Hieronymous Bosch, Ascent of the Blessed
Text copyright Jonathan Zap, 2010
Editor: Austin Iredale
“Our ideas about death define how we live our lives.”
“And Death, which alike levels all, alike impresses all with a last revelation, which only an author from the dead could adequately tell.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1851. 530.
If you want to learn about what’s at the core of life, the essential and ultimate universal values beneath all the distractions, deceptions, and delusions, then ask the living dead. No, I don’t mean zombies. From my experience, zombies have little to offer when it comes to finding the deeper meaning of life. I am referring instead to the testimony of near-death experiencers, people who have been physically dead for short periods of time, glimpsed human incarnation from the outside, and come back to their bodies.
Extensive research has shown that near-death experiences have classic, universal elements and that near-death experiencers are usually profoundly and positively transformed as a result. Research also shows that parallel positive effects can occur in people just by reading about NDEs. As Dr. Kenneth Ring (professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Connecticut) put it:
“In general, the overall pattern of our data here gives us a strong suggestion that merely acquiring knowledge about NDEs can act like a ‘benign virus’; that is, by exposing yourself to NDE-related information, you can ‘catch it,’ because the NDE appears to be contagious” (LL 203).
At the end of this document, I will provide my sources, a brief list of the books, and videos I recommend for “catching it.” This document centers around the first-person testimony of experiencers and leaves out many key findings that can be found in the sources I list at the end. There will also be a much more thorough discussion of NDEs in my upcoming book on the Singularity Archetype.
Now that I’ve put my book, Crossing the Event Horizon–Human Metamorphosis and the Singularity Archetype on this website free, I’m replacing the body of this article with this link to chapter three of that book, which is more up to date: