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.
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 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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
… 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.