

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