Near-Death Experiences, The rest of the story: What they teach us about living, dying, and our true purpose. Written by P. M. H. Atwater, who spent her entire life researching near-death experiences (NDE’s), this book is a wealth of information. Based on her own experiences, as well as interviewing nearly 7000 experiencers, both adult and children, Atwater comes up with information and patterns which show the breadth and variety of experiences which people have had over the years. She has very obviously read and researched this subject exhaustively.
In fact, the only real criticism of this book is its overwhelming amount of information. She quotes so many sources it became difficult to keep everything sorted in my mind. Atwater calls this book her “last hurrah” (p xi) and she seems to be attempting to include absolutely everything she has discovered or thought about over the years of her work. The presentation sometimes appeared disjointed to me, but I must confess that my reading this book was also disjointed, taking place over at least a month.
But even with this caveat, I found the book well worth reading. I am tempted to purchase one, after reading my library’s copy; it contains so much information, it would be worth-while to keep as a reference book for the future.
As the subtitle indicates, Atwater’s intention with this book is to share insights into life learned from NDE’s. What can we learn from the stories of experiencers? For example: “A NEW MIND . . . there is a Presence that breathes through us, feels through our heart, thinks through our mind, hears through our ears, speaks through our mouth, touches through our skin. When we are aligned with this Presence, we are healthier, happier, more alive than we could possibly imagine or describe. This Presence is a subtle, quiet force that possesses great power and sets ‘afire’ an ego-less passion waiting within to be set free. A NEW REALITY . . . we live in a giant hologram that reflects back to us One God, One People, One Family, One Existence, One Law–Love, One Commandment–Service, One Solution–Forgiveness.” (p 228f)
One thing I really appreciated about her treatment of NDE’s was putting them in context with other consciousness-shifting experiences. I have been moving in this direction myself, realizing that there are many ways to achieve ascension, many ways of waking up spiritually. Atwater gives full credence to this idea. There are valid experiences other than NDE’s; NDE’s follow similar patterns and reveal similar truths and wisdom as other soul-shifting experiences. For example, my own work with soul regression leads to results and experiences similar to many facets of NDE’s. I discuss this more extensively elsewhere. See chapter 13 and following in Out of Winkler
Of especial interest to me, as a Christian, is Atwater’s chapter 24: Spirit Shift; A New Christology. “Jesus became the Christ, and in so doing, passed on the template of what this is, why it is a preferred state of consciousness, and where it can lead. His teachings apply to every religion, every nation, every peoples, every time-frame, every experiencer of a transformative state of consciousness.” (p 226) She then outlines some of the characteristics of this template, which are very basic wisdom gleaned from the many NDExperiencers she has interviewed over her lifetime.
“He [Jesus] presented himself as a model for individual empowerment and the expansion of consciousness, and he never wavered from such teachings. It is only in conservative sects that he is regarded as the ‘great exception,’ instead of the ‘great example’ he sought to convey.” (p 226) This helped explain the struggle with my conservative background. Yes, I was taught that Jesus is our example, but I was also imbued with the idea that the ideal of Jesus was totally unreachable, and that to think being Christlike was attainable was heresy; he was “the great exception”, exceptional. I had always wondered about that. How could Jesus be our example, if he was totally different? Atwater helped put this into context for me.
Atwater finishes the book with chapter 26: Voices. These are stories of experiencers and how the NDE affected their life. This was one of my favourite parts of the book. While peoples’ stories are found throughout the book, in this chapter are a number presented one after the other. I thought it a great way to end the book.