|Psychical researchers, psychologists and physicians who have investigated the near-death experience have learned that it consists of approximately 10 consistent elements. All persons who have had the experience report some, most or all of these features:
- The experience is ineffable. "There are just no words to express what I am trying to say," the NDE percipient will report of his adventure into the astral plane. The joy and wonder of the out-of-body release??"and the strangeness of the sights and sensations encountered there??"prove that even the most elegant language cannot begin to describe this most elevated experience.
- Many people actually hear the doctor pronounce them dead.
- They describe extremely pleasant sensations in the early stages of the experience. "I had the feeling of floating in a dark space," one man said. "The day was bitterly cold, yet while I was in that blackness all I felt was warmth and the most extreme comfort I have ever experienced."
- Near-death experiencers often hear unusual sounds: a buzzing, a ringing, a banging or??"more pleasant??""a majestic really beautiful sort of music," in the words of one percipient. Similar sounds are frequently reported in the early stages of non-death-related astral projections.
- People feel as if they are shooting rapidly through what is often described as a "dark tunnel."
- People separate from their bodies. Raymond Moody, a noted authority on the NDE, has this to say of this state:
"A person in the spiritual body is in a privileged position in relation to the other persons around him. He can see and hear them, but they can’t see or hear him. Likewise, though the doorknob seems to go through his hand when he touches it. . . he soon finds that he can just go through the door. Travel, once when one gets the hang of it, is apparently exceptionally easy in this state. Physical objects present no barrier, and movement from one place to another can be extremely rapid, almost instantaneous. . . [There is] an absence of limitations." The spirit or astral body, in other words, is no longer constrained by the limits of time and space.
- NDE percipients often report that while they were dying, they encountered other spiritual beings. Some of these were astral guides who had come to help them through their transition into the realm of the dead??"or else to tell them that their time was not yet and to send them back to their physical bodies. Sometimes while out of the body people will encounter other dead persons, usually loved ones who have gone on before them.
- The most profound experience of all for some NDE-astral travelers is the meeting with the being of light. It first appears as a dim, distant light, then rapidly achieves an unearthly brilliance, often a clear white in color.
People never think of it, however, as just a light; it is a being with a personality that emanates enormous love and warmth. The being communicates by thought to the person and it asks him what he has done with his life. It is not an accusatory question; instead it seems intended to get the percipient to reflect on the meaning of his existence.
- The percipient sees his life pass in front of him in a series of unbelievably rapid images. They may not even come in chronological order; the profound sense of all the events in one’s life and their meaning may come as if in a single instant. All the while the being seems to be stressing two lessons: Love others and acquire knowledge.
- Some people report that they came to a border or limit that prevented them from going deeper into the astral world. It is variously described as a gray mist, a door, a fence or some other symbolic form. Sometimes other forms can be seen on the other side of it.
"Beyond the mist," one NDE percipient says, "I could see people, and their forms were just like they were on the earth. I could also see something which one could take to be buildings. The whole thing was permeated with the most gorgeous light. . . ."
But then an astral entity??"either a being of light or a discarnate known to the percipient??"will appear to prevent his further movement toward the deeper astral realm.
"Your work on earth is not finished," the being will say. "Go back."