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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Angels for The Birdies 051009

Today I attended a day of yoga and meditation with a group of friends under the capable tutelage of my wife, Lucia. After lunch she read the following story out loud. I have read this story many times and it still brings tears to my eyes. I share it with you below. It is called The Birdies: A Father’s Story originally written Lloyd Glen, of Mission Viejo, California in 1994. This version has been revised somewhat from the original. For more about the story in its original form and why it was changed visit the following post:

I was enroute to Washington, DC for a business trip. It was all so very ordinary, until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead bin, an announcement was made for Mr. Glenn to see the Customer Service Representative immediately. When I got off the plane, a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said, “Mr. Glenn, there is an emergency at your home.” My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to the distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for Mission Hospital. My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that my three-year-old son had trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes, and that when my wife had found him he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued the treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital. By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, nor to his heart. The door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed.

After speaking with the medical staff, my wife sounded worried but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness. The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son laying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream. I was filled-in with the details and given a guarded prognosis.

Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was okay, two miracles in and of themselves. But only time would tell if his brain received any damage. Throughout the seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline.

All that night and the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before. Finally at two o’clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, “Daddy hold me” and he reached for me with his little arms. By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine when we took Brian home, we felt a unique reverence for the life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely. In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were much closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family.

Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound. The story is not over!

Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, “Sit down Mommy. I have something to tell you.”

At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to say a large sentence surprised my wife.

She sat down with him on his bed, and he began his remarkable story. “Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn’t hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the ‘birdies’ came.”

“The birdies?” my wife asked puzzled.

“Yes,” he replied. “The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me. One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you I got stuck under the door.”

A sweet reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that her three-year-old had no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to him from beyond as “birdies” because they were up in the air like birds that fly.

“What did the birdies look like?” she asked.

Brian answered, “They were so beautiful. Theywere dressed in white, all white. Some of them had green and white. But some of them had on just white. You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the little boy. You told the boy to stay and not leave.”

My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed knelt beside Brian’s body and seeing his crushed chest whispered, “Don’t leave us Brian, please stay if you can.” As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that the spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form.

“Then what happened?” she asked.

“We went on a trip.” He said, “Far, far away.”

He grew agitated, trying to say the things he didn’t seem to have the words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was difficult.

“We flew so fast up in the air. They’re so pretty Mommy,” he added. “And there are lots and lots of birdies.”

My wife was stunned. Into her mind the sweet comforting spirit enveloped her more soundly, but with an urgency she had never before known.

Brian went on to tell her that the “birdies” had told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the “birdies.” He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck and an ambulance were there. He said the birdies told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said they were so pretty and so peaceful, and he didn’t want to come back. Then the bright light came. He said that the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light so much. Someone was in the bright light and put their arms around him, and told him, “I love you but you have to go back. You have to play baseball, and tell everyone about the birdies.” Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye-bye. Then woosh, the big sound came and they went into the clouds.

The story went on for an hour. He taught us that “birdies” were always with us, but we don’t see them because we look with our eyes and we don’t hear them because we listen with our ears. But they are always there, you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us to do what is right because they love us so much. Brian continued, stating, “I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We must all live our plan and keep our promises. The birdies help us to do that because they love us so much.”

In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all or part of it, again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few times he added further bits of information and clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he talked about his birdies. Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the “birdies.”

Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled. Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray we never will be.

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.