Dr. Ruwan Jayatunge Explores Near Death Experiences
Written by: Janice L. Ponds; M.A., LADC, CBIS
Ruwan M. Jayatunge, M.D. describes Near Death Experience (NDE) as a subjective experience with many NDEs depending on the individual’s education level, cultural factors, and religious beliefs. Although NDE is not defined as a universal experience, it does have common elements associated with it. These elements include characteristics such as out of body experience, traveling through a tunnel, floating, levitation, and seeing a light. This phenomenon certainly warrants more scientific investigation by researchers.
Dr. Raymond Moody coined the term NDE in his famous book Life After Life. Dr. Moody documented more than one hundred case studies of people who experienced NDE. Subsequent to interviewing over a thousand people who had these experiences, Dr. Moody made the following conclusion: “It has given me great confidence that there is a life after death. As a matter of fact, I must confess to you in all honesty, I have absolutely no doubt, on the basis of what my patients have told me, that they did get a glimpse of the beyond.”
From a scientific perspective, the latest research on NDE has revealed that neuro-physiological reactions occur in the brain. Some research suggests NDEs are the result of stimulation of the hippocampus by endogenous endorphins; resulting in limbic and temporal lobe seizures. During these seizures, it is believed that the stress of dying generates “natural opiates” such as enkephalins and endorphins; which subsequently disinhibit the hippocampus, as well as lower the seizure threshold within the temporal lobe.
Upon reading Dr. Jayatunge’s article on NDE, I recalled an experience that my own father had which he must have retold at least fifty times. He was given the wrong medication while in the doctor’s office, and went into a state of being unconscious. While efforts were occurring to resuscitate him, my father later explained how he literally saw himself leave his body. He described in great detail how he floated toward the corner of the ceiling, and viewed in detail all the efforts to revive him. Then he suddenly found himself in front of a beautiful body of water that he described as a “river in heaven.” On the other side of the river were hundreds of children dressed in white apparel, dancing gleefully as if they did not have a care in the world. My father described how “everything within him wanted to cross over to the other side” but he couldn’t. At that moment, he found himself back in the doctor’s office, and slipping back into his body. He later described to the doctor in precise detail exactly what they were doing to resuscitate him. The doctor was shocked to hear the accuracy of what my father described, despite being unconscious during these events.
Another NDE that I am personally aware of involved my sister-in-law who passed from cancer. On her death bed, she was gasping for breath as her husband was by her side. Suddenly, she sat up with much ease and looked up toward the ceiling, looking intently as if she was staring straight at something or someone. She then said, “Lord, I thought you were going to heal me!” She then paused and said “Okay Lord, I understand, I understand. I love you too!” She settled back down onto the bed, closed her eyes, and peacefully passed away.
On a final note, the Apostle Paul had significant encounters with death that he survived. Of significance, it is believed that Paul visited heaven on a given occasion after being stoned. This is described in 2 Corinthians 12:1- 4: “Let me tell about the visions I’ve had, and revelations from the Lord. Fourteen years ago I was taken up to Heaven for a visit. Don’t ask me whether my body was there or just my spirit, for I don’t know; only God can answer that. But anyway, there I was in Paradise, and heard things so astounding that they are beyond a man’s power to describe or put in words (and anyway I am not allowed to tell them to others).” TLB
NDE leaves one with many questions. Maybe as the future unfolds, we will grasp a deeper understanding of this phenomenon. The conclusion that I’ve come to is best described in an old hymn called “By and By.” One verse in this song states: “By and by when the morning comes; All the saints of God will gather at home; We will tell the story of how we overcome; And we’ll understand it better by and by!”
Click here to read Dr. Jayatunge’s article about Near Death Experiences.