THE ROAD TO DEATH
In 1982 I died from terminal cancer. The condition I had was inoperable, and any kind of chemotherapy they could give me would just have made me more of a vegetable. I was given six to eight months to live.
I had been an information freak in the 1970s and I had become increasingly despondent over the nuclear crisis, the ecology crisis, and so forth. So, since I did not have a spiritual basis, I began to believe that nature had made a mistake, and that we were probably a cancerous organism on the planet. I saw no way that we could get out from all the problems we had created for ourselves and the planet. I perceived all humans as cancer, and that is what I got.
That is what killed me. Be careful what your worldview is. It can feed back on you, especially if it is a negative worldview. I had a seriously negative one. That is what led me into my death. I tried all sorts of alternative healing methods, but nothing helped.
So I determined that this was really just between me and God. I had never really faced God before, or even dealt with God. I was not into any kind of spirituality at the time, but I began a journey into learning about spirituality and alternative healing. I set out to do all the reading I could and bone up on the subject, because I did not want to be surprised on the other side. So, I started reading on various religions and philosophies. They were all very interesting and gave hope that there was something on the other side. I ended up in hospice care.
THE LIGHT OF GOD
I remember waking up one morning at home about 4:30 AM, and I just knew that this was it. This was the day I was going to die. So, I called a few friends and said goodbye. I woke up my hospice caretaker and told her. I had a private agreement with her that she would leave my dead body alone for six hours, since I had read that all kinds of interesting things happen when you die. I went back to sleep.
The next thing I remember is the beginning of a typical near-death experience. Suddenly, I was fully aware and I was standing up, but my body was in the bed. There was this darkness around me. Being out of my body was even more vivid than ordinary experience. It was so vivid that I could see every room in the house; I could see the top of the house; I could see around the house; I could see under the house.
There was this Light shining. I turned toward the Light. The Light was very similar to what many other people have described in their near-death experiences. It was so magnificent. It is tangible; you can feel it. It is alluring; you want to go to it like you would want to go to your ideal mother’s or father’s arms. As I began to move toward the Light, I knew intuitively that if I went to the Light, I would be dead. So as I was moving toward the Light I said, “Please wait a minute, just hold on a second here. I want to think about this; I would like to talk to you before I go.” To my surprise, the entire experience halted at that point. You are in control of your life after death experience. You are not on a roller coaster ride.
So my request was honored and I had some conversations with the Light. The Light kept changing into different figures, like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, mandalas, archetypal images and signs. I asked the Light, “What is going on here? Please, Light, clarify yourself for me. I really want to know the reality of the situation.” I cannot really say the exact words, because it was sort of telepathy.
The Light responded. The information transferred to me was that during your life after death experience your beliefs shape the kind of feedback you are getting before the Light. If you were a Buddhist or Catholic or Fundamentalist, you get a feedback loop of your own stuff. You have a chance to look at it and examine it, but most people do not. As the Light revealed itself to me, I became aware that what I was really seeing was our Higher Self matrix.
We all have a Higher Self, or an oversoul part of our being. It revealed itself to me in its truest energy form. The only way I can really describe it is that the being of the Higher Self is more like a conduit. It did not look like that, but it is a direct connection to the Source that each and every one of us has. We are directly connected to the Source. So the Light was showing me the Higher Self matrix. I was not committed to one particular religion. So, that is what was being fed back to me during my life after death experience.
As I asked the Light to keep clearing for me, to keep explaining, I understood what the Higher Self matrix is. We have a grid around the planet where all the Higher Selves are connected. This is like a great company, a next subtle level of energy around us, the spirit level, you might say. Then, after a couple of minutes, I asked for more clarification. I really wanted to know what the universe is about and I was ready to go at that time. I said “I am ready, take me.”
Then the Light turned into the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen: a mandala of human souls on this planet. Now I came to this with my negative view of what was happening on the planet. So, as I asked the Light to keep clarifying for me, I saw in this magnificent mandala how beautiful we all are in our essence, our core. We are the most beautiful creations.
The human soul, the human matrix that we all make together is absolutely fantastic, elegant, exotic, everything. I just cannot say enough about how it changed my opinion of human beings in that instant. I said, “Oh, God, I did not know how beautiful we are.” At any level, high or low, in whatever shape you are in, you are the most beautiful creation, you are.
The revelations coming from the Light seemed to go on and on, and I asked the Light, “Does this mean that Mankind will be saved?” Like a trumpet blast with a shower of spiraling lights, the Great Light spoke, saying, “Remember this and never forget; you save, redeem and heal yourself. You always have. You always will. You were created with the power to do so from before the beginning of the world.”
In that instant I realized even more. I realized that WE HAVE ALREADY BEEN SAVED, and we saved ourselves because we were designed to self-correct like the rest of God’s universe. This is what the second coming is about. I thanked the Light of God with all my heart. The best thing I could come up with was these simple words of total appreciation: “Oh dear God, dear Universe, dear Great Self, I Love My Life.”
The Light seemed to breathe me in even more deeply. It was as if the Light was completely absorbing me. The Love Light is, to this day, indescribable. I entered into another realm, more profound than the last, and became aware of something more, much more. It was an enormous stream of Light, vast and full, deep in the Heart of Life. I asked what this was.
The Light responded, “This is the RIVER OF LIFE. Drink of this manna water to your heart’s content.” So I did. I took one big drink and then another. To drink of Life Itself! I was in ecstasy.
Then the Light said, “You have a desire.” The Light knew all about me, everything past, present and future. “Yes!” I whispered.
I asked to see the rest of the Universe; beyond our solar system, beyond all human illusion. The Light then told me that I could go with the Stream. I did, and was carried Through the Light at the End of the Tunnel. I felt and heard a series of very soft sonic booms. What a rush!
THE VOID OF NOTHINGNESS
Suddenly I seemed to be rocketing away from the planet on this stream of Life. I saw the earth fly away. The solar system, in all its splendor, whizzed by and disappeared. At faster than light speed, I flew through the center of the galaxy, absorbing more knowledge as I went. I learned that this galaxy, and all of the Universe, is bursting with many different varieties of LIFE. I saw many worlds. The good news is that we are not alone in this Universe!
As I rode this stream of consciousness through the center of the galaxy, the stream was expanding in awesome fractal waves of energy. The super clusters of galaxies with all their ancient wisdom flew by. At first I thought I was going somewhere; actually traveling. But then I realized that, as the stream was expanding, my own consciousness was also expanding to take in everything in the Universe! All creation passed by me. It was an unimaginable wonder! I truly was a Wonder Child; a babe in Wonderland!
At this point, I found myself in a profound stillness, beyond all silence. I could see or perceive FOREVER, beyond Infinity. I was in the Void. I was in pre-creation, before the Big Bang. I had crossed over the beginning of time/the First Word/the First vibration. I was in the Eye of Creation. I felt as if I was touching the Face of God. It was not a religious feeling. Simply, I was at one with Absolute Life and Consciousness.
It took me years to assimilate the Void experience. It was less than nothing, yet greater than anything. Creation is God exploring God’s Self through every way imaginable. Through every piece of hair on your head, through every leaf on every tree, through every atom, God is exploring God’s Self. I saw everything as the Self of all. God is here. That’s what it is all about.
Everything is made of light; everything is alive.
As I began my return to the life cycle, it never crossed my mind, nor was I told that I would return to the same body. It just did not matter. I had complete trust in the Light and the Life process. As the stream merged with the great Light, I asked never to forget the revelations and the feelings of what I had learned on the other side.
I thought of myself as a human for the first time, and I was happy to be that. From what I have seen, I would be happy to be an atom in this universe. An atom. So to be the human part of God... this is the most fantastic blessing. It is a blessing beyond our wildest estimation of what blessing can be. For each and every one of us to be the human part of this experience is awesome, and magnificent. Each and every one of us, no matter where we are, screwed up or not, is a blessing to the planet, right where we are.
I went through the reincarnation process expecting to be a baby somewhere. But it was such a surprise to be back in this body, back in my room with someone looking over me crying her eyes out. It was Anne, my hospice caretaker.
We do not know how long I was dead, only that she found me dead thirty minutes before. She had honored my wish to have my newly dead body left alone. She can verify that I really was dead. It was not a near-death experience. I believe I probably experienced death, itself, for at least an hour and a half. When I awoke and saw the light outside I tried to get up to go to it, but I fell out of the bed. Anne had gone into the other room and when she heard a loud “clunk” ran in and found me on the floor.
When I recovered, I was very surprised and yet very awed about what had happened. At first, all the memory of the trip that I have now was not there. I kept slipping out of this world and kept asking, “Am I alive?” This world seemed more like a dream than that one. Within three days I was feeling normal again, clearer, yet different than I had ever felt in my life. My memory of the journey came back later. But, from my return, I could see nothing wrong with any human being I had ever seen. Previous to my death I was really judgmental, believing that people were really screwed up - everyone but me.
About three months later a friend said I should get tested for the cancer, so I got the scans and so forth. I felt healthy. I remember the doctor at the clinic looking at the before and after scans. He said, “I can find no sign of cancer now.”
“A miracle?” I asked.
“No,” he answered. “These things happen… spontaneous remission.” He seemed unimpressed. But I was impressed and knew it was a miracle.
During my near-death experience I had a descent into what you might call Hell, and it was very surprising. I did not see Satan or evil. My descent into Hell was a descent into each person’s customized human misery, ignorance, and darkness of not knowing. It seemed like a miserable eternity. But each of the millions of souls around me had a little star of light always available. But no one seemed to pay attention to it. They were so consumed with their own grief, trauma and misery. But, after what seemed an eternity, I started calling out to that Light, like a child calling to a parent for help.
Then the Light opened up and formed a tunnel that came right to me and insulated me from all that fear and pain, which is what Hell really is. So, what we are doing is learning to hold hands - to come together. The doors of Hell are open now. We are going to link up, hold hands, and walk out of Hell together. The Light came to me and turned into a huge golden angel. I said, “Are you the angel of death?” It expressed to me that it was my oversoul, my Higher Self matrix, a super ancient part of ourselves. Then I was taken to the Light.
Soon our science will quantify spirit. Isn’t that going to be wonderful? We are coming up with devices now that are sensitive to subtle energy or spirit energy. Physicists use these atomic colliders to smash atoms to see what they are made of. They have got it down to quarks and charm, and all that. Well, one day they are going to come down to the little thing that holds it all together, and they are going to have to call that ... God. We are just beginning to understand that we are creating too, as we go along. As I saw forever, I came to a realm during my near-death experience in which there is a point where we pass all knowledge and begin creating the next fractal, the next level. We have that power to create as we explore. And that is God expanding itself through us.
The Great Mystery of life has little to do with intelligence. The universe is not an intellectual process. The intellect is helpful, but our hearts are the wiser part of us.
Since my return, I have experienced the Light spontaneously, and I have learned how to get to that space almost any time in my meditation. Each one of you can do this. You do not have to die first. You are wired for it already. The body is a universe of incredible Light. The body is a universe of incredible Light. Spirit is not pushing us to dissolve this body. We don’t need to commune with God; God is communing with us in every moment.
I asked God: “What is the best religion on the planet? Which one is right?” And God said with great love, “I don’t care.” What an incredible grace. It does not matter what religion we are. Religions come and they go, they change. Buddhism has not been here forever; Catholicism has not been here forever; and they are all about to become more enlightened. More light is coming into all systems now. Many will resist and fight about it, one religion against the next, believing that only they are right. When God said, ”I don’t care,” I understood that it is for us to care about, because we are the caring beings. The Source does not care if you are Protestant, Buddhist, or Jew. Each is a reflection - a facet of the whole. I wish that all religions would realize it and let each other be. It is not the end of separate religions, but live and let live. Each has a different view. And it all adds up to the big picture.
I went over to the other side with a lot of fears about toxic waste, nuclear missiles, the population explosion, the rainforest. I came back loving every single problem. I love nuclear waste. I love the mushroom cloud; this is the holiest mandala that we have manifested to date, as an archetype. More than any religion or philosophy on earth, that terrible, wonderful cloud brought us together all of a sudden, to a new level of consciousness. Knowing that maybe we can blow up the planet fifty times, or 500 times, we finally realize that maybe we are all here together now. For a period, they had to keep setting off more bombs to get it into us. Then we started saying, “We do not need this anymore.” Now we are actually in a safer world than we have ever been in, and it is going to get safer. So I came back loving toxic waste, because it brought us together. These things are so big.
The clearing of the rain forest will slow down, and in fifty years there will be more trees on the planet than in a long time. If you are into ecology, go for it; you are that part of the system that is becoming aware. Go for it with all your might, but do not be depressed or disheartened. Earth is in the process of domesticating itself and we are cells on that Body. Population increase is getting very close to the optimal range of energy to cause a shift in consciousness. That shift in consciousness will change politics, money, and energy.
What happens when we dream? We are multi-dimensional beings. We can access that through lucid dreaming. In fact, this universe is God’s idea. One of the things that I saw is that we humans are a speck on a planet that is a speck in a galaxy that is a speck. Those are giant systems out there, and we are in sort of an average system. But human beings are already legendary throughout the cosmos of consciousness. The little bitty human being of Earth/Gaia is legendary. One of the things that we are legendary for is dreaming. We are legendary dreamers. In fact, the whole cosmos has been looking for the meaning of life, the meaning of it all. And it was the little dreamer who came up with the best answer ever. We dreamed it up. So dreams are important.
After dying and coming back, I really respect life and death. In our DNA experiments we may have opened the door to a great secret. Soon we will be able to live as long as we want to live in this body. After living 150 years or so, there will be an intuitive soul sense that you will want to change channels. Living forever in one body is not as creative as reincarnation, as transferring energy in this fantastic vortex of energy that we are in. We are actually going to see the wisdom of life and death, and enjoy it. As it is now, we have already been alive forever. Here’s to life! Here’s to death! Here’s to it all!
Mellen-Thomas Benedict is an artist who survived a near-death experience in 1982. He was dead for over an hour and a half and, during that time, “rose up out of his body and went into the Light.” Curious about the universe, he was taken far into the remote depths of existence, and even beyond, into the energetic Void of Nothingness behind the Big Bang. Dr. Kenneth Ring has said, “His story is one of the most remarkable I have encountered in my extensive research on near-death experiences.”