Returning again to the same well that makes him a fortune our old nexus of consternation, D'Sousa has a new book coming out - something about the scientific evidence for life after death. Perhaps unfairly, I do not hold out much hope for its truthiness. My lack of hope for such having something to do with the fact that if he was truthful in this book it would be a radical departure from his professional body of work. I doubt I'll be convinced by any of his near death experience stories. On this topic I have experience that DD lacks - A few years ago I took a very brief journey into that undiscovered country from whose borne I fortunately did return. The rub in this case being that perchance I do recall the dream that came.
It was one evening and I had what turned out to be a case of Adult Pertussis on top of my usual asthma. I was on the couch watching the tube with the family when I had one of those nasty paroxysms of cough that give whooping cough its bad name. A couple of times before I'd actually grayed out a bit while coughing. Not this time. I started to cough and cough and cough and cough. Next thing I knew I had a most unusual experience.
To this day I can remember it perfectly. I suddenly had the sensation of of slowly passing through a great vortex (tunnel) that was lined with snippets of imagery that was indistinct but all vaguely familiar. I was also immersed in sound. Sound as I've never heard before or since. It was almost musical but most like that THX Dolby sound set that Lucas used to have come on before movies a few years ago. You know the one that sounded like violins tuning before a concert.
I had the quite pleasant sensation of floating toward a part of the vortex where the images were getting less distinct and whiting out. It seemed very light at that end of the tunnel. I will never forget how completely peaceful it all seemed. More peaceful that any other experience of my life?
I was just drifting along when I heard something faint and pleading in the background. At first I couldn't make it out. As I tried to hear it better this new sound began to disturb my good karma. It sort of sounded like my wife's voice from a million miles away. as I listened it got louder and suddenly as I locked onto it, I had the sensation of traveling backward at great speed and falling backwards.
I 'landed' on the couch and so intense was the sensation of falling back, that I shot off the couch and almost scared my poor wife and daughter to death. They were crying and terrified. My wife told me I'd stopped breathing, turned blue and lost my pulse. She had started doing CPR on me.
I felt fine and uttered a phrase that she also remembers well as another of my classic matter of fact utterances, "Well that explains the wild-assed dream I just had."
She was rather determined that I go to the hospital. I didn't think it was necessary but all my friends and family sort of insisted. I went and politely endured the 2 days of poking ,testing and prodding that finally revealed cough syncope. The coughing had lead to profound bradyardia and I sort of, well, died for a few minutes.
I was surprised by the number of people who actually seemed distraught by my short bogus death.
One thing is for sure, I no longer fear the act of dying because if that's all there is to it, It ain't so bad. And that sense of peace was something.
Now on to DD. As one who has experienced this phenomenon I have a better appreciation of the way people describe the sensations than your average Joe. It's interesting as an amystic skeptic that precisely the same experience that many people describe as metaphysical seemed pretty natural to me even in retrospect. I can see how people have come up with the metaphors to describe the experience but having gone through it myself, I suspect that it's just people's way of trying to make sense of it, rather than exactly how it happened. I can see how someone using a personal context of religion could interpret the data they experienced in that light (no pun intended - ah who am I kidding - of course it was!).
The life flashing before your eyes was pretty consistent with the sense of whirling imagery all of which was vaguely familiar. I could see how one might describe it that way, but it really is a bad metaphor that is applied in retrospect I suppose.
The music - well there was a lot of sound rushing in that sounded vaguely musical but again that is more of a metaphor to describe a sensation that is hard to describe. I suspect that a lot of neurons were all firing as part of one last hurrah as the last oxygen molecules and sugars were being consumed.
Tunnels, lights all that last bit of energy being exerted and sensory outputs coming in from all directions with no frame of reference. The last little white light? I suspect it's just like that little white dot you used to see when you turned off an old TV set...
Floating and dissociated? Again just a metaphorical description of that sensory overload that was coming in out of context. Was it unpleasant? Not in the least actually. Not scary or un-nerving at all - except to the others in the room.
Though Mrs. Pliny has never really developed an appreciation for this part of the ordeal, for me, no doubt the best part of the entire experience was getting to use my favorite line from of one of my favorite authors when people called on me to see how I was doing -"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.."