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In this episode we have the bizarre phenomena of Near Death Experiences to examine. The intense experience reported by about %25 of patients whose hearts are restarted after a short time of clinical death, has fascinated researchers for many years going right back to Plato. However, advances in cardiology techniques in the last 50 years have permitted doctors to save many more people, and thus to study the phenomenon in a controlled manner: so, exactly how many people have the experiences, exactly how dead they were at the time and so to start assessing the controversial part of this discussion, whether these experiences can be explained in simply neurobiological terms or if there is evidence that consciousness can ‘survive’ clinical death, if that is in fact the best way to talk about it.


So who better to help us understand this than cardiologist, scientist and author Dr. Pim Van Lommel from The Netherlands. During his 35 year career as a Cardiologist, Dr. Van Lommel saw the need for a detailed study on this to nail down the physiological variables like medication, length of time without oxygen and to connect those to the psychological data, about the content of the experiences and how long they remained influential in the patients lives.

The prospective study he spearheaded was published in the respected Lancet medical journal in 2001, and his book about the research ‘Consciousness beyond life, the science of the near death experience’ was published in 2007. He also recently won second prize in the Bigelow Foundation for consciousness studies essay prize, which discusses the study and its implications.

Full references and links below.


What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Intro

03:19 Common experiences during an NDE

05:30 NDEs are possible even when the brain is fully functional e.g. Fear of death emergency

06:44 Carl Jung’s NDE was the first description of viewing planet earth from above

07:45 Transformation of world view via NDE + STEs (Spiritually transformative experiences)

08:14 Scientific curiosity about NDEs in clinically dead brains

11:00 1988-1998 Pim’s medical and psychological study of NDEs

12:20 First prospective rather than usual retrospective study

14:30 Length of cardiac arrest irrelevant to occurence of NDE

16:15 All NDErs had the transformation, even if they didn’t remember the experience

17:15 Examining neurobiological explanations

27:45 Implications: consciousness must be non-local and the brain an interface

31:00 Continuity of consciousness NOT ‘Life after death’

32:45 Millions of people have after death communications but its taboo

35:00 For scientists its taboo, but they are not the minority

37:00 NDEs not related to religious beliefs

38:30 NDEers report heightened intuitive skill, empathy, precognition and telepathy

40:00 Thresholds of consciousness alter the normal waking consciousness

41:00 Access to non-local reality leaves a permanent trace in normal consciousness

45:20 Pim’s Bigalow Institute Essay Prize, 2nd Place

46:00 Organisations researching post-materialist science

49:00 The difficulty of the science of subjective experiences

50:00 An ongoing shift of approach towards post-materialist positions

51:00 Fear of professional scientists to speak publicly about this data

51:50 Is the information perceived in an NDE different to normal perceptive information?

54:00 Non-local information exchange

58:00 Lasting life changing world view transformation, even 8 years later

59:00 50% were unable to tell others about their NDE

59:30 Heightened sense of interconnection with nature and other beings - oneness

01:01:00 Life review: Experiencing from a different consciousness’ point of view



Pim’s book ‘Consciousness beyond life: the science of near death experiences’.

Pim’s medical and psychological study of NDE's


Pim’s Bigelow prize text

Carl Jung and Aniela Jaffe Memories Dreams and Reflections’, chapter 11 ‘On Life After Death’

An example article of Bruce Greyson’s extensive academic study of NDE’s

Bigalow Institute for Consciousness Studies

Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS)

The Journal of Consciousness Studies



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