March 22, 2022

The Shape of Things to Come – According to NDErs

By Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.

[Author’s note: This will be my last blog for a while. I’m going on my spring break, the staycation variety.]

In the fall of 1980, I was thoroughly and undeniably pooped. Late that summer my first book on NDEs, Life at Death, was published, and since my publisher had invested a fair amount of money on that book – and me – she wanted to make sure she got her money’s worth. So she set up an extensive multi-city book tour that took me away from home and all over the country for several weeks. In those days there were quite a few popular talk shows for authors, and I seem to have been on them all – Good Morning America, The Today Show, Donahue, The David Susskind Show, The Regis Philbin Show, and various others. In addition, I appeared on any number of call-in radio programs, and was frequently interviewed by print journalists. There were even articles about me and my work in The National Enquirer, which did not please my department chairman.

But at that time stories about NDEs were becoming quite well known, the public seemed to be fascinated by them, and TV producers were eager to court people like me because shows about NDEs were good for ratings. So, frankly, I was a hot ticket then and mostly enjoyed my fifteen minutes of minor celebrity.

But when my whirlwind tour was over, I was more than ready to hunker down, spend time with my family again and begin to catch up on the voluminous pile of mail that had accumulated in my absence. Plus, the fall semester was about to start, and I had to begin to prepare my classes.

At that time I was happy to have published my book and receive all that attention, but I couldn’t conceive of continuing in that way. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do any more NDE research. Leave it to others!

But life had other plans for me.

Late that fall, my friend John Audette, who had introduced me to Raymond Moody and a few other researchers who had become interested in NDEs, came to Storrs, Connecticut, where the University of Connecticut is located. He came to ask me a favor. Would I be willing to take over the fledgling NDE organization he had been running so that he could conduct his own NDE research? I agreed, but only if I could rebrand, expand and rename the organization. Thus was IANDS – The International Association for Near-Death Studies – born. John and Bruce Greyson were very much a part of this undertaking – it wouldn’t have happened without their involvement – but it was my responsibility to set it up, recruit volunteers to help me run it, find space for it at the university and oversee its day-to-day operations as well as edit the NDE journal that I had launched. My hands – all four of them – were full to overflowing.

Not long afterward, when John paid another visit to the university, he told me something that really intrigued me. He happened to mention that Raymond Moody had come across some NDErs who claimed to have had visions during their NDEs not just of their personal future, but that of the planet.

But what was particularly compelling to me was that these visions apparently were all pretty much the same, as if different people were somehow “tapping into” the same future scenario for the earth. Not only that, but what they were reporting was alarming.

Of course at that time many people were concerned about such things as nuclear war (the Cold War was still causing such anxieties) or environmental degradation of various kinds, but what Moody was finding was different – his sample of NDEr visionaries claimed actually to have seen the shape of what was to come, and it spooked them. I listened to John’s riveting account of some of these visions, and I remember thinking, "Hang it, I’ve got to look into this." I didn’t care how busy I was. I would find a way to check this out.

Nevertheless, I would have to wait a bit. Not only did I have to spend many hours at the helm of the ship of IANDS, but I also had to honor my teaching and other academic obligations. I would have to wait until our spring break when I could get away for a while. But I had already reached out to Raymond to tell him of my interest to talk to some of the NDErs who claimed to have these planetary visions. No one had really begun systematically to investigate and collect these putative visions, and I was eager to volunteer. Raymond was delighted to furnish me with the names and contact information of a few of these people so come March of 1981, I was off to the south to check them out.

My first stop was to Aiken, South Carolina, where I first met Dannion Brinkley (you’ll remember I mentioned him and that meeting in my previous blog). After that, I travelled to Georgia where I was able to meet Belle and learn to love grits. But there were others down that way whom Raymond also had put me in touch with. For example, there was a fellow named Andy who, like Dannion, had had an NDE as a result of being struck by lightening. He was less fortunate than Dannion, however, losing an arm and having to use a wheelchair. Andy was another fascinating character, however. He was uneducated, but he came back with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge, as other NDErs often report. And he, too, had been given a vision of the earth’s future. I really liked this guy and his girlfriend whose name I never learned but whom he called “Snow White.” Snow White, a coy and fetching blonde, seemed to subsist mainly on sugar cubes and Coca-Cola (remember I was in Georgia, the birthplace of Coca-Cola). There were times when I felt I had walked into Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre and was meeting characters from that novel. Honestly, I had a ball on that trip to the south; everyone I met had enchanted me.

But I was also learning a lot about these planetary visions, and they were the opposite of enchanting. We will get to that soon.

In any event, after that excursion I was to find quite a few other people who had had planetary visions, some of whom I was able to interview. But when I couldn’t arrange to see them, I could still gather relevant information through phone calls, cassette tapes and correspondence. By the end of the year, I had managed to locate sixteen people who were able to describe for me their vision of the planet’s future.

Over the next few years, I continued to find several more such accounts and by 1988, I had about two dozen in my collection. Meanwhile, some other researchers were following my lead. An English researcher I knew, Margot Grey, reported a few more in 1984, and her findings were virtually identical to mine. More recently, several other researchers have also collected and collated such cases and all of them likewise have confirmed my initial findings. We all were hearing the same stories. If you’d like to look into these more recent studies, you may wish to download an ebook from by Robert and Suzanne Mays based on their 2019 presentation entitled “Prophetic Visions in Near-Death Experiences: Warnings For Our Times.” There is also an excellent compilation of and commentary on these cases by my webmaster, Kevin Williams, on his website that can be found here: And while you’re at it, you may also want to visit Kevin’s splendid website itself, which has loads of fascinating content. You can check it out at

In my own publications on this topic, I have generally used the generic term prophetic visions (PVs) when discussing these experiences and I will use that terminology for the remainder of this blog. So what have we learned about PVs?

To begin with, PVs differ from PFs (personal flashforwards) in two principal ways: (1) PVs refer to future events that have a global rather than a personal focus; and (2) they are highly consistent from person to person. This latter characteristic makes them especially remarkable. That is, just as NDEs mostly seem to reflect a prototypical pattern, first identified by Raymond Moody, so do PVs. Indeed, I personally have not found a single exception to this general pattern of PVs, which I will delineate in a moment, nor, to my knowledge, have other researchers. It is not just this overall consistency, however, that makes PVs so remarkable. Rather, it is their specific apocalyptic content that arrests one’s attention as well as arousing one’s anxieties about the future.

So, finally, what is the general scenario that is recounted by people who experience these PVs?

I have already indicated that the broad outlines of PVs are much the same for different individuals. Indeed, PVs—as an aspect of NDEs—are analogous to NDEs as a whole in the sense that though no two are identical, the elements that comprise them occur again and again and form a coherent pattern. Here now is a succinct delineation of that pattern:

There is, first of all, a sense of having total knowledge, but specifically one is aware of seeing the entirety of the earth's evolution and history from the beginning to the end of time. The future scenario, however, is usually of short duration, seldom extending much beyond the beginning of the twenty-first century. The individuals report that during this period there will be an increasing incidence of earthquakes, volcanic activity, and generally massive geophysical changes. There will be resultant disturbances in weather patterns and food supplies. The world economic system will collapse, and the possibility of nuclear war or accident is very great (respondents are not agreed on whether a nuclear catastrophe will occur). All of these events are transitional rather than ultimate, however, and they will be followed by a new era in human history marked by human brotherhood, universal, love, and world peace. Though many will die, the earth will live. While agreeing that the dates for these events are not fixed, most individuals felt that they were likely to take place during the 1980s, particularly around the year 1988.

To give one specific example, here’s a brief summary from one of Margot Grey’s respondents:

There are going to be a lot of upheavals such as earthquakes and volcanoes occurring in the next few years, which are going to get increasingly worse. I was given to understand that these activities are a reflection of all the social upheaval and violence that is going on all over the world at the moment.

Among the many volcanic eruptions that are going to occur, I saw the one that just occurred in Hawaii. As I saw the pictures on the television, it was really quite uncanny, as I had already seen it taking place during the vision I had seen at the time of my NDE.

There are going to be serious food shortages around the world due to droughts in many places. This will push the price of food up so that many people will have to start going without things that they have always taken for granted.

There are going to be very severe droughts in many countries. Others are going to suffer from freak storms that will cause tidal waves or flooding to happen as a result of unnaturally heavy rainfall … All in all, the weather is going to be very unpredictable from now on, in fact these disturbances in the weather patterns have already started.

This PV was reported during the 1980s, almost forty years ago, but it easily could have come today from watching the weather reports on your favorite network’s daily news program. That’s what makes these PVs seem so eerily prescient.

Here are a few more brief comments from my own sample of PV cases that also seem to reflect what is currently happening in our world. The geophysical changes they report would naturally be expected to bring about a host of meteorological disruptions in their wake. These changes, too, have been glimpsed by near-death survivors who report PVs. 

Oh, my God, that's going to be terrible. The weather is going to go crazy. We're just as likely to have snow in the middle of the summer as one-hundred-degree weather … I see droughts in other countries. 

I think around 1984, 1985, possibly even sooner, [we'll see] the beginnings of droughts. I guess we are even suffering some of that now [1980].

Such drastic changes in the world's physical state will necessarily disrupt commerce and, indeed, every aspect of global life. Famine, social disorder, and economic collapse will be the result. 

Here is just one brief summary by one of my respondents of these foreseen effects: 

We'll start getting more droughts, which will bring about shortages in crops, and the shortage in crops will cause food prices to rise, which will cause a strain on the economic situation, which is already going downhill. Also, at the same time … because of the shortage of food and the failing economy, I see a strengthening of arms, which causes tension ... These kinds of hostilities and [increasing] inflation start more hostilities.

And to amplify this last point and bring it to bear on what is happening today in Ukraine, this is what Dannion Brinkley had to say forty years ago:

Watch the Soviet Union. How the Russian people go, so goes the world. What happens to Russia is the basis for everything that will happen to the economy of the free world.

Before we tackle the possible significance of these PVs for our own time, there is one more facet of these PVs I need to discuss.

One really fascinating aspect of my research on PVs – and Margot Grey found the same thing in her study – is that many of the reports we were given tended to focus on one single year, 1988, when a lot of these catastrophic effects would culminate. Even George Ritchie who had his NDE in 1943 made a point of mentioning the year 1988, which obviously was forty-five years in the future at that time.   One has to wonder why so many of these PVs tended to converge on this particular year. What was it about that year, 1988?

I happen to remember it well. That summer I drove across the country from Connecticut to Colorado with my then wife, Barbara, who had taught for ten years at the University of Colorado University, which is located in Boulder. We spent the summer there, often hiking in the Flatirons around the city. It was uncommonly hot that summer, and I remember on our way home, in our non-air-conditioned car, how beastly and oppressively hot it was. Everybody was talking about the heat that summer. And, incidentally it was that same year that James Hansen, the now famous climate scientist, first warned us (and Congress) of the dangers of what was then called "global warming." I also remember reading an article a few years later that presented evidence that there was in fact an unusual amount of volcanic and other geological activity that year.

Had Margot’s and my PV experiencers somehow been able to “tap into” these portentous weather-related disruptions – clearly the precursors of things to come that have now arrived in our own time like one of the avenging horsemen of the apocalypse?

Of course, the worst of these PV prophecies did not manifest in 1988, but, still, that year did seem to mark the beginning of our dawning awareness of the perils of climate change. Did we somehow manage to “dodge a bullet” that year, only to have it come speeding our way in the decades since?

After all, as Kevin Williams astutely points out in his 2019 article on the subject:

A successful apocalyptic prophecy is one that doesn’t happen.

The goal of apocalyptic prophecy is to warn people to prevent it from happening. The reason prophecies are given to humanity is to change current trends and change enough people so that the prophecy will be diverted. Well-known prophecies that were foretold to occur around the millennium have not happened. Skeptics point out that this proves these prophecies to be false, but … because the prophecy gives an exact date, the prophecy may still be valid and the date may be wrong.

This is an important point. Remember how much emphasis I have already given to the fact that in NDEs there is no time. There is no real way to accurately translate into an earthly time frame events that appear to a person undergoing an NDE or a PV. So it is at least possible that the persons I interviewed back in the early 1980s were truly tuned into the shape of things to come, but had been in error about when they would manifest. From everything I have presented in this blog, there is an almost inescapable presentiment that that time is – now.

But hold on. Let’s pause the talk of earthly doom and destruction for a moment. We still haven’t discussed what to make of these experiences. In my book, Heading Toward Omega, and in some of the articles I’ve written on this topic, I consider a range of interpretative possibilities for these PVs. For those, I will have to refer you to my book; we don’t have the space for such an extended discussion here. Instead, I will just offer a few final points for your consideration and possible subsequent rumination.

First, many, if not all, persons who have experienced a PV are agreed that our planetary future is not absolutely fixed. (Kevin Williams provides many such examples of this view.) PVs have the form, if x continues, then y is likely, but if x changes, so does y. Planetary cataclysm isn’t fated to occur; it can still be averted. Our current dark time doesn’t necessarily have to turn to black.

Second, when I first was researching this topic, I myself did not take these PVs literally. I thought there were other ways that they could be understood. The fact that these people were agreed on the globally cataclysmic events that they foresaw in their visions certainly had to be acknowledged and confronted, but I could not persuade myself that we were locked into some kind of doomsday scenario. And I still can’t.

To be sure, the future of our planet now does not look inviting. How many of us who have a chance to live until the year 2050, say (count me out; I will be long gone by then), look forward to life on an increasingly, perhaps unbearably, hot planet then? 

Nevertheless, individually and collectively, we human beings have agency. We do not have to be fatalistic and passive about the future. We can – and we must – take action to spare our dear and precious earth from the peril it now is in. So I suggest that we take these PVs as warnings, not as forecasts of something inevitable. The fate of the earth may now be threatened by disaster, but if we have the will and the courage, we can still change the shape of things to come.

March 15, 2022

The Life Review in Reverse: Visions of the Future

By Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.

Many studies have shown that after an NDE many people become psychic or claim to be more psychic than they already were. It is not uncommon for them to report various precognitive experiences, for example, in which they see events about to take place. And often they do, just as they had seen in their precognitive vision. For instance, you may remember the Challenger explosion that took place in January, 1986 in which all seven astronauts were killed. I can recall at least three NDErs telling me afterward that they had seen this before it happened. 

How is this possible? Well, remember that during an NDE there is no sense of time. NDErs leave the illusory prison of earthbound time and enter the freedom of eternity, which is not everlasting time, but timelessness itself. In short, during their NDE, they have transcended the limitations of earthly time. And given that, it becomes theoretically possible for them to see into the future, and to experience future events in their lives before they happen. But when they do occur it is often with a sense of déjà vu. For instance, as a child a boy sees the woman he is to marry. He understands that this woman is to be his wife. And when he meets that woman much later in life, he not only recognizes her, but knows he is to marry her. Same with his kids. He has seen them too. 

In my work with NDErs, I have encountered quite a few cases of this kind, and so have other researchers. I first discussed them in my book, Heading Toward Omega, where I referred to them as life previews or personal flashforwards. In other words, these are life reviews in reverse. Instead of experiencing scenes that have already taken place in one’s life, one gets glimpses of events still to come. This is the topic of this blog, so now let’s delve more deeply into this subject before considering a few of these uncanny stories in some detail.

Personal flashforwards (PFs) usually occur within the context of an assessment of one's life during an NDE, although occasionally the PF is experienced as a subsequent vision. When it takes place while the individual is undergoing an NDE, it is typically described as an image or vision of the future. It is as though the individual sees something of the whole trajectory of his life, not just past events. The understanding I have of these PFs is that to the NDEr they represent events of a conditional future—i.e., if a person chooses to return to life, then these events will ensue. In this sense, from the standpoint of an NDEr, a PF may be likened to a "memory" of future events. For him, however, it is seemingly a part of his "life design" that will unfold if he returns to physical life.

In other cases an individual will report awareness of knowledge of a future event after the NDE itself. In some instances, the knowledge will manifest itself (again, usually visually and vividly) shortly after an NDE; in other cases, the individual will recall the knowledge only when or shortly before the actual event happens. In such instances (this kind of occurrence has been related to me by several NDErs) it seems the event itself jars the memory of it, bringing back the NDE context in which the original perception was given. At such moments there is usually an uncanny sense of déjà vu; the event that had already been experienced is now fulfilled in fact, and its realization is accompanied by the shock of absolutely certain prior knowledge of its outcome. 

Some case histories of personal flashforwards

Let me begin with a short case history that was graciously provided to me by my friend and NDE colleague, David Sunfellow, whom I have mentioned in my last two blogs.

It concerns a man named Bill McDonald who had a profound NDE at the age of eight when he was in the hospital suffering from multiple health issues so severe that his parents were warned that their child was not likely to survive. 

Here is how Bill summarizes what he experienced at the time:

"I found myself sitting up in this big ball of light. The room was nothing but light, bright light. I was shown things and taken on a journey … I was shown things, and everything that I learned actually transpired 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, even 50 years plus later. In fact, I was shown a whole panorama of the major events in my life up to the age 59. It only went to age 59. Where I was living, who I was going to marry, the Vietnam War."

He then goes on to elaborate:

"I’m seeing all these scenes. The John F. Kennedy assassination, though I didn’t know who he was. This was in 1954 or 1955. [Kennedy was killed in November, 1963.]  And I was seeing the Vietnam War with battle scenes and helicopters … I’m seeing my future houses, jobs. I’m seeing my wife. I was eight years old. I hadn’t met her yet! [I knew] I’d recognize her, and I did. My wife, I saw my children. I was going out in my life about fifty years. The next fifty years was like a constant déjà vu."

There were some things he remembered just before they happened. For example, in high school Bill tells his principal that "they are going to kill the President next week. I see it in black and white, just like on a TV screen.” He’s not taken seriously of course and just told to return to his classroom. But then “And the next week he’s killed."

I’ve investigated other cases that provide much more detail about these life previews. In what follows I will select three from my own research.

A case that will serve to illustrate several of the typical features of these PFs was provided to me by a woman who lives in the Midwest. Please note just how specific were her glimpses of her life to come.

Her near-death crisis resulted from a torn cervix while giving birth to her youngest child in 1959. During her NDE she was met by various beings who conveyed knowledge to her. In particular, she noted: 

"I learned that there is a time for me to die, and that particular time when I was giving birth was not it. Those beings showed me that if I continued down the path I was on at that time (it seems that I have complete freedom of choice) I would later be living HERE and DOING THIS. I found myself in a place that was not [the town I expected to move to] and all three of our children were grown up. My husband and I had become middle-aged, and the entire scenario went like this: 

"I was in a kitchen tossing a salad, dressed in a striped seer-sucker outfit. My hair had streaks of silver in it, my waist had thickened some, but I was still in good shape for an older woman. There was a strong feeling of peace of mind about my bearing, and I was in a joyful mood, laughing with my older daughter as we prepared dinner. The younger daughter (the newborn) had gone somewhere with some other children. This daughter was grown up too, but still there were some small children involved who were not in the picture at the moment (i.e., in 1959). My husband had just come out of the shower and was walking down a hallway wrapping a robe around him. He had put on more weight than I had and his hair was quite silver. Our son was mowing our lawn, but both offspring were only visiting. They didn't live with us. 

"During this scene was the only time an exception was made regarding the five physical senses. As I gained the knowledge of what our family would be like in the future, I could see, hear, and smell. Particularly striking was the smell of the salad I was producing (cucumber) mingled with the smell of evergreens growing around the house and the odor of freshly cut grass. Also I could detect my own cologne and soap from the shower my husband had vacated. This picture was only a glimpse, but it made one huge impression on me. I must have vowed right then to never forget it, because I certainly have not."

This correspondent added this intriguing follow-up commentary: 

1. We look exactly like that right now (in 1981). 

2. Our kids look like that picture too. 

3. The rapport in our family is now as I've already described. We have a ball whenever we get together, talking and laughing. 

4. Our older daughter has been married, had two daughters of her own, and been divorced. While she was being divorced and making a new life for herself with a job, I've helped her with raising the two small girls by babysitting every day for two years. They are very much a part of our family. 

5. Our home here in [the town she lives in] could fit that description too. I only wish I had paid more attention to the way the house was built. 

Another case that exemplifies most of the characteristics of finely detailed PFs is this one, sent to me by a correspondent living in the western part of the United States. As a ten-year-old child, in his native England, he was rushed to a hospital and operated on for acute appendicitis (possibly peritonitis—he is not sure). During the operation he had an NDE during which he had an out-of-body experience (at which time he could see his body) as well as an episode involving telepathic communication with beings who seemed to be clothed in robes.

What makes this individual's experience noteworthy is what happened to him afterward. He writes: 

"After the operation, when convalescing, I was aware that there were some strange memories—and that's what they were—concerning events in my future life. I do not know how they got there … they were just there … However, at that time [1941], and indeed until 1968, I simply did not believe them."

His letter goes on to describe five specific "memories" of the future he had been aware of as a child. He claims all of them have actually come about as events in his life, except for the last (which pertains to his age at and circumstances of his death). I shall quote his account of the first two of these flashforwards. 

1. You will be married at age twenty-eight. 

"This was the first of the 'memories,' and this was perceived as a flat statement—there was no emotion attached to it … And this did indeed happen, even though at [my] twenty-eighth birthday I had yet to meet the person that I was to marry."

2. You will have two children and, live in the house that you see. 

"By contrast to the prediction, this was felt; perhaps 'experienced' is the correct term. I had a vivid memory of sitting in a chair, from which I could see two children playing on the floor in front of me. And I knew that I was married, although in this vision there was no indication of who it was that I was married to. Now, a married person knows what it was like to be single, because he or she was once single, and he or she knows what it's like to be married because he or she is married. But it is not possible for a single person to know what it feels like to be married; in particular, it is not possible for a ten-year-old boy to know what it feels like to be married! It is this strange, impossible feeling that I remember so clearly and why this incident remained in my mind. I had a 'memory' of something that was not to happen for almost twenty-five years hence!  But it was not seeing the future in the conventional sense, it was experiencing the future. In this incident the future was now."

(He then provides a floor plan of the room he and his children were in and refers to it in what follows.) 

"In this 'experience' I saw directly in front of me, and to the right as indicated. I could not see to the left, but I did know that the person that I was married to was sitting on that side of the room. The children playing on the floor were about four and three years old; the older one had dark hair and was a girl (adopted, as it turned out); the younger one had fair hair, and I thought it was a boy. But as it turns out, they are both girls. And I was also aware that behind the wall ... there was something very strange that I did not understand at all.  My conscious mind could not grasp it, but I just knew that something different was there. 

"This 'memory' suddenly became present one day in 1968, when I was sitting in the chair, reading a book, and happened to glance over at the children ... I realized that this was the 'memory' from 1941! After that I began to realize that there was something to these strange recollections. And the strange object behind the wall was a forced-air heater. These heating units were not—and to the best of my knowledge, are still not—used in England. This was why I could not grasp what it was; it was not in my sphere of knowledge in 1941."

Nevertheless, such apparent memories or intimations of the future are certainly provocative, and it is easy to appreciate the striking effect they must have on an individual when they are later actually confirmed. Nevertheless, a sticky methodological issue must be faced here before we can proceed with our delineation of PFs. Put baldly it is: How do we know these accounts are true? To be sure, there is scant reason to believe that all those persons who report PFs (and who usually aver that many of them were fulfilled) are simply making them up. At the same time, we must recognize that PFs typically have the form of unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable self-reports: A person alleges to have had a vision of a future event and then also claims that the event later took place. Accordingly, we seem to be left in the uncomfortable position of having to acknowledge that such reports sometimes are made but lack the means to determine the truth of the testimony given. 

In rare instances, however, a way can be found to circumvent this problem by compiling external corroborative evidence that independently supports the claim made by an NDEr. Fortunately, I have such a case involving a PF that I personally investigated some years ago when I was conducting some research in Georgia. At that time, I was to meet a woman I’ll call Belle who had been referred to me by Raymond Moody.

I wound up spending two days with Belle, and I will always be indebted to her, not only because of what she told me about her NDE, but because she introduced me to grits, which were delicious! I was then able to appreciate why many southerners rave about grits!

Anyway, here’s what you need to know about Belle besides her culinary skills. 

During her NDE she encountered guides who gave her considerable information about the future. What makes her NDE unique and of particular value here is precisely what she was shown. 

Specifically, she was "shown" a picture of Raymond Moody! She was given his full name and told that she would meet him when "the time was right" to tell him her story. 

Belle has lived her entire life in a small southern city, residing since 1971 in a home on a street one block long. Approximately eighteen months after her NDE, Raymond Moody, who was then beginning his medical studies, and his then wife, Louise, moved to the same city where Belle had grown up. To the same street! But since the Moodys lived at the other end of the block, years passed without any meaningful interaction between the Moodys and Belle.

Finally, four years after Belle's NDE, on Halloween night of 1975, Louise was preparing to take her elder son, Avery, trick-or-treating. Her husband had asked her, however, not to take him to any home unfamiliar to them. Meanwhile, up the block, Belle, who was feeling poorly, was saying to her husband: 

"Look, I placed these things [candies] there for the children when they come around, and no matter how cute you think they are, don't call me because I do not feel well tonight and I do not want to be bothered."

Belle describes what happened next: 

"He said OK, and sure enough, someone knocked on the door ... Louise didn't listen to Raymond, [and] Bill [her husband] didn't listen to me, so when the knock came on the door, my husband said, ‘Belle, you told me not to call you, but you've got to see this one!’ ’Oh, boy,’ I said, [and] I got up and went up front. I don't normally ask the children where they are from or who they are because I usually know them, but this one I did not know and I said, ‘What's your name, child?’ He looked up at me and said, ‘I'm Raymond Avery Moody, the third.’ Immediately his father appeared in my mind and it says ... now!"

Belle turned at once to Louise and said, "I need to talk with your husband." Louise, somewhat taken aback, apparently replied with words to the effect, "Oh, did you have one of those experiences Raymond is writing about?" Belle—who had no idea who Raymond Moody was but only knew he was the man to whom she was supposed to speak—asked Louise, "What experiences are you referring to?" When Louise said "near-death experiences," Belle said that she reckoned she did, since she had been pronounced dead. 

The outcome of this strange encounter was that shortly thereafter Raymond Moody was able to interview Belle, whose NDE is featured in his second book, Reflections on Life After Life. Ironically, at the time of their meeting in 1975, Moody's best seller-to-be, Life After Life, was still at the printer's, and Belle herself had no idea that she had just met the man whose name was destined to become synonymous with the study of near-death experiences. Furthermore, at the time Louise Moody independently confirmed all the essential details of Belle's reconstruction of this event. 

Belle herself concluded her account of this episode with these words: 

"It was two days before we got together and this was in November of 1975, and they left in April of 1976. We had become very close and loving friends from that point on. It seemed to be a heck of a waste of time not to have known him from 1971!"

Some implications of personal flashforwards

Personal flashforwards are certainly provocative and puzzling experiences, at least from the standpoint of our conventional understanding of time. But assuming the reports that I and other NDE researchers have unearthed are faithful accounts of people’s experiences, we must reckon with them and try to understand them in order to tease out their implications. 

Let me begin with one historical account that I believe offers us a significant clue to this mysterious phenomenon.

Those of you who remember reading one of my blogs about Helen Keller may recall that in one of them I mentioned the great Swedish scientist and seer, Emanuel Swedenborg. In any case, Swedenborg had many qualities in common with NDErs, including being extremely psychic. Because he was famous, most of his psychic experiences were well documented and verified. He really was able to see into the future.

Many of these stories can be found in Wilson van Dusen’s book, The Presence of Other Worlds, which is an excellent introduction to Swedenborg’s life, work and religious teachings. Here I will just quote one such story which is particularly apposite to PFs. Van Dusen sets the scene this way:

[In February, 1772], John Wesley was preparing for a religious speaking tour and the Reverend Samuel Smith and others were assisting him. The gathering was interrupted by the arrival of a letter that Wesley opened and read with evident astonishment.


I have been informed in the world of spirits that you 
have a strong desire to converse with me; I shall be
happy to see you if you will favor me with a visit.

I am, sir, your humble servant,

Emanuel Swedenborg

Wesley told those gentlemen that he did want to see Swedenborg but had told no one of it. He answered Swedenborg, saying that the meeting would have to take place in six months, after his tour. Swedenborg wrote back that he could not meet him at that time, for he was to die on the twenty-ninth of the next month, which, of course, he did.

How did Swedenborg know the exact day he was destined to die? I say "destined" because it seems that he was particularly aware of something that may be true for all of us. Namely, that our lives seem to have some kind of pre-set "design" or life plan, and that when NDErs transcend time, some of them get glimpses of what’s in store for them, just as we have seen in the PFs we have reviewed. How the trajectory of our lives is orchestrated in this way – and when (for example, before we are born?) – is something we can only speculate about. But that our future has already been "laid out," at least in its broad outlines, seems quite plausible in the light of these PFs. 

Of course, it’s not that everything is fixed. It can also be that some things can change depending on the choices we make. There could be, for example, alternative pathways through our lives depending on those decisions, as seem to be suggested by some NDEs I have examined. For example, during some NDEs, a person might be shown what would happen if he choses to remain in the Light rather than return to his body and physical life.

Here’s another way to understand this. Imagine that you, a woman named Sarah, are actually a character in a novel. As that person, you undergo certain experiences. Say, you get pregnant in high school, have an abortion at seventeen, marry at twenty, have several children, divorce at thirty-five, develop breast cancer at forty-seven, and so on. You go through these experiences, but of course, you have no foreknowledge of them.

But now suppose that, for a moment outside of time, you have the perspective of the author. As the author of Sarah’s life, you know exactly what she will experience, even if she doesn’t. In a PF, it’s as if you suddenly see your life from that perspective because you are no longer trapped in time and your little local awareness. What seems to be your future from a limited earthly point of view is understood in an entirely different way when you have transcended the illusion of time. It’s then that you can see events that are a part of your destiny, just as Swedenborg was able to know his exact death day.

To conclude, some final brief cautionary tales.

First, don’t think that having awareness of future events and psychic experiences generally is necessarily a blessing to be coveted. Often it is the opposite. It can be unwanted, even distressing, foreknowledge. For example, Tom Sawyer was particularly sensitive to impending airplane crashes. He could “see” them before they happened, but he could never be sure just where or when they would occur. What was he supposed to do with this knowledge – call the FAA and tell them that there was to be a crash somewhere, sometime soon? He was actually tormented by this knowledge, and devastated when the crash occurred.

Second, and then there was "the man who knew too much." I refer to a case that was sent to me about a man who was shown “the book of his life“ during his NDE, but was told he must not look at it. But, like a modern Orpheus, he disobeyed and saw various events in his life that came to pass. He very much regretted having looked at that book; he said it really ruined his life. It was as if he had already lived it and had to go through it all over again. Nietzsche’s "eternal return" as hell.

Finally, some NDErs not only have something of a preview of their personal life, but seem to tap into knowledge of the planet’s future. And what they see tends to be deeply troubling, even frightening. I’m afraid we will have to acquaint ourselves with these prophetic visions in my next blog. What we all are going through now in our world seems to have been foretold in these visions.

March 8, 2022

Further Lessons of the Life Review -- and Ukraine

I am beginning to write this blog as the war in Ukraine enters its second week. I had considered postponing it, but then I realized that this terrible war will drag on for some time, so like many others who write articles, give speeches or offer sermons, I will simply revise what I had planned to say. Still, it is hard not to think about what is going on in Ukraine. We have all seen the images, some of which like the woman who gave birth in a metro subway or the ancient Russian woman protesting the war with her handmade signs being dragged away by a half dozen sturdy helmeted policemen have become almost iconic.   

We are all following the war on our TVs or phones, on Instagram and TikTok. It has become both visceral and addictive. We are spared the stench of war, but not its horror. We are spared the sight of dead bodies, but we know thousands have already died and additional thousands have been maimed or otherwise injured. We are spared from hearing the cries and moans of little sick and injured children in hospitals, but we can see them and their weeping mothers. And then there are over a million Ukrainians who are fleeing to other countries not knowing what their futures will be or if they will ever again see their husbands and sons who have stayed in or returned to Ukraine to fight for their homeland. 

These images of war mark our days and sometimes haunt our dreams. We are powerless to banish them just as we are powerless to prevent the bloodshed and carnage we are forced to witness. Collectively we weep for the Ukrainians even as we applaud their bravery and resolve.

No need to write more, but I will return with some final thoughts on Ukraine toward the end of this blog after we consider some further lessons of the life review, which we will now begin to explore.


A simple act of kindness, like a ripple in a pond, radiates from the giver throughout eternity.

In order to examine just a few of the most important lessons stemming from NDE-based testimonies about the life review, I will be drawing on three principal sources. To begin with, I will recount some of my own cases from my book, Lessons from the Light. Following those, I will avail myself of accounts from the compilation of NDE quotes provided by David Sunfellow as well as examples from Jeff Janssen’s extensive collection in his book, Your Life’s Ripple Effect.

Here’s the first lesson we will focus upon: What you thought was so important, wasn’t!

Here are just a few samples of this lesson for you to ponder:

You are shown your life – and you do the judging. Had you done what you should do. You think, “Oh, I gave six dollars to someone that didn’t have much and that was great of me.” That didn’t mean a thing. It’s the little things – maybe a hurt child that you helped to or just to stop to say hello to a shut-in. Those are the things that are important.

Instantly, my entire life was laid bare and open to this wonderful presence. “GOD.” I felt inside my being his forgiveness for the things in my life I was ashamed of, as though they were not of great importance. I was asked – but there were no words; it was a straight mental instantaneous communication – “what had I done to benefit or advance the human race?” At the same time all my life was presently instantly in front of me and I was shown or made to understand what counted. I am not going into this any further, but, believe me, what I had counted in life as unimportant was my salvation and what I thought was important was nil. 

I had a total, complete, clear knowledge of everything that had ever happened in my life … just everything, which gave me a better understanding of everything at that moment. Everything was so clear … I realized that there are things that every person is sent to earth to realize and to learn. For instance, to share more love, to be more loving toward one another. To discover that the most important thing is human relationships and love and not materialistic things. And to realize that every single thing that you do in your life is recorded and that even though you pass it by not thinking at the time, it always comes up later. For instance, you may be … at a stoplight and you’re in a hurry and the lady in front of you, when the light turns green doesn’t take right off, (she) doesn't notice the light, and you get upset and start honking your horn and telling them to hurry up. Those are the little kind of things that are really important.

David Sunfellow also provides quite a few examples, most of them briefer than the foregoing ones, that stress the same lesson.

In the life review we judge ourselves; no one else does. The Light/God did not. But with no ego left -- and no lies -- we can't hide from what we have done and feel remorse and shame, especially in the presence of this love and light. Some of the things in life we think of as important don't seem to be so important there. But some of the insignificant things from the material human perspective are very important spiritually.

I was shown it is not the big things we do in life that make the difference. All the little things we do each day make the difference. Little acts of kindness mean so much to God.
As the Being of Light moved away … I had gained the knowledge that I could use to correct my life. I could hear the Being's message in my head: “Humans are powerful spiritual beings meant to create good on the Earth. This good isn't usually accomplished in bold actions, but in singular acts of kindness between people. It's the little things that count, because they are more spontaneous and show who you truly are.”
One of the greatest light-bulb moments during my experience occurred when I learned “the smallest acts of kindness were immense acts,” spiritually speaking. Why? Simply because the ego is not involved in those acts. We do them simply because we are motivated by our inner voice to do them. It is the loving thing to do … Every day there are countless ways of elevating ourselves to a higher and more Divine Light-embodied soul-being simply by responding to the love within us through doing small acts of kindness.

So it’s just the little things we do, the things that we often don’t even give a second thought to, that really matter. It’s not at all what the world values as important that redounds to one’s credit spiritually. Let me give just one more example here that I can testify from my own life really did make a difference to me.

First, let me quote a story from one of Jeff Janssen’s cases:

I saw that the love we express ripples out, creating an everlasting beauty that is often unbeknownst to us at the time. I saw this happen when I spoke a heartfelt word, thought a truly kind thought or gave undivided attention to someone. I recall simple gestures having the most impact, like a spontaneous and genuine smile. For example, I smiled at a woman I passed on the street and it turned her day around. She had been feeling disheartened about life, and my smile changed her interactions later that day with her children and others.

I experienced this same effect one day when I was really down in the dumps, feeling tired, discouraged and in some fair degree of pain. I needed to go to my local market, however, and upon leaving, I happened to glance up and noticed a woman – she turned out to be a food consultant the store had hired – who suddenly flashed a beautiful and radiant smile at me. It struck me like a beam of warm loving light, and it immediately transformed my mood – and made my day. I later met this woman and we became friends. She eventually left the store, but I learned a few years later that she herself had been in a serious accident and had had an NDE.

A smile can change someone’s day from gloom to joy. I can vouch for that from my own experience. Think about that when you next encounter someone who looks as if he or she could use a hug. If that’s not possible, smile!

Next lesson: Spontaneous acts of selfless kindness involving nature matter more than you might ever have imagined.  

A few examples follow:

One example of my life review was when I was a little kid. We were traveling by car and stopped somewhere along the way. There was a river not far from the road and I was asked to go and bring some water in a bucket from that river. I went to fill up the bucket but on my way back, I felt that the bucket was way too heavy for me. I decided to empty some of the water to make the bucket lighter. Instead of emptying the water right there, I noticed a tree that was alone by itself in a dry patch of land. I took the effort to go out of my way to that tree and emptied some of the water at the tree base. I even waited there a few seconds to make sure the water is soaked in the soil and is absorbed. In my life review, I received such an applaud and joy for this simple act that it is unbelievable. It was like all the spirits in the universe were filled with joy from this simple act and were best things I had ever done in my life! This was strange to me, because I didn’t think this little act was a big deal and thought I had done much more important and bigger things. However, it was shown to me that what I had done was extremely valuable because I had done it purely from the heart, with absolutely no expectation for my own gain.

I learned about another such case from my invaluable webmaster, Kevin Williams, who had heard it from another dear longtime friend of mine, an NDEr named Kimberly Clark Sharp:

Kimberly Clark Sharp once shared an interesting near-death account of the life review of a woman who saw an event in her life as a child. The lesson the woman learned from her life review is that our actions which seem unimportant can be more important than we can imagine on the other side. When the woman was a little girl, she saw a tiny flower growing almost impossibly out of a crack in the sidewalk. She bent down and cupped the flower and gave it her full unconditional love and attention. When the girl became a woman and had an NDE, during her life review she discovered that it was this incident with the flower that was the most important event of her entire life. The reason was because it was the moment where she expressed her love in a greater, purer, and unconditional manner. 

We can see this same effect in actions taken toward another person, too. Here’s just one example:

The most important of my actions was an instant I would never have recalled except for the near-death experience … I had taken a child aside on a very hot day. And this was not a charming or a particularly lovable child. But I wanted this child to feel loved; I wanted this child to feel, really, the love of God that brought him into existence and that brought us all into existence … I took him aside and gave him something to drink and just spent some time with him … And that was the greatest of all actions. That filled with me with unspeakable and incomprehensible joy. And it was not an action that anyone noticed. And it was not an action that I even recalled. And it was not an action that I had done with any thought of reward. It was simply an action motivated by love. By selfless love.
And, finally, from our friend, Tom Sawyer:

I loved the appearance of a tree. In my life review I could experience a bit of what the tree experienced in my loving it, two little photons of love and adoration. It was somewhat like the leaves acknowledging my presence. Can a tree experience that? Yes, it can. Don't go kicking trees anymore! You do have that effect on plants. You do have an effect on animals. You do have an effect on the universe. And in your life review you'll be the universe and experience yourself in what you call your lifetime and how it affects the universe. 

Again we learn that our spontaneous loving acts in the natural world that we are drawn to express simply to show our care may possibly be among the most important gestures of our lives. What counts in our life review is the love we bestow on everything and everyone we come into contact with – especially when it is done without any expectation of reward or gain. It counts more than you could ever suppose, and you will see how much when you come to have your own life review. 

As I’ve mentioned here and discussed in my previous blog, Jeff Janssen’s new book, Your Life’s Ripple Effect, is replete with cases of the life review that show clearly that we are not single isolated individuals but a part of a huge web of interconnections, not only with other people, but with all of life. Indeed, as Tom Sawyer has told us and as other NDErs attest, everything is alive in our world, whether we realize it or not. So when we act, our actions can ripple through this web, they ramify and can affect others in ways we never knew or suspected – until we have our life review.

We’ve already begun to see this, but in this section, I want to draw attention to just one facet of this aspect of the life review – how our unkind, thoughtless or even cruel actions can do lasting damage, not just to the individual whom we hurt but to others as well. Truly, we know not what we do when we mistreat others. But we will find out when we have our life review.

Our third lesson: Think twice before you mistreat others because you will find that what you do will be returned to you with interest.

I saw myself at five years old. I was with my brothers and sisters and my neighborhood friend named Heidi … He picked up a stick and whacked a beehive and we all took off and ran. Everyone got into the public building, but the last one was Heidi. And I had a devious thought. I said, “I'm going to hold the door and not let Heidi in and see what happens to Heidi.” All those bees from that beehive, they stung the daylights out of Heidi. And every single bee sting I felt. I felt every sting. The burning sensation. The swelling. Her mother came to the public building scared and frightened. I felt all her fear. All her fright. All her rage. Her father came out there trying to figure out what [happened]. I felt it all. It rippled. I felt every single thing.

The life review continued all the way down to third grade. I was teasing a smaller girl … calling her names … she's standing against the wall crying … And now I'm on the receiving end, meaning I'm her … And not only am I feeling her sorrow and her pain, but I'm seeing, sensing, and feeling the pain and sorrow in her parents because she's now going to turn out as a shyer and more inward person … I am also feeling how my actions caused ripples far away, not just in her life, but in her parents’ lives, in her whole family, also in everyone around her. So, I really get a full spectrum of the full consequences -- all the links in the chain from spending a few minutes in a schoolyard teasing a girl.

I was a 10-year-old boy. I had bullied and mercilessly beaten another boy who was also around my age. He felt tortured and deeply hurt. In my life review, I saw that scene again. The boy was crying in physical and deep emotional pain. As he was walking in the street crying and going back home, he radiated negative energy which affected everything around him and on the path. People, and even birds, trees, and flies, received this negative energy from him, which kept propagating throughout the universe. Even rocks on the side of the street were affected by his pain. I saw that everything is alive and our way of grouping things in categories of “alive” and “not alive” is only from our limited physical point of view. In reality, everything is alive … When this boy went home to his parents, I saw the impact that seeing him in that state had on his parents. I felt the feeling and pain it created in them and how it affected their behavior from that point forward. I saw that as a result of this action, his parents would be always more worried when their son was away from home or if he was a few minutes late.

Space limitations preclude my expanding on this theme, so I can only encourage those of you who would like to go deeper into this and other aspects of the life review to get ahold of and read Jeff’s superlative book. Here’s how you can get a copy:

Right now, however, to conclude this blog, we have to consider some cases that do not just involve kids tormenting other kids but adults who do far worse, even heinous things. Here I’ll just provide two examples, but they will serve to make my point.

The first case comes from a book entitled Whole in One by my longtime colleague, David Lorimer. David is a distinguished English scholar of consciousness and a leader in the movement to establish a post-materialist science. Here’s one relevant story from his book.   

[A prisoner found during his life review that a scroll began to unroll before his vision and comments] And the only pictures on it were the pictures of people I had injured. It seemed there would be no end to it. A vast number of people I knew or had seen. Then there were hundreds I had never seen. These were people who had been indirectly injured by me. The minute history of my long criminal career was thus relived by me, plus all the small injuries I had inflicted unconsciously by my thoughtless words and looks and omissions. Apparently nothing was omitted in this nightmare of injuries, but the most terrifying thing about it was that every pang of suffering I had caused others was now felt by me as the scroll unwound itself.

Perfect justice, is it not? What you do unto others you truly do to yourself. The Golden Rule is not just a precept for moral conduct; it’s the way it works.  

Dannion Brinkley is a famous NDEr, the author of several books and someone who has had multiple NDEs. Some years ago, there was even a film based on his extraordinary life. I had heard about him for a few years before being able to spend several days with him in 1981 in Aiken, South Carolina, where Dannion then lived. I was not disappointed. He was one of the most memorable characters I was ever to meet in my forty years of NDE research. And we stayed in touch for many years before he passed out of my life.

When he was young, and before he had his first NDE, Danny was in the military. It was during the Vietnam war, though Danny didn’t spend much time in Vietnam. He was working as an intelligence officer mostly in Laos and Cambodia. His main job, he tells us in his book, Saved by the Light, “was to plan and execute the removal of enemy politicians and military personnel.”

Danny was an assassin. His job was to kill people.

One was a North Vietnamese colonel. Danny was able to shoot and kill him. He saw the colonel’s head explode and his body crumple to the ground.

Some years later, this scene cropped up during Danny’s life review. This is what he had to say about it:

I experienced this incident from the perspective of the North Vietnamese colonel … I felt his confusion at having his head blown off and sadness as he left his body and realized that he would never go home again. Then I felt the rest of the chain reaction – the sad feelings of his family when they realized they would be without their provider.

I relived all of my kills in just this fashion. I saw myself make the kill and then I felt its horrible results.

He goes on to say in a striking and frightening passage:

While in Southeast Asia I had seen women and children murdered, entire villages destroyed, for no reason or for the wrong reasons. I had not been involved in these killings, but now I had to experience them again, from the point of view not of the executioner, but the executed.

In another incident, he was not able to shoot his intended victim; instead he had to plant explosives in the hotel where this man was staying. The explosion did kill him, but it also took the lives of about fifty other people. Again, this event and its repercussions was played back for Danny in his life review.

… but this time, I was hit by a rush of emotion and information. I felt the stark horror that all of those people felt as they realized that their lives were being snuffed out. I experienced the pain that their families felt when they discovered that they had lost their loved ones in such a tragic way. In many cases I even felt the loss their absence would make in future generations.

Now I want to consider another war and another war criminal. I want to return to the war in Ukraine. I have a thought experiment to suggest to you.

I want you to imagine that Vladimir Putin is lying on his death bed.  

Let us further suppose that all we have learned about the life review is true.

Now I’m like you to imagine what kind of life review Vladimir Putin will undergo when he dies.

I will leave you to ponder that.