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Who's in the Video

Dr. Bruce Greyson

Dr. Bruce Greyson is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the UVA School of Medicine. He served on the medical school faculty at the Universities of Michigan, Connecticut,[…]
  • Thousands of people across the world and throughout the centuries have reported near-death experiences (NDEs). Most NDEs share one common trait: an overwhelming sense of spirituality and connection with the Divine.
  • NDEs strongly hint at the existence of an afterlife, but not everyone agrees.
  • NDE research has raised more questions than answers. For example: Are we just physical machines, spiritual beings, or both? Does consciousness survive brain death?

BRUCE GREYSON: Most near-death experiencers around the world talk about an increased sense of spirituality after a near-death experience; by which they mean, roughly, a sense of connectedness to other people, to nature, to the Universe, to the Divine. One of the questions that people often ask about near-death experience is whether they provide proof that we survive death. They don't provide proof for other people. They certainly provide proof for the experiencer, but not for the rest of us. But there are some experiences that do provide something that's at least evidence, if not proof. And those are cases in which the experiencer encounters a deceased individual who was not known at the time to have died. 

One person that I know, Jack, was hospitalized in his mid-twenties, and he had one nurse who worked with him every day. And one day, she told him that she was going to be taking the long weekend off, and there'd be other nurses substituting for her. And while she was gone, he had another respiratory arrest where he had to be resuscitated. And during that arrest, he had a near-death experience in which he found himself in a beautiful pastoral scene, and there to his surprise was this nurse, Anita, walking towards him and she said, "Jack, you can't stay here with me. You need to go back into your body. And I want you to find my parents, and tell them that I love them and I'm sorry I wrecked the red MGB." He then woke up back in his body in his hospital bed- tried to tell this to the first nurse who walked into his room. She got very upset and left the room in a hurry. It turned out that this nurse of his, Anita, had taken the weekend off to celebrate her birthday, and her parents had surprised her with a gift of a red MGB for her 21st birthday. She got very excited, jumped in the car, took off for a drive, lost control, crashed into a telephone pole, and died just a few hours before Jack's near-death experience. Now, there's no way he could have known or expected that she was going to be dead. And certainly, no way he could have known how she died- and yet he did. And that seems to be evidence that something about this nurse, Anita, still persisted after her death, and was able to communicate accurate information to Jack. 

Does that mean we live forever? Not necessarily. It certainly means something about our minds can survive death of the body, at least for a time. Virtually every near-death experiencer that I've talked to has said without any doubt in their minds, that we do continue after death. No matter how they describe their NDE, they describe having existed without their physical bodies. When their physical bodies were essentially dead, and yet they were feeling better than ever. There's got to be more to the world than just the physical realm to explain these events. I think the ultimate question raised by near-death experiences is: What are we as human beings? Are we just physical machines? Are we spiritual beings? Are we some amalgam of both? I don't know the answers, but now I'm much more comfortable with not having the answers. I think the important part of near-death experiences is what they tell us about this life we're in now. That we're all interconnected. That we aren't individual people, but we're part of something greater.