A young woman is admitted to the psych ward of a large city hospital, claiming she is a witch and has the evil eye. She also claims she is being punished for this and wants to be baptized. Oh, and she says she died; while she was in the afterlife state she traveled across time and continents and is now caught up between two great world powers who want to make use of her knowledge. While watching a lightning storm, she has visions of great holy men and receives the revelation that she is to join them and lead a new religious era. She will be the new Virgin Mother and queen; but this is to be kept secret. Her city, she says, is about to become a new hell; but a new city will drop from the sky, from spaceships, bringing a whole new order into the world. People will then have wisdom enough to live together in peace.
Psychotic episode. Stark, raving mad. Oh, weird. Fruitcake.
Well, yes and no. Certainly a riot of archetypes.
As it happened, that young woman’s narrative extended over a long enough period of time for her to be considered psychotic and needing care. Had it occurred all at once, it might have been considered one walloping near-death experience, the kind that gets its teller on television and writing bestsellers that wide-eyed buyers interpret as literal prophecy of a real-world future. She might have started a whole new religion. She might have had to figure some kind of meaning out all by herself.
Fortunately, she came under the care of a remarkable psychiatrist, the late John Weir Perry, who recognized in her images a familiar, repetitive pattern. The pattern involves themes of death and birth, world destruction and creation, clashes of political or religious or even cosmic powers, sacred marriages and messianic callings, and programs of reform. Why, it sounds somewhat familiar.
It is, wrote Perry, “The world…shifted from the consensual outer reality to this inner myth-styled reality that tends not to be validated in our culture…According to the psyche’s purposes, in order to break out of the security of solid consensus and convention, one must encounter the experience of dying or of having already died, which symbolizes a dissolution of the accustomed self.”
In some especially rich experiences, the second element is a vision of the death of the world. “One must encounter the death of the familiar self-image and the destruction of the world image to make room for the self regeneration of them both. Life cannot be repaired, it can only be re-created.”
…one must encounter the experience of dying or of having already died, which symbolizes a dissolution of the accustomed self.
What a remarkable gift to many troubled people it would be, if we could only get out the word that a distressing NDE, especially a hellish one, needs to be approached as neither an afterlife threat or punishment but as a mandate to take a new perspective of life and world. One’s previous life cannot be repaired, it can only be re-created.
John Weir Perry, Trials of the Visionary Mind, Spiritual Emergency and the Renewal Process. Google Books.
Psychotic episode? Stark, raving mad?
Hey, it sounds like a metaphoric description of a typical day in my life. 😀
Nan Bush says
Wade J Schmidt says
So true – not to many could disagree if they were to be honest with themselves and the world around around them. Cheers!!!
Nan Bush says
Guillermo Garcia says
What a powerful idea is to approach a distressing NDE as a mandate to take a new perspective of life and world and in no way as a threat, thank you Nancy.-
I consider that the idea may be extended to any event of our life specially those that we consider as a misfortune.
But allow me to challenge the concept that life cannot be repaired, it can only be re-created, because seems to me that our position in Life is different, it is as though we are only half done and we need to co-create ourselves with every decision we take everyday so instead of repair our life we are more like an artist that is alwas refining, polishing his masterpiece,if he is lucky enough, or he is ruining his masterpiece everyday if he is not .
Sometimes we may have the help ,or the warning of an external critic (in this case a hellish NDE or any misfortune) and if we can take that not as a punishment but as a help changing our perspective of life and world we are able to improve our masterpiece=ourselves, certainly is not an easy task.
Plus there is another reward, if we keep our eyes open to take a new perspective of life and world we are in touch with ‘… the freshness of the deep springs of life …and … there is hope you may die young at eighty…’as we are reminded by Samuel Ullman(“Youth” )
Isa Helmi says
Hello to all,
How nice said the late Perry,”the world….shifted….”.
Yes,it is not validated in our culture.To me it seems that sometimes we are limited and trapped in a cage called “reality” or “normality”. I have come to believe that there must be an implicit world within the explicit world.Sometimes some claims rooted in the first can be taken as Psychotic.
In very brief,in this particular case,I can say that because of the progress of the world communication (global village ) that has brought us better understanding of the affairs going on around the world,it can simply has such archetypical reflection in the mind of every honest,righteous but with less intelligence than that needed for tolerance . I think this case and such bring us hope for our future.A future in which human being with the help of knowledge and respecting the human values make the world peaceful place for all instead of waiting such world drops down from the sky!. Although I believe in such powerful force in the world unknown to many.
Dave Woods says
I just spent 10 days in the hospital with nothing to eat for 9 days. I stagered into emergency in excruciating pain. It turned out to be an intestinal blockage.
They tried to put a tube through my nose into my stomach. They missed and stuck it down my left lung by mistake. After a couple of trys they got it right.
They were afraid to operate because of my age heart condition, and previous surguries. It was pass it on your own, or buy the farm. I was given a 50/50 chance of surviving.
That night my body went into convultions. I felt like my spirit was in one place, and my body was in another by itself, totally out of my control. I thought maybe this is check mate.
Then I felt Robert, my boy in prison come through to me. He said ”are you going to give up and let that thing flop around on the bank like a fish out of water, or are you going to put up a fight?”
I got out of bed grabbed the IV pole, disconnected the tubes, hit the hall, and started walking. Walking, and walking was the only way to get the blockage to move. Eight days later, it did.
Robert was stabbed in the chest, grabed the knife away, stabbed the other person back, and they died. he’s doing 25 years in Green Haven for manslaughter.
He has become intensly spiritual, studies the spiritual masters and meditates every day, He can OBE at will. I love him, and he loves me back. I’m proud of him, and visit all the time. It’s a hell of a thing this life.
Nan Bush says
Oh, Dave, I am so sorry. Yes, it is a hell of a thing, this life–as someone said, ‘a riddle wrapped in a puzzle inside an enigma.’ Seems that all we can do is love each other, near at hand or at a distance. I am wrapping you and your boy in love, my friend.
Nan Bush says
To say the least. And leave it to Churchill to wring the most from the least!
I have struggled with this idea that people cannot predict whether they are going to have a good or bad experience, and given that when death comes knocking to take the soul permanently there are no second chances, that makes the idea of being trapped in a hellish one all the more terrifying. Ms. Bush do you have any sense, based on your own experience, that if a person is being threatened by a malevolent entity that they have power over the entity to say “begone” and the entity will have to obey, or is the entity stronger than the person and not subject to his/her commands? Thank you.
Nan Bush says
Oh gosh, you do ask a hard question! I have struggled with the exact same issue.
One of my reasons for writing Dancing Past the Dark is the idea that being prepared for something, even if we don’t want it, is better than going in totally ignorant. Just in case we do encounter this type of experience, it’s better to have some idea about how we might respond. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is built around that idea, giving people a kind of script to help navigate whatever may come after death. So to start with, it makes sense to me that we are likely to have more input if we know something about what to do when meeting “entities.”
The next point, though, is that malevolent entity you mention. The question is, what is that entity, and where does it come from? Is it really malevolent (wanting to harm us) or scary because it’s strange and maybe seems ugly? The traditional view of hell is that demons and monsters are external, separate creatures that are “not us.” On the other hand, a great many people with lots of spiritual experience are convinced that anything we encounter in this kind of experience is not an external being at all, but is an image from our deep psyche. In their view–and they include the Tibetans and other Buddhists, Jungian depth psychologists, and many Christian clergy and theologians–this kind of image comes from deep within ourselves as a symbol of something we need to deal with.
Obviously, I don’t know more than anyone else about whether this concept is true. I only know that I find it a much more workable idea than the notion that the universe is filled with invisible demonic creatures that are entirely separate from us. (And when you get right down to it, what difference does it make? The images are scary, but no one else can see mine, whether they’re my psyche or an external demon!) I feel more confident about being able to face one, knowing that it is a picture my own psyche is presenting. I also feel more trusting of God when I’m not operating from the idea that God is trying to trick us into eternal torment.
My own NDE happened years (decades!) before I had any such idea about internal/external demons, which explains, I think, why I felt so powerless. “Begone” didn’t enter my mind. Those intelligent circles in my experience had all the information on their side, it seemed, while I had nothing. Or so I thought. If I could have thought of them as being my own–if the power they had over me could have been thought of as coming somehow from me–I believe that would have made me far more able to deal with them. I wish I had thought to ask them questions; but that never occurred to me when I assumed they were external.
In other words, if the person feels too little and without information to stand up to the image/entity, there is likely to be severe damage. If the person can say, “You are part of me. Tell me why you’re here…” then it seems likely that a positive outcome is possible.
As for an experience that happens at death, I think of the accounts people have given of serious accidents, which in real time take maybe three seconds but in experiential time go on for a very long while. I suspect that a distressing experience at death may be like that, actually very brief. Certainly better for us to consider than the “forever and ever” we hear about in mistranslated scripture.
Does this help? Please feel free to ask more questions if you need to.
Thank you so much for your very detailed and informative reply. I take comfort in the fact that although you, as you say, weren’t as wise and knowledgeable about all this at the time of your NDE as you are now, yet you apparently came back from it unscathed and not psychologically traumatized as most of us would be. This indicates to me that, though you could have been more apt to to surrender to the “entities” because of your lack of knowledge, you did not and ultimately in some way prevailed over them either because you are a strong-willed person by nature and not so likely to easily give in to such malevolence OR because the entities themselves were not as malevolent or determined to harm you as one might think after reading your account. Maybe both. But forewarned is forearmed. Should I have the bad luck to have to confront a “hellish” experience after my own death I hope I can be as calm as you were, especially after having educated myself with your material. Thank you for your work and your dedication. By the way, I enjoy your videos immensely on YouTube.
Nan Bush says
You give me too much credit! It took probably 30 years even to begin to feel unscathed, and the NDE has obviously shaped everything about my life since. You’re no doubt right about “strong-willed; I have a reputation in the family for justice (a couple of funny stories about me as a pre-schooler standing up for the rights of Easter chicks). My NDE felt unjust, so I refused to accept my first interpretation as adequate. In any event, I am so grateful to know that the words help.
I just heard you on Coast to Coast with George Knap Oct. 1 2012.
I just caught the last two minutes of the show, but my thought was, has anyone ever suggested to you that you need Jesus Christ in your life?
What a lot of people fail to understand is that there is a difference between “religion” and a “relationship”
with Jesus Christ. “Religion” is what angers everybody, but a “Relationship” with Jesus Christ would be no different than a relationship one has with their parent or sibling. Jesus said that he was closer to us than a brother. He knows ALL our faults, hurts and fears. And He understands them all. Better than we can, ourselves. When religion steps in and comes up with a world of doctrines and rituals, it’s easy to see why so many people don’t want anything to with it. It’s like being led around by a potentially corrupt middle-man. Jesus wants a relationship, directly with us. And He offers that to us, if only we believe. Your experience “may” be the only way, God could get your attention. Oftentimes, we don’t understand why bad things happen to us, but sometimes, I think, it’s because we are so hardheaded and stubborn to listen to what God wants to say to us.
IF you want to read a letter from someone, you want
to read what THAT someone said, not necessarily what someone said someone said. That middle-man
can foul up what the author wrote. In short, you want
to hear it from the source.
In the same vein, I think that an aweful lot of people
think along those lines, but fail to understand that
our sin, separates us from God. But, through Jesus Christ, we can be reunited with God, our Creator, Heavenly Father, Who yearns for us to seek Him as
an alienated father would yearn for his children to seek and love and trust him.
That is what I sincerely believe.
Well, anyway, I thought I would write.
Respectfully and kind regards,
Nan Bush says
Ben, thank you so much for your concern. When I was about three years old, I learned a song in Sunday School that said, “A sunbeam, a sunbeam! Jesus wants me for a sunbeam! A sunbeam, a sunbeam–I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.” That was a very long time back, and I’ve been trying to be a sunbeam for Jesus ever since. I love it that you asked this so kindly. And yes, I love Jesus. With my writing for the general public, I do try to avoid sounding in any way doctrinaire. Part of being a sunbeam and shining on everyone!