For the Introduction, click here.
There is a difference between Swedenborg’s experience and the experiences of people who have come close to dying and have returned. When Swedenborg described the spiritual world and the process of dying in Heaven and Hell, he already had years of regular, almost daily, consciousness in the spiritual world. By the time he wrote his description of the experience of death he was familiar with the spiritual world, and had a sense of perspective on the dying experience.
Because of this, and because he was a scientist to the core, Swedenborg’s descriptions are more analytical than those of many present-day NDEers, most of whom had never experienced the spiritual world before. The descriptions of the death process given by NDEers are probably closer to what you or I might experience as we die. Most of us do not have previous experience in the spiritual world. We will approach death in a state of mind more like that of ordinary folks who nearly die and come back to tell of their experiences.
Meanwhile, here is a description of the process of dying as experienced by a Western mind trained in both material and spiritual reality.
Waking Up From Death
From Heaven and Hell #445–52
by Emanuel Swedenborg
When our body can no longer perform its functions in the physical world, expressing the thoughts and feelings of our spirit (which we have from the spiritual world), we say that we die. This happens when our lungs stop breathing and our heart stops beating.
Yet we do not die, but are only separated from the body that had been useful to us in the world. We ourselves continue to live. I say we ourselves continue to live since we are not human because of our body, but because of our spirit. It is the spirit within us that thinks—and thinking together with feeling makes us human.
This means that when we die, we only pass from one world to another. Because of this, when “death” is mentioned in the Bible its deeper meaning is re-awakening and continued life.
The deepest connection of our spirits is with our breathing and the motion of our heart. Our thinking communicates with our breathing, and the feelings of our love communicate with our heart. So when these two motions stop we are immediately separated from our body. These two motions—the breathing of our lungs and the beating of our heart—are the links. When they are broken, our spirit is on its own. Since our body no longer has the life of its spirit, it grows cold and decays.
The deepest communication of our spirits is with our breathing and the motion of our heart because all our vital motion depends on these two functions—and not merely in a general way but in every single part of our body.
Our spirit stays in our body for a little while after the separation, but not past when the heart has completely stopped beating. This happens in different ways depending on the the cause of our death. Sometimes the heart continues to beat for a while; other times it stops after a short time.
As soon as the heart stops beating we are awakened—but only the Lord does this. By “awakening” I mean leading our spirit out of our body and bringing it into the spiritual world. This is traditionally called “resurrection.” Our spirit is not separated from our body until the heart stops beating because our heart corresponds to the feelings of our love, which is our real life. Our vital warmth comes from love. So as long as this connection continues there is a correspondence, and the life of our spirit remains in our body.
I have not only been told how we wake up from death; I have been shown through experience. I have actually gone through it so I could know exactly what it is like. I lost touch with my physical senses almost as if I were dying. But I still had all of my inner life and ability to think, so I could pay attention and remember what happened to me—which is the same as what happens to us when we wake up from death.
I noticed that my body’s breathing was almost taken away, though my inner spiritual breathing continued, along with a slight, quiet physical breathing. My heartbeat started to communicate with the heavenly realm, since that realm is connected with our heart.
I saw angels from that realm, some at a distance, and two sitting at my head. They took away all my own feelings, but I kept my thinking and awareness. I experienced this for several hours. Then the spirits who were around me left, saying I had died. I noticed an aromatic odor like an embalmed body. When heavenly angels are nearby, the dead body seems aromatic. Spirits sense this and cannot approach it. This is how evil spirits are kept away from our spirit when we are first brought into eternal life.
The angels who sat by my head were silent, communicating only with my thoughts. When we receive their thoughts the angels know our spirit is ready to be drawn out of our body. The angels shared their thoughts with me by looking at my face. This is how people in heaven share thoughts.
Since I could still think and be aware of things so that I could remember how waking up from death happens, I noticed that the angels at first asked whether my thoughts were like the thoughts of people who are dying, who usually think about eternal life. They wanted to hold my mind in these thoughts. I was later told that our spirits are kept in the last thoughts we had when our body dies. This lasts until we go back to the way we had thought from our predominant feelings in the world. I was especially given to sense and feel that there was a drawing out and pulling away of the inner parts of my mind—meaning my spirit—from my body. I was told that this was from the Lord, and that it causes us to wake up from death.
The heavenly angels who are with us as we are being awakened from death do not leave us, since they love each one of us. But when our spirit can no longer be with heavenly angels we start wanting to leave them. When this happens, angels from the Lord’s spiritual realm come to us. They give us the ability to see. Before, we had not seen anything, but had only thought things. I was shown how this happens.
I saw an angel there seem to roll a covering off my left eye toward my nose to open my eyes and give me sight. It does seem to us as if this is what happens, though it is only the way it appears. When the covering was rolled off I saw some light, but it was dim. It was like looking through my eyelids at daybreak. This dim light seemed to be heavenly warmth. I was told, though, that this happens differently for different people.
Next I felt something soft rolled off my face, and then I was able to think spiritually. The feeling that something was being rolled off my face was also merely the way it looks. It means that our material thought has now passed over into spiritual thought. The angels are very careful not to let in any ideas about waking up from death that do not have a sense of love about them. Then they tell us that we are a spirit.
After the spiritual angels give us the ability to see they offer us everything we could possibly want in this situation. They also tell us as much about the other life as we are able to understand. But if we do not wish to be taught we want to get away from those angels. The angels do not leave us; no, we leave them. Angels love every one of us. They love nothing better than doing good things for us, teaching us, and leading us into heaven. This gives them their greatest joy.
When we leave them, good spirits welcome us. They also offer us every kind of help. But if we had lived on earth in a way that made it so that we could not be together with good spirits we also wish to get away from them. This goes on as many times as it takes for us to come together with spirits who are completely harmonious with our life in the world. Then we live with them—and surprisingly enough, we live the same way we had lived on earth.
However, this first stage of our life after death does not last more than a few days. I will describe in the next chapter how we are led from one stage to the next, and finally either into heaven or into hell. I know these things also from a lot of experience.
I have talked with some people three days after they died, when they had already been through the experiences I just described. I have even talked with three people I had known in the world. I told them that their mortal remains were now being prepared so that their body could be buried. When they heard me say “buried,” they were struck with astonishment. They said that they were alive, and that those people were merely burying what had served them in the world.
Afterwards they were absolutely amazed that when they had lived in their body they had not believed there was this kind of life after death—and especially that practically everyone in the church had not believed it.
People who in the world had not believed that there was any life after physical life are very embarrassed when they realize that they are still alive. But those who had convinced themselves that there was no afterlife get together with people who believe the same thing and are separated from people who had faith. Most of them are connected to some hellish community because they also deny the divine and are contemptuous of spiritual truth. As much as we convince ourselves against the eternal life of our soul we also convince ourselves against heavenly and spiritual things.
* * * * *
This is how Swedenborg describes the process of dying. Like NDEers, he regained consciousness in this world afterwards so that he could tell people who are still on earth about it. Though his experience happened over two hundred years ago, it is similar in many ways to the experiences of people today who have NDEs. It is also different in some ways.
Before going into the meaning of this experience for our own spiritual growth, I would like to explore some of these similarities and differences. To do this, I will compare Swedenborg’s experience with the pattern of common elements experienced by NDEers. This pattern was initially outlined by Raymond Moody, and later studied more rigorously and systematized by such scholars as Kenneth Ring and Bruce Greyson. These writers are careful to point out that no NDEer experiences all of these elements. In the same way, Swedenborg did not experience all of them. I will focus particularly on the five stages of the NDE as described by Kenneth Ring, while bringing in other common elements along the way.
NDEers often say that words cannot describe what they have experienced. They sometimes say there are “more than three dimensions” to the experience. In Moody’s terms, the experience is “ineffable.” Swedenborg does not mention this when he describes his death experience, but read what he says about some newly arrived spirits in the spiritual world:
There were certain souls recently arrived from the world who, on account of the assumptions they had adopted during their lifetime, doubted whether things of this sort could possibly be found in the next life where there is no wood or stone. They were brought up to [a certain] place, and from there they talked to me. In their amazement they said that it was beyond description, that they could never think of any way of representing how far beyond description it was, and that forms of joy and happiness shone from every detail—and this in ever-changing variety. (Arcana Coelestia #1622)
Even if the people who come back from death cannot completely describe what they experienced, they tell us that it is the most amazing thing that ever happened to them.
People who are dying often hear someone pronounce them dead. Usually it is a doctor or nurse or somebody at the scene of an accident. For Swedenborg, it was the angels who were with him. In his words, the angels with us “tell us that we are a spirit.” For most of us, dying is such a new experience that we may not even realize what is happening. Being told that we have died can help us to understand these strange and new experiences.
A few NDEers experience some kind of sound as they are dying. It may be a loud ringing noise, a banging, buzzing, or whistling noise, or something else, such as music. Sometimes it is pleasant and sometimes it is unpleasant. Though Swedenborg does describe noise and music in the spiritual world, he does not mention it during his experience of dying. He does talk about an odor—the odor of an embalmed body—associated with his experience. NDEers rarely mention odors.
Usually, though, NDEers describe a feeling of great peace and quiet that comes over them as they are dying. Here is what Swedenborg has to say about the peacefulness of angels:
There are two inmost elements of heaven: innocence and peace. They are called inmost because they come directly from the Lord. . . . These two elements, innocence and peace, come from the Lord’s divine love, and affect angels from their very core. (True Christian Religion #182)
Swedenborg felt this deep inner peace when he was with angels. It was part of his experience of dying, as it is for many today who almost die and come back. This sense of peace is the main characteristic of Ring’s first stage of the NDE.
A common thread that is present among Swedenborg and NDEers at this point in the experience is a sense of leaving the physical body behind. This body separation brings the NDEer to the second stage described by Ring.
Swedenborg did not encounter this in the way many NDEers do: as an out-of-body experience. NDEers often say they looked down on their own lifeless body, and on the people and things around it— perhaps from some kind of spiritual body that was different from their physical body. Swedenborg talks in similar ways about the physical and spiritual bodies, but his usual experience was that when people were in their spiritual bodies they did not see anything in the physical world.
An interesting parallel to the out-of-body experience is Swedenborg’s conversations with three of his friends who had recently died. When he tells them that their body is being prepared for burial, they are struck with amazement. They are still alive! That body is only something they had used while they were in the world. This type of detachment from our physical body is commonly reported by NDEers. They sometimes speak of looking down on their body as if it had nothing to do with them. Others find it confusing to be out of their bodies. Perhaps they are feeling some of the amazement that Swedenborg reports to be common among those who have just arrived in the spiritual world when they see that they are still very much alive even though they are not in their bodies.
NDEers who lose awareness of their physical surroundings often enter a black void or “dark tunnel.” Ring calls it “entering the darkness,” which forms his third stage of the NDE. This is a feeling of floating in or moving through a dark space. Not all NDEers experience it, even when they have an other-world experience. In Swedenborg’s case, it is more implied than described: at first he did not have the use of his eyes; only later did he gain the use of his eyes and see the bright world in which he then was.
Once NDEers go beyond the physical world into the spiritual world, practically everything they describe has parallels in Swedenborg’s spiritual world experience. Ring’s fourth stage takes place on the other side of the darkness: “seeing the light.”
The most vivid form of seeing the light is encountering a presence that Moody called “the being of light”—a name that has stuck, though as Ring points out NDEers themselves more often refer to it simply as a “presence.” This presence or being of light is definitely personal, but not like any person we have ever met. There is a dazzling light coming from it. The light is brighter than any light we have ever seen here, yet it does not blind us or hurt our eyes when we see it. It is as though the light is a sense of radiating love, warmth, and understanding. Meeting this being is such a powerful experience that NDEers often identify the being with the highest spiritual beings they knew of from their own religious tradition: God, an angel, Jesus, and so on. Others see it as all the universe comprehended together.
Swedenborg says two angels from the highest heavenly realm are with us when we die. His description of these angels reflects what NDEers experience as the being of light:
I have seen angelic faces of the third heaven, whose quality was such that no artist, with all the artist’s skill, could impart enough of that kind of light to the colors to capture a thousandth part of the light and life you can see in their faces. (Heaven and Hell #459)
Swedenborg commonly describes spiritual light and warmth as a sense of love and understanding flowing among people and between God and people. This is the light that NDEers experience coming from the being of light.
There is also a tantalizing hint in Swedenborg that perhaps he thinks it is indeed God who meets us initially when we die. He says, “As soon as the heart stops beating we are awakened—but only the Lord does this.”
As Swedenborg mentions in his death experience, there is communication with this being, but not in words. He says, “The angels who sat by my head were silent, communicating only with my thoughts.” They did this by looking at his face. This type of direct communication of thoughts goes on as long as we are with the being of light. It is a communication full of love, compassion, and mutual understanding.
The being often asks a question. It may be hard for NDEers to express exactly what the question is. Sometimes they say the question is “Are you ready to die?” Other times it seems more like “What have you accomplished with your life?” These both seem to be the same question, only expressed differently. Swedenborg says the angels kept him in “thoughts that were like the thoughts of people who are dying,” which is probably the same thing. It is natural for us to be thinking about our lives and our readiness for death as we are dying.
The being of light does not ask this question about life accomplishments to confront or condemn, but to cause us to think deeply about our lives. Along with the question there may be an incredibly fast review of our whole lives. Some NDEers say they saw every detail of their lives; others say it was only the high points. It is almost always very fast and very vivid. Usually they see themselves doing things from another person’s perspective, and not as if they were experiencing it themselves at that moment.
Swedenborg does not describe this process as vividly as NDEers, but he does talk about angels bringing out of our memory what we had done in this life and showing it to us, as in this quote from Heaven and Hell #462b.8:
I have even heard the things that a person thought during the course of a month seen and reviewed by angels out of that person’s memory, a day at a time without error—things recalled as though the person were engaged in them at the time they happened.
According to Swedenborg, nothing we have ever done or experienced is hidden from the angels. This agrees with what NDEers say about the being of light. Fortunately, the being of light loves us completely while going through these things with us. There is no condemnation for anything we have done, but an effort to help us learn from it. To the being of light, love and learning are the two most important things.
NDEers who do not meet the “presence” or “being of light” often say they meet people they had known on earth who have died. These people may serve some of the functions the being of light otherwise would, such as getting the NDEer to reflect on his or her life and to make a decision about whether to return. Swedenborg also had the experience of meeting deceased friends and relations. He said, “I have talked with all my relations and friends, as well as with kings and dukes, not to mention scholars, who have met their fates” (True Christian Religion #281).
Often people who have this experience of meeting friends or relations in the spiritual world also experience Ring’s fifth and final stage of the NDE: “entering the light.” This is the deepest stage. When they first “see the light,” most NDEers do not become aware of another world around them. Those who go on to enter the light are able to see the scenery of what they describe as another world—what Swedenborg calls the spiritual world. They describe incredibly beautiful fields, lakes, mountains, forests, and buildings all in such vivid colors and bathed in such clear, bright light that they often say there are no words in our language to adequately describe what they saw. In Heaven and Hell Swedenborg describes the scenery of the spiritual world in great detail, including its plants, animals, buildings, and human communities.
Swedenborg recounts the process of dying as it would be if we were continuing on into the other life. Unlike NDEers, Swedenborg could stay in the other world even while he was living in this one, so he did not describe what it is like to come back. NDEers do experience this, though. A few of them talk of reaching some kind of visually represented border or limit. It may be a door, a fence, the other side of a lake, or simply a line. They know that if they passed beyond the border, they would not come back to earth. For others, instead of a visual border there is a point at which a choice is made, either by the NDEer or by the person or presence he or she met there. Still others simply felt they were pulled back into their body without any sense of a choice. Of course, those who are still here to tell us about it did come back, whether or not it was by choice.
Coming back to earth after visiting the spiritual world can be difficult. Once we have experienced the beauty, joy, light, and love of that world, this world can seem dark and painful. Yet most NDEers come back with a new sense of the spiritual depth within, and a sense that they have work to do here. Experiencing the spiritual world does not automatically transform us into angels. It only gives us a glimpse of the path. That path lies through learning to understand and love one another.
* * * * *
In the final chapter of his book Broca’s Brain, called “The Amniotic Universe,” Carl Sagan says:
Every human being, without exception, has already shared an experience like that of those travelers who return from the land of death: the sensation of flight; the emergence from darkness into light; an experience in which, at least sometimes, a heroic figure can be dimly perceived, bathed in radiance and glory. There is only one common experience that matches this description. It is called birth.
Sagan uses this insight to speculate on whether NDEs are a re-creation of the birth experience by the human brain—thus calling into question whether they are actually experiences of an afterlife. People who have had vivid NDEs might reply, “You have not had an NDE. I have. It was real.”
Yet the same insight can lead us in an entirely different direction. As people of many different religious traditions have known for ages, the parallel between physical birth and physical death has a deeper cause. Each is an experience of birth: physical birth is our birth into the material world; physical death is our birth into the spiritual world.
This connection between birth and death has been a part of our cultural heritage as well. When my son Christopher was born at home in July, 1995, his heart was not beating. The midwives performed CPR and revived him. A few weeks later one of the midwives came by for a visit. As we talked about the experience of Chris’s birth, she mentioned that midwives used to be present at both births and deaths. The same people who attended new births into this world also attended the transition, or birth, from this world into the next.
Like The Tibetan Book of the Dead and other accounts of our experiences at and after death, Swedenborg describes various stages that we go through when we die. We can use these descriptions as literal accounts of what we experience when we die. Using a similar parallelism to that between birth and death, we can also take the descriptions as a metaphorical account of our processes of spiritual death and rebirth: what we experience on our path of spiritual birth and growth during our life on earth. This is the parallelism I would like to focus on for the rest of this book.
It might help to pause a moment and consider what our spiritual level is. Our material level includes our physical body and the physical aspects of everything we say and do in the material world. Our spiritual level exists, not apart from, but within our material level while we are living here on earth. It is the level of our human relationships and interactions with other people and with God. Our words and actions are physical, but the love and understanding (or lack of them) that they express are spiritual.
This means that our spiritual growth is our growth in love for and understanding of other people, and our expression of that growth in our relationships and interactions with them. Our spiritual growth does not happen in isolation from others but in community with others. As we grow closer to other people spiritually we also grow closer to God.
Back to the parallelisms I mentioned before, these rest on two properties of the physical/spiritual universe that are present in many religious cosmologies, and especially well developed in Swedenborg: the macrocosm/microcosm and correspondences.
The concept of macrocosm/microcosm states that small things are images of large things, and vice versa. The universe is reflected in each individual human being, animal, plant, and rock, and in each part of each one of them. This means that the whole universe and any part of it also reflects an individual human being, animal, plant, rock, and so on. Each part of the universe reflects every other part of the universe. This characteristic is part of the very fabric of the universe. William Blake expresses this in his Auguries of Innocence:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
“Correspondence” is Swedenborg’s word for the relationships that exist among the various levels of reality. We live in a multi-layered universe. There are the big levels: God, spirit, and matter. Within each of these there are other levels reflecting the big levels of the universe. In God there is love, wisdom, and action. In spirit there are the same levels as in God. And in matter there is substance, form, and action or existence. Using the principle of macrocosm/microcosm, we could find each of these levels within anything we cared to contemplate, from the community of all humans on earth down to a single bone cell in our body.
Things on different levels are distinctly different from each other. Spirit is not the same as matter. God is not the same as spirit. Yet they are intimately connected with each other. If they are different, how can they be connected? How can they communicate with each other? Swedenborg describes this as happening through correspondence.
Correspondence is not a mere symbolic link: “A equals B.” It is a living relationship. It is the way God’s character is expressed on the spiritual level, and spiritual realities manifested on the physical level. For example, a hug is not merely a cultural symbol denoting affection for another person. It is a direct physical expression of warmth and caring through close physical contact.
Similarly, physical birth and death are not merely symbols of spiritual rebirth; they are a living physical expression of the realities of spiritual birth and growth. It is no coincidence that the experiences of birth and death parallel each other. Through macrocosm/microcosm and correspondences, they are both physical manifestations of the same spiritual reality. So let’s explore the passage of death and see what it could mean for our own spiritual rebirth.
Using the parallel between death and birth, we will consider the moment of physical death to be the moment of a spiritual birth within ourselves. This may be the time we first turn from a material to a spiritual focus, or it may be a new birth in an already developing spirituality. For now we will look at the experience of dying as a parallel to the first beginnings of our conscious spiritually-oriented life.
Our approach to physical death can come in many different ways. For some people there is a long and gradual physical decline ending in death. For others there is an accident or severe illness and death comes suddenly, with little warning. This reflects our various approaches to the transition from a materially oriented life to a spiritually oriented one. Some of us experience a gradual decline in our sense of satisfaction with a materialistic life. Physical pleasures that used to consume us lose their savor. Gradually the sense that something is missing grows, until we feel that there is very little left that is truly alive in the way we have been living so far.
For others, the death of our materialistic self comes quickly. A close friend or family member dies, a relationship breaks up, we lose the job we have held for years, and suddenly the material things we had been so engrossed in no longer seem so important to us. Suddenly we find ourselves looking deeper for answers to life’s questions.
No matter which way we approach it, at some point we realize that we want and need a spiritual level in our life. This, correspondentially, is the moment of our death in the physical world and our new birth into the spiritual world.
Usually it is not an easy transition. In the experience of physical birth we are compressed and forced through an opening that seems smaller than it ought to be. The transition of spiritual rebirth also goes through a “small gate and a narrow road,” in Jesus’ words (Matthew 7:14). Like a baby in the womb, we have grown comfortable with our previous way of life. The change can be difficult, but it is a change we must make if we are to move on to the next stage of our growth.
In our experience of death there may be hard passages. There is the physical pain that often accompanies death, the grief at the loss of our loved ones, and the fear of what might come next. At the moment of death there are often feelings of confusion and emotional discomfort among those who float out of their bodies but remain at the scene of their deaths. There is the common experience of the black void or “dark tunnel,” which can be bewildering. Afterwards there may come an examination of our past life—which can be painful if we have lived in hurtful ways, or if we realize that the “good” things we had done in our life came from egotistical motives.
All of these have their parallels in the experiences we may have at the time we move from a materialistic to a spiritual life. It hurts to make changes within ourselves. We grieve the loss of the pleasure we used to get from our old, familiar habits. We are anxious about what we will do next, and where we will go. We are still with our old friends and family members, and though we see them about their normal business, they may not recognize the changes that are taking place in us. We may feel that there is a barrier between us and those we used to know; we can see them, but they cannot see us anymore. We may feel that we are passing through a “dark night of the soul,” as described by John of the Cross. As we look at our past life in a new light we may recoil, sometimes with a sense of guilt and shame, from the things we have thoughtlessly or maliciously done to others, or from harmful and abusive thoughts and feelings we have nursed inside of ourselves.
We may even decide we are not ready for this transition, and go back to our former ways of life for a longer or shorter time. But as with those who come back from an NDE, our life will still be changed afterwards. We will never be able to go back to exactly the way we were before. There will always be a sense that there is something more to life—something that we need to return to sooner or later.
Most of us, though, having started a spiritual path, do not go back. We continue in the new direction. And before long we receive support and inspiration. At the other end of the dark tunnel there is a new light that is brighter than anything we have ever experienced before. We begin to see new meaning in our lives that had been completely beyond us up until now. We have a new direction and new purpose.
We also have human and divine support. Some of us have a direct encounter with a being of light. This may be an experience of communion with God or it may be a deep connection with another human being who has developed to a high level of spirituality and helps us in our transition. Others of us see loved ones who have “died” before us—meaning we now have a new and deeper relationship with those who have already begun their spiritual paths and have been waiting for us to begin ours. We may still grieve the loss of old friendships, but they are replaced by new and deeper ones, sometimes with the same people, but often with new friends.
At this point in our transition the darkness and confusion has turned into joy and brilliant light. We feel that we have at last arrived at our true spiritual home. Not so! We have only taken the first few steps on a long spiritual journey. After the initial consuming experience of spiritual birth we settle back into our life. This may turn into a real anticlimax. We may even think afterwards that nothing has really happened— that everything is exactly the same as it was before.
This is where it helps to understand the next stages of spiritual growth. There are many ways to look at those stages. One of them is to continue with Swedenborg in the stages he says we go through after death.
 Swedenborg uses the word “correspondence” to describe the living relationship between two different levels of reality—usually the material and the spiritual. In this relationship, “correspondence” is the way spiritual things manifest themselves on the material level.
 Swedenborg saw angels not as a separate creation, but as human beings who have lived on earth and gone on to heaven after their physical death.
 Life After Life, by Raymond Moody, Jr. (New York: Bantam, 1975).
 Life at Death, A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death Experience, by Kenneth Ring (New York: Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1980).
 “The Near-Death Experience Scale: Construction, Reliability, and Validity,” by Bruce Greyson; in The Near-Death Experience: Problems, Prospects, Perspectives. Bruce Greyson, Charles P. Flynn, Ed. (Springfield, Il: Charles Thomas, 1984).
 Broca’s Brain, by Carl Sagan. (New York: Random House, 1974) p. 304.
 As found in John of the Cross, Selected Writings. Kieran Kavanaugh, Ed. (New York: Paulist Press, 1987).
(Note: This is Chapter 1 of my book Death and Rebirth, first published in 2005 and currently out of print. This text and associated artwork are copyright 2005 by Lee Woofenden.)
For Chapter 2, click here.