Spirit Daily

Despite Trappings Of The World, Rich And Famous Also Report Near-Death Brushes

By Michael H. Brown

We're not too sure that celebrities should be treated differently than anyone else (nor whether there even should be "celebrities"), but it's interesting that even the rich and famous, with so much to lose in the area of "credibility," admit to supernatural encounters. Among such occurrences are what we have come to know as near-death experiences.

I'm currently collecting material on such cases for a new book and will be reporting on aspects of these episodes. Naturally, they have to be carefully discerned -- first to make sure they're real (not just the result of oxygen deprivation, or an overly active imagination), and then to make sure that there is goodness behind the experience. We must always be on guard against the New Age and deceptive spirits.

In many ways the study of near-death encounters dates back to the sixth century and Pope Gregory the Great, who in a classic work called Dialogues chronicled the testimonies of those who had experienced deathbed visions, ghostly apparitions, and eyewitness accounts of the "other world." There was, for example, a hermit who was granted a glimpse of hell, and a businessman who recounted a similar glimpse of judgment. There was also the detailed account from a soldier who saw the grand structures of paradise.

In our own time, such accounts are legion, and have occurred at all strata of society, including, as I just mentioned, the rich and famous. A chief way to discern is the fruits, and in many of these episodes, the event changed the lives of those involved (or at least causes them to consider the spiritual realm despite their worldly Hollywood lifestyles). This is not to say it completely converts everyone who has one, but it certainly leaves a lasting impression.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor has spoken about her experience of "dying" on the operating table while undergoing surgery in the late 1950s and passing through a "tunnel" towards a brilliant light. While she was clinically "dead," Taylor claims to have encountered a deceased loved one -- in this case a former husband who supposedly told her she had to "go back," that it was not yet her time, that she had more to do.

This is a common thread in near-death encounters: that the person experiencing the afterlife is informed that he or she must go back because an earthly mission is not yet over (or because, in God's mercy, he or she is being given a second chance). Comedian Peter Sellers reported a near-death brush during a heart attack. "I looked around myself and saw an incredibly beautiful bright loving white light above me," he recalled. "I wanted to go to that white light more than anything. I've never wanted anything more. I know there was love, real love, on the other side of the light which was attracting me so much. It was kind and loving and I remember thinking, 'That's God.'"

Sellers said a hand came from the Light, along with a voice that told him too to "go back and finish."

He never feared death again.

This too is a tremendously consistent trait: those who get a glimpse of the "other side" describe a bright light and say they lose their fear of dying. Death, they now know -- firsthand -- is a transition. It is a transition for which we must constantly (and joyfully) prepare. Actors and actresses such as Donald Sutherland, Eric Estrada, and Sharon Stone have also experienced such visions and testify to the fact that God penetrates all levels of humanity and no matter who or what we are. "I literally left my body," said actress Jane Seymour, who starred in Dr. Quinn, Medical Woman. "I had the feeling that I could see myself on the bed, with people grouped around me. I remember them all trying to resucitate me. I remember my whole life flashing before my eyes."

And then there is Gary Busey.

Once Hollywood's "bad boy," Busey, who was nominated for an Oscar for The Buddy Holly Story, had his brush in 1988 during a serious motorcycle crash.

While unconscious he purportedly encountered an angel.

And as a result, he dedicated his life to Christ.

As I recall, the same happened to actor Mel Gibson -- who is now producing a major movie on the suffering of Jesus, a movie during which he and crew say there have been remarkable spiritual occurrences. Perhaps we would describe this more as a brush with death than an actual transference to the heavenly realm. But it shows us that Heaven watches. "I remember driving really fast across [Australia], from Adelaide to Sydney," Gibson recalled. "I was like 21 years old and I was probably doing about 95 all the way across the Hay Plain in my little four-cylinder Ford.

"I finally hit the Blue Mountains before you get into Sydney, and I got caught behind this truck, and he was doing probably 35, going around these really windy roads, up and up and up.

"I wanted to get out from behind this truck, but there was never a straight place to overtake him. There had been a bit of drizzle and soft edges, and it was the kind of road that was up on a mountain that was carved out of a wall.

"I took off out from behind the truck and jammed on the gas and just went flying past the guy. And I looked up, and there was a truck coming in the other direction. And the last thing I remember before I simply just covered up in a crouch position, let go of the steering wheel and put it in the hands of the Almighty was a massive gum tree coming right at me, just before it went down over the cliff.

"I felt this bang, boom, bang, like this. And I took my hands off, and the car was OK, and the big gum tree was pressed against one side of the car door, and it had dented it in. And the other side of the car was a sapling. And I had been caught between the two trees, and the front wheels were hanging over the abyss.

"Somebody had his hand on me that day. And I figure it's things like that that kind of inform you of something greater than yourself perhaps watching over you."

[resources: After Life, Her Life After Death, His Descent into Hell]

[We'd like to hear from you. Those who have had such experiences and can relate them in depth can send them to mhb33@aol.com

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