David Bennett, once a brash young commercial diver whose personal philosophy was “cut your swath through life to survive,” was caught in a violent storm off the California coast one night where he drowned. While technically “dead,” he met beings of light, relived his life, and peeked into his future, resulting in a complete paradigm shift for him. Later, he discovered he had stage IV lung and bone cancer — so advanced that his spine collapsed. Miraculously, he survived once again, and this second close call taught him even more about living, loving, and how to find purpose in his life. David is the author of “Voyage of Purpose,” a public speaker, and teacher. David has lectured at the International Conference of IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) and shared his inspirational message at groups across the country. He has also consulted for both radio and television including Oprah and Dr. Oz as a NDE resource, appearances including being filmed for NBC national news and PBS. David’s articles appear in numerous magazines, blogs and papers.
Websites & Background Information
“By relating one man’s amazing tale of triumph over death on multiple occasions, this book brings a fresh perspective to near death experience literature. David Bennett, once a brash young commercial diver whose personal philosophy was cut your way through life to survive,” was caught in a violent storm off the California coast one night where he drowned. While technically dead,” he met beings of light, relived his life, and peeked into his future, resulting in a complete paradigm shift for him. Later, he discovered he had stage IV lung and bone cancerso advanced that his spine collapsed. Miraculously, he survived once again, and this second close call taught him even more about living, loving, and how to find purpose in his life. Voyage of Purpose brings readers right into the heart of the near-death experience, including the sensations of dying, being surrounded by the light, and meeting the Soul Family. Part memoir and part guide for achieving spiritual growth, this book shows how to integrate the most traumatic of incidents into one’s spiritual path in order to live a more meaningful life.”
A New Worldview after a Near-Death Experience
By David Bennett
OM Times Magazine
November 1, 2011
All Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) are unique and personal to each experiencer. They are not like a dream. To many experiencers they are more real and powerful than this physical reality; some call it a hyper reality. By defining NDEs we limit them and I do not wish for that here. I will attempt to give you an idea of what they are and how they affect people.
Experiences can happen at any time, to anyone, under any circumstance. The way you know someone has experienced one of these moments is by the aftereffects. Experiences are seeds for permanent and dramatic life changes. Some of the early and most common changes are losing the fear of death and developing a richer more fulfilling spiritual life. That alone is transformative allowing a person to live life to the fullest.
I’ve had two NDEs and they turned my life upside down and inside out. I believe the most transformative element from my experiences was being exposed to the most incredible and profound Love and peace. The Love supports you and lifts you up all the while it permeates into your Being. You can’t be exposed to this universal Love without it changing how you live life day to day. Experiencers become excited about the potential and wonder of each person and event. Many of us desire to be a conduit of universal love and live a life filled with wonder that unfolds as we move through life. This can sometimes create a challenge because many in our communities and family do not fully understand the sudden shift we have gone through.
There are many other elements to NDEs that leave an experiencer speechless and unable to describe something that is not from our world of knowing. My first experience started in darkness and quickly moved toward an indescribable light that contained a consciousness of unity. That unity was so expansive it contained all the souls that ever were and all the souls that ever will be. How do you describe something so vast and interconnected to everything? Many experiencers feel there are no words to describe the Divine Light and often have difficulty finding someone they trust to tell about the event. When we do share sometimes we have to face negative reactions and disbelief, this can cause a sense of isolation that is the polar opposite of the love and support we felt in the light.
This paradox is very similar to Plato’s Republic, the “Allegory of the Cave,” where a prisoner who spends his entire life in a darkened cave is then released and experiences a world of light and color. He experiences a new reality beyond description and when he runs back and tries to tell his friends in the cave they cannot understand him. His words make no sense because they only know the cave. People who have not had an NDE or spiritually transformative experience are still in the cave and cannot understand or imagine such a thing as Divine Light, so they choose to think it is something beyond knowing.
I met my soul family in that Divine Light and together we all relived my entire life and some of my future. Not only did we perceive it from my perspective but also from the perspectives of every being I ever interacted with. To say it was intense would be an understatement. With my supporting soul family, I faced the joy and love as well as the pain and sorrow of my earthly dealings. After returning to my physical existence, the life review haunted me and I wanted to change my way of living to being more understanding, less competitive and more charitable. Toward the end of my experience I was told I must return and that I had a Purpose. Being connected to the consciousness in the light, I understood the meaning to my purpose and accepted my return to life. Once in my body, I immediately started searching, trying to remember my purpose, but it was just past my mental grasping. This led me on a lifelong journey of searching to understand my purpose and this profound experience. I believe everyone is searching in some way for their purpose. Many experiencers become veracious students looking for understanding. As I began to listen to my new found spirit communication, purpose began to show its elusive self and when following my intuitive guidance, inspiration would lay open my future path. It took some time to recognize it as purpose. Many experiencers say that once they have their experience they are never the same. It creates a divide of life before the experience and life after. They begin to live with the NDE every day, using it as a gauge to determine the best course to follow. That’s usually steers them toward attempting to live in a more conscious manner, aware of their actions and interactions. They still fall down just like we all do, yet, being conscious of our actions makes us more responsible for those actions. The way we treat each other becomes more important. Imagine if we all could be more conscious in our lives. Maybe we wouldn’t lash out against others when we ourselves are frustrated. Taking more responsibility would mean spreading less blame and judgments. Instead, we’d look to create cures for the injustices around us.
Integrating new spiritual values and messages causes three quarters of experiencers to feel an overwhelming need to be of service. This leads many to change careers and relationships. The NDE show us how important it is to live in truth to who we really are! That means moving forward in a positive manner throughout life, whether professionally or personally. Experiencers tend to have a more heightened awareness of the present moment and the importance of being in each moment.
The first time you hear a firsthand account of someone’s transformative experience you find it compelling. They are irresistible and after listening you find yourself thinking about the experience for days or weeks. Even critics who argue what an experience is, have to respect the experience and how it transforms a person. These ideas are not easy to instill in our lives. Although witnessing the courage and faith of near-death experiencers imbues the world with inspiration to apply the principles experiencers live with every day. It is a type of benign virus that is highly infectious and could help remind the world to not be so distracted with desires and wants and instead focus on what is really important, Peace, Love and Compassion. If only the world were not stuck in the cave and could see beyond the walls and into the Light.
Dave Bennett On YouTube
The following five video clips, from December of 2008, are available on YouTube via The Light Behind God.
Dave Bennett’s Story: Part 1
My Near Death Experience
By Dave Bennett
Every Near Death Experience has a beginning. This one had started many years ago. I am going to tell you this for my own loving therapy and well being and for anyone else going through something like this. The near death experience has changed my life turning it upside-down and inside-out. It continues to unfold and the writing of these pages, I hope will help me to remember more clearly my near death experience and all the changes within as they happened. By doing this, spirit has promised me a better understanding of why everything is happening as it is. The excerpts below are from the book we are writing.
On the night of my near death experience, I was working as the Chief Engineer on the research vessel. We had just returned from a job evaluating a new remote operated submersible with the manufacture’s representative. He was a strong minded ex-marine.
We couldn’t enter the small harbor of our home port because the sea was so rough that the ship would bottom out if a wave broke under the hull. The harbor entrance was shallow for our size ship. It was late at night when we stood a couple miles off shore and decided to enter the harbor after the storm broke the next day. That didn’t change the fact that the submersible representative was very anxious to get to shore so he could catch his flight from LA to home the next morning.
A couple of crew members wanted to go home as well and had decided they would meet the ship at the dock in the morning. Our research vessel cost millions of dollars per day to keep out to sea, so it was normal to send some crew home to keep cost down. Usually the deck crew takes clients and representatives into shore, but this was not a normal night. We knew the seas were rough. The captain thought that maybe the chief engineer should go along. So I was roped into this job. We figured we’d better break out the life vests just to be safe. We were trying to be cautious and could foresee someone possibly going over the side.
Being that all the members of the party going ashore were experienced divers and sub operators, used to being on the sea and in the water, we had to rummage around the boatswains locker to find the dusty old life vests stowed below. Most of us had not worn a vest in many years and these were the very old “Mae-West” style. These were the old fiber filled vests that were used in WW2.
We checked our position on the radar one last time, plotted a course to the harbor and loaded up everyone’s gear. Late at night with fast moving clouds, it was dark out there and one of the crew members had wisely brought a flash light so we could be seen. Lowering the Zodiac into the ocean, the deck hand took the steering console to drive the boat and I took the bow to navigate. Normally I drove the small boats but for some reason I chose to let the deck hand drive that night because I felt I knew the harbor better. The boat had a V-4 engine and could really fly. This style of craft sat very low in the water and combined with the large swells and troths of the sea that night we could not see the lights of the harbor most of the time. When you are in a trough you can’t see the shoreline. It is only when you are on the crest of a swell can you try to find the harbor lights. We were having a hard time making out the Harbor buoys because they were bouncing around in the sea as well. Captain had left the ship’s deck lights on but we had lost sight of her as well. What we were trying to do was ride the crest of a swell to get our bearings and then move forward through the trough. It wasn’t long before we lost our bearing on the harbor and had to keep adjusting our direction. We didn’t know we had been driven a mile south of the harbor by the wind and swells.
We found ourselves two miles off shore over a sand bar in a breaker zone. As a wave broke beneath us, suddenly we were falling. Everyone hung on and we were all able to stay in the boat as we fell 25 feet. We were lucky to be in one piece. I shouted over the roaring night for the deck hand to turn the boat around and head back out to sea where it was safer. The mate quickly responded, but the sky went black where the stars should have been. All I could see was a ridge of white foam that was now twenty five feet above our heads. I remember when I saw that foam I shouted to everyone “OH SHIT, THIS IS IT” and then the wave crashed down on us. It was an incredible amount of force in a split second. The wave folded the boat in half like a peanut butter sandwich. Some of the men were trapped inside. Three of the four inflatable pontoons were ruptured when the aluminum and fiberglass floor disintegrated. The motor snapped right off the transom.
I was catapulted from the bow into the ocean and the wave spun and tumbled me around as it crashed down on me. It was the most raging violent force I had ever felt attacking my body and I was separated from everyone instantly. I had lost all sense of direction as the ocean kept tossing me around like a doll. When I opened my eyes and blew some bubbles to get an idea which way was up, the sand and salt burned. It was so black I couldn’t see the bubbles anyway.
I did not know which way was up. I had lost all sense of direction. My years of experience as a diver had taught me not to panic. So I knew not to swim for the surface because I could be swimming the wrong way. I could tell by the pressure in my ears that I was very deep in the water. So I waited and waited for my old May West life vest to take me to the surface. Boy was I glad we put these vests on. Now, I have to remind you, they’re no street lights two miles out to sea so it is very dark. The sea kept tossing me around and my lungs burned, longing to take a breath of air. The surface never came within my reach and as time passed the burning in my lungs lessoned but I was getting very cold.
I could tell my brain was starving for oxygen as a sort of euphoria came over me. I was trained to know what that euphoria was. In dive school, I had been forced to experience oxygen deprivation. Also, as a diver, I could hold my breath for quite a while. So I’m holding my breath and holding my breath. While I am doing that I begin to realize I might die. I started to have some regrets and some of my life’s concerns flashed before me. I remember thinking “Is my life insurance paid up?” and “Will my wife be taken care of when I am gone?” All those earthly concerns came to my mind. It’s kind of odd that you are thinking of everyday life stuff when there is a chance that death is so close to hand.
All my training came back to me as I am being tossed about. It seemed like a very long time that I was holding my breath but finally the euphoria overcame me and I tried to breathe the saltwater. I clearly remember the burning, choking and pain in my lungs. I breathed in water and went through the agony of dying. The agony melted away into darkness.
I was quite surprised by the darkness. What surprised me was the lack of noise. Remember the sea was roaring very violently and throwing me around like a rag doll; now there was an absence of that. It was like I was in a void but I couldn’t sense my body. It wasn’t an out of body experience, where I was observing my body. It was just this absolute black dark. I could see where it might be frightening for some people, but because my last experience in life was so violent, this actually felt rather calm, quiet and peaceful. On the west coast, with the currents from the North, the water is very cold. Yet, I was actually starting to feel warmth, like I was wrapped in a thick blanket. It gave me a sensation of total peace. It didn’t feel like I was there for a long time, but I was very curious, thinking “Where am I?” I hadn’t come to the realization that I had died. I questioned if this was yet another stage in the euphoria. The darkness was emptiness, not good or bad. It was lacking emotion. But I was comfortable. I was no longer in pain. I was totally alone.
I started to notice light and could see a brighter light off in the distance. It was slowly growing brighter. At the same time the light around me was brightening. It was as if I was surrounded by it, enveloped by it. It wasn’t clear to me if I was moving toward the brighter light in the distance or it toward me. It wasn’t a tunnel, the light was over there and it was getting brighter and brighter. Again my curiosity was peaked. Like I said before, two miles off shore there are no lights. Beacons generally flash yet this was a steady light. As I got closer I started feeling it. I felt welcoming and love. I don’t know a better way to explain it other than as it kept getting brighter; the feelings kept getting more intense. I was being lifted up emotionally as well as moving toward it and as the Light got brighter it felt as if it was enveloping me. Taking me into it, I was becoming a part of it.
The Light was brighter than anything I had every experienced, yet I could still view it comfortably. I could see more clearly in this light than I could in life. In life, I’ve had to wear glasses since childhood but in this light, no correction was necessary. I could see more distance and detail than was possible with my physical eyes.
Now in the light, I found myself moving as if continuing to being drawn toward the brighter area in the light. I could not help myself. It seemed the natural thing to do and yet it felt familiar. A feeling of welcoming, welcome home, as well as that incredible sense of love came over me. I felt so happy and filled with joy. I was so comfortable and loved. The light continued to grow in intensity and I slowly started to realize that I didn’t have a body. I was a fragment of this light.
My physical body was gone; I was becoming light without a form. I didn’t judge this. I just accepted my change. This all seemed as if it was natural. I was just a fragment of light that was like the light around me and as the intensity of the light around me increased, the intensity of my fragment of light increased.
I was in awe of this and yet it felt so natural. It was a pretty smooth ride. As the light kept intensifying, this feeling of welcome and love kept intensifying. The love was incredibly empowering and was a part of everything.
I have been asked to describe what the light looks like. It was mostly a white light, but it had tinges of blues and gold’s. The light felt like it was constantly in motion even thought I was stationary.
Not only was I in awe of the love I was feeling, I suddenly had a greater understanding and knowledge of how everything worked. The universe made sense to me. If I pointed my thoughts in a certain direction, I would be faced with the answers. Unfortunately, I didn’t retain all that knowledge, but while I was in that light, it was all available for the asking. What was even more amazing was that I could see and think about more than one thing at a time. It was all so fast. It wasn’t like how our brain normally moves from one thought to the next. The information came from all directions instantly. I had no trouble comprehending all of that simultaneously.
Dave Bennett’s Story: Part 2
Meeting My Soul Group & The Life Review
The Soul Group
By Dave Bennett
It was at this point, I started looking around more. I didn’t see beautiful landscapes, there was just the light. But the light in itself was the most beautiful vision you can imagine. I wasn’t wanting for anything else to look at.
Yet, in the light, I noticed three other light fragments that became brighter. They had silhouette shapes. Not clearly defined but I recognized them as other beings. It seemed like they were separating themselves from the light and coming to me. As they did, I could sense them projecting “welcome home” as if we were family and that there was joy in our reunion. I never had those strong feelings in life. This felt stronger and more binding than anything I had experienced in my life. I was now home, together with these beings. Since then, I have come to call them my Soul Group or Soul Family.
They were so excited to be there and to see me. I can not express enough how they felt like family to me. I just knew I was home, and it felt so wonderful. They were supporting me and helping me by projecting waves of love and compassion. I was overcome with joy and the feeling of finally belonging somewhere and not isolated anymore. Beyond the original three, there were more light beings coming and joining us. They didn’t really communicate, at least not in a way that you and I are accustomed to. There were maybe a dozen in all. Some of them were behind others so I couldn’t see them as clearly as the ones closest to me, but they were all around me. These others were like family, but not as close as the first three. The first three were the prominent ones, like best friends or immediate family.
The Life Review
I got the feeling from all of them, simultaneously, that as a group we needed to move over to this other area. They didn’t communicate this with words, I just had an understanding. It was as if we entered a sphere. Once this sphere was completely around us, I started to experience my life. I got to experience it in a way that is very difficult to explain. It was as if I was looking at it from inside out, from other people’s perspectives. This view was wondrous and wonderful. The depth of the life review was incredible and ineffable. I’ll try to put words to it so that you may envision it. I like to say it was all-encompassing but that falls short as an explanation.
The review moved along fairly sequentially. But, I could see multiple effects and ripples, from my original actions and reactions, all at the same time moving beyond the area of the sphere. Not only were they images, but I also experienced feelings. I could sense the feelings of others and how my actions in this life had touched them. I could feel the joy, happiness, heartaches, disappointments, and love. I felt all of their emotions in regard to my actions. I have difficulty explaining the intensity, speed and the flow because everything was flowing continuously in my life review. It was distracting because I could also feel that my Soul Family was excited to be here and to get to experience this along with me.
There were parts of my life review that I wished that they didn’t have to see. I didn’t want to have to admit things that I had done. They didn’t judge it, not even the parts that were sorrowful, suffering or things I was not too proud of. They were merely observing it.
Beyond the group’s support, I was also aware of the consciousness of the Light. When I think of God, I think of this consciousness of the Light. It almost seemed like there were billions and billions of Souls attached to that consciousness. I had a complete understanding of it when I was there, but now it is beyond my definition. I can tell you this. It was observing, supporting and an incredibly loving constant during my experience.
Along with not having a physical body, I was there without my life’s drama wrapped around me. All the fiction I had created in my life of who I thought I should be was stripped away because the consciousness of the Light knew me better than I knew myself. I experienced my true self.
I felt as though I was reviewing my life so that I might grow and evolve from this life’s experience. I was surprised that some of the things I had done had taken on so much importance because when they actually happened it didn’t feel that critical. But they took on a bigger significance in the life review once I saw the after affects, especially how my actions affected others.
In life we are always thinking about leaving a mark and trying to make our life matter. The accomplishments we think are important, like building something that will live beyond us or getting a promotion aren’t necessarily the things that are going to be the most important in our life review.
Excited is such a limited word to describe the reaction from my group of beings as we viewed this experience. They didn’t have any judgment pro or con. They seemed to relish the experience. I learned that what is more important than focusing on these grand plans of leaving a mark is to try to live your life, day by day, the best you can. Cherish your experiences, good and bad, big and small. Try to be as helpful, compassionate and loving as you physically can.
Suddenly the images and feelings changed, I was being shown images that were not from the life I had just left. I had no reference to them and that really confused and disoriented me. My Soul Group continued supporting me during this, not with words, but with thoughts of immeasurable love and compassion.
That is when I heard a clear, distinct voice that didn’t feel like it came from my group. It felt like it came from the light itself. I just focused on this voice. I stopped paying attention to what was going on in the sphere and the group. I became focused on this incredible loving voice that told me “This is not your time, you have to return.”
When I heard that message, my first response was “No, no, I want to stay here!” “I like it here. I do not want to have to go back and continue living that life.” I was resisting, pleading, arguing. I did not want to agree with the request. Then I heard the voice again. This time it said “No, you have to return, you have a purpose.”
When I heard/felt, the second phrase, it was so loving, yet forceful that I couldn’t argue with it. I understood the truth within it. When you are in the light, it is very humbling. Suddenly I understood that I had to return to my body and continue living my life. It was one of those circumstances when you have a knowing or understanding that this is what is supposed to be. You may not want to do it, which was clearly my case, yet, you can not argue with what is supposed to be. I was quite content being in the light and happy to stay there. Yet, the voice was like that of a mother or parent that is so full of love, I just couldn’t say no.
Although we were still there in the sphere, the experiences of the life review totally faded away. Until I came to that acceptance and knowing that I had to return to my body, all of my Soul Group stayed with me. After my acceptance, all but the original three melded back into the light.
Back To My Body
We were instantaneously transported back into the ocean. I became aware of my body. Lifeless and suspended in the water, it was still being tumbled and blasted by sand and sea. I was watching it without emotion, already longing to return to the light. I did not want to return to my body. Separating from the light and rejoining my body was the hardest thing I had ever been asked to do. It was more painful than the act of drowning.
My body was still in a very bad breaker zone, being buffeted and wrapped by the waves as it rolled around under the sea. The storm was so incredibly rough that it caused a nice sloping sandy beach to erode into a 13 foot cliff. The sea state was estimated somewhere between 25 and 30 feet.
Now, a sailor knows how to care for his lines. Ropes for you land lovers. One of the things he will do to protect his line from fraying is to weave the ends back into itself. This creates a knot called an end splice. If a line has one end attached to a boat with the other end free, the free end is called the “bitter end”.
Our Zodiac was an inflatable boat with four pontoons filled with air. All but one of the pontoons had burst. The lines were loose and flailing around the boat. Somehow my arm, in all that violence, had become tangled up in the one pontoon that still had air. The bitter end was hitting my body in the chest. When the next set of waves hit, the rope dislocated my shoulder and thumb as it pulled my body to the surface.
The four of us watched as another wave hit my lifeless body against the pontoon. Finally the waves hit my body against the pontoon with so much force that it pushed some of the water out of the lungs. Simultaneously, my Soul Group gave me a shove. I experienced a rushing vibration and was back in my body. I breathed my first breath of air in a very long time.
My Soul group was gone, my lungs were on fire and my head was pounding. My body felt so dense it was like frozen lead. I would have immediately slipped beneath the surface again if I were not tangled up in the pontoon. I coughed, threw up and tried to breathe again. The cold waves kept pounding me. I still kept being pulled down. The longing I had felt when first leaving the light was now intensified. When you return to life, you continue to have a longing to return back to that light and love. Most people that have had a near death experience will understand what I am trying to say. That longing starts the moment that you return to your body. I have learned from other experiencer’s that we all share this longing. So my first conscious thought after returning back to life was “why do I have to live this life?”
At the same time, there was a nagging understanding that I needed to survive resonating within. I kept questioning “Purpose? What Purpose? I have a Purpose?” I just knew I needed to survive because there was some purpose.
Reconnecting With Ship Mates
As I was pondering my purpose, in the distance, I could hear my name being shouted. My shipmates were looking for me. Somehow, they had all made it to the surface safely. In all this chaos, someone had actually hung on to the flashlight and they had all gathered around it. Now, they were looking for me. I tried to yell to them, but it just came out like a squawk. They finally spotted me and swam over. Still a mile off the coast, we all hung on to what was left of the boat and began to kick and swim to shore. The waves were hitting us so violently that it was an incredible fight.
Once I became untangled, I was still having trouble staying above the surface. I kicked off my boots knowing that they had steel toes. I remember thinking, “Damn, there goes 90 bucks and a new set of redwings!” It didn’t help.
It was then that I realized my life vest wasn’t any good. The funny thing was that very experienced divers and seaman, under normal circumstances, would never wear life vests. It was only because of the extremely rough weather that we went down to the Boatswain’s locker and dusted off these old vests. My Mae West was so old that the lining was rotted and shredded. The fiber filling had become saturated with sea water. The US Coast Guard has since banned this floatation devise, just because of this reason. It had gotten so full of water that it was acting as an anchor, dragging me down. What was supposed to save me actually killed me; only to be saved by the bitter end.
I threw off the vest and it sunk beneath the water, never to be seen again! Once I could stay above the surface, it was easier for me to keep a hand on the zodiac. I could then kick, swim and do my part to cover the mile between us and the shore.
This was more than I could handle so I told every one that Neptune had spit me back to make light of the situation. Eventually that connection with the light faded as I tried to live my life. But I was changed and I knew I could not tell anyone what I had experienced, (Especially the guys). They would think I was nuts. So over time I repressed some of the near death experience.
By Dave Bennett
Immediately after my Near-Death Experience (NDE) and as soon as I returned to my body I was given these three gifts. Prior to my death experience I understood the words, but I did not incorporate their meanings into my life.
Now remember I was the guy who had to cut my swath through life in order to survive. That was my philosophy. But suddenly, I was given what I call my three gifts: “Acceptance”, “Tolerance”, and “Truth”. Now they’re very simple words but they can take lifetimes to really understand.
The first gift I dealt with was Acceptance. Before my near-death (or as I have come to call it my new life experience) I had no idea of acceptance. I had spent my teenage years living in Arizona, going to school and hanging out with mostly Native American children. My family life was very dysfunctional. So, I used to spend most of my time trying to escape my family. My friend’s grandmothers would tell me the stories of Spirit so I felt I knew all about this Spirit. All I really knew were the stories I had heard of how we were supposed to live our lives. I was walking through life dreaming of how I was supposed to be, not accepting who I was. After my new life experience I had a new understanding of acceptance. In my life review I had to face how my human side and my spirit nature worked together or many times didn’t work together. In that life review I also had to watch all the repercussions of how my actions affected others. Now I understood how my life could touch others without my knowing it. I now knew that I am in the perfect place at all times. From experiencing my life review with love and non judgment, I knew who I was and could accept that I had faults and strengths. By recognizing this I could start to work on myself to make myself a better human. I no longer needed to beat myself up over a failure. Instead I could learn from it, accept it and move on.
Now, I had never even thought of any of this before. I mean, I didn’t even know who I was. Acceptance was like a seed that was planted in me during my NDE. I didn’t come to a full realization right away, but now I had an understanding of it. I think my belief in spirituality took a great leap after this. After my Near-Death, I remembered the Grandmother’s teachings of living the natural way. It’s a way of living in tune with the earth and walking in respectful manner. I wanted to re-examine and investigate that natural way of living. I wanted to walk my talk with this new acceptance of who I am. I knew I then could move forward in my life.
Another thing that started becoming apparent during these three days was the concept of tolerance. Tolerance is a way that you allow others to live their life because you have seen that they have their own goals and their own paths. This tolerance of others was an allowing of that to take place and so I learned not to take on other peoples burdens or at least that other peoples burdens are not necessarily a part of my path.
There are times in our life when we do pick up other peoples burdens. An example could be dedicating time in your life to be in the peace corp., to work for our environment or to help a close friend through a rough time. I am not saying that you totally divorce yourself from another’s suffering, but you understand that you don’t need to own it. You can still be compassionate and tolerant of others issues.
Wow, as I’ve said before I had learned to cut my swath through life and to survive, this had nothing to do with being tolerant of others. Many people think it is normal to try to change others. Like a spouse trying to change their partner into something they want or need. That is a lack of tolerance even if you feel it is for a good purpose, aim or a goal. I still could choose if their actions were something that I wanted to be around, but that involved changing me, not them.
Suddenly I had a way of recognizing and respecting the beliefs and practices of others. From watching my own life review, I recognized that everyone is in their perfect place and experiencing what their life’s path needs for growth.
Prior to understanding this, if someone was argumentative toward me, and I didn’t agree with their argument, I would discount them totally. I definitely wouldn’t try to understand them. After this I begin to see that there was another side. Thank goodness I was given this gift along with the understanding that I didn’t have to take in their side in order to not discount it. If I took in everyone’s opinions, I wouldn’t be able to move anywhere because I would have all these opposing views inside. Tolerance was such a foreign thing to me because I had never given anyone else’s opinion any further considering.
It was an amazing realization that I could be accepting and tolerant of someone’s path without feeling I was condoning it. Even conflicting views didn’t threaten me anymore and I found my self able to distance myself when necessary. This led me to the gift of Truth.
Even as a small child, and as I was growing up, I had a sense of when I was going against my true nature. I would have an experience and I would behave in a way that I thought would be most acceptable to the people around me. I knew then that was not who I truly was. This fiction slowly became me, even though it was false. Over time I became lost in the self I had constructed. The love from the light and the consciousness of the light showed me my true self without the fiction. The light knew me better than I knew myself to be or gave myself credit for. It is difficult to shed that false persona overnight. I kept trying to wear the old me, but it didn’t fit any more. It took me about a year after the NDE to accept my true self as I had experienced it in the light. Now, when I am working with my true self, I call it my truth. There are so many ways to express truth but before my experience the only truth I knew was factual truth. Personal truth is more abstract than just factual truth that comes out of a book. Personal truth is often felt through experiences, and can sometimes be an understanding beyond ourselves. It can be a root to our philosophy of life. When you do something because it just makes you feel happy or you get that feeling of “aha, this makes sense to me. I understand this,” it usually has to do with your life’s philosophy and your personal truth. Your personal truth can be 180 degrees out from another person’s. Once we have learned tolerance, we can allow that and it can be okay. People can observe the same event and because everyone views that occurrence from different angles and points of view, they all come away from that experience with a different understanding. In life that is how our personal truth works.
We tend to not open our personal truth to other people. Because it feels good when we experience our truth, we don’t want to change it. We want to hang on to it and not let it go. The funny thing is that the harder we hang on, the more it slips away from us. After my near death experience, I had quite a few go rounds in trying to understand my truth and my philosophy because it kept changing as I was growing.
As I would grow and change parts of my self to be a more accepting and tolerant individual, I would try to hang on to what I knew to be my truth. I would then realize that that my truth had changed because I had changed my philosophy just a little bit. Your truth fluctuates with your growth and direction of your life path. I don’t believe that your life path is a straight road, it takes lots of twists. A winding road is a fun road to travel.
Since my NDE, I now understand a fluid truth that is mine. It comes from my heart. When I weigh my experiences against the truth in my heart, instead of my mind, I can move forward in my life much quicker. Suddenly, I’m living a life that is more true to me. There is a joy in that, an indescribable joy, because you start following all those little things that make your heart sing. For example, using your creative side can be a great jump starter for this. You find that creativeness within yourself and use that to start to learn where your truth lies. When your heart sings, you know you’ve touched a truth.
After the initial three days of feeling here and in the light, I had my new tools: Acceptance, Tolerance and Truth. I knew I had to try to live a more loving and compassionate life. My battle cry became “Acceptance, Tolerance and Truth”. I took some time to look back upon some of what the grandmothers had taught me and I dove deeper into Native American culture by going to seminars, pow wows and reading books. I really looked much deeper into spirituality.
I only took away from the experience what I felt I could handle and was comfortable with. I had taken such a hard look at myself that I understood better who I was and knew some of my problems and issues that I had to work on. Knowing my issues didn’t mean I was going to change overnight. I still had the same temper and people still pushed my buttons the same way they did a week earlier. But now I was aware of my reactions and accepted that I could change them.
I believe that the near-death experience makes you look at who you are. You see all of the good and all of the bad. You understand that this is where you are right now; it doesn’t mean that it is where you have to stay.
There may be no judgment from the light, but my human tendency of judgment still peeked through. Lack of judgment requires a life time effort. It is human nature to judge.
I knew who I was for the first time in my life. I could accept that I have problems and issues. I have seen the Light (excuse the pun) and I can use that to be a better human being in this life. I still felt very human, and being in that light was still a little too much for my human side to handle. My near-death left me in a state of shock for at least three days. Not a physical shock, more like a spiritual shock. Let me explain. After returning from the Light, it stays with you. Being in that light made me feel like I was in God’s hands and I didn’t feel worthy of that blessing. “Who am I to have that love? I wasn’t very spiritual before!” When I was there, the love I felt was for everything. There is an experience of oneness within the light that once I came back, was difficult to live without. During those next three days, I felt like I was still in God’s presence. It was a little too overwhelming to me. You walk around half there and half here. I was living those few days with my heart wide open and if you have not experienced that, it can be very emotional and painful. Plus, there was an incredible longing to go back into the Light and stay there. I tried to forget it. I tried to not think about it anyway I could. I tried to think about what was the next job I had to go on and get my focus back to living my life and getting that experience behind me.
But the longing to return Home, to my true home, stays with me. It has become a part of who I am now. I realize that I need to experience all this life has to offer and bring it home with me when this life ends.
I could deal with the extrasensory awareness, but my subconscious took the enormity of experiencing the light and the love and packaged it up nice and tight. My experienced was wrapped up in a box and put on the highest shelf in the back of my subconscious mind with a big sign on it that said “Do Not Touch,” so I knew not to go there.
During the three day period after the NDE it was tough. I was attempting to get my life back and move forward after my experience.
It was never spoken about again at home and none of us spoke of it at work. Working in a rough and gruff, macho male environment where tempting death was a source of pride left no room for that! I think we all respected the fact that anyone of us could have died that night and I sure wasn’t going to tell them that I had! I now had to find a way to integrate back into this life. This is a very difficult time for experiencer’s.
Before My Near Death Experience
By Dave Bennett
My philosophy as a young adult was simple, enjoy life, learn how to survive and cut your swath in life to get were you want to be. This philosophy served me well and I became a chief engineer and a commercial deep sea diver on a research vessel. What a great life’s work, and travel around the world, meet new people and cultures. Now I know that was the perfect place for me to be because my spirit likes to watch & listen to other spirits. (Later in life I was given a spirit name in a sweat lodge because I continued to practice those traits). That job taught me what my physical limits were and I would always push the limits of my endurance. I logged thousands of hours diving underwater and had my share of close calls to the point that when my life was threatened a cool sense of calm would come over me. I was an adrenalin junky. I loved the thrill of putting my life on the line. I loved more the adventure of life.
Now My Interests Are
Recently I’ve come to understand the changes in how I love, since my near death experience. Before my experience I would have a love for someone just like a husband for a wife or girlfriend for a boyfriend. I would love my friends and there would be a role or expectation that was a part of the love. Love had a possessive quality to it like a child’s natural love for their mother and the mother’s love for the child. Children love their mothers who care and feed them and the mothers need to protect and care for the children and their happiness as part of their role and expectations. At the time I thought my love was unconditional but I now see how I had an expectation or a role that I needed returned from my lover. This worked well if my love or lover had the same ideas and expectations. When the ideas differ that’s when suffering will start, feeling that the love isn’t working. It’s not funny but I have to laugh about our worrying on how to “fix” the broken love. When and how could love ever be broken? Only this type of possessive love can be thought of as broken because the expectations of our humanness is not being fulfilled in our minds eye.
In my near death I learned that everything is part of the light, love and compassion yet we still can identify with others and our self within the light. When I returned from death I understood the interconnection we have to everyone and everything in our universe. There is a interdependence we have for each other so it is our human nature to need love and to give love. Once this interconnection is felt one cannot help but know compassion for everyone. A true caring for the outcome of every path whether it’s positive or negative, regardless of race or background. There is more patience, understanding and tolerance of every situation that is experienced. With this, love becomes more a state of being instead of being directed toward others or an other. It is a large part of oneself and you become a part of the love and flow with it. In relationships this is sometimes misunderstood because roles and expectations are not attached. The integration of this knowing after returning is easy for some and is incredibly hard for others. But once it is integrated you can begin to open your heart and keep it open all the time projecting love and compassion.
It’s not enough to pray or be meditating about oneself or wish for a better life or outcome. That is just being materialistic and self centered. A poor person who has very little and is just surviving but lives their life with an extraordinary feeling of compassion for all the troubled people in the world is someone that has opened their heart. We sometimes let our focus on material things get in the way of opening our hearts and living in a state of love and compassion. Remember not all spiritual men and women wear robes or live a monastic life. A balance of enough materialism to support your spiritual side is a way to a healthy and happy life. I still love the adventure of life only now I can watch with a new understanding.
Dave Bennett’s Story: Part 3
Reliving The Near-Death Experience
My Second NDE
By Dave Bennett
I have to say that I did change quite a bit in the ten years after my near death. The gifts of acceptance, tolerance and truth helped me along the way. My human ego had me believing that I was doing great. Well, that was going to change.
Ten years after the near death my wife and I had decided to attend a spiritual retreat in Sedona, Arizona. What a great chance to go home to my old stomping grounds. I would spend time with the group, but my real plan was to spend time hiking up the old trails of my youth. I still loved to hike. I had found hiking a great way to get in touch with my spiritual side. I couldn’t wait to trek up to my favorite meditation and sacred spaces. Excited at the prospect of returning to the actual location, we packed our bags, flew to Arizona and met everyone at the motel.
I really enjoyed being with this group of folks. They were from all over the world and of every religion but we all had a common purpose to grow spiritually. So I decided I would join the group for morning meditation at Bell Rock, but the afternoon was set aside for a trek.
The next morning we all arrived at Bell Rock. We were told to find a quiet place so that we can meditate for a short period of time and then we would gather together. Great! I knew a nice secluded little place that felt just like a grotto. So I just skedaddled up to it and, feeling very comfortable, I settled in like a bird in his nest. It was shaded by some mesquite and I had my back towards the red rock. I thought I was just going to meditate. I used some of the techniques that those grandmothers had taught me so long ago to find my sacred space.
I usually find myself sitting on a plateau looking at the valley of my youth. This is the site I was looking forward to visiting again in Arizona, but this space is always within me. Once there I sit open eyed and just look across the valley. While doing this, my breathing becomes rhythmic like a drum. I synchronize it with my heart beat, with Mother Nature. That is usually when my guide would approach and stand behind or beside me. He would show me a scene that played out in the valley or offer me the wisdom I needed.
In my grotto on Bell Rock, I went into a deep meditation very quickly. As I was moving toward my sacred space within myself, there was this calm and loving voice that was very familiar. It told me to “Go into the light”. Spirit was talking. Not just a projected insight or guide, Spirit WAS TALKING.
I had been meditating on and off since I was 14, and I have never heard a voice talking to me like that. You hear your own mind chatter and you just allow that to dissolve away, but I had never heard anything like this. It was more than just hearing. It was feeling, knowing and hearing. It was a voice that reverberated through my being. The same voice that told me it was time to return during my Near-Death Experience.
Before this, I had never thought of trying to return to the light or even to touch the light in meditation. I assumed, “That is God’s light, the universal all and not a place for me a mortal man.”
Instead of going into my sacred space, I found myself back in the ocean, having already breathed in salt water and in the process of dying and entering the dark void. I then re-experienced the entire near-death scenario. All of the repressed issues from my death came screaming out of my subconscious. Only this time I’m reliving it, forced to see all I had suppressed. I had stumbled across that box and I had kicked it open, the “do not touch” box that I had stuffed way back in my mind. I am back in that light. I am back in that love. I am back in that compassion. I had actually become a little prideful in my three gifts, but I had forgotten the basis of it all. The whole near-death experience came flooding back again. I relived the pain of death and the greater pain of returning to my body.
One really hard part for me was returning back to the light and meeting my soul group again. I was the type of guy that was in control most of the time. But, when I went into the light or even so much as touched the light my emotions rocketed out of control. The incredible longing to be with my soul group, my family, racked me into uncontrollable sobbing. The overpowering feelings of unconditional love and comfort made me as weak as a rag doll. It would not stop. I had no way to control it.
In the first experience, I perceived my soul group sending me love, welcome and support en masse. I had kept my focus on the original three that greeted me. I believe it was due to them being closest. I didn’t have as clear a view of the other nine beings. I was in awe and a little numb. I was a little more accepting this second time. In this second experience, being less in awe, I was able to perceive a more personal greeting. I felt a more individual love and welcoming from each being. Each had its individual flavor and essence. Light beings are very beautiful, stunning and powerful. I believe I was captivated by that in the first experience.
This time around, I could also see myself a little clearer. I could see that I was like the light beings. I saw a strength within my light that I don’t carry within me in this life. I think that strength comes from the unbelievable amount of love that I experienced. When I touch the light now, it reconfirms that strength giving me a little boost to continue putting one step in front of the other.
The life reviews, in my experiences, are extremely important and a big thing to me. Both times, in the NDE itself and in the reliving of the near-death experience, it is what changed my life the most. It was “the big bonk on the head” that I had to keep getting in this lifetime to change my life’s direction to where I needed to go. The loving non judgmental support during the reviews gave me the tools to change my life. This second time I was able to see more detail because I wasn’t so awed by the experience. This allowed me to take in more. Ten years earlier, when I first experienced my life review, I had become confused when I was shown events in my life that had not taken place yet. Now I had lived an additional ten more years and had actually experienced those events. Since I had more clarity, I was actually able to see more of the ripples and effects of my actions.
Many of the life review moments focused on my interaction with others. Not only did I re-experience my side of the interaction, but I also experienced how my actions affected the other person. If I was hurtful to that person, I felt the hurt they experienced and saw how they carried it with them. I also saw how my loving intention played forward. I was even shown how my actions affected their future reactions.
This second life review included the past ten years. From this new vantage point, I was able to see the changes I had effected within myself by utilizing my three gifts of acceptance, tolerance and truth.
I saw how I had grown and changed after the first experience because I had ten more years of living. In those years, I had consciously attempted to work on myself and make myself a better person. I watched the results of living in a more consciously loving manner. Yet, I still had a lot of room for improvement. But, like in the first experience, I received no judgment and a total feeling of unconditional love and acceptance.
Once again, I experienced my interconnection with everything else in life. I relived my actions and how they touched others through that interconnection. At the same time I saw how my actions caused new actions that then expanded beyond my environment. We give off an energy which reflects our emotional and mental state. Because of our interconnectedness, this energy exchange is actually a form of unconscious communication that is perceived on a soul level. I saw this more in the second review as actual slivers of light that connects us with each other. The more erratic your mind and emotions are, the more erratic energetic message you are sending. Also, the level of passion directly correlates with the intensity of the signal or message. It didn’t matter whether the passion was love or hate. The slivers were brighter and stronger when the passion level rose. I saw that if we could learn to discipline our mind, these interconnected communications would be less inconsistent. How we interact with others is much more important than what we perceive as our great accomplishments in life.
Another lesson I received about interconnection is that this interconnection runs between us and the greater All or Divine Consciousness as well as between individuals. Like in the first experience, through the interconnectedness, I had a greater knowledge and understanding of anything I focused upon.
It felt as thought the purpose of reliving this was to remind me of all that I had tried to push away ten years ago. One of the revelations besides the new experiences in the life review was the acceptance of God’s Light. The first time, I couldn’t face it. In the first experience, accepting god’s light was simply too much for me. I didn’t feel as if I was worthy to experience that light of love. This acceptance of the light and love was one of the biggest elements that I had suppressed 10 years earlier. But, after 10 years of working with acceptance, tolerance and truth, I gained the tools needed to accept the experience of God’s love and light.
I also realized that within that light was the all knowing or universal consciousness. In some philosophies, they call it the Universal Mind. In the light, I connected to a loving consciousness that is all knowing and I had access to any information that I needed.
My Spirit was singing with gladness to be in the loving joy of the light, but at the same time my human side knew I was on the earth. I relived my near death in its entirety, but instead of coming back into my body in the water, I found myself sitting on Bell Rock. At least I didn’t have to make that swim again!
Coming out of the meditation, I was shaking, soaked in sweat and tears. You would think I was in the ocean. I tried to stand up and return to the group but instead I wandered a bit to try to compose myself. (got to be in control, ya know) The experience and the light were still with me and my heart was wide open as I slowly gathered my strength. I stumbled my way down Bell Rock, moving back to where the group was gathering. There I ran across Richard. He was smiling, yet when he saw me he looked concerned. I think he saw the stress that I was under. I felt like I had to try to say something, to communicate. I tried to explain what I had just experienced, but I was pretty nervous. Richard had known Tom Sawyer, another Near-Death Experiencer, (and yes, that is his real name), and had heard Tom’s accounts first hand. This gave Richard a vocabulary and he calmly put a name to my experience. He told me I had a Near Death Experience. “There is a name for this?” “There are others that have gone through this?”
His acceptance was such a relief. It gave my mind some peace knowing that my experience wasn’t such a strange thing. He really helped me to calm down. We were a short distance from the group but everyone left us alone. They could probably tell there was some kind of counseling going on.
My newly named experience would not leave me alone. For three days I kept reliving it. Some times it would just be the death. Another time it was the light or the soul group and next time maybe a part of the life review. I kept getting pushed back into that place where I was half here in my physical presence and half there in my light body. The experience was at the forefront of my thought process. Anytime my thought would linger on a part of my NDE, I would literally relive that part of my Near Death again. My emotions were so elevated and incredibly intense that I would experience the full range of emotions at any moment. I tried not think about the NDE and forced my mind to think about the beauty of the red rocks, the feel of the sun on my face or the warm breeze blowing across the mesquite trees. That would just bring up something else that would take me back into the Light again.
The most wonderful thing, and also the most disconcerting, was the fact that I now could hear Spirit, one-on-one. It was a warm, resonating voice within my being. “Oh boy, I don’t know about this”. Spirit was now talking to me as I kept reliving my near-death experience. To say I was having trouble getting used to this new form of communication was an understatement.
I didn’t get to go hiking. I had all these plans. It was terrible, no it wasn’t terrible, it was wonderful. But, it was also frightening, emotional and draining. There wasn’t much sleep during those three days because I couldn’t shut it off. I was worried that I finally went over the edge and that they were going to put me away in an institution. I thought, “This is really NOT GOOD, I cannot live this way.”
I spent a good deal of time alone. I needed to be away from the others. My first wife, although concerned, was unable to deal with or be around me while I was experiencing the NDEs. She didn’t know what to do, we were just too close. She had a difficult time handling it because I was changing before her eyes. She was able to discuss my situation with the leaders of our group. They understood my situation and advised her to give me time and space. This allowed me to be comfortable with not participating in every activity.
Not knowing me allowed Richard to listen without any baggage. He was able to help me by just allowing me to get it out and let it happen. He doesn’t even know how much of a help he was. Hey, he’ll get to see it in his life review. Then he’ll know all the ripples that he caused. Richard helped me to put words to the experience. Checking in with me a couple times, he was a great help. It was empowering to have such a receptive audience in Richard, since I didn’t receive that the first time. Having a vocabulary helped my mind start to look at the experience and evaluate it more. As I popped in and out of the light, over the next three days, I was more quizzical and accepting of it. I kept trying to gain a better understanding and feeling of the experience. The small, positive seed that Richard planted helped me through those next days and continued to grow over the years. It allows me to communicate more openly about the experience and not keep it all locked up inside.
By the end of the third day I started to get it. Sometimes Spirit has to hit me very hard. The initial thee gifts I had been working with kicked in and I began to accept the entire near death experience. I needed a ten-year buffer before I could accept that I had been in God’s hands. I could return to the light if I wanted. And if I just listened, Spirit would speak to me. I also learned you can live your life with an open heart and listen through your heart instead of your mind.
Not only is having your heart wide open a physical experience, where you can actually feel an ache in the heart area, it is also an emotional experience. When you have been in the light, your heart expands and you are so much more aware of that interconnected communication. It resonates on a soul level, stimulating our emotions. Information doesn’t enter through the mind to get filtered. It comes in big clumps and your emotions have to deal with the full impact of that information.
One of the things that comes through is the unconditional love that you receive and feel for everything around you. Your mind can conceptualize it into a limited idea, but when that reality comes through the heart and is experienced directly, it overwhelms the emotions. I believe this is why experiencer’s need to integrate their experience a little at a time. Otherwise all the emotion and interconnectedness becomes overwhelming. If we allow ourselves to touch the light a little at a time, we become more accustomed to it and it is a little less overpowering each time. I stress that allowing the intensity of all that comes with the Light to not overcome our ability to cope is a long process. I can’t say I was ready at that time to face the light again. I see now that my own fears had blocked me from learning all this the first time. Ten years before, I was not ready to accept all of it.
I was eventually able to rejoin the group and group activities. We were finally able to take some wonderful hikes. I wanted to revisit one of my sacred meditations spots. A small group of us made our way there to meditate. One of the hikers, Lou, and I separated for a little bit during our mediation and afterwards we shared. In our sharing we discovered that our meditations were interwoven with each others. It left us with the feeling that we had been brothers in some past life together. It was with the sharing that I could sense that exchange of energy and interconnectedness between us. That moment was a conscious reminder of the unconscious, energetic communication and interconnectedness I experienced in my NDE happens in life as well.
During another meditation that day, I saw one of the guides that always used to be with me as a youth. This was the first time I “saw” him face to face. I’ve always perceived him behind me. When I felt his powerful spirit, I assumed he was this big and powerful being. But when I saw him, he was this small old gray haired Indian. He still emanated that raw, steel like resolve and presence, feeling very solid and immovable. His essence is so much bigger than his physical being. He is Grandfather Mountain, small in size, but not in presence.
All the pieces of the puzzle came together. Not long before our Sedona trip, I had been to a Native American Seer who told me that I was going to meet my guide on a deeper, more personal level. Grandfather, standing face to face with me, was a confirmation. The seer also spoke to me of the fact that one of my most important life paths was communication. Now that I could hear Spirit, directly, Spirit confirmed this as well.
I suddenly understood that communication didn’t mean that I had to be talking to a large audience communicating a lesson of light. When in my spiritual truth and center, interconnection allows a deeper bond to form than with just talking. I could communicate just as well one on one and touch people more profoundly. I saw this happen with the small group I took to my sacred place. We turned a hike into an intensely bonding spiritual journey. I enjoyed sharing this sacred space from my teenage years. The seed for my quiet ministry was planted on that day. This incredible spiritual growth had left me with a compulsion to change my life. At the same time Spirit was indicating, “Time for change is coming”.
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