When the history of this time is writ (assuming that our species is around to writ it), I predict that the prevalence of the near-death experience will be seen as the seminal event that helped jump-start our acceptance of consciousness as independent of the physical brain. Presently, established science sees the possibility of an independent consciousness as a threat, but it will not be so later in this century—again, if we are around to contemplate it.
The latest entry in the near-death genre is the very good “Changed In A Flash” by Elizabeth Krohn. Elizabeth Krohn was struck by lightning while walking through a synagogue parking lot in 1988. She was knocked unconscious and out of her body, was ushered away from the scene by a spiritual presence, and then spent an extended period of time in a place she calls the “Garden.” During this stay in the Garden, she conversed with the spiritual presence—unidentified, but possibly her guide—for about two weeks before deciding to return to physical life. Though she experienced a lengthy visit to this plane, she awakened in her body to discover that only a few minutes of earth time had passed. Like most NDErs, she returned transformed and unable to completely integrate her new self with the life she had been leading. The bulk of the book discusses the changes that this causes, while over half of the text is given over to commentary by Jeffrey Kripal (which I didn’t read).
Though Ms. Krohn’s account is short, taking up only a few chapters, it is detailed, complex, and difficult for me personally to summarize. Unlike some other published NDE accounts, I think Ms. Krohn’s is valid. I was introduced to this book via Whitley Strieber’s Dreamland interview, and I found her to be a credible witness. As far as I can tell, she hasn’t appeared on any other podcast or paranormal show, and she doesn’t have a website hawking “readings.” All-in-all, she comes across as a down-to-earth experiencer with a miraculous story. And rather than recount her story, I’d like to do is highlight a couple of areas of interest that I think are important to the subject of consciousness studies.
The oft-heard NDE admonition, “Go back, it is not your time” has been mainstreamed enough that it is now a cliche. Behind it, however, is a profound truth: the number of our days is largely set. Death is rarely an accident
What, then, of the near-death?
While I believe that we have “free will” and are allowed to make choices (and mistakes), a recurring theme throughout the NDE accounts that I’ve read is the idea that there is a time limit placed on our physical lives. This is a “hard” (non-negotiable) limit, though some experiencers are given an option to return to life. Most, however, are made to return, with the explanation from a spirit authority figure that the terminal limit of their lives has not been met (it is not their “time”). And while some near-death experiences are true accidents, others clearly are not—such as Ms. Krohn’s.
The sheer number of “random” choices and variables that would need to converge to produce one near-death event such as Ms. Krohn’s would (in my opinion) be impossible to calculate. Yet, Ms. Krohn was made to understand that this event was hard-wired into her life plan; the lightning strike had to happen, if not at that exact moment, then soon after:
I now know that had I not been struck by lightning on September 2, 1988, it would have happened on some other day. All the “what ifs” I can come up with no longer apply, because what was going to happen was going to happen. My guide in the Garden told me that, free will aside, the lightning strike event and all the things I can trace back to it were going to happen, regardless of what actions I may have taken on my own. Being struck by lightning was “in the contract” before I was born.
Ms. Krohn wrestles a bit with the free-will aspect of it all, but I think it’s safe to conclude that we retain free will for most of our actions—but some experiences can’t be skipped. These pre-determined experiences are ones that we have agreed to prior to birth. Being that Ms. Krohn’s encounter with lightning was meant to offer *near*-death rather than death, it is arranged in such a way as to offer her a return ticket to life should she so choose (the NDE was pre-determined, but the option to return was her free choice). The lightning strike occurred in front of a large synagogue “near a major medical center” with at least forty physicians attending a service at that moment, with one of the physicians “a doctor who had extensive experience treating victims of lightning strikes and electrocution.” The event was arranged that, should Ms. Krohn choose to return to life, she would be able to do so with minimum disruption.
Why this degree of planning and attention to an event where Elizabeth Krohn could have opted to die? This is pure speculation, but I believe that it was to allow her to return and tell her story.
Possibly one of the most difficult concepts in the Seth material, which he referenced in every book, is that of “simultaneous time.” Though Seth hammers this concept often throughout his material, I have never entirely understood it. I can glimpse fragments of the basic idea, and I have experimented with it, but as a whole, telling me that time is simultaneous is the same as telling me that time does not exist, which is experientially impossible. My brain refuses to accept it.
Ms. Krohn is forced to reckon with a non-linear time sequence in her NDE, which she goes to great length to explain. This suggests to me that she is describing a valid experience. Why expend so much effort to explain something profoundly inexplicable, if the inexplicable did not occur?
As I wrote previously, everything appeared to be happening all at once. But once I began to converse with my companion and receive information from him, time seemed to become linear again for the duration of my visit (or so is my memory here). I have come to understand that this happened not because time actually became linear for two weeks, but because I would have no other way of “decoding” the information I received in the Garden here in this world. The only way I can understand here what was told to me there is to remember it in linear terms. I know this is confusing. I honestly do not know if the near-death experience itself was linear, or whether I just need to remember it in those terms in order to decipher it. My gut feeling is that (a) time there was not linear, but (b) linear time is my only frame of reference here.
To the extent that I have tried to understand this matter of simultaneous time, I have concluded that our concept of time is restricted to a narrow focus on one linear thread that we measure with our usual tools, making events appear to be happening one after the other. Time outside of our context exists, but not as one restricted thread; it is multi-threaded, more expansive, and is not restricted to one event needing to follow one other. It includes more events, and the normal cause-and-effect sequencing is not determinate.
Maybe one way of comprehending simultaneous time is by looking at dreams. The difficulty of trying to remember a dream before it evaporates is universal, and it may give hints about the different uses of time at different stages of consciousness. Using myself as an example, many of my dreams do not have a clear moment-by-moment narrative; I have to create one while writing the dream down. I have to remember the dream story, along with the actors, and then work out what-happens-when. The process is akin to psychologically deconstructing an elaborate three-dimensional structure, flattening it, then pasting it onto the page, while hoping that I’ve captured enough of it so that some meaning is retained. And much of this difficulty is related to problems with time translation.
Current scientific evidence suggests that our concept and perception of time is rooted in the neurological structure of our brains (as this recent article suggests). Our brains are designed specifically to allow our consciousness to experience physical reality in a past-present-future and moment-by-moment way.
Why is this significant to understanding the near-death experience? Well, if consciousness can exist outside the physical brain, we would *expect* time anomalies in the extra-physical experience. And we would expect consciousness to have difficulty translating this experience after returning to the body.
If, however, consciousness cannot exist independent of a physical brain, it would experience, and remember, nothing of the NDE—and certainly nothing as detailed and veridical as the thousands of near-death accounts that we have available.
One thing that I have definitely experienced at various times in my life is an apparent inexplicable effect on electronic devices. When I was a pre-teen, I could never wear an analog watch—it would always stop running within a few days. I could occasionally stop a running watch simply by holding it in my hand. And I’ve had lights turn off after I’ve gotten near them.
After her NDE Ms. Krohn documents a number of problematic interactions with electronics. Strangely, despite this universal (and materially impossible) experience, I’ve never understood, much less thought about, why this was so. There really is no known scientific reason for this to happen—but it does, nevertheless.
Ms. Krohn gives a hint about the cause:
[The guide] told me about another kind of pain I would feel as I returned to my body. He said he would have to “help” me back into my body by hugging me tightly, so tightly it would feel as if my bones were being crushed. He explained that this was necessary because my expanded soul was much larger than my body, and it needed to be squeezed back into my physical frame. My understanding of the unconditional love, and everything else I had been taught in the Garden, was now part of who I was. This knowledge and understanding had expanded the size of my soul, which was now much larger than it had been when it departed my body.
I remembered the experience that I had a few years ago when my house fire alarm kept going off inexplicably when an acquaintance died in an auto accident. We had to remove the battery to get it to stop. The fire alarms of others who knew the woman also went off. The implication was that she was frantically trying to get the attention of those she knew by triggering their fire alarms, which she discovered that she could easily do.
So something about the non-physical body allows it to affect and influence electricity, although it (usually) can’t affect matter. OOB experiencers generally move through walls with ease, and their hands go through physical objects. But influencing circuits and electrical currents is something that the non-physical discover is quite doable, and many recently-deceased try to get our attention is by manipulating our electronic devices—turning lights, radios, and televisions off and on—in a way not dissimilar to how certain experiencers can affect electronics. This suggests to me that our non-physical essence—call it what you will—has an electrical component. When Ms. Krohn was returned to her body, she carried an extra spark that she didn’t have prior to her near-death. I don’t know if this is the same as the percentage of “energy” that we carry with us when we are born, but it might be. Michael Newton and others argue that the percentage of “energy” that we choose prior to birth is fixed and can’t be increased while we are living. But what if it’s changed during a near-death experience? Could a slight increase explain the electrical anomalies? This is totally speculative, and I know that I’m traipsing into scientific territory in an unscientific manner, but I think it’s worth pondering.
Elizabeth Krohn was in the “garden” for an extended amount of time, during which she received a download of information and had numerous questions answered. And while much of this information was likely erased when she chose to return to physical life, not all of it was. I truly hope that she takes the time to publish this information somewhere. I think it would be valuable. Each NDE account brings back a piece of a larger puzzle. And the puzzle is beginning to develop into a picture that we may need to understand.