Research Indicates That Totally Blind Can See During Near-Death Experiences
By Michael H. Brown
They have tried to say it's just the imagination. They've tried to explain it as a fluke of biochemistry. They've tried to say it's because the brain is deprived of oxygen.
But skeptics of near-death visions will have a more difficult time with research documenting the testimonies of totally blind people who during their brushes with death could suddenly see.
About half of the more than thirty cases studied by the researchers were people blind from birth, while others lost their sight after the age of five or were severely visually impaired. Their accounts include the wonder of seeing colors for the first time.
"Our findings are unequivocal," write researchers Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper in a book called Mindsight. "The blind persons in our sample, even those blind from birth, recount experiences that clearly conform to the familiar prototype of the beatific near-death experiences."
The narratives, in fact, are indistinguishable from those of sighted persons, especially with respect to the elements that serve to define the classic near-death pattern -- including traveling through a "tunnel" at the moment of death, encountering a wondrous Light, being taken through a review of their lives (in which many of the blind in the sample saw themselves and relatives for the first time), and the sensation of great peace and well-being.
One person they studied, Vicki Umipeg from the state of Washington -- who due to her lifelong blindness never understood the nature of light -- was met by the sight of extraordinary trees, flowers, and people surrounded by luminosity. "Everybody there was made of light," she told Ring and Cooper. "And I was made of light. What the light conveyed was love. There was love everywhere. It was like love came from the grass, love came from the birds, love came from the trees." Next to Vicki appeared a figure whose radiance was far greater than any others and Whom Vicki immediately identified as Jesus.
Others have described a place of perfect temperatures, "so unbelievably fresh that mountain air on earth could not even come close," said an experiencer named Brad Barrows who also had been completely blind from birth but who saw the same supernatural landscape. Barrows also recalled a "glittering massive stone structure" that seemed to be made of light -- with music that seemed to be praising God inside of it. Important to keep in mind is not only that some of the subjects had been blind from birth, but also that previous to the death experience they had not even seen in dreams.
Now, in the afterworld, there were colors for which they had no description. "It was just beautiful," said another named Debbie. "I saw in stereo." Still another found himself in an enormous "library" with "thousands and millions and billions of books."
The researchers also quote cases from other investigations in which a Long Island woman who had been blind since 18 was able to vividly describe what was happening around her, including the specific appearance of instruments as doctors resuscitated her after a heart attack -- while still others were able to describe the intricacies of what people were wearing.
Concluded Cooper and Dr. Ring: "What the blind experience is perhaps in some ways more astonishing even than the claim that they can see. Instead, they -- like sighted persons who have similar episodes -- may have transcended brain-based consciousness altogether and, if that is so, their experiences will of necessity beggar all description or convenient labels."
As far as Vicki and her alleged encounter with Jesus:
"I was real close to Him," she told the researchers, who hailed respectively from the University of Connecticut and New York University. "He actually hugged me. He embraced me, and I was very close to Him. And I felt His beard and His hair. They were very close to me -- that's the only word I can think to describe it. He enveloped me with so much warmth and love."
His hair wasn't curly, claimed Umipeg, but a bit coarse, dropping well below His shoulders. And His eyes? "They were piercing eyes," she asserted. "It was like they permeated every part of me, but not in a mean way. It was like you couldn't lie about anything, and He just looked everywhere and could see everything. And His beard had very bright lights in it. It was like lights came out of it. He had nothing on His feet. He had this kind of robe on that didn't come all the way down to His feet."
She had never seen a picture of Him. Previously, she could only imagine. Now, she said, she had actually encountered Him.
But it was not yet her time.
As have so many others, Vicki said she was told she had to return to earth.
"You cannot go to My Father's house now," she heard the Lord tell her before she was revived after a car accident.
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