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Background – I was raised in a Christian household, and studied religion more than spirituality. After I had my NDE (I don’t like using NDE, because it wasn’t “Near” death. I experienced death like many of you. Clinical death, no pulse or breathing for roughly an hour and 20 minutes.) I started focusing on spirituality more than religion.

After having my eyes opened to what does actually happen after death as opposed to what we read about or are told about by our preachers, I find a lot of similarities, but I also find some contradictions. Ex; some of the things I was taught that were sinful are things I did not answer for during my judgment.

I was also raised to think that taking your own life is an unforgiveable sin. I also learned this to be untrue, as my incident was self-inflicted, but I did however get to experience heaven, as well as a portion of hell during my stay in the afterlife.

I guess what I am trying to do is bridge the gap between my spirituality (What I know is true) and my Religion (What I feel is true). And would like to hear if others have come to this crossroads and how you bridged the gap.
Below is a rather dated study authored by Jody that should pretty much still be relevant.

I find it useful to provide insights regarding the connections between NDE, Religion & Spirituality in the context of Life's Purpose.

"Near-Death Experience, Religion, and Spirituality by Jody A. Long, J.D."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/Research/religion_spirituality.htm

There are more studies, but to me the idea of evolving spiritually somewhat along the lines defined by M. Scott Peck seems to be confirmed by my own life experience.

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The four stages of spiritual development.

Peck postulates that there are four stages of human spiritual development:

Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.

Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs, move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.

Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Scott_Peck
I like the stages defined by Peck, very recognizable. However, looking back on my own development I can see how the lines between the stages are really blurred because not all my beliefs and ideas transitioned from one stage to another at the same time.

How I experienced this is more or less along these lines:
As a child I has a spirually transformative experience (a euphoric experience without being near death). This instilled in me a basic trust that all was well (in the BIG picture) and an innate knowledge (from experience) that God is Love. At the same time I was also very interested in Science. In fact, kids in school used to call me Einstein! These two things together caused me to question the religious dogma in the (fundamentalist) congregations we (my family and I) were visiting at the time while the spiritual experience counterbalanced my scientific impulse so that I never lost faith in GOD, only in dogma! This dialectic, or "force field" between science and spirituality kept me from sacrificing one for the other and more or less forced me to integrate the two 'worlds' in my mind. It was a long journey and very worthwhile if you ask me.

The net result is letting go of nearly all dogma and theology (studying it to a Bachelors degree helped me see how little we really know for sure). Studying NDEs helped me let go of the final remnants of judgment (as far as it is possible to see from an 'inside' perspective) and realize that we are truly all the same (divine) and we are all unique at the same time.
Thank you Rey for sharing that link. It did answer some of the questions I have been wondering about.

Dennis, I am curious, a lot of what you said resonates with me, as I am currently struggling to find myself in relation to a connection of my religion and my spirituality. You said your net result was that you let go of theology and dogma all together. Does this include Bible and prayer? If so, why or why not?
(If this is a topic inappropriate to discuss on this thread, I hope we can PM about it, as I am looking for other’s personal journey and how I can relate better with my own.)
Calvin wrote: (If this is a topic inappropriate to discuss on this thread, I hope we can PM about it, as I am looking for other’s personal journey and how I can relate better with my own.)


This is all very interesting, Calvin and Dennis. I hope you will continue discussing the topic Calvin has raised here, as I feel it is of paramount importance for many readers.

As a side note, Calvin, if you have an account of your NDE, I'd love to read it.
Hello from Italy - How I found out about NDERF - A Strange Experience
Giulia wrote:
Calvin wrote: (If this is a topic inappropriate to discuss on this thread, I hope we can PM about it, as I am looking for other’s personal journey and how I can relate better with my own.)


This is all very interesting, Calvin and Dennis. I hope you will continue discussing the topic Calvin has raised here, as I feel it is of paramount importance for many readers.

As a side note, Calvin, if you have an account of your NDE, I'd love to read it.


I haven't wrote it out yet because it had some disturbing feelings associated with it that is still too fresh to revisit at the present, but I look forward to being able to talk about it in the future.
I don't mind discussing these things here at all.
Prayer to me is talking to God and variations on that theme. I don't really use ritualized prayer forms myself. Like for instance the Roman Catholic practice of praying the rosary or using hail Mary's. These things can work, but they are just not for me. Prayer is a very effective way of connecting with the divine. I also use meditation, but that takes more time than I usually give it, so there's room for improvement there!

I believe that reading the Bible can help turn your thoughts to God and open a channel by means of which one may be inspired. Basically I see reading the bible and prayer as methods of connecting to the divine. Reading the Gospel of Thomas works the same way to me. Being carried away by the beauty of a small flower or a glorious sunset can work wonders too.

The bible to me is like a (non definitive) collection of signposts pointing in the direction the author supposed God to be. They are all very much man made and some are slightly askew. Some of the signs are large and clear like highway signs and others are more like weathered sticks with vague remnants of ancient words scratched on them. To a person who is lost in the desert even these can be life savers.

The main difference between the fundamentalist take on the bible, from my childhood, and my ideas now is that I no longer take the bible to be the literal truth. Science (even just plain logic) has definitely eroded away that illusion for me and I am very glad it did. A lot of Christians who go through this process end up throwing the baby out with the bath water, and lose faith completely. This is worsened by the 'package deals' most Churches offer. Its all too often an all or nothing type of faith that is required to fit in. In my case I was lucky to have experienced God first hand, which means I could never doubt God is out there (or in here). Its our human interpretations I distrust.

As to theology, its much the same. Theologies are mere systems of correlated human interpretations. Sometimes wrought into works of art, sometimes resembling weapons of mass destruction. Inevitably they all carry some truth and a lot of 'filler' that is required to make them logically consistent within themselves, some are downright evil. It is for good reason that the first theologian mentioned in the bible is the snake in the garden of Eden. (Theologian in the sense of explaining the supposed meaning of Gods words). Theologies are also purely human. I tend to like process theology, where God grows with each and every one of us. I'm sure that we are all a part of God (or manifestation of God) and nothing exists that isn't. ie: "God is all in all".
Dennis, Thank you for your reply.

I feel as though I am right between throwing the baby out with the bath water, and losing my religion completely. I think it is majorly due to “what is expected” of Christians to be called a Christian in this world. I am a black sheep so to speak that doesn’t fit into a category so therefore I cannot be a part of it.

Take prayer for example. Every religion recognizes prayer, and it is accepted as a norm. SO accepted in fact, you are frowned upon for questioning it. As per my experience, prayer is an earthly ritual all together. The time I spent in heaven talking with Angels/God/Whoever, I was essentially talking within myself (my soul) and it was being interpreted immediately by those powers. Now that I am back on this earth, it doesn’t matter if I pray, Whatever God’s will is, is what will happen.

Essentially... as an example… Praying for a sick pet. My soul has already processed the feelings and thoughts that come naturally, and God already knows everything I could possibly say to him in a prayer, and his Will has already been set into motion without me saying a single word to him, because God hears my soul (not my words) and understands it.

Is it wrong for me not to see a need to pray in earthly situations any longer? Or is this essentially a different type of relationship with God?
Calvin, I think you should trust your NDE because it was your "real" experience. Religions are accumulation of centuries of ideas and rigid dogmas. There are things in all different religions that match the NDE and others not. I personally would trust more the NDE than what a lot of people wrote and then assembled together in books called Bible, Koran, or whatever... It doesn´t mean you have to throw religion to the garbbage. You can extract the good things that match, and leave outside the absurd ones or those that you consider negative.
You can perfectly go on living your life harmoniously in that way.
Calvin wrote: Dennis, Thank you for your reply.

I feel as though I am right between throwing the baby out with the bath water, and losing my religion completely. I think it is majorly due to “what is expected” of Christians to be called a Christian in this world. I am a black sheep so to speak that doesn’t fit into a category so therefore I cannot be a part of it.

Take prayer for example. Every religion recognizes prayer, and it is accepted as a norm. SO accepted in fact, you are frowned upon for questioning it. As per my experience, prayer is an earthly ritual all together. The time I spent in heaven talking with Angels/God/Whoever, I was essentially talking within myself (my soul) and it was being interpreted immediately by those powers. Now that I am back on this earth, it doesn’t matter if I pray, Whatever God’s will is, is what will happen.

Essentially... as an example… Praying for a sick pet. My soul has already processed the feelings and thoughts that come naturally, and God already knows everything I could possibly say to him in a prayer, and his Will has already been set into motion without me saying a single word to him, because God hears my soul (not my words) and understands it.

Is it wrong for me not to see a need to pray in earthly situations any longer? Or is this essentially a different type of relationship with God?


If I understand you correctly, you are talking about prayer that asks God for something - health or some other kind of positive turn of events. In that case I probably agree with you, although I have read accounts of people praying in a desperate situation, and events subsequently happened that seemed quite miraculous. I believe that any prayer that comes from your heart is heard, and if at all possible, help is provided. Prayers are powerful as long as they come from a place of love in your soul.

There is also another kind of prayer - to express gratitude and just share your heart with God. I think this kind of prayer is always good and welcomed, and certainly not superfluous - even if all your thoughts and feelings are already "known".

Edit: Just wanted to add that I don't belong to any religion at all but I do find prayer helpful for myself, and nourishing. I also don't have a name to whom I address my prayers, nor a certain ritual.
I agree with every bit of this quote:
If I understand you correctly, you are talking about prayer that asks God for something - health or some other kind of positive turn of events. In that case I probably agree with you, although I have read accounts of people praying in a desperate situation, and events subsequently happened that seemed quite miraculous. I believe that any prayer that comes from your heart is heard, and if at all possible, help is provided. Prayers are powerful as long as they come from a place of love in your soul.

There is also another kind of prayer - to express gratitude and just share your heart with God. I think this kind of prayer is always good and welcomed, and certainly not superfluous - even if all your thoughts and feelings are already "known".


For me prayer is essential. I feel most connected to the other side when I pray. I do not use repetitive prayers, rather I just talk to God about anything I wish.
Martina wrote:
Calvin wrote: Dennis, Thank you for your reply.

I feel as though I am right between throwing the baby out with the bath water, and losing my religion completely. I think it is majorly due to “what is expected” of Christians to be called a Christian in this world. I am a black sheep so to speak that doesn’t fit into a category so therefore I cannot be a part of it.

Take prayer for example. Every religion recognizes prayer, and it is accepted as a norm. SO accepted in fact, you are frowned upon for questioning it. As per my experience, prayer is an earthly ritual all together. The time I spent in heaven talking with Angels/God/Whoever, I was essentially talking within myself (my soul) and it was being interpreted immediately by those powers. Now that I am back on this earth, it doesn’t matter if I pray, Whatever God’s will is, is what will happen.

Essentially... as an example… Praying for a sick pet. My soul has already processed the feelings and thoughts that come naturally, and God already knows everything I could possibly say to him in a prayer, and his Will has already been set into motion without me saying a single word to him, because God hears my soul (not my words) and understands it.

Is it wrong for me not to see a need to pray in earthly situations any longer? Or is this essentially a different type of relationship with God?


If I understand you correctly, you are talking about prayer that asks God for something - health or some other kind of positive turn of events. In that case I probably agree with you, although I have read accounts of people praying in a desperate situation, and events subsequently happened that seemed quite miraculous. I believe that any prayer that comes from your heart is heard, and if at all possible, help is provided. Prayers are powerful as long as they come from a place of love in your soul.

There is also another kind of prayer - to express gratitude and just share your heart with God. I think this kind of prayer is always good and welcomed, and certainly not superfluous - even if all your thoughts and feelings are already "known".

Edit: Just wanted to add that I don't belong to any religion at all but I do find prayer helpful for myself, and nourishing. I also don't have a name to whom I address my prayers, nor a certain ritual.


Martina, this quote summarizes everything I was trying to say.
We were obviously on a different page with regards to prayer.
Prayer to me is a way of "keeping the channel open" so to speak, not so much a means of getting what I want.
I agree with you that God Knows before you form the words in mind, let alone speak them or even think them 'sequentially'. However, us humans fall into the habit of using words all too easily. In fact I believe it has its place, because I use 'vocalised' internal words to break through interference. This happens when I have been stupidly 'lowering my vibrations' by watching "the Walking Dead" or "Breaking Bad" for instance. That makes it harder to feel the connection, so I often use "the Lord's prayer" to move my focus of consciousness to a better place. In this same way even church rituals can be of help. Not because they perform any actions on God but because they help us 'get it through our thick skin' that we are connected to the divine.

Its a lot like booting up a computer. The machine starts off doing nothing, then a stupid simple program tells it to load and run the BIOS, which 'knows' how to access the hard drive, and loads the first program it encounters (hopefully your O.S. of choice) which gives you a mouse and screen with boxes to type into and access to the internet! The computer can't go from powered-off to browsing the web without stepwise booting up ever higher level software until the last bit comes up and the network is finally accessible. Its almost as hard for us humans to go from total carnage in "the Walking Dead" to "we all are one and I am that also" mode...

To me this is the most important function of prayer.
I do use the Lord’s Prayer a lot myself, and I keep the channel open almost on a minute by minute basis every day after my experience. I guess what I was getting at, is that I no longer see the point in group prayer ie; my bible study praying for a member doing well in an upcoming job interview…

Another thing I have asked a few Christian people, of whom I can have open dialogue with, is about purgatory. It is my understanding purgatory does not exist in Christianity, there is only Heaven and Hell? I believe in purgatory after my trip to the afterlife and I feel like I am not able to open up about this with a church family. How do people integrate what they know, with what others accept, in order to “keep the status quo” inside the church?

During my trip to the afterlife, I was placed in purgatory. I can’t say how long because time did not exist during any of my journey, but I was there, and during my “time” there I got to see/communicate with a friend of mine that had took his own life only a year before my incident. I believe the significance of me seeing him in his purgatory, and him finding me inside mine has some sort of meaning, but thus far I am not able to determine that reason. Thoughts?
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