The new PBS series on NOVA comes from physicist Brian Green and his book The Fabric of the Cosmos. In the first of four programs, he looks at space.
For a sizable number of folks who report being badly shaken, even terrified, by an NDE, the cause of distress was the sense of being alone in a great, featureless emptiness, like being lost in the stars (only without stars). Here are excerpts from three accounts:
“I found myself floating in a void and nobody was there, not even God. I was overwhelmed with loneliness and despair because I knew this was eternity.”
“As the hours went on with absolutely no sensation, there was no pain, but there was no hot, no cold, no light, no taste, no smell, no sensation whatsoever. None, other than the fact that I felt a slight sensation of traveling at an extremely fast speed. And I knew I was leaving the earth and everything else, all of the physical world. And at that point it became unbearable, it became horrific, as time goes on when you have no feeling, no sensation, no sense of light. I started to panic and struggle and pray and everything I could think of to struggle to get back…”
“I realized I was, at that very moment, floating in space. Almost simultaneously the deep Realization or Total Knowledge hit me that I had died and I was completely alone, never to be with any loved ones, or for that matter, no living thing again in any form. . . I was in a place or state of consciousness that I didn’t know. To me it was for all eternity. There is really no way to describe or explain what this experience felt like, except to say that if a person was to allow himself or herself to mentally conjure up a scenario that represented the greatest amount of fear and terror that individual could imagine and then multiply it by five billion, it still wouldn’t equal what I felt.”
This pretty much sums up the core of my own NDE. It took years before I was able to get close enough to the memory to begin to deal with it. A turning point came with the observation of a pastor friend that reaching the Void is, for a mystic, the ultimate spiritual experience; perhaps, he suggested, I simply wasn’t ready for the encounter when it happened?
“Perhaps,” indeed! It would take years before I could approach the memory closely enough to work it through. Eventually I could at least consider that the ultimate spiritual experience shared by mystics, like the Buddhist Nirvana, is not empty but is full of all potentialities. Objectless but full. Like most such things (as if they were things), potentialities are invisible; so the Void that looks like emptiness is actually a fullness. Like space, as it turns out.
Here is Brian Greene’s remarkable presentation on space: http://video.pbs.org/video/2163057527/
Dave Woods says
All of this is very interesting and relevant in developing an understanding image of space, or the void as you choose to call it. And yes, all and any sort of working conception of it is something we all yearn to understand. It seems that everything done in this regard is to dispel our fear of the unknown.
But to me, what’s most important is why are we going through this process of living this physical life in the first place? We’re born, inhabit a physical body, experience a physical existence, and then we die. We hope that our consciousness continues on.
To me, there has to be a point, an all encompassing reason for going through this process. Also, is there a “right” way to do it? The common thread among the individual religions seems to be “our way is the only way” or else. This is why I’ve always instinctively shied away from them.
Could it be that the point is simply being, and doing it as well as possible?
Dave Woods says
I hear you Nan, but that depends on what what your conception of being and doing as well as possible is. Hitler’s conception of this left a little bit to be desired.
I think this process we face on Earth as rough as it gets is to steer us in the direction of inner enlightenment. We can’t truly see and understand that which is without unless we can already feel it from within.
Even though we’re all evolving, we are all also stuck at higher and lower levels of spiritual self realization. I think the social chaos that plagues the human condition and the continuing rape of our environment is predicated upon this.
In seeing past ones individual level of self realization, and evolving toward higher enlightenment, it can take one hell of a beating to make it happen.
For me, one of the most mind-bending points of the Big Bang theory is that before the “bang” could happen, space had to be created for the bang to have something to expand into. This is called the “Inflationary Universe”. In other words, before our universe came into being, there wasn’t anything, not even a vacuum. There wasn’t even any “nothing”. No space to move around in, therefore, no time. Void? What void? A void composed of consciousness perhaps?
Every galaxy with all of its stars, every Nebula, every bit of matter and scrap of energy in our current universe began as a pinpoint millions of magnitudes smaller than a proton. It was infinitely small, in fact. Then, space/time popped into existence, and expanded exponentially, way faster than the speed of light, dragging the Big Bang with it.
Now, I like the way Brian Greene can make Superstring Theory accessible to the layman. It’s an elegantly beautiful field of mathematics and science that seems to be getting more persuasive over time. The M-theory version, and its multi-universe spinoff seems to be gaining the most traction, at least with Stephen Hawking and his coterie.
But let’s not forget that SS Theory is disputed and challenged by many reputable physicists. So is Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.
I’m sure that lotsa folks heard about the hoopla created a few months ago, when some physicists at the Gran Sasso laboratory, using a neutrino beam from CERN in Switzerland, 720 km (450 miles) away, concluded that neutrinos could travel faster than the speed of light. If true, this would do some serious damage to Einsteins Special Theory of Relativity and the standard model of physics.
Put bluntly in layman’s terms, this experiment showed that a neutrino can arrive before it leaves. Oops.
Well, now the same respected team of researchers have replicated the experiment, taking some possible bugs out of it, and they came up with the same result. Several members of the team will not sign on to the “exceeding the speed of light” evaluation (it could be damaging to their career), but the team is appealing to scientists around the world to tell them what they did wrong, or at least replicate the experiment and give them a better explanation. Check it out:
Dang, just when we thought it was safe, or at least when we thought we had a handle on a few of the big questions. 🙂
Dave Woods says
For me, one of the most mind-bending points of the Big Bang theory is that before the “bang” could happen, space had to be created for the bang to have something to expand into. (Rabbit Dawg)
Man!…….does that tit the nail on the head. I’ve never been able to completely swallow the “Big Bang Theory”. I’ve always thought that scientists had a lot of nerve to just lay this out like a fact, and continue on from there.
God just is, and to me that means to me that everything…. just is. There doesn’t have to be a beginning. Beginning also infers Time / Space anyway, and from what we hear from those who’ve returned, Time and space don’t exist over there.
Dave Woods says
Just to add one more thing. I think that when and if we truly learn the truth, The Big Bang Theory will become known as the Big Bungle.
On the other hand…
Kinda makes you wonder, does anybody know what they’re talking about???
It’s all exploration, no likelihood of having permanent, concrete answers. And why should there be, if everything is still growing?
Aw Nan, by definition, a reductionist / materialist worldview needs permanent, concrete answers. That’s what it’s all about.
Shhh! Let’s not spoil their party. 😀
I’m sure there are more spiritually oriented scientists out there than their professional associations are aware of, or at least ready to admit to, but sometimes I find their struggles to be poignantly hilarious.
I think we should just leave at “we don’t know” when it comes to the void. We just don’t know what it is – positive or negative – empty or full of potential; we just don’t know.
Dave Woods says
That’s where the word avoid came from.
Let me make this quite clear. You don’t know the meaning of scared until you end up in that void! I felt ripped from reality. I felt my soul wobbly floating but I couldn’t see anything. Only my thoughts still existed. I so recall feeling cold but not the kind of cold you feel when you are alive. It was a soul cold..my spirit was chilly because I didn’t have a body.
This Earth felt like a matrix..just a dreambi could never return to. I wanted to be with my family. I felt like I would never find them again.
I screamed a silent scream because I didn’t have a body to vocalize my thoughts. It was telepathic communication but nothing was there to listen to me.
All I could see was limitless darkness from every angle. Earth seemed so compartmentalized in comparison. I believe I escaped the void when I pleaded for God to bring me back to my family.
That’s when I ended up in a large, dimly blue lit room with souls that appeared to be on the ground. I was floating above them before three large screens expanded and surrounded me. I had a life review. I met the higher source after the review. I felt incredible shame before this light shone down on me. I finally felt safe and loved in the light. The word “love” is a weak description for the bliss I felt. The word that may be right is likely too perfect for us to understand.
I was given ten minutes to chose life or death. I came back in a tunnel.I couldn’t see a tunnel but it felt like and sounded like a dark tunnel with whooshing noises.
I read a few similar NDEs and this site just gives me chills. One survivor believed the void is the outskirts of the Universe. I wish I asked God more questions before coming back here.
Further proof that the physical void (an absolute vacuum of space) really isn’t empty…
“Swedes create light from absolute nothingness, God updates resume”:
I don’t think I’m splitting hairs when I say that the void of physical space is not the void encountered in consciousness, as in near death experiences and certain states of meditation. Perhaps they mirror each other, but they’re not the same thing.
This is important, in part, because some of the details encountered in NDE ‘travels through space’ don’t always add up astronomically.
Dave Woods says
Did you ever stop to think that we ourselves, the Earth itself, are already part of outer space? It’s not “out there” we’re in it here and now. Our spirits are part of the whole.
What is the purpose of this process we’re going through? To me, that’s the important point. Enlightenment comes from experiencing and dealing with this life school from within a physical body. It’s one tough school.
Within us is inner space which is our true doorway into outer space, the whole. If we knew everything already, while we’re here going through this experience, we would be mere spectators not students.
One day I’ll walk through the the doorway of my inner space, into “outer space” and rejoin the whole. I just hope that I will have accomplished what I came here for.
Eti D.V says
My NDE experience was same as you !! word by word.
Also I was out in space, something draw me from my back in a very high speed!! I remembers see the earth from far.
I was screaming “NOOOOO” because I understood I’m not longer a live. I scream “This is a mistake” !!!!
I felt like I have a wire from me who is in space to my body in earth and I was worried it will be torn because of the distances I like knew that if it will be torn there is no way back!! I don’t know from where this knowledge came from I juts had it with me.
I is so good to know I’m not a lone with this expiration.
Because most of the stories are about light and tunnels and I didn’t see any light or felt in a tunnel. I was out in space.
It was happen to me when I was 23 years old. 19 years ago. But it is good that we have the web to share this experience because back then I was sharing it with my family and friends and none of them really understood.
Thank you for sharing.
Nan Bush says
Thank you so much for joining the conversation!
Maureen Hoffmann says
I began having panic attacks at age 5 that lasted until my late thirties. In these panic attacks I was “remembering” the void; the place of being stuck for all eternity, with only my mind and emotions and nothing else, forever and ever and ever. As a baby, really, this was terrifying. That terror persisted at various intervals for decades. I’m 54 now and recently picked up on this subject again, seemingly on a fluke of interest when I found a book on NDEs and thought, “hmm, looks interesting”. In my opinion, nothing is ever coincidence! That’s when I discovered that others have experienced this similar terror, and that it was called the Void. I was both relieved and terrified that others had experienced it; because now it becomes even more real, you see? I don’t remember being near death, and my parents aren’t here to confirm an illness or being knocked out, etc. I had a very traumatic sexual trauma when I was 6 but even that was after I was having panic attacks about the Void. So, I’m not sure if that played a part. I repressed the memory of the sexual attack until I was in my late 20s, which to me is proof that my mind is a very elastic place.
The existential question continues. Why did this happen to me? What reason could it be that I was put in this place? Was it to show me I had too much ego? Or was it because I lacked ego and experienced the Buddhist realization of the Void? And if that’s true, then why the terror, then? Maybe as a child I wasn’t ready to experience the Void, but there are just so many questions I’d love answers to.
I spent decades in the study of metaphysics and spirituality, and who knows that this NDE experience wasn’t the catalyst for that? I’m not afraid of death anymore; I feel that I’ve come far enough on my journey that I could handle that Void now if I encountered it again.
Nan Bush says
Maureen, it is just about impossible for me to imagine any rational reason a five-year-old child would have recurring encounters with the Void. Or how she could possibly be expected (cognitively, spiritually, transpersonally, or any way whatever) to process them. That you have made it to your fifth decade in this degree of lucidity speaks highly of the quality of your decades of study. My own Void NDE at age 28 happened, it seems, the year you were born, and it has kept me searching and studying ever since. Of course they are catalysts, and persuasive ones at that! As for all the ‘whys’, I want to write you a longer response which will go to your email address in a few days. You can perhaps answer a couple of questions for me, too.
More to follow. Thank you so much for writing!
Laura Dixon says
I had the same experience when I was young, I can’t remember how it occurred. I must have been asleep. I woke up after I dreamt I was falling at high speed with just me as a being, nothingness but I knew it was for eternity. I still struggle with the terrifying thought of being aware of the space and stuck forever in this state. it’s horrifying. I can’t understand what happened I also had a feeling of where am I when I was a child as well and used to wake up confused. I am scared of dying because of this reason
Nan Bush says
Laura, I think this is maybe the hardest thing to understand (and recover from) with this kind of NDE–the need to resolve such instinctual, primal fears. They are from our deepest levels of psyche, which puts us all back to being small and afraid, terrorized by the mysterious powers we just knew were waiting when the lights went out. Well, those powers are still with us, and we’re having to deal with them. It’s just such *basic* stuff for which there is no easy fix. I am working on this issue now, preparing to write about it. (Yes, I’m really hurrying to get the writing done!) Until then, be gentle with yourself; focus on staying grounded (pay attention to your breathing, walk, plant things, do something useful for others. I found it useful to tell the fears to go wait, that I wasn’t ready to work with them yet.) It really will get easier.
Kevin Kelly says
I had a similar void experience when I took a large dose of 5meo-dmt, absolute terror realizing it was only ever me and I’m alone in the universe with just my thoughts.
I came down from that trip actually feeling great , but the Weeks and Months that followed seemed to bring more thoughts about the Void and fear.
I have a feeling that it’s the human mind that is still connected that brings the problem, but don’t know how that’s possible, it could also be the worst possible truth that we are god and god is lonely and materialises into form to imagine/forget being alone !
Some people have experienced the void and said it was all love and no loneliness , full of potential…that if you stay there enough it changes, fighting it makes it worse.
love to all
Nan Bush says
You’re raising a whole garden of discussions, Kevin! Thanks for your insight. And love back to you.
Hi Kevin. I ended up in a void too. Can you share some of the thoughts you were thinking when you were in the void? What were the last thoughts you had right before you left the void? What happened when you left it?
Yes, I felt so terrorfied in that void too when I had a NDE. I ended up in a room of spirits after pleading to God to save me from that darkness. I had a life review and asked them what was the purpose of life. A higher entity telepathically told me, “to love”.
Mike Shanahan says
I recently had what i believe was an NDE. I woke up in the night with intense sharp throbbing pains all throughout my upper body. I couldnt breathe. I felt i was dying and panicked but fought all i could until i just gave into it. Immediately i felt as if i was shot backwards out of my body into endlessness at an inconceivable speed through a void. My thoughts were of leaving my family behind, i was sad but then i felt peace as i watched what looked like stars flying by very far away. I felt that i didnt need to worry anymore and all my problems i ever had were now void. I felt a euphoria and as if i myself was too, endless. I dont know how or why I came back, but im glad to be here again for now, more so for my family than myself.
Nan Bush says
Your experience was certainly in the same family as an NDE. It’s what I think of as a “There’s more!” experience. Welcome to expanded consciousness!
Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover a person that actually understands what they are talking about online.
You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
A lot more people really need to look at this and understand this side of the story.
I can’t believe you’re not more popular since you surely possess the gift.
Nan Bush says
Appreciated! Stick around. I’ll get back here one of these days.
Nan Bush says
The feeling is probably similar to outer space. At least, it was for me, except that there were no astrophysical objects.