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Explain the distinctive features of a near death experience (NDE)

It is estimated that only 5% of the population will have an NDE, this being a time when an individual is pronounced clinically dead but for some reason survives death and lives to try to explain why and how they had this experience. Experiences like this are usually life-changing. NDE is the link between whether there actually exists a separation between the physical body and the soul this is because the features of NDE’s are purely personal and take place in an individual’s mind; there are no signs from the physical body that this experience has ever taken place. Dr. Raymond moody paid great interest in these experiences and by interviewing people who had claims of NDE’s he could identify many distinct features his research was published in ‘life after life’ which was said to have “rekindled an understanding of the importance of spirituality in our daily lives”(the phenomena of death.)

Ineffability which means ‘inexpressible’ is the first of Moody’s 15 distinctive features, it is where a person has linguistical difficulty with giving a description of what they have experienced because as many people have said “there are just no words to express what I am trying to say.” One woman said this was due to the fact that the world we live in is 3 dimensional but the next life definitely isn’t so we do not have adequate vocabulary to describe it.

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A person who has a near-death experience will most probably have it in the presence of medical staff or spectators who presume and pronounce their death. On many occasions, people have told of ‘hearing the news’ (the 2nd feature) from doctors that they are dead. One example comes from a man who was thought to be dead after a car accident he recalls hearing a woman say “yeah he’s dead ” but as if the man thought to himself ‘no I don’t want to die after hearing this news he regained signs of life. Another feature that is to do with hearing is the noise that many people have experienced when close to death. There have been accounts that describe this noise as an extremely unpleasant buzzing, roaring or whistling one man says ‘ it made me feel very uncomfortable… I will never forget that noise’. However, there have also been cases of the noise being more pleasant and taking the form of Japanese bells and music.

The feelings that people experience while near death has had similarities, they are described as ‘extremely pleasant sensations’ during the earlier stages in the experience these include feelings of peace and quiet, warmth, comfort and solitude. All feelings you would not associate with a near-death experience. One example is from a man who after a severe head injury lost all signs of life: “At the point of injury there was a momentary flash of pain, but all the pain vanished… the day was bitterly cold, yet while I was in blackness all I felt was warmth and the most extreme comfort I have ever experienced.”

The darkness that was mentioned in that man’s experience is part of another feature that of the ‘Dark tunnel’ which is also often concurrent with ‘the noise’ It is basically a sensation of being pulled at a great speed through a dark space of some type, people have described it as a tunnel, cave, vacuum, valley and a cylinder. One person who had a reaction to local anesthetic gives a very good example:

The first thing that happened- it was real quick- was that I went through this dark, black vacuum at super speed. You could compare it to a tunnel I guess. I felt like I was riding on a roller coaster train, going through a tunnel at a tremendous speed. After being pulled through a tunnel another feature has been described to take place. This being the person is able to see themselves, their own physical body from a point outside of it as if they are a spectator, this feature is known as ‘out of the body.’

Two features that suggest that dying is a pleasant experience are ‘the meeting of others’ and ‘the being of light.’ Firstly there have been accounts of being in the presence of spiritual beings that can take the form of friends and family, who have been described to have eased them through the experience of dying. Secondly and more incredibly is the accounts that feature an encounter with a bright light, which is always expressed as a being of light, with a distinct personality. This being has been described as emitting love and warmth and making the person feel accepted and completely at ease one man said: ‘The love which came from it is just unimaginable, indescribable.’

It is dependent on a person’s religious background as to what this being is identified as. For example for Christians the being is Christ, and a Jewish man identified it as an angel. While in the presence of this being you also communicate with it although not through speech but rather a direct link of unaffected thoughts. Moody describes that the people he talked to attempted to put what the being said into the form of questions some of these questions were as follows: ‘are you prepared to die?’ ‘What have you done with your life that is sufficient?’ and ‘What have you done with you live to show me.’ It seems that these questions were asked to make the person question their life and help them when they returned to life.

Another feature that is very closely linked to ‘the being of light’ is ‘the review’ which takes place straight after the events of the previous feature. After being questioned about your life the being presents to you a panoramic view of your life as if to make you reflect on your whole life. All descriptions of this review vary but all say that it was instantaneous although some say only highlights of their life were shown while others say everything from the most insignificant event was shown. Some people said that ‘ as they witness the display, the being seems to stress two important things in life: learning to love other people and acquiring knowledge.’

The final feature that is experienced actually during the NDE is seeing ‘the border or limit’ People speak of approaching some kind of border or limit which has been described as water mist, a door, a fence or even simply a line. Moody suggests that all of these different experiences are just one feature and that it is the individual’s interpretation of it that they experience.

One woman who ‘died from a cardiac arrest speaks of a fence that she was drawn to: “I started to walk toward the fence, and I saw a man on the other side of it, moving toward me as if to meet me. I wanted to reach him but I felt myself being drawn back, irresistibly.” This being drawn back will have been closely followed by regaining signs of life, as everyone who has a near-death experience has ‘come back.’

After having an experience like this and then returning to normal life again is bound to significantly affect the rest of your life, however, Moody explains that it is dependent on how deep your experience went to how far you are affected as some people got that far they did not want to return to life:

“Once a dying person reaches a certain depth in his experience, he does not want to come back, and he may even resist the return to the body.” The effects on people’s lives vary after these experiences, people are just generally happier and feel that life is more precious, and for those who went deep enough to reach the being of light they incorporate the importance that was stressed on loving others and learning into their lives. Because of the near-death experience, people’s views on death will be affected as they have an insight and know not to fear dying. Moody says that ‘almost every person has expressed to me that he is no longer afraid of death… ‘ However ‘none of these persons are actively seeking death’ because they feel they have certain tasks to fulfil in life before it is their time to die.

These experiences are purely taking place inside the minds of the individual, so there can never be any solid proof of the truth they hold however the final feature which is corroboration can help. Corroboration is where evidence is gathered from witnesses who were present when someone was experiencing being close to death. For example, when experiencing being out of the body whilst dead one person could see and hear what exactly was being medically done by doctors and once she regained life was able to describe in the exact words and medical terms what had been happening while to the doctor’s knowledge she was clinically dead.

After discussing the main features of a near-death experience it is clear to see from examples that all features vary according to the individual, Moody’s research concluded that there were many similarities that appeared frequently in his accounts. Although there have never been two accounts identical nor one experience that included all features of an NDE, the depth of the experience depends on how close a person comes to death.

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Explain the distinctive features of a near death experience (NDE). (2021, Apr 25). Retrieved October 25, 2021, from