We will give a brief introduction to the phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDEs) from our study over the past 15 years. NDEs provide a key to understanding the relationship of our mind (or psyche or spirit) with our physical body. An NDE is a profound psychological event that occurs generally when one is near to death or in a state of extreme psychological or physical distress. There are striking elements in an NDE—feelings of peace, feeling separated from the body, meeting deceased loved ones or spiritual beings, encountering a Being of Light, having a life review, and so on. After an NDE, there are a number of unusual aftereffects—sensitivities to bright lights, loud sounds, and crowds; interference with watches and electronics; increased altruism and spirituality; and a less materialistic orientation. And NDEs tell us much more about the nature of consciousness and reality.
Our two main hypotheses are the mind-entity hypothesis and the transcendent realm hypothesis. First, the human being is a nonmaterial transcendent entity united with the physical brain and body. The mind-entity is the seat of consciousness of the person, the essence of the person. It separates from the physical body during an NDE and exists independently. In ordinary consciousness, the mind-entity interfaces and interacts directly with the brain to produce conscious awareness.
The second hypothesis is that reality consists of the physical realm plus a more fundamental transcendent realm. The physical realm is coextensive with and dependent on the transcendent realm. NDErs report hyperreal experiences with veridical perceptions in both the physical realm and in the supersensible, transmaterial realm. In the transcendent realm, NDErs report experiencing unconditional love and interconnectedness; memories of life events and visions of the future; limitless knowledge and a sense of life purpose.
About Robert and Suzanne Mays
Robert and Suzanne Mays have studied the phenomena related to near-death experiences (NDEs) together for 45 years, although neither has had a near-death experience. They began active research on NDE phenomena in 2005 to develop a theory of consciousness and the true nature of reality. They have also extensively studied anthroposophy and the works of Rudolf Steiner, and were involved in founding the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC.