Near death experiences and past lives

Many people claim to have had near death experiences which cannot be explained by human logic or science. Their accounts often contain similar elements:

  • a bright light at the end of a tunnel which they are being drawn down
  • separation from their physical body (sometimes being outside their body looking down)
  • feelings of calm and peace, despite knowing they are dead
  • being in a garden
  • interacting with dead friends and relatives

Some believe that recent scientific research helps to confirm the reality of near death experiences.

Some scientists believe that death is a process. When a person dies their body takes time to shut down, even after they have taken their last breath. It could be claimed that this is when near death experiences occur.

For some, particularly those who die at a younger age, medical intervention manages to restart the body before the dying process is complete – thereby giving them a near death experience.

Why is an afterlife important to religious believers?

When someone dies, we feel a range of emotions including sadness, anger and fear. The hope of an afterlife helps us to process some of these emotions.

As human beings we find it hard to believe that this life is all that there is. A belief in an afterlife may give meaning to our lives and the suffering we face when others die or when we are confronted with our own mortality.

Life on Earth is brief at the best of times, and for some it is cut short by tragic events. Belief in an afterlife helps us to think of a place where we can fulfil our true potential.

A belief in the afterlife helps us when we face injustice. We feel that in the future good will be rewarded and evil punished.

For religious people this belief in a final judgment – ie that our actions in this life have consequences for the next - means that we are careful to behave in a way that will ensure reward rather than punishment after we die.

If there is an afterlife, surely that means there must be a God. Therefore, we should worship God in this life.

For Hindus the actions of this life will determine their reincarnation, which encourages them to live good lives now.

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