Following on from my review of the book Consciousness Beyond Life, here’s a review of another excellent, thought-provoking book on the Near Death Experience phenomenon. It is called Heading Towards Omega and it’s written by Dr Kenneth Ring. It was first published in 1984.
Heading Towards Omega focusses on people’s reports of their Near Death Experiences, when they temporarily died and experienced a supernatural event. The book gives their accounts of episodes they experienced decades earlier, as well as the circumstances of their NDE and the effect the NDE had on their ensuing life and how it changed their view of life and reality. The experiences of these subjects closely match those reported in Consciousness Beyond Life. Both books describe the person separating from the body, viewing their body from outside and observing people in the room. They then have an awareness of a tunnel and a light at the end of that tunnel. They travel down the tunnel and enter a realm of light. They find themselves in the presence of their loved ones and encounters with higher individuals filled with love. In the company of the loving helpers, they review their life so far, then they decide to return to their body and re-connect with the physical world – along with its pain, intensity and physical limitations. They finally return to a waking, aware state.
Unlike Pim Van Lommel’s book, Consciousness Beyond Life, Heading Towards Omega isn’t trying to prove the basis for the NDE experience. Instead, it acts more as a testament to what the subjects discovered. I found their profoundly affecting. They had a clear message to impart and it’s something all the NDE subjects seem to consistently agreed on. It’s worth remembering that this message came from ordinary people who did not have an axe to grind or were seeking profit from their experience. As a result, it became, for me, all the more compelling. In many cases, those NDE subjects had kept quiet about their NDE for a long time after their experience because of the ridicule, shock and distress they experienced when they tried to talk about it. Fortunately, Ring’s research, his earlier books and the efforts he made to act as an understanding ear enabled many of those subjects to come forward.
Here, in brief paragraphs, is my summary of what the NDE subjects reported when they were asked about key elements of existence, life and reality:
God: There is no God in the sense of a male, authority figure who judges people. Instead, God is described in the book as ‘the universe breathing’ or a source, or the ultimate source of love. In this sense, God, for a Near Death Experiencer, is close to the descriptions of the Tao in the Chinese religion of Taoism or the Atom in the ancient Egyptian book The Hermetica. God is an infinite, indefinable source of creation, love and compassion.
Our lives: Our physical life is a temporary event. Its content – the challenges we face during our life – is not random but partly pre-determined by ourselves. This is at odds with the view, espoused in many major religions, that God decides what happens to us whether we like it or not. Instead, NDE subjects give a very different answer. They say that we ourselves decide key events in our lives with the help of higher individuals of love. We set up the future challenges that will occur in our physical lives. We do this sometimes to make penance for what we did in previous physical lives and sometimes to give us challenges to overcome. By taking on these challenges, we can improve ourselves and prove to ourselves what we can do.
Material things: Physical or material possessions, as well as badges of rank, property, assets, etc, are all unimportant. The NDE subjects made it clear that after having their NDE, they lost almost all interest in amassing wealth. They explained that it is pointless, since all you are doing is losing yourself in the ephemera of a single reality that you’re only inhabiting for the purpose of improving yourself spiritually. This view matches the spiritual teachings of the ancient Hindu scriptures. Their term Maya, which they use for reality, means both a beautiful and magical creation and also a piece of trickery. These ancient Hindus warned that if people become caught in a maze of attachment and obsession with things, an obsession known as ‘samsara’, they can slide into prolonged ignorance and suffering.
Good acts: The NDE subjects emphasised that it is important not just to do one or two major good things in our lives but to be a positive, friendly, helpful person all the time. It is critically important to smile at people as you encounter them, project warmth and friendship and act as a shining example of positivity, and do it every day, as much as you can.
Honesty: Deception, lying, negative comments, all these are an anathema to an NDE subject. Several subjects reported that they avoided lying in any way if they could after their NDE, as it distressed them greatly.
Death: Death is not to be feared. In fact, several subjects stated that if people knew how wonderful the after-life was, many people would kill themselves straight away. Interestingly, the NDE’rs do not, with only rare exceptions, try and commit suicide after their NDE. The reason they give for this is that they have a life to lead and there are achievements they want to carry out. They do, though, live the rest of their lives with the knowledge that when it ends, they will return to an utterly beautiful place.
Hell: There is no Hell and no after-life judgement by God. We judge ourselves after we die and the after-life reality we experience is influenced by our state of mind. Some individuals therefore, who have a very negative state of mind, will experience an after-life that other, more loving people would regard as hellish, but no one is put in Hell by God.
The Future: The book includes statements by NDE subjects, in which they described visions of our planet’s future. Most of the predictions were grim and effectively described environmental destruction and runaway climate change, along with the possibility of nuclear war. Here are some of the quotes:
Oh my God, that’s going to be terrible. The weather is going to go crazy. We’re just as likely to have snow in the middle of the summer as one-hundred-degree weather… I see droughts in other countries.
We’ll start getting more droughts, which will bring about shortages in crops, and the shortage in crops will cause food prices to rise, which will cause a strain on the economic situation, which is already going downhill. Also, at the same time… because of the shortage of food and the failing economy, I see a strengthening of arms, which cause tension… These kind of hostilities and [increasing] inflation start more hostilities.
There is a silver-lining to this future storm-cloud. The NDE subjects do state that this traumatic period for us as a species will actually turn out be a very positive, transformative experience. This is because the experience for us will be like someone getting a heart-attack; the shock of it changes their whole attitude to their lives. As a result, we, as a species, will switch to a far more fulfilling and sustainable existence. After our period of climate meltdown, we, as a race, will no longer regard our living planet as something to be used but instead, something that is treasured.
I definitely recommend Heading Towards Omega, not just as a source of information but also as an emotional experience. The act of reading the first-hand descriptions by the people who’ve experienced an NDE, who come from all walks of life and many of whom tell very emotional and affecting stories, gives another level to the subject beyond dry discussions of theory. For those who do read the book and enjoy it, I also recommend Consciousness Beyond Life as a subsequent read, which I have also reviewed. Proof of Heaven, which I’ve also reviewed, is also a book worth reading, as it has the unique slant of being written by a neurosurgeon who experienced an NDE. Reading both books could be an outlook-changing experience. It was for me.