Howard Storm's NDE
An NDE that radically changed the psychic tunings of the protagonist
The beginning of this NDE presents all the characteristics of distressing experiences, to then evolve into a classic positive and luminous NDE. By his own admission, Howard Storm, an art teacher at the University of Kentucky, was not a very pleasant person. A professed atheist, hostile to any form of religion and to those who practiced it, he often used anger to control others. He believed in nothing that could not be seen, touched or perceived through the senses. He was certain that the material world represented everything that could exist, and considered the systems of faith associated with religions as fantasies used by people as self-deception. Beyond what science said, there could be nothing else. In June 1985, at the age of 38, Storm had an NDE as a result of a stomach perforation, and his life changed forever. This change was so radical as to induce him to resign from his activity as a teacher and to devote himself to the study of theology at a seminary, until he became a minister of the United Church of Christ. The following story is taken from his book My Descent into Death. (Source: www.near-death.com).
An invitation to hell from strange beings
Storm was in intense agony and dying). Struggling to say goodbye to my wife, I wrestled with my emotions. Telling her that I loved her very much was as much of a goodbye as I could utter because of my emotional distress. Sort of relaxing and closing my eyes, I waited for the end. This was it, I felt. This was the big nothing, the big blackout, the one you never wake up from, the end of existence. I had absolute certainty that there was nothing beyond this life, because that was how really smart people understood it. While I was undergoing this stress, prayer or anything like that never occurred to me. I never once thought about it. If I mentioned God's name at all it was only as a profanity. For a time there was a sense of being unconscious or asleep. I'm not sure how long it lasted, but I felt really strange, and I opened my eyes. To my surprise I was standing up next to the bed, and I was looking at my body laying in the bed. My first reaction was, «This is crazy! I can't be standing here looking down at myself. That's not possible». This wasn't what I expected, this wasn't right. Why was I still alive? I
Now knowing what was happening, I became upset. I started yelling and screaming at my wife, and she just sat there like a stone. She didn't look at me, she didn't move, and I kept screaming profanities to get her to pay attention. Being confused, upset, and angry, I tried to get the attention of my room-mate, with the same result. He didn't react. I wanted this to be a dream, and I kept saying to myself, «This has got to be a dream». But I knew that it wasn't a dream. I became aware that strangely I felt more alert, more aware, more alive than I had ever felt in my entire life. All my senses were extremely acute. Everything felt tingly and alive. The floor was cool and my bare feet felt moist and clammy. This had to be real. I squeezed my fists and was amazed at how much I was feeling in my hands just by making a fist.
Then I heard my name. I heard, «Howard, Howard, come here». Wondering, at first, where it was coming from, I discovered that it was originating in the doorway. There were different voices calling me. I asked who they were, and they said, «We are here to take care of you. We will fix you up. Come with us». Asking, again, who they were, I asked them if they were doctors and nurses. They responded, «Quick, come see. You'll find out». As I asked them questions they gave evasive answers. They kept giving me a sense of urgency, insisting that I should step through the doorway. With some reluctance I stepped into the hallway, and in the hallway I was in a fog, or a haze. It was a light-colored haze. It wasn't a heavy haze. I could see my hand, for example, but the people who were calling me were 15 or 20 feet ahead, and I couldn't see them clearly. They were more like silhouettes, or shapes, and as I moved toward them they backed off into the haze. As I tried to get close to them to identify them, they quickly withdrew deeper into the fog. So I had to follow into the fog deeper and deeper. These strange beings kept urging me to come with them. I repeatedly asked them where we were going, and they responded, «Hurry up, you'll find out». They wouldn't answer anything. The only response was insisting that I hurry up and follow them. They told me repeatedly that my pain was meaningless and unnecessary. «Pain is bullshit», they said.
I knew that we had been traveling for miles, but I occasionally had the strange ability to look back and see the hospital room. My body was still there lying motionless on the bed. My perspective at these times was as if I were floating above the room looking down. It seemed millions and millions of miles away. Looking back into the room, I saw my wife and my room-mate, and I decided they had not been able to help me so I would go with these people. Walking for what seemed to be a considerable distance, these beings were all around me. They were leading me through the haze. I don't know how long. There was a real sense of timelessness about the experience. In a real sense I am unaware of how long it was, but it felt like a long time, maybe even days or weeks. As we traveled, the fog got thicker and darker, and the people began to change. At first they seemed rather playful and happy, but when we had covered some distance, a few of them began to get aggressive. The more questioning and suspicious I was, the more antagonistic and rude and authoritarian they became. They began to make jokes about my bare rear end which wasn't covered by my hospital dicky and about how pathetic I was. I knew they were talking about me, but when I tried to find out exactly what they were saying they would say, «Shhh, he can hear you, he can hear you». Then, others would seem to caution the aggressive ones. It seemed that I could hear them warn the aggressive ones to be careful or I would be frightened away.
Wondering what was happening, I continued to ask questions, and they repeatedly urged me to hurry and to stop asking questions. Feeling uneasy, especially since they continued to get aggressive, I considered returning, but I didn't know how to get back. I was lost. There were no features that I could relate to. There was just the fog and a wet, clammy ground, and I had no sense of direction. All my communication with them took place verbally just as ordinary human communication occurs. They didn't appear to know what I was thinking, and I didn't know what they were thinking. What was increasingly obvious was that they were liars and help was farther away the more I stayed with them. Hours ago, I had hoped to die and end the torment of life. Now things were worse as I was forced by a mob of unfriendly and cruel people toward some unknown destination in the darkness. They began shouting and hurling insults at me, demanding that I hurry along. And they refused to answer any question. Finally, I told them that I wouldn't go any farther. At that time they changed completely. They became much more aggressive and insisted that I was going with them. A number of them began to push and shove me, and I responded by hitting back at them. A wild orgy of frenzied taunting, screaming and hitting ensued. I fought like a wild man. All the while it was obvious that they were having great fun. It seemed to be, almost, a game for them, with me as the center-piece of their amusement. My pain became their pleasure. They seemed to want to make me hurt by clawing at me and biting me. Whenever I would get one off me, there were five more to replace the one.
By this time it was almost complete darkness, and I had the sense that instead of there being twenty or thirty, there were an innumerable host of them. Each one seemed set on coming in for the sport they got from hurting me. My attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began to physically humiliate me in the most degrading ways. As I continued to fight on and on, I was aware that they weren't in any hurry to win. They were playing with me just as a cat plays with a mouse. Every new assault brought howls of cacophony. Then at some point, they began to tear off pieces of my flesh. To my horror I realized I was being taken apart and eaten alive, slowly, so that their entertainment would last as long a possible. At no time did I ever have any sense that the beings who seduced and attacked me were anything other than human beings. The best way I can describe them is to think of the worst imaginable person stripped of every impulse to do good. Some of them seemed to be able to tell others what to do, but I had no sense of any structure or hierarchy in an organizational sense. They didn't appear to be controlled or directed by anyone. Basically they were a mob of beings totally driven by unbridled cruelty and passions. During our struggle I noticed that they seemed to feel no pain. Other than that they appeared to possess no special non-human or super-human abilities. Although during my initial experience with them I assumed that they were clothed, in our intimate physical contact I never felt any clothing whatsoever.
Defeat and resignation
Fighting well and hard for a long time, ultimately I was spent. Lying there exhausted amongst them, they began to calm down since I was no longer the amusement that I had been. Most of the beings gave up in disappointment because I was no longer amusing, but a few still picked and gnawed at me and ridiculed me for no longer being any fun. By this time I had been pretty much taken apart. People were still picking at me, occasionally, and I just lay there all torn up, unable to resist. Exactly what happened was... and I'm not going to try and explain this. From inside of me I felt a voice, my voice, say, «Pray to God». My mind responded to that, «I don't pray. I don't know how to pray». This is a guy lying on the ground in the darkness surrounded by what appeared to be dozens if not hundreds and hundreds of vicious creatures who had just torn him up. The situation seemed utterly hopeless, and I seemed beyond any possible help whether I believed in God or not. The voice again told me to pray to God. It was a dilemma since I didn't know how. The voice told me a third time to pray to God. I started saying things like, «The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want... God bless America», and anything else that seemed to have a religious connotation.
And these people went into a frenzy, as if I had thrown boiling oil all over them. They began yelling and screaming at me, telling me to quit, that there was no God, and no one could hear me. While they screamed and yelled obscenities, they also began backing away from me as if I were poison. As they were retreating, they became more rabid, cursing and screaming that what I was saying was worthless and that I was a coward. I screamed back at them, «Our Father who art in heaven», and similar ideas. This continued for some time until, suddenly, I was aware that they had left. It was dark, and I was alone yelling things that sounded churchy. It was pleasing to me that these churchy sayings had such an effect on those awful beings. Lying there for a long time, I was in such a state of hopelessness, and blackness, and despair, that I had no way of measuring how long it was. I was just lying there in an unknown place all torn and ripped. And I had no strength; it was all gone. It seemed as if I were sort of fading out, that any effort on my part would expend the last energy I had. My conscious sense was that I was perishing, or just sinking into the darkness.
Saved by a being of light and love
Now I didn't know if I was even in the world. But I did know that I was here. I was real, all my senses worked too painfully well. I didn't know how I had arrived here. There was no direction to follow even if I had been physically able to move. The agony that I had suffered during the day was nothing compared to what I was feeling now. I knew then that this was the absolute end of my existence, and it was more horrible than anything I could possibly have imagined. Then a most unusual thing happened. I heard very clearly, once again in my own voice, something that I had learned in nursery Sunday School. It was the little song, «Jesus loves me, yes I know...», and it kept repeating. I don't know why, but all of a sudden I wanted to believe that.
Not having anything left, I wanted to cling to that thought. And I, inside, screamed, «Jesus, please save me». That thought was screamed with every ounce of strength and feeling left in me. When I did that, I saw, off in the darkness somewhere, the tiniest little star. Not knowing what it was, I presumed it must be a comet or a meteor, because it was moving rapidly. Then I realized it was coming toward me. It was getting very bright, rapidly. When the light came near, its radiance spilled over me, and I just rose up – not with my effort – I just lifted up. Then I saw – and I saw this very plainly – I saw all my wounds, all my tears, all my brokenness, melt away. And I became whole in this radiance. What I did was to cry uncontrollably. I was crying, not out of sadness, but because I was feeling things that I had never felt before in my life.
Another thing happened. Suddenly I knew a whole bunch of things. I knew things... I knew that this light, this radiance, knew me. I don't know how to explain to you that I knew it knew me, I just did. As a matter of fact, I understood that it knew me better than my mother or father did. The luminous entity that embraced me knew me intimately and began to communicate a tremendous sense of knowledge. I knew that he knew everything about me and I was being unconditionally loved and accepted. The light conveyed to me that it loved me in a way that I can't begin to express. It loved me in a way that I had never known that love could possibly be. He was a concentrated field of energy, radiant in splendor indescribable, except to say goodness and love. This was more loving than one can imagine.
I knew that this radiant being was powerful. It was making me feel so good all over. I could feel its light on me – like very gentle hands around me. And I could feel it holding me. But it was loving me with overwhelming power. After what I had been through, to be completely known, accepted, and intensely loved by this Being of Light surpassed anything I had known or could have imagined. I began to cry and the tears kept coming and coming. And we, I and this light, went up and out of there. We started going faster and faster, out of the darkness. Embraced by the light, feeling wonderful and crying, I saw off in the distance something that looked like the picture of a galaxy, except that it was larger and there were more stars than I had seen on Earth. There was a great center of brilliance. In the center there was an enormously bright concentration. Outside the center countless millions of spheres of light were flying about entering and leaving what was a great being-ness at the center. It was off in the distance.
Fear and hope
Then I... I didn't say it, I thought it. I said, «Put me back». What I meant by telling the light to put me back, was to put me back into the pit. I was so ashamed of who I was, and what I had been all of my life, that all I wanted to do was hide in the darkness. I didn't want to go toward the light anymore – I did; yet I didn't. How many times in my life had I denied and scoffed at the reality before me, and how many thousands of times had I used it as a curse. What incredible intellectual arrogance to use the name as an insult. I was afraid to go closer. I was also aware that the incredible intensity of the emanations might disintegrate what I still experienced as my intact physical body.
The being who was supporting me, my friend, was aware of my fear and reluctance and shame. For the first time he spoke to my mind in a male voice and told me that if I was uncomfortable we didn't have to go closer. So we stopped where we were, still countless miles away from the great being. For the first time, my friend, and I will refer to him in that context hereafter, said to me, «You belong here». Facing all the splendor made me acutely aware of my lowly condition. My response was: «No, you've made a mistake, put me back». And he said, «We don't make mistakes. You belong». Then he called out in a musical tone to the luminous entities who surrounded the great center. Several came and circled around us. During what follows some came and went but normally there were five or six and sometimes as many as eight with us. I was still crying. One of the first things these marvelous beings did was to ask, all with thought, «Are you afraid of us?» I told them I wasn't. They said that they could turn their brilliance down and appear as people, and I told them to stay as they were. They were the most beautiful, the most...
The color glory
As an aside, I'm an artist. There are three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary colors in the visible light spectrum. Here, I was seeing a visible light spectrum with at least 80 new primary colors. I was also seeing this brilliance. It's disappointing for me to try and describe, because I can't: I was seeing colors that I had never seen before. What these beings were showing me was their glory. I wasn't really seeing them. And I was perfectly content. Having come from a world of shapes and forms, I was delighted with this new, formless, world. These beings were giving me what I needed at that time. To my surprise, and also distress, they seemed to be capable of knowing everything I was thinking. I didn't know whether I would be capable of controlling my thoughts and keeping anything secret.
We began to engage in thought exchange, conversation that was very natural, very easy and casual. I heard their voices clearly and individually. They each had a distinct personality with a voice, but they spoke directly to my mind, not my ears. And they used normal, colloquial English. Everything I thought, they knew. They all seemed to know and understand me very well and to be completely familiar with my thoughts and my past. I didn't feel any desire to ask for someone I had known because they all knew me. Nobody could know me any better. It also didn't occur to me to try to identify them as uncle or grandfather. It was like going to a large gathering of relatives at Christmas and not being quite able to remember their names or who they are married to or how they are connected to you. But you do know that you are with your family. I don't know if they were related to me or not. It felt like they were closer to me than anyone I had ever known.
Throughout my conversation with the luminous beings, which lasted for what seemed like a very long time, I was being physically supported by the being in whom I had been engulfed. We were in a sense completely stationary yet hanging in space. Everywhere around us were countless radiant beings, like stars in the sky, coming and going. It was like a super magnified view of a galaxy super packed with stars. And in the giant radiance of the center they were packed so densely together that individuals could not be identified. Their selves were in such harmony with the Creator that they were really just one. One of the reasons, I was told, that all the countless beings had to go back to their source was to become invigorated with this sense of harmony and oneness. Being apart for too long a time diminished them and made them feel separate. Their greatest pleasure was to go back to the sources of all life.
The life review
Our initial conversation involved them simply trying to comfort me. Something that disturbed me was that I was naked. Somewhere in the darkness I'd lost my hospital gown. I was a human being. I had a body. They told me this was okay. They were quite familiar with my anatomy. Gradually I relaxed and stopped trying to cover my privates with my hands. Next, they wanted to talk about my life. To my surprise my life played out before me, maybe six or eight feet in front of me, from beginning to end. The life review was very much in their control, and they showed me my life, but not from my point of view. I saw me in my life and this whole thing was a lesson, even though I didn't know it at the time. They were trying to teach me something, but I didn't know it was a teaching experience, because I didn't know that I would be coming back.
We just watched my life from beginning to the end. Some things they slowed down on, and zoomed in on and other things they went right through. My life was shown in a way that I had never thought of before. All of the things that I had worked to achieve, the recognition that I had worked for, in elementary school, in high school, in college, and in my career, they meant nothing in this setting. I could feel their feelings of sorrow and suffering, or joy, as my life's review unfolded. They didn't say that something was bad or good, but I could feel it. And I could sense all those things they were indifferent to. They didn't, for example, look down on my high school shot-put record. They just didn't feel anything towards it, nor towards other things which I had taken so much pride in.
Opportunism and love
What they responded to was how I had interacted with other people. That was the long and short of it. Unfortunately, most of my interactions with other people didn't measure up with how I should have interacted, which was in a loving way. Whenever I did react during my life in a loving way they rejoiced. Most of the time I found that my interactions with other people had been manipulative. During my professional career, for example, I saw myself sitting in my office, playing the college professor, while a student came to me with a personal problem. I sat there looking compassionate, and patient, and loving, while inside I was bored to death. I would check my watch under my desk as I anxiously waited for the student to finish. I got to go through all those kinds of experiences in the company of these magnificent beings.
When I was a teenager my father's career put him into a high-stress, twelve-hour-a-day job. Out of my resentment because of his neglect of me, when he came home from work, I would be cold and indifferent toward him. This made him angry, and it gave me further excuse to feel hatred toward him. He and I fought, and my mother would get upset. Most of my life I had felt that my father was the villain and I was the victim. When we reviewed my life I got to see how I had precipitated so much of that, myself. Instead of greeting him happily at the end of a day, I was continually putting thorns in him in order to justify my hurt. I got to see when my sister had a bad night one night, how I went into her bedroom and put my arms around her. Not saying anything, I just lay there with my arms around her. As it turned out that experience was one of the biggest triumphs of my life.
The entire life's review would have been emotionally destructive, and would have left me a psychotic person, if it hadn't been for the fact that my friend, and my friend's friends, were loving me during the unfolding of my life. I could feel that love. Every time I got a little upset they turned the life's review off for awhile, and they just loved me. Their love was tangible. You could feel it on your body, you could feel it inside you; their love went right through you. I wish I could explain it to you, but I can't. The therapy was their love, because my life's review kept tearing me down. It was pitiful to watch, just pitiful. I couldn't believe it. And the thing is, it got worse as it went on. My stupidity and selfishness as a teenager only magnified as I became an adult, all under the veneer of being a good husband, a good father, and a good citizen. The hypocrisy of it all was nauseating. But through it all was their love.
When the review was finished they asked, «Do you want to ask any questions?» and I had a million questions. I asked, for example, «What about the Bible?» I asked if it was true, and they said it was. Asking them why it was that when I tried to read it, all I saw were contradictions, they took me back to my life's review again – something that I had overlooked. They showed me, for the few times I had opened the Bible, that I had read it with the idea of finding contradictions and problems. I was trying to prove to myself that it wasn't worth reading. I observed to them that the Bible wasn't clear to me. It didn't make sense. They told me that it contained spiritual truth, and that I had to read it spiritually in order to understand it. It should be read prayerfully. My friends informed me that it was not like other books. They also told me, and I later found out this was true, that when you read it prayerfully, it talks to you. It reveals itself to you. And you don't have to work at it anymore.
My friends answered lots of questions in funny ways. They really knew the whole tone of what I asked them, even before I got the questions out. When I thought of questions in my head, they really understood them. I asked them, for example, which was the best religion. I was looking for an answer which was like, «Presbyterians». I figured these guys were all Christians. The answer I got was, «The best religion is the religion that brings you closest to God». Asking them if there was life on other planets, their surprising answer was that the universe was full of life. Because of my fear of a nuclear holocaust I asked if there was going to be a nuclear war in the world, and they said no. That astonished me, and I gave them this extensive explanation of how I had lived under the threat of nuclear war. That was one of the reasons I was who I was. I figured, when I was in this life, that it was all sort of hopeless; the world was going to blow up anyway, and nothing made much sense. In that context I felt I could do what I wanted, since nothing mattered.
They said, «No, there isn't going to be any nuclear war». I asked if they were absolutely sure there wasn't going to be nuclear war. They reassured me again, and I asked them how they could be so sure. Their response was: «God loves the world». They told me that at the most, one or two nuclear weapons might go off accidentally, if they weren't destroyed, but there wouldn't be a nuclear war. I then asked them how come there had been so many wars. They said that they allowed those few to happen, out of all the wars that humanity tried to start. Out of all the wars that humans tried to create, they allowed a few, to bring people to their senses and to stop them. Science, technology, and other benefits, they told me, had been gifts bestowed on humanity by them, through inspiration. People had literally been led to those discoveries, many of which had later been perverted by humanity to use for its own destruction. We could do too much damage to the planet. And by the planet, they meant all of God's creation. Not just the people, but the animals, the trees, the birds, the insects, everything.
They explained to me that their concern was for all the people of the world. They weren't interested in one group getting ahead of other groups. They want every person to consider every other person greater than their own flesh. They want everyone to love everyone else, completely; more, even, than they love themselves. If someone, someplace else in the world hurts, than we should hurt we should feel their pain. And we should help them. Our planet has evolved to the point, for the first time in our history, that we have the power to do that. We are globally linked. And we could become one people.
Towards an ideal world?
The people that they gave the privilege of leading the world into a better age, blew it. That was us, in the United States. When I spoke with them about the future, and this might sound like a copout on my part, they made clear to me that we have free will. If we change the way we are, then we can change the future which they showed me. They showed me a view of the future, at the time of my experience, based upon how we in the United States were behaving at that time. It was a future in which a massive worldwide depression would occur. If we were to change our behavior, however, then the future would be different.
Asking them how it would be possible to change the course of many people, I observed that it was difficult, if not impossible, to change anything on Earth. I expressed the opinion that it was a hopeless task to try. My friends explained, quite clearly, that all it takes to make a change was one person. One person, trying, and then because of that, another person changing for the better. They said that the only way to change the world was to begin with one person. One will become two, which will become three, and so on. That's the only way to affect a major change.
I inquired as to where the world would be going in an optimistic future one where some of the changes they desired were to take place. The image of the future that they gave me then, and it was their image, not one that I created, surprised me. My image had previously been sort of like Star Wars, where everything was space age, plastics, and technology. The future that they showed me was almost no technology at all. What everybody, absolutely everybody, in this euphoric future spent most of their time doing was raising children. The chief concern of people was children, and everybody considered children to be the most precious commodity in the world. And when a person became an adult, there was no sense of anxiety, nor hatred, nor competition. There was this enormous sense of trust and mutual respect. If a person, in this view of the future, became disturbed, then the community of people all cared about the disturbed person falling away from the harmony of the group. Spiritually, through prayer and love, the others would elevate the afflicted person. What people did with the rest of their time was that they gardened, with almost no physical effort. They showed me that plants, with prayer, would produce huge fruits and vegetables. People, in unison, could control the climate of the planet through prayer. Everybody would work with mutual trust and the people would call the rain, when needed, and the sun to shine. Animals lived with people, in harmony.
People, in this best of all worlds, weren't interested in knowledge; they were interested in wisdom. This was because they were in a position where anything they needed to know, in the knowledge category, they could receive simply through prayer. Everything, to them, was solvable. They could do anything they wanted to do. In this future, people had no wanderlust, because they could, spiritually, communicate with everyone else in the world. There was no need to go elsewhere. They were so engrossed with where they were and the people around them that they didn't have to go on vacation. Vacation from what? They were completely fulfilled and happy.
The happy death
Death, in this world, was a time when the individual had experienced everything that he or she needed to experience. To die meant to lie down and let go; then the spirit would rise up, and the community would gather around. There would be a great rejoicing, because they all had insight into the heavenly realm, and the spirit would join with the angels that came down to meet it. They could see the spirit leave and knew that it was time for the spirit to move on; it had outgrown the need for growth in this world. Individuals who died had achieved all they were capable of in this world in terms of love, appreciation, understanding, and working in harmony with others. The sense I got of this beautiful view of the world's future was as a garden, God's garden. And in this garden of the world, full of all beauty, were people. The people were born into this world to grow in their understanding of the Creator. Then to shed this skin, this shell, in the physical world, and to graduate and move up into heaven there, to have a more intimate and growing relationship with God.
What happens after death
I asked my friend, and his friends, about death – what happens when we die? They said that when a loving person dies, angels come down to meet him, and they take him up – gradually, at first, because it would be unbearable for that person to be instantly exposed to God. Knowing what's inside of every person, the angels don't have to prove anything by showing off. They know what each of us needs, so they provide that. In some cases it may be a heavenly meadow, and in another, something else. If a person needs to see a relative, the angels will bring that relative. If the person really likes jewels, they will show the person jewels. We see what is necessary for our introduction into the spirit world, and those things are real, in the heavenly, the divine sense.
They gradually educate us as spirit beings, and bring us into heaven. We grow and increase, and grow and increase, and shed the concerns, desires, and base animal stuff that we have been fighting much of our life. Earthly appetites melt away. It is no longer a struggle to fight them. We become who we truly are, which is part of the divine. This happens to loving people, people who are good and love God. They made it clear to me that we don't have any knowledge or right to judge anybody else – in terms of that person's heart relationship to God. Only God knows what's in a person's heart. Someone whom we think is despicable, God might know as a wonderful person. Similarly, someone we think is good, God may see as a hypocrite, with a black heart. Only God knows the truth about every individual. God will ultimately judge every individual. And God will allow people to be dragged into darkness with like-minded creatures. I have told you, from my personal experience, what goes on in there. I don't know from what I saw anymore than that, but it's my suspicion that I only saw the tip of the iceberg. I deserved to be where I was: I was in the right place at the right time. That was the place for me, and the people I was around were perfect company for me. God allowed me to experience that, and then removed me, because he saw something redeeming in putting me through the experience. It was a way to purge me. People who are not allowed to be pulled into darkness, because of their loving nature, are attracted upwards, toward the light.
In the suburbs of paradise
I never saw God, and I was not in heaven. It was way out in the suburbs, and these are the things that they showed me. We talked for a long time, about many things, and then I looked at myself. When I saw me, I was glowing, I was radiant. I was becoming beautiful not nearly as beautiful as them but I had a certain sparkle that I never had before. Not being ready to face the Earth again, I told them that I wished to be with them forever. I said, «I'm ready, I'm ready to be like you and be here forever. This is great. I love it. I love you. You're wonderful». I knew that they loved me and knew everything about me. I knew that everything was going to be okay from now on. I asked if I could get rid of my body, which was definitely a hindrance, and become a being like them with the powers they had shown me.
They said, «No, you have to go back». They explained to me that I was very underdeveloped and that it would be of great benefit to return to my physical existence to learn. In my human life I would have an opportunity to grow so that the next time I was with them I would be more compatible. I would need to develop important characteristics to become like them and to be involved with the work that they do. Responding that I couldn't go back, I tried to argue with them, and I observed that if I bear that thought the thought that I might wind up in the pit again I pled with them to stay. My friends then said, «Do you think that we expect you to be perfect, after all the love we feel for you, even after you were on Earth blaspheming God, and treating everyone around you like dirt? And this, despite the fact that we were sending people to try and help you, to teach you the truth? Do you really think we would be apart from you now?».
I asked them, «But what about my own sense of failure? You've shown me how I can be better, and I'm sure I can't live up to that. I'm not that good». Some of my self-centeredness welled up and I said, «No way. I'm not going back». They said, «There are people who care about you; your wife, your children, your mother and father. You should go back for them. Your children need your help». I said, «You can help them. If you make me go back there are things that just won't work. If I go back there and make mistakes I won't be able to stand it because you've shown me I could be more loving and more compassionate and I'll forget. I'll be mean to someone or I'll do something awful to someone. I just know it's going to happen because I'm a human being. I'm going to blow it and I won't be able to stand it. I'll feel so bad I'll want to kill myself and I can't do that because life is precious. I might just go catatonic. So you can't send me back».
Mistakes are part of the human experience
They assured me that mistakes are an acceptable part of being human. «Go – they said, – and make all the mistakes you want. Mistakes are how you learn». As long as I tried to do what I knew was right, they said, I would be on the right path. If I made a mistake, I should fully recognize it as a mistake, then put it behind me and simply try not to make the same mistake again. The important things is to try one's best, keep one's standards of goodness and truth, and not compromise those to win people's approval. «But – I said, – mistakes make me feel bad». They said, «We love you the way you are, mistakes and all. And you can feel our forgiveness. You can feel our love any time you want to». I said, «I don't understand. How do I do that?». «Just turn inward – they said. – Just ask for our love and we'll give it to you if you ask from the heart».
They advised me to recognize it when I made a mistake and to ask for forgiveness. Before I even got the words out of my mouth, I would be forgiven but, I would have to accept the forgiveness. My belief in the principal of forgiveness must be real, and I would have to know that the forgiveness was given. Confessing, either in public or in private, that I had made a mistake, I should then ask for forgiveness. After that, it would be an insult to them if I didn't accept the forgiveness. I shouldn't continue to go around with a sense of guilt, and I should not repeat errors I should learn from my mistakes. «But – I said, – how will I know what is the right choice? How will I know what you want me to do?». They replied, «We want you to do what you want to do. That means making choices and there isn't necessarily any right choice. There are a spectrum of possibilities, and you should make the best choice you can from those possibilities. If you do that, we will be there helping you».
Human life as an opportunity to experience the psyche
I didn't give in easily. I argued that back there was full of problems and that here was everything I could possibly want. I questioned my ability to accomplish anything they would consider important in my world. They said the world is a beautiful expression of the Supreme being. One can find beauty or ugliness depending on what one directs one's mind toward. They explained that the subtle and complex development of our world was beyond my comprehension, but I would be a suitable instrument for the Creator. Every part of the creation, they explained, is infinitely interesting because it is a manifestation of the Creator. A very important opportunity for me would be to explore this world with wonder and enjoyment.
They never gave me a direct mission or purpose. Could I build a shrine or cathedral for God? They said those monuments were for humanity. They wanted me to live my life to love people not things. I told them I wasn't good enough to represent what I had just experienced with them on a worldly level. They assured me I would be given appropriate help whenever I might need it. All I had to do is ask. The luminous beings, my teachers, were very convincing. I was also acutely aware that not far away was the Great being, what I knew to be the Creator. They never said, «He wants it this way», but that was implied behind everything they said. I didn't want to argue too much because the Great Entity was so wonderful and so awesome. The love that was emanated was overwhelming. Presenting my biggest argument against coming back into the world, I told them that it would break my heart, and I would die, if I had to leave them and their love. Coming back would be so cruel, I said, that I couldn't stand it. I mentioned that the world was filled with hate and competition, and I didn't want to return to that maelstrom. I couldn't bear to leave them.
The return into the body
My friends observed that they had never been apart from me. I explained that I hadn't been aware of their presence, and if I went back I, again, wouldn't know they were there. Explaining how to communicate with them, they told me to get myself quiet, inside, and to ask for their love; then that love would come, and I would know they were there. They said, «You won't be away from us. We're with you. We've always been with you. We always will be right with you all the time». I said, «But how do I know that? You tell me that, but when I go back there it's just going to be a nice theory». They said, «Any time you need us we'll be there for you». I said, «You mean like you'll just appear?». They said, «No, no. We're not going to intervene in your life in any big way unless you need us. We're just going to be there and you'll feel our presence, you'll feel our love». After that explanation I ran out of arguments, and I said I thought I could go back. And, just like that, I was back. Returning to my body, the pain was there, only worse than before.
Howard Storm's NDE ends here. Returning to life wasn't easy for him. In addition to his physical problems, he had to face the usual array of uncomprehending and insensitive responses to his new spiritual condition. It began in the hospital, where he felt an overwhelming sense of love for everyone. He wanted to hug and kiss everyone, but couldn't even sit up. He would say, «Oh you're so beautiful» to anyone and everyone. So he was the joke of the floor. People found it very amusing. His sense of empathy expanded, as well as his compassion. He could, he said, feel the emotions of others more powerfully than his own.
There is no doubt that the experience of Storm is fascinating and engaging, even if it has too many utopian elements of a fideistic nature, if compared to the complexity of the problems of this world: for these reasons it can not be considered an objectively real testimony of an otherworldly dimension. By saying this, we don't want to deny the value of the subjective reality of the experience, given that one of the most surprising aspects of the psyche is that of being able to make experimentable and real what falls within the consciousness of each single human being. However, it should not be forgotten that these experiences always refer to a dimension that is not that of the physical world and earthly life, thus automatically and uncritically transferring the experiences, emotions and feelings pertinent to that otherworldly condition to the physical dimension we live in with our body, could have consequences different from those desired, despite our best intentions.