Update: I created a nicer chart (below). I mistakenly left out "Limbo," which is supposed to go between Earth and Summerland, but anyway, you get the general idea. Of course this chart is merely a rough illustration of a suggested way of looking at things, and it could be all wrong.
A Facebook friend pointed me to an interesting NDE reported on the NDERF site.
Before proceeding, some caveats. NDERF, as far as I know, does not investigate most of the claims posted on its site; it is always possible that pranksters with too much time on their hands will make up an NDE. This one has the ring of sincerity to me, but I have no way to verify the story.
Also, the NDE reportedly took place in 1974, and the experiencer, Peter N, did not write it up until 30 years later, in 2004. His NDERF report is based on that write-up. Could he have unconsciously elaborated on the experience during that long interval? It's possible.
With those caveats in mind, I'll present a few excerpts. The account itself is extremely long - overlong, in fact, with a lot of repetition and excessively wordy descriptions. But the content is interesting.
After a motorbike accident in Scotland, Peter lost consciousness and found himself in a void. Though there was darkness everywhere, he was unafraid. He then began traveling at high speed along a passageway comparable to a tunnel, the interior of which was lined with glowing rings. His speed increased to a frightening degree, and he worried that the vibrational energy around him would cause the tunnel to implode. Abruptly he stopped moving and found himself in "space," surrounded by near and distant glowing orbs that he called "stars." The nearer stars were communicating with each other and with him in a fantastically complex, almost symphonic performance involving the instantaneous relay of pure thought and feeling, without the need for words. He had the clear sense that each star was a separate consciousness, and yet all them together (including himself) made up one larger entity, a mega-consciousness or "meta-mind" - paradoxically, with no loss of individuality.
I was aware that in some way my state had changed though I could not determine in what way. I found myself at complete peace and without any fears or concerns of any description at all. I felt myself to be of an enormous size. I need to qualify this. Though it was not any concern of mine, I did see that I had a body. To all intents it seemed that this body that I had was taken by me to be the same as I would here regard my physical body. So when I say that I felt myself to be of enormous size I am here alluding to a situation which here we might regard as a psychological condition such that my ego was in some way stripped away, or was replaced by a much greater, much larger sense of self, to an extent that I have never known since. My sense of ease and of peace was of a type that I had never known prior to this state. It really did feel as if I had cast off something which could only be described as sheer weight. I had a sense of completeness of self that I had never known before. Such peace that here it would be unbelievable. Compared to there even the most at ease among us is nothing but a twitching struggling creature feigning a sense of peace. I also became aware that I seemed to have lost my sense of time, everything had a sense of magnified immediacy that is just not possible to describe....
I had no sense of time there. The time frame if there is one at all is utterly different from here. This to the extent that to me it makes no sense to talk of time there. Something is happening there that nullifies time in any sense of the way that we understand it, or feel it, or believe it to be....
I would like to return to the matter previously mentioned that my sense of self was expanded to an extent that would (here) be unbelievable. Part of that expansion of self was as I have said to do with my sense that my ego had fallen away (or had been subsumed and attenuated by this enlargement of sense of self) - I was aware of that in a nascent sort of way, though I would emphasize that it was no concern of mine at all. However part of what stood in its place was a unity with this 'total mind'. In effect I was part of this total meta-mind and my sense of self expanded accordingly. I should like to say that my sense as I write this is that in terms of there I suspect that I was a novice in this communication system. My sense is that in many ways I was in fact being (re-) introduced to it by these stars (beings). It needs to be understood that I really am talking about the mind of 'something else' entering one. And that includes the capacity to teach in a very, very direct way....
I now need to try and describe more specifically what these stars were communicating to me. It was in essence very simple - though as I have said the communication system is utterly stupendous - in the 'first part' of their communication they let me know that they knew me. In the 'second part' of their communication they let me know that they were happy to see me, again. They were so very, very happy that I was back with them, to join them again. In the 'third part' of their communication they let me know that they loved me very, very much. I need to point out here that I have written this as first, second and third part of the communication. This is wholly inaccurate - it is a limitation that we have in our thinking because of our use of language. This communication was one massive stream of 'music' that played in the very fabric of the space that I was in, that moved through me, and from me and back to them. For I myself was in such a state of joy to be with them again. (This did not strike me as in any way peculiar or strange to me.) At the same instant that that was happening I was also aware of the meta-mind of the communication as a unified and completely non-conflicted whole.
Reading this, I was reminded of the ecstatic reunions experienced by Michael Newton's patients during between-lives regression therapy, when they reported meeting the other members of their group soul. Newton's patients expressed powerful, almost overwhelming feelings of love and joy during these sessions, and sometimes broke down in tears. They also reported that the other souls were visible to them as pure light, perhaps corresponding to the "stars" in Peter's NDE.
After this reunion, Peter became aware of an immense object, like a giant rock or planetoid, bearing down on him. He faced it without fear or concern. It rolled over him and he instantly merged with it, finding himself in a sea of light. What followed corresponds roughly to the typical NDE encounter with the Being of Light. He writes:
Suddenly, almost instantaneously, on this light exploding, coming into being around me, my sense of expansion of self rocketed to unbelievable proportions, it was as if I had just suddenly exploded outwards in all directions; I could not identify where my 'self' was. (This happened very, very quickly on this light coming into being.) It was in this state that I first became aware of wave upon wave upon wave of love moving into and through me from every spatial direction imaginable. I became aware of love coming into being inside me and radiating from me in wave upon wave upon wave without remission, and directed at, I knew not what. Then I became aware of the presence of a being of a power, magnitude and intelligence that was utterly indescribable and that was this light that I now knew to be here. (What I am trying to indicate here is that on first finding myself 'inside the light' is that I 'exploded' in size to unbelievable magnitude and that, in terms of having an identifiable 'form' I just completely disappeared. Literally, I became one with what that light was, strange though it may sound it was as if I in some way became the light, I was completely merged with it. That lasted I do not how long, it could have been twenty seconds, it just as easily have been for eternity. Once that 'having no form of my own' ended it was like I re-formed into an identifiable form 'out of the light', as though I was extruded from it, though I was still in the light and still experienced my self to be, psychologically, massive in size, but I had 'regained' an identifiable form. Sorry, I'm finding this extremely difficult to put in words. It was like, briefly, becoming the light itself, and losing form because of that, then, once that part was over, reforming again but still being left in the light.)
Then it came upon me that I knew I was inside this being and it inside me. We were merged so that there was no separation - and yet I also knew that I existed, as did it, as a discrete entity. (This I know sounds like an impossible paradox to us here. But there, this is easy. There this is perfectly natural. I had, after all, already experienced this to some extent with 'the stars'.)
He had a life review of sorts, though it did not involve reliving his earthly experiences; it was more as if the Being of Light (my term, not his) was taking inventory of his consciousness and determining its vibrational frequency. After that, he separated from the Being, which reassured him that they would meet again, and soon after he regained consciousness in an ambulance.
The NDE does not include any evidential material, but is noteworthy for its detail and depth, and because some of its elements dovetail with topics we've often discussed here - the expansion of consciousness, the diminution of the ego, the absence of time in any identifiable sense. I also find the parallels to Michael Newton's work interesting and provocative.
In terms of the hypotheses bandied about on this blog, I would suggest that Peter's tunnel experience was unusually intense, with alarmingly high vibrational energy, because he was moving to a higher plane of consciousness than most NDErs reach. As a result, he bypassed the earthlike realm that is so often reported (gardens, decreased loved ones, etc.) and found himself in the higher, more abstract zone remembered by Newton's patients.
Below is a chart intended to give some idea of how a single consciousness might inhabit different planes simultaneously. The whole of one's consciousness is represented by the widening cone. Each spiritual plane is represented as a dissected layer of the cone.
Peter N would appear to have reached the plane labeled "Higher Plane." In this plane one is reunited with other members of one's group soul and arranges a next incarnation. He may also have experienced the top layer, labeled "Highest Plane," during his encounter with the Being of Light, which might be an exteriorized, objectified representation of the higher self. (Or maybe not. Peter himself identified it as God.)
Splitting up consciousness into slices that operate on different levels of reality - with the lower slices mostly unaware of the higher ones, but with the unity of the consciousness as a whole still somehow preserved - is counterintuitive to us, but our inability to fully grasp it may be a "Flatlander" issue. That is, what seems paradoxical or impossible from our rather limited, earthly perspective may be logical and obvious when viewed from a higher perspective.