In 1975, Dannion Brinkley was talking on the phone during a thunderstorm. A bolt of lightning hit the phone line, sending thousands of volts of electricity into his head and down his body. His heart stopped, and he died, but in the process, he had a NDE. When Brinkley revived in the morgue after twenty-eight minutes of death, he had an incredible story to tell. The following is an except from his book Saved by the Light with Paul Perry.
The next sound I heard was like a freight train coming into my ear at the speed of light. Jolts of electricity coursed through my body, and every cell of my being felt as if it were bathed in battery acid. The nails of my shoes were welded to the nails in the floor so that when I was thrown into the air, my feet were pulled out of them. I saw the ceiling in front of my face, and for a moment I couldn’t imagine what power it was that could cause such searing pain and hold me in its grip, dangling over my own bed. What must have been a split second seemed like an hour.
From immense pain I found myself engulfed by peace and tranquility. It was a feeling I had never known before and have not had since. It was like bathing in a glorious calmness. I had no idea what had happened, but even in this moment of peacefulness I wanted to know where I was.
I began to look around, to roll over in midair. Below me was my own body, thrown across the bed. My shoes were smoking and the telephone was melted in my hand. I could see Sandy run into the room. She stood over the bed and looked at me with a dazed expression, the kind you might find on the parent of a child found floating facedown in a swimming pool.
Tommy showed up in less than ten minutes. He knew something was wrong because he had heard the explosion over the telephone. I watched as Tommy held me and cursed the slowness of the ambulance, which we could hear approaching in the distance. I hovered above the three of them – Sandy, Tommy, and myself – as the medical technicians loaded me onto the stretcher and wheeled me to the ambulance.
From where I hovered, about fifteen feet above everyone, I could see the pouring rain hitting my face and drenching the backs of the ambulance crew. The perspective I had was that of a television camera. Without passion or pain, I watched as the person on the stretcher began to twitch and jump. I looked toward the front of the ambulance to a spot over my dead body. A tunnel was forming, opening like the eye of a hurricane and coming toward me. I actually didn’t move at all; the tunnel came to me.
There was the sound of chimes as the tunnel spiraled toward and then around me. Soon there was nothing to be seen – no crying Sandy, no ambulance attendants trying to jump-start my dead body, no desperate chatter with the hospital over the radio – only a tunnel that engulfed me completely and the intensely beautiful sound of seven chimes ringing in rhythmic succession.
I looked ahead into the darkness. There was a light up there, and I began to move toward it as quickly as possible. I was moving without legs at a high rate of speed. Ahead the light became brighter and brighter until it overtook the darkness and left me standing in a paradise of brilliant light. This was the brightest light I had ever seen, but in spite of that, it didn’t hurt my eyes in the least. Unlike the pain one might feel when walking into sunlight from a dark room, this light was soothing to my eyes.
I looked to my right and could see a silver form appearing like a silhouette through mist. As it approached I began to feel a deep sense of love that encompassed all of the meanings of the word. It was as though I were seeing a lover, mother, and best friend, multiplied a thousand fold. As the Being of Light came closer, these feelings of love intensified until they became almost too pleasurable to withstand.
The Being of Light stood directly in front of me. As I gazed into its essence I could see prisms of color, as though it were composed of thousands of tiny diamonds, each emitting the colors of the rainbow.
I felt comfortable in his presence, a familiarity that made me believe he had felt every feeling I had ever had, from the time I took my first breath to the instant I was sizzled by lightning. Looking at this being I had the feeling that no one could love me better, no one could have more empathy, sympathy, encouragement, and nonjudgmental compassion for me than this being.
The Being of Light engulfed me, and as it did I began to experience my whole life, feeling and seeing everything that had ever happened to me. It was as though a dam had burst and every memory stored in my brain flowed out.
When I finished the life review, I arrived at a point of reflection in which I was able to look back on what I had just witnessed and come to a conclusion. I was ashamed. I realized I had led a very selfish life, rarely reaching out to help anyone. Almost never had I smiled as an act of brotherly love or just handed somebody a dollar because he was down and needed a boost. No, my life had been for me and me alone. I hadn’t given a damn about my fellow humans.
I looked at the Being of Light and felt a deep sense of sorrow and shame. I expected a rebuke, some kind of cosmic shaking of my soul. I had reviewed my life and what I had seen was a truly worthless person. What did I deserve if not a rebuke?
As I gazed at the Being of Light I felt as though he was touching me. From that contact I felt a love and joy that could only be compared to the nonjudgmental compassion that a grandfather has for a grandchild.
“Who you are is the difference that God makes,” said the Being. “And that difference is love.”
There were no actual words spoken, but this thought was communicated to me through some form of telepathy. To this day, I am not sure of the exact meaning of this cryptic phrase. That is what was said, however.
Again I was allowed a period of reflection. How much love had I given people? How much love had I taken from them? From the review I had just had, I could see that for every good event in my life, there were twenty bad ones to weigh against it. If guilt were fat, I would have weighed five hundred pounds.
As the Being of Light moved away, I felt the burden of this guilt being removed. I had felt the pain and anguish of reflection, but from that I had gained the knowledge that I could use to correct my life. I could hear the Being’s message in my head, again as if through telepathy:
“Humans are powerful spiritual beings meant to create good on the Earth. This good isn’t usually accomplished in bold actions, but in singular acts of kindness between people. It’s the little things that count, because they are more spontaneous and show who you truly are.”
It was then that I realized that I wouldn’t be going back. I had no more life to live. I had been struck by lightning. I was dead.
Like wingless birds, we swept into a city of cathedrals. These cathedrals were made entirely of a crystalline substance that glowed with a light that shone powerfully from within. I was awestruck. This place had a power that seemed to pulsate through the air. I knew that I was in a place of learning. I wasn’t there to witness my life or to see what value it had had, I was there to be instructed.
When we entered the structure, the Being of Light was with me no more. I looked around for him and saw no one. Rows of benches were lined up across the room, and that radiant light made everything glow and feel like love. I sat on one of the benches and looked around the room for my spiritual guide.
I sat back on the bench and waited. What happened next was the most amazing part of my spiritual journey.
I was able to count the beings as they stood behind the podium. There were thirteen of them, standing shoulder to shoulder and stretched across the stage. I was aware of other things about them, too, probably through some form of telepathy. Each one of them represented a different emotional and psychological characteristic that all humans have. For example, one of these beings was intense and passionate, while another was artistic and emotional. One was bold and energetic, yet another possessive and loyal. In human terms, it was as though each one represented a different sign of the zodiac. In spiritual terms, these beings went far beyond the signs of the zodiac. They emanated these emotions in such a way that I could feel them.
Now more than ever I knew that this was a place of learning. I would be steeped in knowledge, taught in a way that I had never been taught before. There would be no books and no memorization. In the presence of these Beings of Light, I would become knowledge and know everything that was important to know. I could ask any question and know the answer. It was like being a drop of water bathed in the knowledge of the ocean, or a beam of light knowing what all light knows.
The Beings came at me one at a time. As each one approached, a box the size of a videotape came from its chest and zoomed right at my face.
The first time this happened I flinched, thinking I was going to be hit. But a moment before impact, the box opened to reveal what appeared to be a tiny television picture of a world event that was yet to happen. As I watched, I felt myself drawn right into the picture, where I was able to live the event. This happened twelve times, and twelve times I stood in the midst of many events that would shake the world in the future.
At the time I didn’t know these were future events. All I knew was that I was seeing things of great significance and that they were coming to me as clearly as the nightly news, with one great difference: I was being pulled into the screen.