The power of the near-death experience
Professor of Philosophy and Religious Thought Jeffrey J. Kripal has written a number of well-received books in recent years covering supernatural, paranormal and Fortean topics that we’ve covered here on the Grail (see, for example, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred and Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal).
Kripal’s most recent book covers another paranormal topic: the near-death experience, and the topic of the afterlife. Co-authored with Elizabeth Krohn – who had an NDE after being struck by lightning – the book is titled Changed in a Flash: One Woman’s Near-Death Experience and Why a Scholar Thinks It Empowers Us All.
For those interested in hearing Kripal’s thoughts on the NDE, Jeffrey Mishlove recently hosted a two-part interview on his ‘New Thinking Allowed’ video series, in which he first talked to Elizabeth Krohn about her background and the NDE that changed her life, and then in a second instalment chatted with Jeff Kripal about his contribution to the book (each interview is just under an hour long).
Here’s Mishlove’s interview with Krohn:
In the above interview, Krohn…
…describes how her life was changed dramatically in 1988 when she was struck by lightning. Prior to that time, she describes herself as a conventional Houston, TX, wife and mother of two young children. She had no interest whatsoever in the paranormal. Although she was unconscious only for a matter of minutes, for her it seemed as if she was in a heavenly garden for two weeks. Subsequently, she began experiencing precognitive dreams and other psi phenomena.
And here’s the second instalment, in which Mishlove and Kripal discuss a wide range of topics related to the NDE:
Kripal explains the significance of Elizabeth Krohn’s NDE, pointing out that “simply reading or talking about such matters helps to create a ‘safe space’ for others who may be having similar experiences”.
Furthermore, though, he notes that her experience, like most NDEs, was colored by her family and religious background – and that we could actually be ‘changing the afterlife’ by the narratives we create:
What I try to argue in my half of the book, is that really since 1975 when we began talking about these experiences – these near-death experiences, as Raymond Moody coined it – to the extent these stories enter our culture and we talk about them like we’re doing here…we’re essentially setting ourselves and our descendants up to have slightly or significantly different near-death experiences.
Because one of the things we know historically is that these sorts of experiences change, from period to period and culture to culture. You can certainly find things that are similar, patterns or structures, but the content of them changes quite dramatically. And I think this is one of the messages Elizabeth brings back, is that we have some responsibility and some capacity to sort of reimagine ourselves.
While I’m not sure if I agree with all Kripal says, it’s certainly a thought-provoking discussion that avoids many of the tropes of near-death experience interviews. Well worth checking out.