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Record Type: Review ID: 28
Beyond the Light: What Isn’t Being Said About Near-Death Experience
|There are now many books on near-death experiences by experiencers and researchers. Atwater has had three NDEs, and is herself considered a researcher. Beyond the Light is an important book because it is not only informed by her own experience and those of many other NDEers she knows or has interviewed, but relevant research findings are also reported. She provides one of the fullest views of near-death experiences, including not only heavenly but hellish experiences. She also deals with non near-death experiences and compares NDEs with hallucinatory experiences. Atwater has been a pioneer in pointing out the physical concomitants of NDEs, including changes in brain physiology and anomalous electrical effects associated with NDEs. Perhaps most importantly, emphasis is placed on the aftereffects of NDEs, which are many: physical, physiological, psychological, and spiritual. She also discusses interpersonal and social psychological problems that can arise as the NDEer, who is a "new" person, tries to reconnect with loved ones and other people and find a new way of being in his or her "old" world. In a very interesting chapter on anomalies, she deals with walk-ins, reincarnation, angels, and aliens. She offers a new hypothesis to account for the tunnel experience often associated with NDEs, shared EHEs, and the life review. The book is filled with observations worth following up, such as that only a low number of NDEers claimed seeing UFOs or aliens before their NDE; but one third of her interviewers began to communicate with aliens after their NDEs. More (or less) startling, is that following their NDE, 20% of her interviewees began to have memories of themselves being aliens from another planet. Perhaps her most important observation-one that echoes what we have said in this Journal about all types of EHEs-is that no experiencer can recall all that an NDE can reveal. They can only glimpse a piece of the big puzzle: "The real power that emerges from near-death experiences is a collective one-not what one person saw or heard, but the sum of the many" (p. 181). In a chapter entitled "Revelations," she describes the large picture that emerges when thousands of NDE accounts are considered. Another important chapter gives advice on "making the adjustment" when the experiencer reenters life following his or her own experience. In "Let's Get Personal," in which she underlines that the NDE itself is not an end, but a beginning: It is not the full plant but a seed. The "plant" is transformation, and as she says, "there are as many different ways to do it as there are stars in the sky" (p. 215). This echoes our observation that all of us are called to our own "Project of Transformation," which will enable us, in our unique ways, even as do NDEs, to catch a glimpse of the Big Picture and to share it with others. Beyond the Light closes with an amazing database of information sources which Atwater keeps updating. It is 71 pages long and covers three types of information: Spiritual emergence/emergencies, research methodology, and resource suggestions. This book itself is an illustration of the research proposal that having had the type of experience that is being reported provides the researcher with an "inside edge" over those who approach a subject only from outside, that is, objectively. Sometimes having the inner edge enables one to "see more" objectively than simple objectivity by itself, which tends to be superficial. Experiencers will find this book an invaluable aid in living their lives after near death. It is equally valuable to researchers not only of NDEs but other exceptional human experiences as well, not only because of the data it presents but the many leads it offers for further research.|
|Publisher Information:||New York: Birch Lane Press Book, 1994. 298p. 9 figs; Notes: 291-296; 1 questionnaire; Resource Suggestions: 248-290|
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