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January 21, 2012

Awakening Story of John Wren-Lewis

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John Wren-Lewis

What happened in 1983 could be classified technically as a Near-Death Experience (NDE), though it lacked any of the dramatic visionary features that tend to dominate both journalistic and scholarly NDE accounts. As I lay in a hospital bed in Thailand, after eating a poisoned candy given me by a would-be thief on a long-distance bus, there were some hours when the medical staff thought I’d gone beyond recall. But I had no out-of-body vision of what was going on, no review of my life, no passage down a dark tunnel to a heavenly light or landscape, and no encounter with celestial beings or deceased relatives telling me to go back because my work on earth was not yet done. And although I’d lost all fear of death when eventually resuscitated, this had (and has) nothing to do with believing I have an immortal soul that will survive death.


The fact that I’d undergone a radical consciousness shift began to become apparent only after everyone had settled down for the night and I was left awake, feeling as if I’d had enough sleep to last a lifetime. By stages I became aware that when I’d awakened a few hours earlier, it hadn’t been from a state of ordinary unconsciousness at all. It was as if I’d emerged freshly made (complete with all the memories that constitute my personal identity) from a vast blackness that was somehow radiant, a kind of infinitely concentrated aliveness or pure consciousness that had no separation within it, and therefore no space or time.

There was absolutely no sense of personal continuity. In fact the sense of a stop in time was so absolute that I’m now convinced I really did die, if only for a few seconds or fractions of a second, and was literally resurrected by the medical team, though there were no brain-wave monitors to provide objective confirmation. And if my conviction is correct, it actually counts against rather than for the claim so often made by near-death researchers that personal consciousness can exist apart from the brain. My impression is that my personal consciousness was actually snuffed out (the root meaning, according to some scholars, of the word nirvana) and then recreated by a kind of focusing-down from the infinite eternity of that radiant dark pure consciousness. An old nursery rhyme conveys it better than any high philosophy:

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of Everywhere into here.

Moreover that wonderful eternal life of everywhere was still there, right behind my eyes, or more accurately, at the back of my head, continually recreating my whole personal body-mind consciousness afresh, instant by instant, now! and now! and now! That’s no mere metaphor for a vague sensation; it was so palpably real that I put my hand up to probe the back of my skull, half wondering if the doctors had sawn part of it away to open my head to infinity. Yet it wasn’t in the least a feeling of being damaged; it was more like having had a cataract taken off my brain, letting me experience the world and myself properly for the first time, for that lovely dark radiance seemed to reveal the essence of everything as holy.

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Awakening Story of John Wren-Lewis, 8.4 out of 10 based on 5 ratings