There’s a Dances of Universal Peace song I sometimes sing at the beginning of talks I give for groups. The words are:

Why have you come to earth, why have you come?

Why have you given birth, why have you come?

To love, to serve, and remember.

I’m presently reading a book by the doyen of near-death research, P.M.H. Atwater, titled Near-Death Experiences the rest of the story: What they Teach Us About Living, Dying and Our True Purpose. The book outlines findings the author, now 73, was previously unprepared to report. And these findings are based on nearly four thousand interviews with near-experiencers—adults and children.

There is an example of a mafia hitman who experiences a life review during his near-death experience. The following are the exact words from the book:

“An example of a life review more radical than most is that of a mafia hitman whose life review involved him reliving everything he had ever done, good or bad, as well as the consequences. He also had to live through whatever happened to each person he hurt as if he were them. He felt all of their pain, lived through their circumstances, and faced their grief. He was incapable of hurting another person after that and devoted the rest of his life to serving the poor through various church programs.

There is no prison term, no punishment that can equal the totality of a radical life review. Some accounts cover the entire impact of a person’s existence: everything said, thought, or done since birth, and the effect he or she had on everyone, even passersby, whether met or not, and on the air, soil, plants, water, animals . . .  the entire gestalt of one’s life—the result of ever having taken a breath. There are those I have had sessions with who could not even step on a bug after such a review, nor swat a fly.”

The above represents precisely the perspective I have had since the series of near-death and awakening experiences I had earlier in my life. I simply don’t want to hurt another being, step on a worm or crush a mosquito. It is common for me to move worms from the sidewalk to the grass when having an early walk after or during a rain. All life is precious. Each has a place in nature’s mystery. If we could but open our (inner) eyes to the majesty of existence we would see this.

Atwater points out that near-death experiences are far from rare, perhaps touching the lives of 20% of people. And they are far from new. Atwater speculates that Apostle Paul’s life-changing revelation was a near-death experience, so similar was it to the events of many experiencers she has spoken with. Many who have had such experiences as children have gone on to great deeds later in life including Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Edward de Vere (the 17th Earl of Oxford and believed by many to be the real Shakespeare), Mozart, Winston Churchill, Walter Russell and revered south Indian sage Ramana Maharshi.

I am certainly not suggesting you should actively court a near-death experience. But I would suggest that you learn from these experiences—whether your own or those of others—and adjust your thoughts, words and actions to reflect the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. Satya Sai Baba, once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that all of life is an opportunity to arrive at death’s door with happy anticipation and a smile on your face. Something to think about.

Have peaceful day.



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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See


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