Religion
Near death experiences

Near Death Experiences and the Afterlife  •  near-death.com  •  A near-death experience is one in which an individual reports making a transition from earthly life to an afterlife, and then soon returning to earthly life rather than continuing in the afterlife, all while their body appears dead or nearly dead.

There are many sites which deal with one or a few examples of these phenomena, but this site collects several dozen of them in a systematic way. Among the outstanding stories on this site:

  • Daniel Rosenblit’s experience verifies truths from several faiths, both Eastern and Western.
  • Arthur Yensen, a former atheist, gives information on religion and reincarnation.
  • Howard Storm relates how he first went to hell, then heaven, where among other things was told about the future of the United States.
Mark Twain meets God

In his book Following the Equator, Mark Twain records how he met God in India. In 1894, after losing all his money in a publishing business, Twain decided to travel around the world, write a book about it, and use the proceeds to restore his fortune. It worked.

About a third of the book is about his three month stay in India. The following excerpt from chapter 39 recounts his meeting with God.

There was a rap at the door. Satan [the name Twain gave to his Indian servant] covered the ground with a single skip; there was a word or two of Hindostani, then he disappeared. Three minutes later he was before me again, militarily erect, and waiting for me to speak first.
“What is it, Satan?”
“God want to see you.”
“Who?”
“God. I show him up, master?”
“Why, this is so unusual, that—that—well, you see indeed I am so unprepared—I don’t quite know what I do mean. Dear me, can’t you explain? Don’t you see that this is a most ex——”
“Here his card, master.”
Wasn’t it curious—and amazing, and tremendous, and all that? Such a personage going around calling on such as I, and sending up his card, like a mortal—sending it up by Satan. It was a bewildering collision of the impossibles. But this was the land of the Arabian Nights, this was India! and what is it that cannot happen in India?
We had the interview. Satan was right—the Visitor was indeed a God in the conviction of his multitudinous followers, and was worshiped by them in sincerity and humble adoration. They are troubled by no doubts as to his divine origin and office. They believe in him, they pray to him, they make offerings to him, they beg of him remission of sins; to them his person, together with everything connected with it, is sacred; from his barber they buy the parings of his nails and set them in gold, and wear them as precious amulets.
I tried to seem tranquilly conversational and at rest, but I was not. Would you have been? I was in a suppressed frenzy of excitement and curiosity and glad wonder. I could not keep my eyes off him. I was looking upon a god, an actual god, a recognized and accepted god; and every detail of his person and his dress had a consuming interest for me. And the thought went floating through my head, “He is worshiped—think of it—he is not a recipient of the pale homage called compliment, wherewith the highest human clay must make shift to be satisfied, but of an infinitely richer spiritual food: adoration, worship!—men and women lay their cares and their griefs and their broken hearts at his feet; and he gives them his peace; and they go away healed.”
And just then the Awful Visitor said, in the simplest way—“There is a feature of the philosophy of Huck Finn which”—and went luminously on with the construction of a compact and nicely-discriminated literary verdict.
It is a land of surprises—India! I had had my ambitions—I had hoped, and almost expected, to be read by kings and presidents and emperors—but I had never looked so high as That. It would be false modesty to pretend that I was not inordinately pleased. I was. I was much more pleased than I should have been with a compliment from a man.
He remained half an hour, and I found him a most courteous and charming gentleman. The godship has been in his family a good while, but I do not know how long. … He is comely; also young—for a god; not forty, perhaps not above thirty-five years old. He wears his immense honors with tranquil grace, and with a dignity proper to his awful calling. He speaks English with the ease and purity of a person born to it. I think I am not overstating this. He was the only god I had ever seen, and I was very favorably impressed. When he rose to say good-bye, the door swung open and I caught the flash of [Satan’s] red fez, and heard these words, reverently said—
“Satan see God out?”
“Yes.” And these mis-mated Beings passed from view, Satan in the lead and The Other following after.
Neale Donald Walsch talks to God

Neale Donald Walsch is the author of the well known Conversations with God series of books, starting in 1995. These books are in the form of a dialog between the author and what he identifies as the voice of God. As this voice itself says, these words are not to be taken as ultimate authority, but rather that one’s own highest feeling, thinking, and experience is the ultimate authority.

Below is the first chapter of the first book, in which Walsch briefly explains how the dialog started and records the beginnings of the dialog.

In the spring of 1992—it was around Easter as I recall—an extraordinary phenomenon occurred in my life. God began talking with you. Through me.
Let me explain.
I was very unhappy during that period, personally, professionally, and emotionally, and my life was feeling like a failure on all levels. As I’d been in the habit for years of writing my thoughts down in letters (which I usually never delivered), I picked up my trusty yellow legal pad and began pouring out my feelings.
This time, rather than another letter to another person I imagined to be victimizing me, I thought I’d go straight to the source; straight to the greatest victimizer of them all. I decided to write a letter to God.
It was a spiteful, passionate letter, full of confusions, contortions, and condemnations. And a pile of angry questions.
Why wasn’t my life working? What would it take to get it to work? Why could I not find happiness in relationships? Was the experience of adequate money going to elude me forever? Finally—and most emphatically—What had I done to deserve a life of such continuing struggle?
To my surprise, as I scribbled out the last of my bitter, unanswerable questions and prepared to toss my pen aside, my hand remained poised over the paper, as if held there by some invisible force. Abruptly, the pen began moving on its own. I had no idea what I was about to write, but an idea seemed to be coming, so I decided to flow with it. Out came…
Do you really want an answer to all these questions, or are you just venting?
I blinked…and then my mind came up with a reply. I wrote that down, too.
Both. I’m venting, sure, but if these questions have answers, I’d sure as hell like to hear them!
You are “sure as hell”…about a lot of things. But wouldn’t it be nice to be “sure as Heaven”?
And I wrote:
What is that supposed to mean?
Before I knew it, I had begun a conversation…and I was not writing so much as taking dictation.
That dictation went on for three years, and at the time, I had no idea where it was going. The answers to the questions I was putting on paper never came to me until the question was completely written and I’d put my own thoughts away. Often the answers came faster than I could write, and I found myself scribbling to keep up. When I became confused, or lost the feeling that the words were coming from somewhere else, I put the pen down and walked away from the dialogue until I again felt inspired—sorry, that’s the only word which truly fits—to return to the yellow legal pad and start transcribing again.
These conversations are still going on as I write this. And much of it is found on the pages which follow…pages which contain an astounding dialogue which at first I disbelieved, then assumed to be of personal value, but which I now understand was meant for more than just me. It was meant for you and everyone else who has come to this material. For my questions are your questions.
I want you to get into this dialogue as soon as you can, because what’s really important here is not my story, but yours. It is your life story which brought you here. It is your personal experience to which this material has relevance. Otherwise you would not be here, with it, right now.
So let’s enter the dialogue with a question I had been asking for a very long time: How does God talk, and to whom? When I asked this question, here’s the answer I received:
I talk to everyone. All the time. The question is not to whom do I talk, but who listens?
Intrigued, I asked God to expand on this subject. Here’s what God said:
First, let’s exchange the word talk with the word communicate. It’s a much better word, a much fuller, more accurate one. When we try to speak to each other—Me to you, you to Me, we are immediately constricted by the unbelievable limitation of words. For this reason, I do not communicate by words alone. In fact, rarely do I do so. My most common form of communication is through feeling.
Feeling is the language of the soul.
If you want to know what’s true for you about something, look to how you’re feeling about it.
Feelings are sometimes difficult to discover—and often even more difficult to acknowledge. Yet hidden in your deepest feelings is your highest truth.
The trick is to get to those feelings. I will show you how. Again. If you wish.
I told God that I did wish, but that right now I wished even more for a complete and full answer to my first question. Here’s what God said:
I also communicate with thought. Thought and feelings are not the same, although they can occur at the same time. In communicating with thought, I often use images and pictures. For this reason, thoughts are more effective than mere words as tools of communication.
In addition to feelings and thoughts, I also use the vehicle of experience as a grand communicator.
And finally, when feelings and thoughts and experience all fail, I use words. Words are really the least effective communicator. They are most open to misinterpretation, most often misunderstood.
And why is that? It is because of what words are. Words are merely utterances: noises that stand for feelings, thoughts, and experience. They are symbols. Signs. Insignias. They are not Truth. They are not the real thing.
Words may help you understand something. Experience allows you to know. Yet there are some things you cannot experience. So I have given you other tools of knowing. And these are called feelings. And so too, thoughts.
Now the supreme irony here is that you have all placed so much importance on the Word of God, and so little on the experience.
In fact, you place so little value on experience that when what your experience of God differs from what you’ve heard of God, you automatically discard the experience and own the words, when it should be just the other way around.
Your experience and your feelings about a thing represent what you factually and intuitively know about that thing. Words can only seek to symbolize what you know, and can often confuse what you know.
These, then, are the tools with which I communicate, yet they are not the methods, for not all feelings, not all thoughts, not all experience, and not all words are from Me.
Many words have been uttered by others, in My name. Many thoughts and many feelings have been sponsored by causes not of My direct creation. Many experiences result from these.
The challenge is one of discernment. The difficulty is knowing the difference between messages from God and data from other sources. Discrimination is a simple matter with the application of a basic rule:
Mine is always your Highest Thought, your Clearest Word, your Grandest Feeling. Anything less is from another source.
Now the task of differentiation becomes easy, for it should not be difficult even for the beginning student to identify the Highest, the Clearest, and the Grandest.
Yet will I give you these guidelines:
The Highest Thought is always that thought which contains joy. The Clearest Words are those words which contain truth. The Grandest Feeling is that feeling which you call love. Joy, truth, love.
These three are interchangeable, and one always leads to the other. It matters not in which order they are placed.
Having with these guidelines determined which messages are Mine and which have come from another source, the only question remaining is whether My messages will be heeded.
Most of My messages are not. Some, because they seem too good to be true. Others, because they seem too difficult to follow. Many, because they are simply misunderstood. Most, because they are not received.
My most powerful messenger is experience, and even this you ignore. Especially this you ignore.
Your world would not be in its present condition were you to have simply listened to your experience. The result of your not listening to your experience is that you keep re-living it, over and over again. For My purpose will not be thwarted, nor My will be ignored. You will get the message. Sooner or later.
I will not force you to, however. I will never coerce you. For I have given you a free will—the power to do as you choose—and I will never take that away from you, ever.
And so I will continue sending you the same messages over and over again, throughout the millennia and to whatever corner of the universe you occupy. Endlessly will I send you My messages, until you have received them and held them close, calling them your own.
My messages will come in a hundred forms, at a thousand moments, across a million years. You cannot miss them if you truly listen. You cannot ignore them once truly heard. Thus will our communication begin in earnest. For in the past you have only talked to Me, praying to Me, interceding with Me, beseeching Me. Yet now can I talk back to you, even as I am doing here.
How can I know this communication is from God? How do I know this is not my own imagination?
What would be the difference? Do you not see that I could just as easily work through your imagination as anything else? I will bring you the exact right thoughts, words or feelings, at any given moment, suited precisely to the purpose at hand, using one device, or several.
You will know these words are from Me because you, of your own accord, have never spoken so clearly. Had you already spoken so clearly on these questions, you would not be asking them.
To whom does God communicate? Are there special people? Are there special times?
All people are special, and all moments are golden. There is no person and there is no time one more special than another. Many people choose to believe that God communicates in special ways and only with special people. This removes the mass of the people from responsibility for hearing My message, much less receiving it (which is another matter), and allows them to take someone else’s word for everything. You don’t have to listen to Me, for you’ve already decided that others have heard from Me on every subject, and you have them to listen to.
By listening to what other people think they heard Me say, you don’t have to think at all.
This is the biggest reason for most people turning from My messages on a personal level. If you acknowledge that you are receiving My messages directly, then you are responsible for interpreting them. It is far safer and much easier to accept the interpretation of others (even others who have lived 2,000 years ago) than seek to interpret the message you may very well be receiving in this moment now.
Yet I invite you to a new form of communication with God. A two-way communication. In truth, it is you who have invited Me. For I have come to you, in this form, right now, in answer to your call.
Why do some people, take Christ, for example, seem to hear more of Your communication than others?
Because some people are willing to actually listen. They are willing to hear, and they are willing to remain open to the communication even when it seems scary, or crazy, or downright wrong.
We should listen to God even when what’s being said seems wrong?
Especially when it seems wrong. If you think you are right about everything, who needs to talk with God?
Go ahead and act on all that you know. But notice that you’ve all been doing that since time began. And look at what shape the world is in. Clearly, you’ve missed something. Obviously, there is something you don’t understand. That which you do understand must seem right to you, because “right” is a term you use to designate something with which you agree. What you’ve missed will, therefore, appear at first to be “wrong. ”
The only way to move forward on this is to ask yourself, “What would happen if everything I thought was ‘wrong’ was actually ‘right’?” Every great scientist knows about this. When what a scientist does is not working, a scientist sets aside all of the assumptions and starts over. All great discoveries have been made from a willingness, and ability, to not be right. And that’s what’s needed here.
You cannot know God until you’ve stopped telling yourself that you already know God. You cannot hear God until you stop thinking that you’ve already heard God.
I cannot tell you My Truth until you stop telling Me yours.
But my truth about God comes from You.
Who said so?
Others.
What others?
Leaders. Ministers. Rabbis. Priests. Books. The Bible, for heaven’s sake!
Those are not authoritative sources.
They aren’t?
No.
Then what is?
Listen to your feelings. Listen to your Highest Thoughts. Listen to your experience. Whenever any one of these differ from what you’ve been told by your teachers, or read in your books, forget the words. Words are the least reliable purveyor of Truth.
There is so much I want to say to You, so much I want to ask. I don’t know where to begin.
For instance, why is it that You do not reveal Yourself? If there really is a God, and You are It, why do You not reveal Yourself in a way we can all understand?
I have done so, over and over, I am doing so again right now.
No. I mean by a method of revelation that is incontrovertible; that cannot be denied.
Such as?
Such as appearing right now before my eyes.
I am doing so right now.
Where?
Everywhere you look.
No, I mean in an incontrovertible way. In a way no man could deny.
What way would that be? In what form or shape would you have Me appear?
In the form or shape that you actually have.
That would be impossible, for I have no form or shape you understand. I could adopt a form or shape that you could understand, but then everyone would assume that what they have seen is the one and only form and shape of God, rather than a form or shape of God—one of many.
People believe I am what they see Me as, rather than what they do not see. But I am the Great Unseen, not what I cause Myself to be in any particular moment. In a sense, I am what I am not. It is from the am-notness that I come, and to it I always return.
Yet when I come in one particular form or another—a form in which I think people can understand Me—people assign Me that form forevermore.
And should I come in any other form, to any other people, the first say I did not appear to the second, because I did not look to the second as I did to the first, nor say the same things—so how could it have been Me?
You see, then, it matters not in what form or in what manner I reveal Myself—whatever manner I choose and whatever form I take, none will be incontrovertible.
But if You did something that would evidence the truth of who You are beyond doubt or question…
…there are still those who would say, it is of the devil, or simply someone’s imagination. Or any cause other than Me.
If I revealed myself as God Almighty, King of Heaven and Earth, and moved mountains to prove it, there are those who would say, “It must have been Satan.”
And such is as it should be. For God does not reveal Godself to Godself from or through outward observation, but through inward experience. And when inward experience has revealed Godself, outward observation is not necessary. And if outward observation is necessary, inward experience is not possible.
If, then, revelation is requested, it cannot be had, for the act of asking is a statement that it is not there; that nothing of God is now being revealed. Such a statement produces the experience. For your thought about something is creative, and your word is productive, and your thought and your word together are magnificently effective in giving birth to your reality. Therefore shall your experience that God is not now revealed, for if God were, you would not ask God to be.
Anna

The following passages are from a mysterious book called Mister God, This Is Anna. The book identified the author only as “Fynn” but it is now known to be Sydney Hopkins, whose career in the oil industry had barely begun when it was cut short by a fall, after which he lived in a therapeutic community.

Whether the book is fiction or biography is still unclear. It tells the story of precocious girl named Anna, who lived in a poor part of London between the world wars and lived only to the age of six.


In this passage, Anna is complaining to Fynn about her math teacher.

“Miss Haynes.”
“What’s wrong with Miss Haynes?”
“Do-lally-tap. She’s barmy.”
“Can’t be, she’s a school-ma’am. You can’t be a school-ma’am if you’re do-lally.”
“She is.”
“What makes you think?”
“She said I can’t know everything.”
“Guess she’s right.”
“Why?”
“Suppose your noodle’s not big enough.”
“That’s the outside.”
“Pardon me. I forgot.”
“I can know everything inside.”
“Ah!”
“How many things are there?”
“Squillions.”
“More than numbers?”
“No, more numbers than things.”
“I know all the numbers. Not the names, that’s outside; just the numbers, that’s the inside.”
“Yes, I guess so.”
“How many squiggle waves on that ’cilloscope?”
“Squillions.”
“You know how to make squillions?”
“Yes.”
“That’s inside.”
“Suppose so.”
“You seen them all?”
“No.”
“No, that’s the outside.”

“Fynn, Mister God doesn’t love us.” She hesitated. “He doesn’t really, you know, only people can love. I love Bossy [a cat], but Bossy don’t love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don’t love me. I love you Fynn, and you love me, don’t you? … You love me because you are people. I love Mister God truly, but he don’t love me.”
“No,” she went on, “no, he don’t love me, not like you do, it’s different, it’s millions of times bigger.”
“Fynn, you can love better than any people that ever was, and so can I, can’t I? But Mister God is different. You see Fynn, people can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so it’s different. Mister God ain’t like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.”

“Fynn, why do people have fights and wars and things?”
I explained to the best of my ability.
“Fynn, what is the word for when you see it in a different way?”
After a minute or two scrabbling about, the precise phrase she wanted was dredged out of me, the phrase, point of view.
“Fynn, that’s the difference. You see, everybody has got a point of view, but Mister God hasn’t. Mister God only has points to view.”
… Let me see now. Humanity has an infinite number of points of view. God has an infinite number of viewing points. That means—God is everywhere. I jumped.
Anna burst into peals of laughter. “You see,” she said, “you see?” I did, too.
Gospel gems

Gospel Gems  •  A collection of outstanding quotes from the Gospels.

Medjugorje

Official Medjugorje site  •  medjugorje.hr  •  Alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje (or Međugorje), a village in Bosnia. These alleged apparitions started in 1981 to a group of what were then children aged 10 to 17, and they have continued daily up to the present. These messages of these apparitions emphasize peace, reconciliation, and turning to God.

Her basic message in her own words:

I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God.

In these messages, she does not seek conversion to Catholicism, but she does seek conversion from unspiritual to spiritual.

In another message, she replied to a Catholic priest who questioned the healing of a little child whose parents were Orthodox Christians. He questioned the healing because he viewed the Orthodox faith as the faith of the “enemy” of Croatian Catholics. The question was put to the Virgin Mary through one of the visionaries of Medjugorje, and the reply was as follows:

Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are equal before God, as St. Paul says. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one’s conscience. Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday the House of the Father. Salvation is available to everyone, without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned. To him who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whoever has been given much, very much will be required. It is God alone, in His infinite justice, who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgment.
Padre Pio

The Padre Pio Foundation of America  •  padrepio.com  •  St. Padre Pio was a remarkable Catholic priest of the 20th century. He had many powers, including clairvoyance, clairaudience, prophecy, and bilocation. He used these powers to inspire those who came to him to pursue a spiritual path within the Catholic Church. As he once summarized his message:

We must love, love, love and nothing else.

Marshall Ball

Marshall Ball  •  marshallball.com  •  Marshall (born 1986) cannot speak or walk. He communicates through a large keyboard while his mother holds up his elbow as a fulcrum. Yet since the age of five he has written amazingly precocious and touching poetry and essays. Strangely, he often knows the meanings and spellings of words he has never heard. Even more amazing is the powerful impact he has on everyone he meets. Here are a few pieces from his first book, Kiss of God.

Even though my individuality finds sweet knowing perfection, I listen for the answers to wishes from above. [written at age 6]
Victory is here. It gives us that room to quietly title our thoughts. To grow happily, quiet understanding takes bald, good, real thinking. That sweet thinking never attempts to arrange us. That pure, meager, bald, sweet victory, easily loves. [age 9]
I know I can finely love dear callused beautiful kissing real peoples’ golden listening hearts. [age 12]
I hope to gather thinkers to give them my thoughts about Love. Love to clean their ideas. That cleaning might loosen the love in their hearts. Good thinkers take LOVE to heart like gold in the evening, wild sun. [age 13]
The Atmosphere Perfect Love Touches the Listener
Really sweet words reveal my feelings, like somethig reverent. I think poor thinking touches sweet thought like something from the storm! Perhaps the storm may make you grow because feelings listen to their sweet tumultuous waves, very roomy. Would you like real waves touching sweetly like fine words victoriously received? I find there is something dear in freedom of thought to feel. I love sharing my thoughts. Perhaps, hate stops when find thinking is here. The poor only start to progress in the atmosphere of Love. Will we find the answers in the big knowing atmosphere of thoughts? My thinking is Love will take us to the atmosphere of Love! Clearly, the atmosphere of Love is finely touching our hearts! The Love is for you to take from your sweet real clear understanding. [undated]
Black Elk

Black Elk (1863–1950) was a famous holy man of the Oglala Lakota, also knows as Sioux, a North American Indian tribe. (I have heard that many Indians prefer that term, because it carries more emotional punch than terms like “Native Americans” or “First Nation.”) Black Elk was a second cousin of the famous Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. In 1876, at the age of 12, Black Elk participated in the Battle of Little Big Horn, and he was injured at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.

In 1931, Black Elk collaborated with John G. Neihardt to write a memoir, published later that year as Black Elk Speaks (full text here). Black Elk had several visions in which he met the spirits that guide the universe. Here is an excerpt from a vision he had at the age of 9:

I could see … there two men were coming from the clouds, headfirst like arrows slanting down … Each now carried a long spear, and from the points of these a jagged lightning flashed. They … looked at me and said “Hurry! Come! Your Grandfathers are calling you!” … When I got up to follow … I was very light … Now suddenly there was nothing but a world of cloud, and we three were there alone in the middle of a great white plain with snowy hills and mountains staring at us … I looked and saw a bay horse standing there, and he began to speak, “Behold me!” he said, “My life-history you shall see.” Then he heeled about to where the sun goes down, and said: “Behold them! Their history you shall know.” I looked, and there were twelve black horses yonder all abreast … but I was frightened, because their manes were lightning and there was thunder in their nostrils … The bay horse said, “Your Grandfathers are having a council” … The oldest of the Grandfathers spoke with a kind voice and said: … “Your Grandfathers all over the world are having a council, and they have called you here to teach you”…