The Story of God with Morgan Freeman on April 3rd, opens with the story of David Bennett's near death experience.
Here's a five minute clip which begins with David's story:
Now, the question is - does David say that he "saw God?"
He doesn't really. I mean in the show, they may ask him that question point blank "Did you think you saw God?" and he answers it. But I don't know. I'll have to tune in. But in my interview with him, he just spoke of seeing a "white ball of light."
As mentioned previously, I had the opportunity to interview David for my book "It's a Wonderful Afterlife." I was in upstate New York at the upstate New York Iands.org conference room, and David was my host. The night before my talk, I looked him up online and found his book, which I downloaded from kindle and read that evening. And then the next day I got a chance to ask him some questions about his experience - and asked if he minded if I recorded our conversation.
So here is our conversation.
I have to apologize, as we were in a noisy coffee shop - I didn't intend to broadcast or put this online, but I did want a record of our conversation so that I could transcribe it and include it in my book "It's a Wonderful Afterlife Volume One."
You should take a look at David's amazing book, as it details more than could be said in the time we spent together. You can find that here.
It's interesting to note that David's experience, while it's featured in the "God" episode from National Geographic TV, and it's on the website version - it's not in the print version of the magazine article. In that article, the mention of the research from Dr. Sam Parnia's "Aware" project is mentioned, and the discussion is led into an aread of "preserving human tissue" so that we might be brought back to life from some cryogenic state, like the Revenant. Left for dead, but then returned at a later date.
Then there's a mention of a scientist who refutes "near death experiences" (or as Dr. Parnia calls them "death experiences") who claims that people are merely experiencing "Hypoxia" - that their brain is not dead, but "active" and creating the hallucination of the afterlife.
Kevin Nelson, a neurologist at the University of Kentucky, was on Neal’s panel, and he was skeptical—not of her memory, which he acknowledged was intense and valid, but of its explanation. “These are not return-from-death experiences,” he said, also contradicting Parnia’s view of what had happened. “During these experiences the brain is very much alive and very much active.” He said that what Neal went through could have been a phenomenon called REM intrusion, when the same brain activity that characterizes dreaming somehow gets turned on during other, nonsleep events, such as a sudden loss of oxygen. To him, near-death and out-of-body experiences are the result not of dying but of hypoxia—a loss of consciousness, not of life itself. From Nat Geo
As my old Oxford/Harvard trained professor Julian Baird used to say "I'd agree with you but then we'd both be wrong."
There are numerous medical cases where blood does not go to the brain for a long period of time - the brain is not functioning and can be measured as not functioning - and those cases, also have the same "afterlife" experience that David Bennett did, as well as many of the thousands of cases listed in Dr. Bruce Greyson's cites ("Irreducible Mind") and Dr. Sam Parnia's cases. There's no evidence or data to support his conclusion "during these experiences the brain is very much alive." Because A. Kevin wasn't there. B. He didn't measure the brain of the person having the experience. C. He's assuming the brains must have been active because it's counter-intuitive to everything he (thinks) he knows.
There is evidence, data of many cases outlined in Mario Beauregard PhD's books, including "Brain Wars." He's a neuro-scientist as well, and he's been able to verify that there is no so called "God spot" on the brain, and he cites a number of cases where people's brains had no blood for an extended period of time, no oxygen to the brain, ie were dead - and yet reported seeing/sensing/hearing a number of things they could not have sensed or heard. (My favorite is the man born blind and yet while outside of his body, saw that the doctor was wearing orange tennis shoes and told him so. "New information" that could NOT be from his brain.)
It's a bit like the idea of having 99 scientists who talk about climate change being man made, and yet they always refer to the one scientist who doesn't believe it to be the case. In this instance, there's no evidence that it's Hypoxia - that's just an assumption, and therefore should be treated as one.
As I've pointed out in my books, when you have thousands of people saying relatively the same things about the afterlife - no matter who is asking the questions - then it behooves us to examine what really might be going on, instead of fretting over how the conclusions might appear to our colleagues. Or if they fit neatly into a materialist reality.
Quantum physics has proven repeatedly that the material world as we know it is some form of an illusion - and there shouldn't be any surprise that our adventures in consciousness defining might have the same conclusion. Since there is no scientific defintion of consciousness - and since there are numerous cases that point to consciousness not being confined to the brain - then we have to conclude that consciousness is NOT NECESSARILY confined to the brain.
If you want medical cases cited - I refer the reader to Bruce Greyson's youtube talk "Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain" (also reproduced in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife Vol One") where he cites a number of cases where brains were not functioning (due to Alzheimers or another medical condition) should not have been able to function, and yet people were able to suddenly regain their memories as if the memories themselves were not confined to the brain.
Here is that talk. It's worth 90 minutes of your time. (If you actually care to know the science behind these conclusions.)
But beyond that - one sure way to prove that it's not hypoxia is to examine the information that is gleaned from the experience.
For example, if a person is traveling in a train their entire life, and they've never known anything but the world passing by them in motion, if they stepped outside the train and stopped for a moment, then got back on the train and explained what they've experienced, we can't conclude that they're "hallucinating" or "delusional" or inaccurate. We can only assume they've had an experience that is different than our own. And once we compare these reports of "train stoppage" we can get a clearer picture of what the world might look like when the train is stopped.
That in itself doesn't make it accurate either - because like blind scientists examining an elephant, each will come back with a different description. "There's a hell over there with flames and pitchforks" or "there's bug eyed aliens over there" or "there are angels flying around with lutes" - might all be descriptions that people have had during some kind of consciousness altered event - but that doesn't make them accurate or true either.
And when you actually take the time to examine the reports of people who've had a near death experience, and compare them to reports coming from people who under hypnosis can recount their near death experience, or who under hypnosis can recount the last time they died and went "back home" (as I have done in my books) then you have a better shot at coming to some conclusions about the architecture of the afterlife.
Once we introduce words into the conversation, instead of imagery, senses, or feeling - then by the very nature of language we limit that experience, or we reduce the experience into some form of syntax that others can understand. It's what we've been doing for as long as we've been on the planet - using one word to describe "water" when the bushmen have dozens, using one word to describe "snow" when the indigenous tribes of the north have many, using one word to describe "love" or "home" or "heaven" or "God" applies in the same way.
Depends who you ask.
In David's case, as you'll hear in the interview, he saw a "ball of light." But it was later, as he approached the light - that a few shards split off from the light and came toward him. During his near death experience he only saw them as shards of light, but later, while under deep hypnosis with a Michael Newton trained therapist in upstate New York, he was able to identify who these shards of light were -- their names and their connection to him.
During his hypnosis session he was able to reaccess the event in a way that allowed him to see a number of things in a different light. Not that they were different, or inaccurate, but in a different way, the way we might see a painting after years and realize that there's more to it than we thought at first glance.
And finally - David was able to bring back "new information" from his near death experience.
That's information that he didn't know at the time of the near death experience, could not have known, could not have been "cryptomnesia" or "hypoxia" - because these events had not yet occurred on the planet.
In his near death experience, David saw into the future. He saw a doctor, one whom he didn't know yet, come into an office and tell him he had only a few months to live from a cancer diagnosis. And in David's near death experience he saw that he survived that diagnosis, survived the cancer.
But he didn't understand it when it happened to him that first time. In fact when he shared it with a loved one, she doubted him so completely as to think he was insane. It was over a decade later that David shared his experience with anyone, and only after re-experiencing the event during a meditation session. And it was years after that he revisited it completely with the help of hypnosis - to see some of the events in a different light.
He told me the story of how when he was in the doctor's office to get the results of his xrays, that a NEW DOCTOR entered the office. Someone that he'd never met, but because his doctor was unavailable, had been given the task to tell David he had weeks to live. And David RECOGNIZED the Doctor from his near death experience decades earlier. He knew what the Doctor was going to tell him "You won't survive this, get your life in order" - and he also knew that he would survive it.
Of course the Doctor told him "you're in denial." But it was the Doctor who was in denial, as David knew he would survive the ordeal and the cancer (with medical and holistic treatment, he followed the course required but also allowed for other therapies as well).
The point is that there are many NDEs where people experience new information - something they could not know, but later learn to be true - proving beyond a shadow of doubt that these events could not by "cryptomnesia" (having been heard or experienced at an earlier date subconsciously) or "hypoxia" (lack of oxygen brain altering event.)
So what are we to make of this? Does it mean we should all start wearing pyramid hats?
But let's start with that these events can be categorized, they can be studied, and they can offer information about the flipside, or the afterlife. And that what they say on the flipside is consistent, and its repeated with case after case after case. There's a reason they aren't studied on the university level, and its because if you can't sell it as a pill, it's just not examined by modern research science. Who would fund such a study?
A philanthropist? Problem with philanthropy is simple - if it doesn't benefit the person putting up the money, why put it up? If they can't find a way to sell it into the future, why bother?
The answer is: if you are a philanthropist, and you care about the future of the planet, then start by helping humans realize that we do reincarnate. We do come back here if we choose to do so - and that it makes sense to leave behind a planet with fresh air, fresh water, fresh food - not only for our children, but for ourselves. If and when we choose to return to the planet.
That's a pretty profound rethinking of the problem, wouldn't you say?
It's not just about finding God - but about finding why we're here on the planet in the first place.
I had an older cousin ask me this question today:
"Richard, I do not mean this negatively at all, but why are you so obsessed with death and "the after life"? Are you not happy in this life and appreciate all the beautiful things and people here? Just curious."
To which I replied:
Not obsessed my dear. I'm an author and filmmaker. But then you'd know that if you'd read Flipside. There's a film and three best selling books. Will send you a link.
Your mom (my aunt) told me how your father came to visit her the night he died. She said "he appeared at the end of my bed, young and healthy (which is what people report) and he said "I'm fine and i love you." Then the phone rang, the hospital called to say he died.
Your brother saw our grandfather after he died. Your brother was downstairs in your basement, in his darkroom working on photos, came out and saw our grandfather in his favorite chair. Startled, your brother stepped back in the darkroom - but he said when he opened the door again, our grandfather was still sitting in the chair, smiling. Your brother ran upstairs.
My father came to visit me the night he died, put his hand on my shoulder asked "why didn't you tell me your brother had a son?" I told him I felt it wasn't my place to reveal that information, as I'd only heard a rumor that was the case. (It later turned out to be true, so when my brother announced it, I already "knew" it. An example of "new information.")
Then he told me he was in a "beautiful" place. Called it "indescribably beautiful." That he was with mama and papa, his brother, then named friends who died in WWII that I'd never heard of. "Harry, etc," all confirmed by my mother the next day. Names that I did not know but that both he and she did.
When I told this to your sister she said "bullshit!" - but its not BS. I'm just reporting what eyewitnesses say about the afterlife. And they say it consistently.
Is it valuable to know we don't die, that our loved ones wait for us? Its not for everyone.
But I've had at least one grieving mom who read my book say "thank you for saving my life." Not the kind of review i could ever get in my career in film. But worth aiming for.