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135 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touches all bases
It is difficult to understand how mainstream science can continue to ignore or reject the implications of the near-death experience (NDE) in light of the evidence and arguments made by Dr. Pim van Lommel in this most comprehensive book. Dr. van Lommel seemingly touches all bases in exploring the various phenomena related to the NDE.

Having grown up in an...
Published on June 27, 2010 by Michael E. Tymn

versus
47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Dreams May Come...
This is definitely one of the better books yet written about "consciousness beyond life." However, the startlingly small percentage of NDEs gathered by Pim van Lommel,M.D. and his study group is surprising - and not in a good way - the good way being if practically every person who is declared officially dead had experienced even some of the elements of the classic...
Published on August 23, 2010 by Richard Masloski


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135 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touches all bases, June 27, 2010
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
It is difficult to understand how mainstream science can continue to ignore or reject the implications of the near-death experience (NDE) in light of the evidence and arguments made by Dr. Pim van Lommel in this most comprehensive book. Dr. van Lommel seemingly touches all bases in exploring the various phenomena related to the NDE.

Having grown up in an academic environment, van Lommel, a world-renowned cardiologist practicing in The Netherlands, writes that he was of the reductionist and materialistic mindset before he began studying the NDE and the nature of consciousness. He has closely examined all the arguments made by the scientific fundamentalists and now has a more positive outlook. "That death is the end used to be my own belief," he writes. "But after many years of critical research into the stories of the NDErs, and after a careful exploration of current knowledge about brain function, consciousness, and some basic principles of quantum physics, my views have undergone a complete transformation. As a doctor and researcher, I found the most significant finding to be the conclusion of one NDEr: `Dead turned out to be not dead.' I now see the continuity of our consciousness after the death of our physical body as a very real possibility."

About the time I started reading this book, reports were appearing at various internet sites stating that there is now evidence that the NDE is nothing more than a brief spell of abnormal brain activity resulting from oxygen deficiency. This theory has been going around for years, but seems to get resurrected every few years as if it is new science. Van Lommel dismisses the theory, pointing out that the NDE is "accompanied by an enhanced and lucid consciousness with memories and because it can also be experienced under circumstances such as an imminent traffic accident or a depression, neither of which involves oxygen deficiency."

Van Lommel also addresses the skeptic's theory about the tunnel effect reported by many NDErs being caused by the disruption of oxygen supply to the eye, which gradually darkens one's range of vision. He points out that such a theory cannot explain the reports by NDErs that say that they meet deceased relatives in the tunnel. He tells why carbon dioxide overload, various chemicals, and other physiological theories do not account for the NDE. "When new ideas do not fit the generally accepted (materialist) paradigm, many scientists perceive them as a threat," van Lommel writes. "It is hardly surprising therefore that when empirical studies reveal new phenomena or facts that are inconsistent with the prevailing scientific paradigm, they are usually denied, suppressed, or even ridiculed."

A chapter of the book is devoted to quantum theory, which includes non-locality, or the idea that the mind operates outside of time and space and that what we in the physical plane interpret as reality is not reality at all. As van Lommel sees it, many aspects of the NDE correspond with or are analogous to some of the basic principles from quantum theory. "The findings of NDE research suggest the possibility that (nonlocal) consciousness is present at all time and will therefore last forever," van Lommel offers. "The content of a near-death experience suggests a continuity of consciousness that can be experienced independently of the body."

Something I have found particularly troubling over the years is the possibility that organs are being harvested before bodies are actually "dead," even though the person might be pronounced "clinically dead." Van Lommel devotes several interesting pages to the debate on this subject, pointing out that when brain death has been diagnosed, 96 percent of the body is still alive. While not in principle opposed to organ transplants, van Lommel suggests that more consideration should be given to the nonphysical aspects of organ donation, including the fear of death.

Over the past 35 years, NDE researchers like Drs. Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, Michael Sabom, Bruce Greyson, Melvin Morse, and others have build a very solid wheel, one that supports the survival hypothesis. Close-minded skeptics keep trying to make the wheel collapse by bending the spokes. Fortunately, we have newer researchers like Drs. van Lommel and Jeffrey Long ("Evidence of the Afterlife") coming along to demonstrate that the spokes are solid and the wheel secure.
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113 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book on the science of the near death experience, June 15, 2010
By 
Anne Rice (Palm Desert, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
Highly recommended. And the production information posted on Amazon is accurate. ----- Here is another excellent entry in the growing literature of doctors writing on the near death experience and arguing for its credibility. ----- Pim Van Lommel writes beautifully and eloquently, drawing on an abundance of materials with clarity and persuasion. His observations and conclusions are well worth reading for anyone fascinated by the growing body of evidence that consciousness transcends the physical. Chapter Ten of the book contains "A Comprehensive NDE: (by) Monique Hennequin" and is one of the most moving NDE accounts I've ever read. ---- This book is comprehensive enough to be your first book on the subject, and significant enough to be your latest. ---- There is no doubt in my mind that NDE research is some of the most important research of our time. I'm grateful to Pim Van Lommel for this substantive contribution to the field.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written Book, July 25, 2010
By 
Mary Bayerl (Northville, MI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
The explanations of Dr. van Lommel's conclusions are very well organized and presented. He gives credit to many other researchers and encourages continued research in this field. His own research project, carried on over 20 years, seems to have been very painstakingly done. This book leaves me hopeful and believing that we have much more to learn. I got lost in many of the technical sections, but I intend to reread "Consciousness Beyond LIfe" many more times and add it to any knowledge that I can obtain from all sources. I like that he says "In my opinion" and "I lean toward this conclusion", but when he believes that evidence is undisputable he questions how it could be otherwise.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read one non-fiction book this year, this is it!, January 25, 2011
This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
Please set aside any review(s) that belittle this book and make it out to be mere science fiction quackery. The holding on to long standing scientific theories is not what science defines itself as being. Defending scientific stances and tossing contradictions to these stances aside as being mere anomolies is nothing more than blatant ignorance and/or professional laziness. This book can be a revolutionary break through for all of humanity but, because science and religion have proved themselves to be very defensive of their long-standing positions, it will probably go unnoticed in both circles during our lifetimes. Hopefully many decades from now the theoreticians will look back on this writing and bemoan the fact that previous generations were so close-minded to the obvious truths about consciousness and ultimate reality. We have an ongoing history of many incidences of not seeing the forest because of the trees (i.e. Galileo and Einstein).

The author, as myself, has spent timely parts of the past two decades NOT looking for the a fairy tale ending to our physical lives but, instead, have searched for an ultimate truth to our existence. While this concept may, indeed, go against the prevailing paradigms of the scientific community, it is one that not only draws from countless experiments and theoretical insights that have taken place, but draws heavily on our natural, common sense. If the Occam's Razor principal is correct, and it is yet to be proven false, the simplest reasoning for our existence and the process of consciousness is the inclusive theories that are put forth by this text. I heartily say "Bravo!" to the author for both the work that this text entailed but also for the razor sharp conclusions that he has reached. No, these theories may not ever be proven due to our living in a three dimensional world that relies on our limiting three dimensional measuring tools. But the multi-dimensional world of string theory does exist and the nonlocal consciousness can, and probably is, an intricate part of this phenomenon.

Having had an NDE myself, I, as the other examples in this book, fully realize that the medical and scientific 'proofs' to these occurrences are either false or inadequate. An NDE is a REAL experience, an event that escapes descriptions because of our linguistic limitations and that, most importantly, life, as we have come to know it, is not the materialistic reality of the universe(s). We cannot, and should not, ignore the basics that quantum mechanics has brought to our attention over the past decades. Matter is brought into existence only through conscious observation and nonlocal consciousness (aka wave patterns) that uses the brain as a conduit for physical actions and emotional responses. This is the clearest picture of reality that has been presented to date. Nor should we ignore personal experiences simply because they cannot be fully measured under complete scientific standards. Thought, emotions, relationships and experiences cannot be fully weighed on a laboratory scale nor fully measured by a metric tool, but yet they are as real as the scientist himself.

I, personally, want to thank the author for not only going against his reductionistic peers and risking his reputation in the process, but also in his stance against the dogmatic religionists who also fail to adjust their paradigms when presented with challenging counter-examples to their tenets. As the author states from an interviewed patient; "Dead is not dead.". I would like to add to this simplistic and revealing thought that "Life is not life in the way we presently view it either." Keep your mind and your thoughts open to the possibilities of life and use today's popular opinions as stepping stones to further knowledge and not as anchors to our present and limited thoughts.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Dreams May Come..., August 23, 2010
By 
Richard Masloski (New Windsor, New York USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
This is definitely one of the better books yet written about "consciousness beyond life." However, the startlingly small percentage of NDEs gathered by Pim van Lommel,M.D. and his study group is surprising - and not in a good way - the good way being if practically every person who is declared officially dead had experienced even some of the elements of the classic NDE.

I found the discussion arguing for the brain's being more of a receiver of consciousness than a transmitter more valuable than the scarce accounts of NDE experiences offered in this book. Most books on this subject relate the classic tale of a NDE patient floating from her body and seeing a sneaker high up on an outside ledge of the hospital where she was being operated on and at some point declared "dead" - and in this book we are told a story of a "dead" man seeing where the nurse put his dentures. Both stories are the epitome of attempting to prove the NDE and OBE (out of body experience) - yet both stories are old tales without any substantially documented attempt to prove their reality. The hidden code - placed high up towards the ceiling in many operating rooms throughout the world - has yet to be seen by anyone, despite accounts of the tunnel, the light, the life review and the meeting with people who have already crossed over being recounted once revived. But was it just a dream of the "dying" or "dead" person or simply a chemical being released by the brain? The NDE has yet to be proven as an actual experience - and not just the sign of a creative imagination.

Having said that, the author's strongest case for the brain being a receiver and not merely a transmitter is in his discussion of neuroplasticity wherein thoughts can actually change a brain. If thoughts can actually change a brain's structure, then the thoughts must be coming from somewhere outside the brain. And this is where the author posits a nonlocal realm of consciousness. The nonlocal realm is, according to the author, where pure consciousness exists and where our ability to be conscious likewise derives from. When a person is dead, near-dead or even just meditating, they may experience this "cosmic consciousness." But to posit that we - our individual personality survives bodily death is not proven in this book: and I realize that that is not the author's intention. His intention is to show that consciousness can continue independent from the brain - and this he succeeds in doing, in my opinion. But for how long? How long does the individual consciousness continue - and that is, afterall, the hidden hope that that is what happens. At least for most of us: the wrongs of this world are righted in the next, the ugliness in this world is made beautiful in the next. The hidden hope is that Death is the ultimate vacation from which we never need return to the mundane matters of the physically hampered world. But just as nails and hair grow for a time despite bodily death, perhaps the soul, whose origins are conceivably in the nonlocal realm, merely returns to Jung's "collective unconscious" or von Lommel's "nonlocal" realm and after a bit is subsumed by all consciousness itself.

I was recently at the shore on vacation. I stood by the shoreline and saw footprints of the people who had been there. Let us say that we are like those footprints, we carbon-made entities. And let us think of the ocean and its incoming waves as the nonlocal realm of cosmic consciousness. Once the waves wash over the sand a few times, the footprint is washed away. This may be what happens at death: the NDE experiencer sees the wave, is in the wave for a time...until the wave washes away all trace of their individual footprint. Maybe that is why only some people experience the NDE: because they were on the "beach", closest to the wave, whilst others are further inland. To say that the entire universe may be built on consciousness or built by it is not the same thing to say that we survive bodily death for eternity, beyond space and time. No, perhaps we just become part of the whole and - like the footprint in the sand - eventually lose our individual consciousness to the greater consciousness that may be behind everything in creation.

So, the scientific arguments for a conscious life beyond bodily death - while not particularly new - were the most interesting chapters in the book. Are they a bit complex? Yes - and should be read slowly. Do they make sense? Yes, in a universe where quantumly "anything goes." Are some people prone to experience something of the nonlocal cosmic consciousness? Most likely. Does this mean that we live forever as individual identies? No. We may just return to the mystery that made us and never ever know why.

The book is well worth the reading of it. It is, to me, the best study of the NDE phenomena I've yet read. But when will the sneaker on a ledge story - or now the old man's dentures story be replaced with something much more conclusive. If I ever am having an NDE and I am in a hospital operating room, I hope I will be able to leave my physical body and see what the hidden on high code is. Then there would be much more strong proof that a person is more than their body, a mind more than its brain.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most comprehensive resource, July 8, 2011
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
As a student, Medical Anthropologist, and researcher I have worked in the overall field of Death & Dying since 1964, taught college classes in it starting in 1973, and worked with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Raymond Moody, IONS, IANDS. and with large varieties of people who have experienced Near Death and/or other "paranormal" experiences. Early on it was apparent that progress toward understanding of this area would best be found in mysticism (Classical through modern) and in quantum mechanics. Therefore, throughout my work in research and teaching I have read and accummulated many dozens of related books. I also have read many "materialist" based science books, often purporting to be counter-points.
I would not have thought it possible to capture, within a single binding, the essential perspectives of all views in so many disciplines, the exact thoroughness of open review and presentation, and the comprehensive anticipation of any questions a reader may have. I especially appreciated the consistent theme of patience Dr. van Lommel unwaiveringly demonstrates toward his most vicious critics. That he happens to be right is comforting; that he also happens to be gracious is too often professionally astounding.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NDEr and scientist, July 4, 2010
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
Glorious! This book is the quintessential treatise on NDE! As an NDEr (expereincer), scientist, and psychiatric clinician, I am quite familiar with all the literature. Dr. van Lommel has magnificently stated all that we know and need to know. This is the perfect, comprehensively written, scientific approach to understanding not only the NDE, but the implications for all humanity. I loudly applaud his challenge to science to reconsider the premise of existing theory on consciousness and reality based on these profound findings.

Viva Tapper, Doctor of Nursing Science, Board Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, WA
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book about NDEs, December 5, 2010
By 
Kristofer R. Key (lithia springs, ga United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
This and the book by Chris Carter very much demonstrate why dualism is the best explanation for NDEs. Both of these books demonstrate why competing explanations used to explain NDEs do not remotely explain the data. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to study this fascinating subject to read this book.

Ignore the one star by Gerry. He has zero credibility anymore as an NDE researcher. I showed in the discussion part of his book review how his explanations cannot remotely account for features in NDEs and I showed how he makes basic logical fallacies.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for anyone interested in the nature of consciousness, August 23, 2010
This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
This book presents a case for the authenticity of the near death experience. Based upon evidence from prospective and retrospective studies, the author argues that consciousness is not completely dependent upon the brain and that subjects are sometimes able to experience a greatly magnified awareness apart from the body. Anyone who has an open mind and is not religiously attached to materialism will probably enjoy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time will tell who is right!, September 8, 2010
By 
Simon Laub (Aarhus, Denmark, Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (Hardcover)
According to van Lommel, the near-death experience is an authentic
experience that cannot be attributed to imagination, psychosis,
or oxygen deprivation. Furthermore, he suggests that current views on
consciousness held by most physicians, philosophers and psychologists
are too narrow for understanding the phenomenon.
Indeed, it would be convenient for ''medical orthodoxy'', if
the near-death experience were nothing more than a brief spell of
abnormal brain activity resulting from oxygen deficiency. But van Lommel
does a good job it making us doubt these
''orthodox'' views.
I.e.
A study of fighter jet pilots is often cited as a possible
explanatory model for NDE. Indeed, the fighter pilots also experience
a tunnel vision, a sensation of light and brief fragmented images from
the past. But according to van Lommel this cannot be compared to
the reports of life reviews, or out of body experiences seen in the
near-death experiences.
Electrical stimulation (or dysfunction/impairment) of the temporal
and parietal lobes have been said to cause out-of-body experiences.
But according to Lommel these experiments only gave atypical and
incomplete out-of-body experiences, where near-death experiences
involves a verifiable perception - from a position outside and
above the body.
We certainly need to hear both sides of the argument. And
at the very least the reader will be convinced that we
need more research in these areas to understand exactly what is
going on.
The book has a long section about quantum physics.
Here van Lommel tries to convince us that consciousness cannot be understood
in classical terms, but must be understood in quantum mechanical terms.
However, from our current vantage point this conclusion seems somewhat
premature. Surely, more research is needed into these phenomenons!
Whether they can explained within the current ''orthodox'' framework,
or needs a completely new framework only time can tell.

-Simon
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Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience
Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience by Pim van Lommel (Hardcover - June 8, 2010)
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