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Mariah's avatar

Are near death experiences different among different cultures (see details)?

Asked by Mariah (25831points) July 24th, 2012

I’m sure we’ve all read about people’s near death experiences in which they perceived themselves going towards a bright light and seeing angels, etc. What I’m curious about is whether there is data regarding what people of different religions/backgrounds have experienced in such situations?

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12 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A class on death was offered at the college I attended. One of the assigned books was on near death experiences cases from all over the world, including different religions and non-religious people. So, yes, it can happen to people from all walks of life and different beliefs.

As for statistics, a quick internet search shows several studies. I don’t know how many of them are reliable sources. Without knowing more about the group doing the research and their methods, I wouldn’t rely on their data.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks @Pied_Pfeffer. When you said “it can happen to people from all walks of life” do you mean that it has been shown that all sorts of different people have had that same experience with the bright light/angels? Or is it different for them?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

From what I’ve read, the experience varies from person to person. Some just feel the floating sensation, looking down at their own body, and being able to recall what was said by medical team members attempting to revive them. Some see a bright light after traveling through some sort of tunnel. Some are met by someone they know who is dead. Some claim to be met by a stranger. There are several others about seeing things from a birds-eye view. While there may be common themes, each recalled experience seems to be individualized.

I read somewhere that recent studies have shown that these out-of-body experiences can now be affiliated with how the mind reacts during a near death situation. It sounds like sort of a short-circuiting of the brain.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. They are. For example, Hindus see figures from Hindu mythology in their NDEs
http://www.near-death.com/hindu.html

prasad's avatar

I admit I had to read about the near death experiences (NDE) to know what it means. I am still unsure I understand it properly.

Many yogis, who practice yoga, have said to have such experiences. I will tell what I was taught. Lie down flat. Concentrate (at a point) right in the middle of eyes. Breathe slowly. Imagine as if you are at center of a light source (like Sun). Think you are emitting rays of love. Now think this power is concentrated at a toe, then next toe, likewise from small parts of body – from tows to the head. Think each time that it radiates out rays of love. And finally, your entire body radiates out. I don’t know, but you may feel good after doing this.

I cannot comment because I have no experience with regard to NDE. But, @ragingloli may be right; when we pray or think of God or worship, we do imagine God in human form or statue. This may be due to the culture.

So far, sleep is only my NDE; I forget about my body and everything else!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mariah Are you referring to cases of illness and injury only, or cases where someone knew they were about to die?

Mariah's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Any situation, although I am mainly interested in the seemingly “supernatural” things that people claim to happen, which I’m guessing happen almost solely in cases of illness/injury. Correct me if I’m wrong though.

Thanks for all the answers, folks!

Paradox25's avatar

I research certain types of paranormal phenomenon, but I’m more into mediumship communication (especially from that of physical mediumship), telepathy/clairvoyance and ghosts/hauntings rather than NDE’s. It’s not that I don’t believe many people who’ve claimed to experienced an actual NDE, but it is shaky ground for a variety of reasons. The only NDE’s that I’m really interested in are the ones where remote perception was verified, such as the blind or verifying events that took place from a distance.

I have two links here, this is the sceptical take on what you’re asking. This link gives some stats on what actually takes place according to each culture. The typical NDE is just difficult for someone like me to use as evidence, with the few exceptions that I’d mentioned above. I do find it ironic that many atheists who’ve experienced an NDE are usually adamant that their experience was real, and not a hallucination, and most of them end up becoming believers so to speak. I find it very diificult to get any information on Muslim NDE’s though for some reasons. There are some, but they seem very limited compared to the amount of NDE descriptions from that of other cultures.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mariah I didn’t experience anything supernatural. I was 25 to 30 feet from a headon with a SUV that outweighed my vehicle by 1500 to 2000 pounds, at a closing speed of around 100 mph. I knew exactly what was going to happen. My personalities split. There was one me driving and trying to come up with options and another me beside me apologizing to loved ones for getting killed. That was kind of bizzare.

chewhorse's avatar

I think it probably varies from one people to another (as in their personal beliefs) but the substance of it is constant, ie: the feelings, the vision of being without body.. Pity there are no mirrors on the other side.

codette's avatar

In college I took a course titled Anthropology of the Body, and one of our units was on attempting to define the moment of death, comparing different cultures and theologies. We read “Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death” by Margaret Lock. I don’t remember exactly but I feel like we and/or this book discussed the impulses that occur inside the brain that might account for universal experiences such as the light at the end of the tunnel, etc. There was also discussion on what parts of near-death and death experiences are spiritual, cultural, universally biological, and how utterly perplexing the overlap can be. The book itself is a bit off your exact topic, but might have a chapter or two that would be relevant to your question. I will dig a bit and come back if I find something more useful.

chewhorse's avatar

I think you’re wanting to know if the Asians see their deity compared to the west seeing God and the east seeing Ala.. It’s a very good question that I don’t think many have addressed since some countries aren’t as curious as others (like the west). It’s certainly a good ponder and I’ll try to find something on it. My opinion however is that the personal aspects are probably comparable (like floating, feeling wonderful, meeting loved ones, etc.) but the religious connotations would vary as to their ideal physical aspects thus some would describe a Buddha while others would see what they had been raised to understand but I think that the feeling of the entity would be similar until they began using their memories and kind of piecing it together. In short, they (might) feel the same essence but they would see their own religious icon.

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