Ned Dougherty's NDE
A violent quarrel in a nightclub
Ned Dougherty was the owner of a popular nightclub and lived in the fast lane every hour of the day, pursuing every pleasure money could buy. Despite his religious upbringing as a Roman Catholic, he had no interest in a spiritual life because he didn't believe in an afterlife. He was too busy searching for a good time to be bothered with such things. This all changed on July 2, 1984 when he had an NDE resulting from a heart attack after a heated – almost murderous – fist fight with a business associate. That experience caused him to undergo a radical life transformation in which he gave up his nightclub business and party lifestyle and embraced his hitherto neglected religion. His NDE gave him a conscious awareness of his mission in life which was to embark upon charitable and missionary work. The following is an excerpt from his book, Fast Lane to Heaven, published in 2001. (Source: www.near-death.com e books.google.com).
I agreed to meet my friends at the restaurant after doing a walkthrough tour of Marakesh (Dougherty's nightclub) and checking up on the emplyees who were preparing the club for opening. I thought that the business associate, who had already been released on bail, woul have enough sense to lie low for a couple of days after his arrest. Knowing that I would not have to deal with him personally, I started feeling even better as I approached the club. Several of the club's security personnel were setting up the stanchions and velvet ropes on the sidewalk in preparation for the night's crowd. I walked into the front lobby and climbed the stairwell that led to the private VIP lounge that overlooked the main level and dance floor of the club. From my vantage point in the VIP room, I could look out over the rest of the club and decide how the staff was performing.
Although the VIP room was relativeli dark and quiet, I sensed that someone else was in the room. It was the business associate who was the focus of my rage. He began shouting as he walked toward me with a drink in one hand, while pointing a finger at me with the other. I didn't even listen to what he was saying, I just exploded; I leapt at him with a volley of fists, knocking him backwards. As he stumbled and fell, I lunged at him with both hands in a death-like grip around his neck. My instincts, fueled by rage, were murderous. As he grasped for breath, I squeezed harder, recognizing that I could easily resolve this business association by pressing my thumb further into the vulnerable spot at the center of his throat. As I seriously contemplated actually murdering him, something happened inside me that I didn't expect. I couldn't force my thumb to sink further into his neck to cause more severe or even fatal damage. As I recognized that some invisible force was holding me back, I realized that some other, evil force had overwhelmed me only moments before to the point that I was actually contemplating murdering someone and, in a moment of madness, had assumed that the murder would somehow be justified. For someone who took pride in maintaining control and being patient, my explosive reaction in this situation was as much a surprise to me as it was to the employees who overheard the commotion.
A providential intervention and a collapse
At that moment, when my uncontrolled and violent attempt to commit murder was abated by an inner voice, another force in the form of a security guard grabbed me in a body-hold from behind and pulled me away from the object of my rage. I was as startled by the inner voice that had stopped me from committing murder as I was by the security guard's intervention. For several seconds, as I was being pulled back from my intended prey, I realized that only a few seconds and an unforeseen force had kept me from committing murder and possibly spending the rest of my life in prison. The security guard, probably as startled by his own response as he was to the unreality of the situation, persuaded me to go back downstairs. As I stumbled down the stairs to the front lobby, I concentrated on calming myself. I was gasping for air and trying to control my breathing. I soon realized that my lungs were hyperventilating out of control. My chest seemed to be expanding and contracting more and more rapidly, but with each expansion and contraction, less oxygen was reaching my lungs. I could hear my heart pounding heavily in my chest.
As I walked out of the front lobby onto the sidewalk, I passed the security guards and employees at the entrance who were unaware of the explosive incident that had just taken place in the VIP room. I was walking alone now, still trying desperately to catch my breath as I stumbled into an alleyway. I spotted my friend Bill and suddenly realized that something was seriously wrong. Alarms were going off inside my head, but just as suddenly I felt surrounded by a warm and secure feeling, despite the fact that I felt that I was no longer in control of what was physically happening to me. For the first time in many years, I shot a glance up into the dark sky above me as if I was reaching to heaven to come to my aid. The warm and secure feeeling that I was experiencing must have been coming from someplace other than from inside because what was going on physically within my body was creating terror and trauma in my mind.
As Bill met me, I tried to tell him I needed help, but it was too late. Although my uncontrolled hyperventilating had ceased, so did my breathing. Time and space stood still. My sense of hearing turned inward, and I was listening for sounds from my now-silent lungs, which seemed to have collapsed. Just seconds ago my heart had been pounding loudly and now, suddenly, the pounding stopped. For a long pregnant moment, everything before me stood still. I was dying and I knew it. In a split second, I thought: «This is it! This is how it all ends!» Suddenly, I felt what seemed like an electrical explosion in my head, and my body collapsed to the sidewalk.
A tunnel of energy, an old friend and a mission
As a massive field of energy began to form in the sky directly in front of me, I heard a loud, grinding mechanical noise as the mass of energy shaped itself into a cylinder funneling upwards. It seemed as if the darkness of the sky turned into liquid as the mass of energy curled like an ocean wave and formed a perfect tunnel that stretched into the heavens. As I stared into the large and imposing tunnel of energy, a shimmering, luminescent-blue field of energy began to float down the tunnel toward me. As it rapidly approached, I watched the luminescent-blue field mass into a form and begin to materialize into an image of a human being. As the image composed itself, I found myself face to face with an old friend. His name was Dan McCampbell, but I had never expected to see him again. After all, he had been killed in Vietnam. As Dan and I communicated, I realized that we did not speak to each other as we had communicated in our earthly lives. As soon as I thought, «Dan, I recognize you», it was communicated to him. We were communicating telepathically, which connotes a communication of words between minds by means other than by vocal communication, but such a description falls short of the spiritual communication we were experiencing. We were not only communicating with words; we were communicating with feelings and emotions. As we thought, we also emoted our thoughts. Both thoughts and emotions were being communicated telepathically and spiritually in a manner that far surpassed normal human communication. Dan communicated to me: «You are on the threshold of an important journey. Each of these places and events that are before you are for you to absorb as much as you can. It is important that you remember everything that you see before you. You will be going back, and you must go back with what you experience. You have a mission ahead of you in your life, and this experience will guide you on that mission».
Divine light and universal knowledge
Suddenly, I was enveloped in this brilliant golden light. The light was more brilliant than the light emanating from the sun, many times more powerful and radiant than the sun itself. Yet, I was not blinded by it nor was I burned by it. Instead, the light was a source of energy that embraced my being. I was alone in the glow of this light and suspended before a magnificent presence. I immediately believed that I was in the presence of God, my Creator. I felt that God was embracing me, and he had love for me, a love greater than any love I had ever known on Earth. I realized that God was bestowing his light of love on me, as his light transformed from a brilliant golden light to a pure white light. As I became more accepting of God's love, the light of God became brighter, of a pure whiteness beyond description. When I sensed that my spiritual being had received God's love to the point of overflowing, I became aware that God was stabilizing and energizing my being in preparation for my mission. I realized that I would be returning to earthly life and that God was preparing and orienting me for that return.
God began to imbue me with universal knowledge. I realized that I had always thirsted for this knowledge and I wanted to absorb as much as I could. As I remained suspended in God's light, I felt this knowledge penetrate and absorbed by my spiritual being. This knowledge was flowing through me in the same manner as God's love, pulsating through my being. Dan was back at my side again. We descended together from God's light into a universe of bright stars. We were again in the deepest void of space, but now I felt comfortable in this environment as well as in my spirit body, and I felt at home in this celestial location. As Dan and I continued to descend, I was startled by the magnificent ethereal structure directly below us. The heavenly structure resembled an amphitheater similar to those found in ancient civilizations. This amphitheater was made of a brilliant, crystal-like substance that radiated multi-colored waves of energy throughout its form. The amphitheater was suspended in the void of space in the same fashion that a space station might hover in space. The amphitheater was similar in size to a sports stadium and conveyed a great majesty.
The iridescent amphitheater of the spirits
As Dan and I descended closer to the amphitheater, I realized that it was filled with thousands of spiritual beings. We hovered directly over the structure, and I felt a vibrant energy envelop me. The energy seemed to come from the crystalline structure of the amphitheater. The lower we descended, the more I was drawn to the energy. I sensed that the thousands of spiritual beings there were also absorbing this energy. They were sending out waves of energy to one another as well as to Dan and me. We were now descending onto the celestial field, which was surrounded by the large arc of the amphitheater. Although I first felt it as energy, I recognized that the energy emanating from the crystalline structure was also a symphonic sound. Soon Dan and I were suspended in the center of the celestial field which meant that we were the focus of attention for the thousands of spiritual beings positioned throughout the amphitheater. Above, below, and behind us was the deep void of space. In front of us, thousands of spiritual beings were communicating, by musical sounds, feelings of goodwill to me. Their sounds of greeting were in harmony with the symphonic sounds of energy emanating from the amphitheater. Once I settled onto the celestial field, I could look directly into the crystalline surface of the amphitheater and watch as multi-colored prisms of light pulsated through the structure.
I was overwhelmed by the awesome sight before me, but the feelings of love that were conveyed to me by the spiritual beings were even more overwhelming. The spiritual beings were cheering me, conveying loving encouragement and support: «You are doing wonderfully. We are here to support you. Continue to do good work, and we will help you. You are part of us, and we are part of you. We stand ready to come to your aid when you need us, and you will. Call us. Beckon us. We will flock to you when the time comes!». Frankly, I was confused by all the attention. There wasn't anything wonderful about the way I had conducted my life. Perhaps the spiritual beings were speaking of what was yet to come. They certainly could not have been speaking of earlier events in my life. I thought, «How can I be doing wonderfully? I almost killed someone tonight. Could I be justified in what I tried to do?». Dan interceded: «You were spiritually rescued from a negative event that was taking place in your life. You just tried to communicate a negative thought concerning this event. You cannot speak of such things here. There are no negative thoughts here, only positive affirmations. They cannot hear you; they will not hear you when you speak or think in negativity. You must be positive to perform your mission».
Relatives and friends
I turned to my right, realizing that a group of spiritual beings had joined us on the celestial field. This event was indeed a homecoming for me. Among the group of spiritual beings, I recognized deceased friends and relatives from my life. I also recognized other friends from my spiritual life prior to my birth on Earth. I was filled with joy when I recognized my grandparents, aunts, and uncles who had died during my life. However, I was disappointed because I did not see my Dad among the group. I then recognized other friends from my life, including a girl from high school. I did not know she had died. The feelings of love and joy that I shared with these relatives and friends were far beyond the emotions I had shared with them during my life. As the child of an alcoholic and broken home, I did not communicate feelings to relatives or friends very well. In fact, I wasn't aware that I had many feelings. Most of my feelings were hidden inside. Now that I was at my homecoming as a spiritual being, the greetings were the kind that I had imagined took place in a healthy family. It seemed as if we were celebrating every major holiday, every birth and birthday, every wonderful event in all of our lives in a manner that we could never celebrate as mortal human beings. I wanted this celebration and homecoming to continue forever, but a silence suddenly fell across the crowded amphitheater.
The life review
All attention seemed to be directed to the celestial field around me, and a shimmering, luminescent sphere enveloped me, making me feel as if I had stepped into a crystal globe. Although I was aware that the crystalline sphere was suspended on the celestial field in view of all the spiritual beings in attendance, I found myself in a different celestial realm. Somehow the spiritual beings were still observing me inside this crystal sphere. I realized why the hush of silence had falle n over the crowd: my life review was about to begin – in public, it seemed. I was aware that I was about to review every event, thought, emotion, and experience of my life. I became aware that the purpose of the review was for me to evaluate my life in terms of my intended mission as a human, to review my life in a manner that permitted me to focus on the areas that providede the most important experiences in terms of my spiritual growth and development. Although I was alone in the crystalline sphere, I was aware that I was in the presence of God and watched over by the many spiritual beings in the amphitheater who were encouraging me with their love and support. Nothing about my life was a secret to God, nor to the spiritual beings, yet I did not perceive that I was being judged. I realized that all who were part of God's spiritual creation had fallen from God and had made mistakes in their own journeys. There was no one among the assemblage of spiritual beings who was about to cast the first sone at me.
At this point Ned begins the complete revision of his life, at the end of which he is shown the future of humanity. Some time after his NDE, Ned visited the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. While standing in front of his friend's name on the wall, Ned had another NDE.
A shock and an apocalyptic vision
I stood again in front of the slab of granite bearing my friend's name. I thought back to the night of July 2, when I left my body in the ambulance and floated free to be greeted by Dan. That evening had been the start of a long and difficult path of spiritual discovery that was still only just beginning. It was no coincidence that I had been drawn back to this wall on this particular night. As I reached out to touch my friend's name on the wall, a shock of energy went through my body. I felt my body falling to the ground. I was now free of that body and floating above it. I was enveloped in an intense light. I was in the presence of a great spiritual being. A booming voice filled the air; it was the most powerful voice I had ever heard. It was the voice of the Archangel Michael. I recognized that he was conveying a message of importance: «Your forefathers created one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all. These were men of high ideals, spiritually guided and inspired to create a nation and a civilization to be admired and respected, to set an example for the rest of the world. In exercising their free will under God's guidance and direction, they created a Constitution and a Bill of Rights for every man, woman, and child to live in freedom in the pursuit of happiness. Yet these highminded and spiritual men were soon replaced by others who, in the exercise of their free will, chose to put their egos before God and to joust with God's plan. You became a nation of spoilers, man against man, brother against brother, government against citizens, and the chosen nation became a warrior with and against other nations. You have become a nation of criminals and murderers. You murder in wars. You murder the innocent. You murder your children. Your leaders create laws to justify the murders, to attempt to make wrongs right, to rewrite morals and ethics to
«You have created sciences and philosophies to support activities that only recognize earthbound realities that not only refuse to recognize the spiritual nature of man himself, but refuse to recognize even the existence of God. You have taken God and his works of prayer and meditation out of your government, out of your institutions, out of your schools. You have done everything you can to deny his existence, and you find yourselves in a world filled with wars, hatred, starvation, and death, and you do not understand why the rest of the world does not follow your shining example. You are a nation at war with itself, filled with hatred, prejudice, crime, drugs, and murder. Yet when the few of you who do look to God ask him why all these things are allowed to happen, you do not hear his answer. You are members of the human race, universally created by God and given free will individually by divine right, and you would not wish to have it any other way. Yet every little act of free will that man has exercised from the beginning of time that was not in accordance with God's plan, multiplied in its impact and its negativity on the future of man. Every simple act of aggression multiplied into acts of world war. Every simple act of greed multiplied into worldwide human suffering and starvation. Every act of destruction of God's environment on earth multiplied into destructive forces of nature – earthquakes, floods, pestilence, nuclear destruction and nuclear waste. Every act of violence escalated into acts of murder and the extermination of ethnic people for their appearance or beliefs».
«Yet, God created a nation of high ideals for you to survive other empires and civilizations that crumbled into oblivion, for their leaders placed themselves as men above God, and now those empires and civilizations are but piles of dust or buried under the waters. You sit on the edge of the new millennium, poised for the future of humankind, and you are headed, like all great civilizations of the past, to be reduced to piles of dust, to be covered over by the waters. Yet, God comes to you again, to appeal to you as a people, to appeal to you as a nation, to appeal to your leaders. His army of angels is visiting upon you with a life force of energy, a spiritual energy radiated by the Creator to all humankind. Many of you feel the vibrancy of his energy and his divine presence. He is communicating with you spiritually, telling you to raise yourselves to the level of spiritual transformation that is necessary for those of you who hear him to spread his message and his energy, to recognize that he is coming. Guided by prayer and meditation, all men, women, and children may answer his call, but it must be soon. Time is running out! The angels are coming! Do you hear them? Are you listening? Are you listening?».
As the Archangel Michael's message ended in a haunting echo, I began to float gently back down into my body. Several people
In the last part of this NDE is present, as in others, a kind of prophetic message that focuses on the dichotomy between the otherworldly dimension (what we might call the spirit world) and this human dimension, in which instincts, interests and behaviors prevail, that are incomprehensible, almost alien, to the spirit. This dichotomy has been present for thousands of years in the history of mankind, and is continuously manifested in the psychic tunings related to the presumed importance of earthly human life, and its scarce relevance compared to eternal life, which nevertheless takes place, if ever, in another dimension.
This topic will be dealt with in the section dedicated to survival, since it is of fundamental importance for understanding the evolution of the human psyche. Here, once again, the extraordinary features of the psychic tuning related to an otherworldly dimension are highlighted: in this, as in other NDEs, an energy perceived as real manifests itself in the form of absolute and unconditional love, which radiates on all created beings, which welcomes and does not judge, which unites and does not separate, symbolized by the formula everything is but one. It is symptomatic of this psychic tuning a happiness that we could describe as glorious and eternal, almost completely indifferent to the difficulties and worries that have characterized the earthly life of a human being. For this reason Dougherty could affirm: «There was nothing admirable in the way I had lived my life», and at the same time feeling urged and helped in the task of giving importance to his earthly life. We have seen how in different NDEs the life review constitutes one of the cardinal elements of experience (sometimes preceded by the question: «What have you done with your life?»), without implying a judgment in the sense that we give to this term with our ordinary psyche. It is rather a comprehensive and loving awareness of what has been experienced, often accompanied by a sense of regret for not having been able to orientate differently the actions and thoughts determined by the functioning of our psycho-physical system.