The Intermediate Stage

NDEs can shed some light on that twilight zone between physical and non-physical life. There are several common elements of such experiences (largely independent of culture, age, education, or religious affiliation) that are worth considering.

  • An OBE is, as a rule, a prelude to a NDE. Subjects report that they perceived the situation from a different point of view than where their bodies were, and were able to describe resuscitation procedures in detail (although they appeared unconscious and their eyes were shut). However, considering that an OBE can happen in other circumstances, these experiences do not say much about life after death, except adding to the argument that the body and mind cannot be identified.
  • Going through a tunnel or other passage with a bright light at the end is also commonly reported. Researchers do not provide an explanation of what this ‘tunnel' may be and whether it relates to something real (except misguided ones, such as that it is the memory of passing through the birth canal). One possibility is that the awareness shifts towards the other opening of the soul (towards non-material reality), but that would mean leaving the rings behind, which does not seem to fit well with the description of such experiences. Individuals sometimes tend to meet relatives and religious figures, which indicates a projection. Therefore, the rings must be involved, we do not lose our constructs immediately after death. A more plausible explanation could be that the soul goes through a tunnel that the rings themselves create. The purpose of it is to be able to maintain the rings in non-material reality. In other words, to minimise confusion and preserve one's own identity without the support of physical reality, dividing the two worlds is required. Such a separation is constructed as going through a tunnel or a corridor, and just as frequently, as crossing a river or a bridge.
  • Subjects often report that their lives passed in front of their eyes. The freeing of the soul from the body may cause energy shifts, so suppressed experiences can resurface. They can trigger such a swift succession of images that they cannot be distorted (as they are in dreams) and, therefore, resemble real memories. It is sometimes claimed that the whole life is repeated, but this is likely to be a result of later interpretations.
  • Acceptance of death and the sense of calm and purpose that can remain well after an experience and profoundly change the outlook on life of those who had them. These are non-interpretative phenomenological experiences that can be taken seriously. They make a difference between NDEs and pathological states that are sometimes invoked to explain NDEs. It is worth mentioning though, that even after an accident or serious illness that does not involve NDE people can have an enhanced sense of well-being and contentment. However, it is usually short lived and not accompanied by calm and acceptance or death as in the previous case.