When a man of reason has several clinical deaths and lives to tell about it without neurological impairment, it makes for a very interesting presentation.
At yesterday’s Doorways of Santa Fe meeting, Stephen Young spoke about his personal take on near-death experiences he had following heart surgery. Within a 72-hour period 14 months ago, he clinically died and was resuscitated – four times – and he had three near death experiences.
In the email for the event, Mr. Young was quoted saying, “What I endured, what I experienced was overwhelmingly transformative. It did not confirm the beliefs I held; it demolished them. My near death experiences weren’t the commonly cited ones of white lights, tunnels and deceased relatives appearing. They had a different, instructive purpose.”
Young started out explaining how cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. The latter is a matter of plumbing, the former is a matter of electricity. Cardiac arrest means your heart stops working completely, and that’s what happened to him after his heart’s plumbing failed and was fixed in St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Through his near-death experiences (NDE) he lost any fear of death, he experienced perfect peace and joy, and he felt a perfect “temperature,” given that there were no thermometers wherever his consciousness was at the time.
“I believed in scientific verification, analysis, the world of ‘stuff,’ logic and materialism,” said Young. He had spend his adult life discarding spiritual beliefs – until his near-death experience.
He did some research into how many people survive cardiac arrest without neurological damage. The percentage was remarkably small, something like 2%. Given that he experienced four cardiac arrests, the chances of someone surviving that many events with all one’s marbles intact was something like one in 10 BILLION. But, survive he did, and he shared some remarkable stories.
Within the space, he saw a square geometric plane, floating and rotating. He knew he had a connection with that plane. He could join it and leave this earthly plane by remaining clinically dead.
But he struggled with a choice to go back and be Stephen Young in Santa Fe, New Mexico, currently in a hospital bed in St. Vincent’s Hospital. He chose to return and deal with unfinished business with people in his life.
He realized he’d been given a gift, and in return he needed to give a gift to the world, talking about near-death experiences and what they mean for the nature of life, death and beyond.
“What’s hardest is to express this and be heard,” said Young. “I didn’t have crystals, tarot cards and that sort of stuff before this. I considered myself a man of science… I would have walked out of this talk a year ago.”
Now he believes that when we die, our spiritual essence, our souls, if you will, return to the source from which it came. “We are all part of a great oneness. I found out that I’m not a dirt clod. Everyone is a soul,” he said.
He admitted this is not cocktail party chatter. “It’s a strange thing to die and come back with knowledge you didn’t have before,” he commented. “People say, ‘Prove it!’ This is one of those experiences that do not fit under a microscope and yet are nonetheless real.”
Like many others who have experienced NDEs, he finds that our language does not contain the words to describe the overwhelming peace, joy, and beauty he experienced. “In the clumsiness of my words, it is what I cannot say that is important.”
Young is writing a fiction novel to encapsulate his experiences and share lessons learned.
For more about NDEs, you can listen to a recent A Good Goodbye Radio show on the topic. Download the podcast with Lee Witting, publications director of the International Association for Near-Death Studies.