Near-Death Experience of the Light
Mellen-Thomas Benedict is an artist who survived a near-death experience in 1982. He was dead for over an hour and a half and during that time, he rose up out of his body and went into the light. Dr. Kenneth Ring, internationally noted near death researcher has said, “His story is one of the most remarkable I have encountered in my extensive research on near-death experiences.”
In 1982 I died from terminal cancer. The condition I had was inoperable, and any kind of chemotherapy they could give me would just have made me more of a vegetable. I had no medical insurance, so my life savings went overnight on tests. Unwilling to drag my family into this, I determined to handle this myself. I was given six to eight months to live. I ended up in hospice care and was blessed with an angel for my hospice caretaker.
I had been an information freak in the 1970’s, and I had become increasingly despondent over the nuclear crisis, the ecology crisis, and so forth. So, since I did not have a spiritual basis, I began to believe that nature had made a mistake, and that we were probably a cancerous organism on the planet. I saw no way that we could get out from all the problems we had created for ourselves and the planet. I perceived all humans as cancer, and that is what I got. That is what killed me. Be careful what your world view is. It can feed back on you, especially if it is a negative world view. I had a seriously negative one.
Before my death, I tried all sorts of alternative healing methods. None helped. So I determined that this was between me and God. I had never really considered God. Neither was I into any kind of spirituality, but my approaching death sent me on a quest for more information about spirituality and alternative healing. I read about various religions and philosophies. They gave hope that there was something on the other side.
I remember waking up one morning at home about 4:30 AM, and I just knew that this was it. This was the day I was going to die. So I called a few friends and said goodbye. I woke up my hospice caretaker and told her. I had a private agreement with her that she would leave my dead body alone for six hours, since I had read that all kinds of interesting things happen when you die. I went back to sleep. The next thing I remember I was fully aware and standing up, but my body was in the bed. I seemed to be surrounded by darkness, yet I could see every room in the house. I could see the top of the house, I could see around the house, I could see under the house.
There was a light shining. I turned toward the light. The light was very similar to what many other people have described in their near death experiences. It was so magnificent, alluring and tangible, you could feel it. I wanted to go towards the light like you would want to go to your ideal mother’s or father’s arms. As I moved towards the light, I knew intuitively that if I went to it, I would be dead. So I said/felt, “Please wait a minute. I would like to talk to you before I go.”
To my surprise, the entire experience halted at that point and I discovered that I was in control of the experience. My request was honored and I had conversations with the light. The light kept changing into different figures like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, mandalas, archetypal images and signs. I asked in a kind of telepathy, “What is going on here?” The information transferred to me was that our beliefs shape the kind of feedback we receive. If you are a Buddhist or Catholic or fundamentalist, you get a feedback loop of your own images.
As the light revealed itself to me, I became aware that what I was really seeing was our higher self matrix. Each of us is a direct experience of the source and we all have a higher self or oversoul part of our being which is a conduit to that source. All our higher selves are connected as one being, so we are literally all the same being. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It was like all the love you’ve ever wanted, and it was the kind of love that cures, heals, regenerates.
I was ready to go at that time. I said, “I am ready, take me.” Then the light turned into the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen: a mandala of human souls on this planet. I saw how we are the most beautiful creations. The human soul, the human matrix that we all make together is absolutely fantastic, elegant, exotic, everything. I just cannot say enough about how it changed my opinion of human beings in that instant. I said, “Oh, God, I did not know how beautiful we are!” I was astonished to find that there was no evil in any soul. The terrible things that happened to people might make them do evil things, but their souls were not evil. What all people seek, what sustains them, is love, the light told me. What distorts people is a lack of love.
The revelations seemed to go on and on. Then I asked, “Does this mean that humankind will be saved?” Like a trumpet blast with a shower of spiraling lights, the great light spoke, saying, “You save, redeem and heal yourself. You always have and always will. You were created with the power to do so from before the beginning of the world.”
In that instant I realized even more. I realized that we have already been saved because we were designed to self-correct like the rest of God’s universe. This is what the “second coming” is about. I thanked the light of God with all my heart. The best thing I could come up with was these simple words of totally appreciation: “Oh dear God, dear Universe, dear Great Self, I love my life.” The light seemed to breathe me in even more deeply, completely absorbing me. I entered into another realm, more profound than the last, and became aware of an enormous stream of light, vast and full, deep in the heart of life. I asked what this was. The light responded, “This is the river of life. Drink of this manna water to your heart’s content.” So I did. I was in ecstasy.
Suddenly I seemed to be rocketing away from the planet on this stream of life. I saw Earth fly away. The solar system in all its splendor whizzed by and disappeared. At faster than light speed, I flew through the center of the galaxy, absorbing more knowledge as I went. I learned that this galaxy, and all of the universe, is bursting with many different varieties of life. I saw many worlds. The good news is that we are not alone in this universe! Creation is God exploring God’s self through every way imaginable, in an ongoing, infinite exploration through every one of us. Through every piece of hair on your head, through every leaf on every tree, through every atom, God is exploring God’s Self, the great “I am.” Creation is about absolute pure consciousness, or God, coming into the experience of life as we know it. It was like I was looking out of God’s eyes. I had become God. Suddenly I wasn’t me anymore and suddenly I knew why every atom existed, and I could see everything. I understood that God is not there. God is here. God gave everything to us. People are so busy trying to become God instead of realizing that we are already God and God is becoming us. That’s what it is really about.
“I love the mushroom cloud; this is the holiest mandala that we have manifested to date as an archetype. It, more than any religion or philosophy on Earth, brought us to a new level of consciousness. Knowing that we can blow up the planet fifty times, we started saying, “We do not need this any more.”
I was never told that I had to come back, I just knew that I would. As I began my return to the life cycle, it never crossed my mind, nor was I told, that I would return to the same body. It just did not matter. I had complete trust in the light and the life process. As the stream merged with the great light, I asked never to forget the revelations and the feelings of what I had learned on the other side. There was a “Yes.” It felt like a kiss to my soul. I thought of myself as a human, as if for the first time, and I was happy to be that. From what I have seen, I would be happy to be an atom in this universe. An atom. So to be the human part of God…this is the most fantastic blessing. It is a blessing beyond our wildest estimation of what blessing can be. For each and every one of us to be the human part of this experience is awesome and magnificent. Each and every one of us, no matter where we are, screwed up or not, is a blessing to the planet, right where we are.
I was so surprised when I opened my eyes to be back in this body. My caretaker had honored my wish to have my newly dead body left alone for a few hours as much as she could. She found me dead and checked the stethoscope, blood pressure and heart rate monitor to verify that I really was dead. I seem to have experienced death itself for at least an hour and a half. Then I awakened and saw the light outside. I tried to get up to go to it, but I fell out of the bed. She heard a loud clunk, ran in and found me on the floor.
When I recovered, I was very surprised and yet very awed about what had happened to me. At first all the memory of the trip that I have now was not there. I kept slipping out of this world and kept asking, “Am I alive?” This world seemed more like a dream than that one. Within three days, I was feeling normal again, clearer, yet different than I had ever felt in my life. My memory of the journey came back later. I could see nothing wrong with any human being I had ever seen. Before that I was really judgmental. I thought a lot of people were really screwed up; in fact I thought that everybody was screwed up — everybody but me.
The mystery of life has very little to do with intelligence. The universe is not an intellectual process at all. The intellect is helpful — it is brilliant — but right now that is all we process with, instead of our hearts and the wiser part of ourselves.
I saw that races are personality clusters. Nations like France, Germany and China each have their own personality. Cities have personalities, their local group souls that attract certain people. Families have group souls. Individual identity is evolving like branches of a fractal. The different questions that each of us have are very, very important. This is how God is exploring God’s self — through you. So ask your questions, do your searching. You will find your Self and you will find God in that self, because it is only the self. More than that, I began to see that each one of us humans are soul mates. We are part of the same soul fractaling out in many creative directions, but still the same. Now I look at every human being that I see, and I see a soul mate, my soul mate, the one I have always been looking for. Beyond that, the greatest soul mate that you will ever have is yourself. We are each both male and female. Start having the greatest love affair you ever had…with your Self. You will love everything out of that.
I had a descent into what you might call hell, and it was very surprising. I did not see Satan or evil. My descent into hell was a descent into each person’s customized human misery, ignorance, and darkness of not-knowing. It seemed like a miserable eternity. But each of the millions of souls around me had a little star of light always available. But no one seemed to pay attention to it. They were so consumed with their own grief, trauma and misery. But, after what seemed an eternity, I started calling out to that light, like a child calling to a parent for help. Then the light opened up and formed a tunnel that came right to me and insulated me from all that fear and pain. That is what hell really is. So what we are doing is learning to hold hands, to come together. The doors of hell are open now. We are going to link up, hold hands, and walk out of hell together.
Since my return I have experienced the light spontaneously, and I have learned how to get to that space almost any time in my meditation. Each one of you can do this. You do not have to die to do this. You are wired for it already. The body is the most magnificent light being there is, a universe of incredible light. Spirit is not pushing us to dissolve this body. We don’t need to die to commune with God; God is communing with us in every moment.
I asked God, “What is the best religion on the planet? Which one is right?” And God said with great love, “I don’t care. It does not matter what religion you are.” What incredible grace! They come and they go, they change. Buddhism has not been here forever, Catholicism has not been here forever, and they are all about to become more enlightened. More light is coming into all systems now. There will be lots of people fighting about it, one religion against the next, believing that only they are right. Everyone thinks they own God, the religions and philosophies, especially the religions because they form big organizations around their philosophy. When God said, “I don’t care,” I immediately understood that it is for us to care about. It is important, because we are the caring beings. It matters to us and that is where it is important. God does not care if you are Protestant, Buddhist, or whatever. It is all a blooming facet of the whole. It is not the end of each religion, but we are talking about the same God. Live and let live. Each has a different view; it is all important.
I went over to the other side with a lot of fears about toxic waste, nuclear missiles, the population explosion, the rainforest. I came back loving every single problem. I love nuclear waste. I love the mushroom cloud; this is the holiest mandala that we have manifested to date as an archetype. It, more than any religion or philosophy on Earth, brought us together all of a sudden to a new level of consciousness. Knowing that maybe we can blow up the planet fifty times, or 500 times, we finally realize that maybe we are all here together now. For a period they had to keep setting off more bombs to get it into us. Then we started saying, “We do not need this any more.”
Now we are actually in a safer world than we have ever been in and it is going to get safer. So I came back loving toxic waste because it brought us together. The clearing of the rain forest will slow down, and in fifty years there will be more trees on the planet than in a long time. If you are into ecology, go for it; you are that part of the system that is becoming aware. Go for it with all your might, but do not be depressed. It is part of a larger thing. Earth is in the process of domesticating itself and we are cells on that body. Population increase is getting very close to the optimal range of energy to cause a shift in consciousness. That shift in consciousness will change politics, money, energy.
After dying and coming back, I really respect life and death. This body that you are in has been alive forever. It comes from an unending stream of life, going back to the Big Bang and beyond. This body gives life to the next life, in dense and subtle energy. Here’s to life! Here’s to death! Here’s to it all!
A rainbow of blessings and thanks to Canadian reader Paulossie Mikpegak who submitted this contribution to us online.