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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2010
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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on June 15, 2010
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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on January 25, 2011
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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on July 25, 2010
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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on August 23, 2010
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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on July 8, 2011
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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on May 11, 2015
This is an important book for anyone who is interested to consider the survival of consciousness after death. Dr. Lommel is a credible source, due to his many years experience in a clinical setting. Also, the book is comprehensive and clearly written. It is thoroughly footnoted and exhaustively researched, but the chief attribute of the book is it's accessible writing style and fascinating readability. Pim van Lommel has impeccable credentials in his field and he is also a first-rate storyteller. This is a book that is
literally hard to put down.

People who experience a near death experience (NDE) often feel alone and may encounter negative feedback from their family and friends. This excellent book was written by a cardiologist who has not had an NDE but rather kept hearing about the experiences from patients. He then conducted several studies, well-designed, that convinced him NDEs are absolutely real. If you have questions about what happens when we die, read this book. If you are skeptical about "near death experienced", read this book. Some parts are a bit scientific in language, but the book is very approachable for all people.

The book mainly focuses on the scientific evaluation of a seemingly unscientific phenomena - the near death experiences. Still, it covers a variety of modern researches and theories concerning life and consciousness through NDEs, which makes it at least an interesting, revealing, and thought-provoking reading experience. The writing itself was accessible and thoughtful. Just prepare to be very open-minded. And now I am extremely curious about what science would take us in the future for sure!

I enjoy research so having all his references presented means a layman like me can check it out for myself. I didn't notice any religious babble...just facts and theories. My take on the book is...the mind is not the body so nobody dies. Now what?

I love the way how the author explains how quantum physics begins to throw light on these things. It can't really be fully explained to our mind limited as it is by time and space and bodily identification but... Also we so much appreciate the good work and research of so many including David Bohm. And for myself, I love how much of the ancient wisdom texts (Advaita Vedanta) concord with NDEs and quantum physics.

If you want to really know if this book is for you, go to your local library. If they don't have a copy there is always the option of the Inter-Library Loan procedure (books usually take about 3 weeks to arrive). I almost always preview books from the library before purchasing ... it has saved a lot of disappointment.
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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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on April 2, 2014
Brilliant; bloody brilliant! So glad I found and read this book. Like deep down one has this understanding all along. But so good that someone as articulate and good hearted and well researched as Pim van Lommel comes along and writes it down. And the translater did an excellent job too, obviously. Thank you so much Mr van Lommel for your careful research and time and effort to publish this wonderful work.
I love the way how the author explains how quantum physics begins to throw light on these things. It can't really be fully explained to our mind limited as it is by time and space and bodily identification but... Also we so much appreciate the good work and research of so many including David Bohm. And for myself, I love how much of the ancient wisdom texts (Advaita Vedanta) concord with NDEs and quantum physics.
Thanks Mr van Lommel, do hope you read this review.
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on December 25, 2011
For years I have felt that research into the near-death experience is among the most important in terms of understanding the spiritual aspect of the individual. While many spiritual approaches speculate on the existence of a spiritual dimension, a soul, this research presents consciousness, a non-brain dependent essence, as a stark reality.

All books on the NDE offer helpful insights and Pim van Lommel's presentation is among the best. It is impressive that a cardiologist, a seasoned scientist, speaks a language quite familiar to those in my own profession as clergy. Though some of what he presents is scientifically over my head, he offers much to any who are open-minded enough to grasp the importance of this research.

The evidence of the NDE is undeniable. Those in the scientific and religious fields who continue to deny it apparently do so based more on prejudice and predispositions that simply will not allow them to listen to those who have a sincere need and desire to share an experience for which we have no language. I myself have had the privilege of listening to people attempt to describe the beauty, freedom and all-encompassing love they experienced in the momentary death of their physical bodies. None have had a thing to gain by sharing, yet they wanted to talk to someone about the single event that left them forever changed.

Thank God we have researchers like Dr. van Lommel who are willing to listen and to learn and who have the knowledge and expertise to give us perspective and understanding in this developing field that is lifting a bit higher the veil that cloaks in mystery what it truly means to be human.

Rev. J Douglas Bottorff, author of Native Soul, Unlocking Your Life's Potential
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