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Mellen-Thomas Benedict is an artist who survived a near-death
experience in 1982. He was dead for over an hour and a half and
during that time, he "rose up out of his body and went into the
Light." Curious about the universe, he was taken far into the remote
depths of existence, and even beyond, into the energetic Void of
Nothingness behind the Big Bang. Dr. Kenneth Ring has said, "His
story is one of the most remarkable I have encountered in my
extensive research on near-death experiences."

THE ROAD TO DEATH - a personal story

"In 1982 I died from terminal cancer. My condition was non-operable.
I chose not to have chemotherapy. I was given six to eight months to
live. Before this time, I had become increasingly despondent over the
nuclear crisis, the ecology crisis, and so forth. I came to believe
that nature had made a mistake -that we were probably a cancerous
organism on the planet. And that is what eventually killed me. Before
my death, I tried all sorts of alternative healing methods. None
helped. So I determined that this was between me and God. I had never
really considered God. Neither was I into any kind of spirituality,
but my approaching death sent me on a quest for more information
about spirituality and alternative healing. I read various religions
and philosophies. They gave hope that there was something on the
other side.
I had no medical insurance, so my life savings went overnight on
tests. Unwilling to drag my family into this, I determined to handle
this myself. I ended up in hospice care and was blessed with an angel
for my hospice caretaker, whom I will call "Anne." She stayed with me
through all that was to follow. It lasted about eighteen months.

I woke up about 4:30 am and I knew that this was it. I was going to
die. I called a few friends and said good-bye. I woke up Anne and
made her promise that my dead body would remain undisturbed for six
hours, since I had read that all kinds of interesting things happen
when you die. I went back to sleep. The next thing I remember, I was
fully aware and standing up. Yet my body was lying in the bed. I
seemed to be surrounded by darkness, yet I could see every room in
the house, and the roof, and even under the house. A Light shone; I
turned toward it, and was aware of its similarity to what others have
described in near-death experiences. It was magnificent and tangible,
alluring. I wanted to go towards that Light like I might want to
go into my ideal mother's or father's arms. As I moved towards the
Light, I knew that if I went into the Light, I would be dead. So I
said/felt, "Please wait. I would like to talk to you before I go."

The entire experience halted. I discovered that I was in control of
the entire experience. My request was honored. I had conversations
with the Light. That's the best way I can describe it. The Light
changed into different figures, like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna,
mandalas, archetypal images and signs. I asked in a kind of
telepathy, "What is going on here?" The information transmitted was
that our beliefs shape the kind of feedback we receive: If you are a
Buddhist or Catholic or Fundamentalist, you get a feedback loop of
your own images. I became aware of a Higher Self matrix, a conduit to
the Source. We all have a Higher Self, or an oversoul part of our
being, a conduit. All Higher Selves are connected as one being; all
humans are connected as one being. We are literally the same being.
It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It was like all the
love you've every wanted, and it was the kind of love that cures,
heals, regenerates.

I was ready to go at that time. I said "I am ready, take me." Then
the Light turned into the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen:
a mandala of human souls on this planet. I saw that we are the most
beautiful creations - elegant, exotic . . .everything. I just cannot
say enough about how it changed my opinion of human beings in an
instant. I said/thought/felt, "Oh, God, I didn't realize." I was
astonished to find that there was no evil in any soul. People may do
terrible things out of ignorance and lack, but no soul is evil. What
all people seek, what sustains them, is love, the Light
told me. What distorts people is a lack of love. The revelations went
on and on. I asked, "Does this mean that humankind will be saved?"

Like a trumpet blast with a shower of spiraling lights, the
Light "spoke," saying, "You save, redeem and heal yourself. You
always have and always will. You were created with the power to do so
from before the beginning of the world."

In that instant I realized that WE HAVE ALREADY BEEN SAVED; this is
what the "Second Coming" is about. I thanked the Light of God with
all my heart. The best thing I could come up with was: "Oh dear God,
dear Universe, dear Great Self, I love my Life." The Light seemed to
breathe me in even more deeply, absorbing me. I entered into another
realm more profound than the last, and was aware of an enormous
stream of Light, vast and full, deep. I asked what it was. The Light
answered, "This is the RIVER OF LIFE. Drink of this manna
water to your heart's content." I drank deeply, in ecstasy.

Suddenly I seemed to be rocketing away from the planet on this stream
of Life. I saw the earth fly away. The solar system whizzed by and
disappeared. I flew through the center of the galaxy, absorbing more
knowledge as I went.I learned that this galaxy, and all of the
Universe, is bursting with many different varieties of life. I saw
many worlds. We are not alone in this Universe.

It seemed as if all the creations in the Universe soared past me and
vanished in a speck of Light. Almost immediately, a second Light
appeared. As I passed into the second Light, I could perceive
forever, beyond Infinity. I was in the Void, pre-Creation, the
beginning of time, the first Word or vibration.

I rested in the Eye of Creation and it seemed that I touched the Face
of God. It was not a religious feeling. I was simply at One with
Absolute Life and Consciousness. It would take me years to assimilate
the Void experience. It was less than nothing yet greater than
anything. Creation is God exploring God's Self through every way
imaginable. Through every piece of hair on your head, through every
leaf on every tree, through every atom, God is exploring God's Self.
I saw everything as the Self of all. God is here. That's what it is
all about. Everything is made of light; everything is alive.

I rode the stream directly into the center of the Light. I felt
embraced by the Light as it took me in with its breath again. And the
truth was obvious that there is no death; that nothing is born and
nothing dies; that we are immortal beings, part of a natural living
system that recycles itself endlessly.

I was never told that I had to come back. I just knew that I would.
It was only natural, from what I had seen. As I began my return to
the life cycle, it never crossed my mind, nor was I told, that I
would return to the same body. It did not matter. I had complete
trust in the Light and the Life process. As the stream merged with
the great Light, I asked never to forget the revelations and the
feelings of what I had learned on the other side. I thought of myself
as a human again and I was happy to be that.

From what I have seen, I would be happy to be an atom in this
universe. An atom. So to be the human part of God ... this is the
most fantastic blessing. It is a blessing beyond our wildest
estimation of what blessing can be. For each and every one of us to
be the human part of this experience is awesome, and magnificent.
Each and every one of us, no matter where we are, screwed up or not,
is a blessing to the planet, right where we are. So I went through
the reincarnation process expecting to be a baby somewhere.

But I reincarnated back into this body. I was so surprised when I
opened my eyes, to be back in this body, back in my room with someone
looking over me, crying her eyes out. It was "Anne," my hospice
caretaker. She had found me dead thirty minutes before. We do not
know how long I was dead, only that she found me thirty minutes
before. She had honored my wish to have my newly-dead body left
alone. She can verify that I really was dead. It was not a near-death
experience. I believe I probably experienced death itself for at
least an hour and a half. When I awakened and saw the light outside.

Confused, I tried to get up to go to it, but I fell out of the bed.
She heard a loud "clunk", ran in and found me on the floor. When I
recovered, I was surprised and awed about what had happened, I had no
memory at first of the experience. I kept slipping out of this world
and kept asking, "Am I alive?" This world seemed more like a dream
than that one. Within three days, I was feeling normal again,
clearer, yet different than ever before. My memories of the journey
came back later. But from my return I could find nothing wrong with
any human being I had ever seen. Previous to my death I was
judgmental, believing that people were really screwed up.. Everyone
but me.

About three months later a friend said I should get tested for the
cancer, so I got the scans and so forth. I felt healthy. I still
remember the doctor at the clinic looking at the "before" and "after"
scans. He said, "I can find no sign of cancer now." "A miracle?" I
asked. "No," he answered. These things happen . . . spontaneous
remission." He seemed unimpressed. But I was impressed, and knew it
was a miracle.

The Great Mystery of life has little to do with intelligence. The
universe is not an intellectual process. The intellect is helpful;
but our hearts are the wiser part of ourselves. Since my return I
have experienced the Light spontaneously, and I have learned how to
get to that space almost any time in my meditation. You can also do
this. You do not have to die first. You are wired for it already.

The body is the most magnificent Light being there is. The body is a
universe of incredible Light. Spirit is not pushing us to dissolve
this body. We don't need to commune with God; God is communing with
us in every moment. I asked God: "What is the best religion on the
planet? Which one is right?" God said with great love: "I don't
care." What an incredible grace. It does not matter what religion we
are. Religions come and they go, they change. Buddhism has not been
here forever, Catholicism has not been here forever, and they are all
about to become more enlightened. More light is coming into all
Systems now.

Many will resist and fight about it, one religion against the next,
believing that only they are right. When Godhead said, "I don't
care," I understood that it is for us to care about, because we are
the caring beings. The Source does not care if you are Protestant,
Buddhist, or Jew. Each is a reflection, a facet of the whole. I wish
that all religions would realize it and let each other be. It is not
the end of separate religions, but live and let live. Each has a
different view. And it all adds up to the big picture.

I went over to the other side with a lot of fears about toxic waste,
nuclear missiles, the population explosion, the rain forest. I came
back loving every single problem. I love nuclear waste. I love the
mushroom cloud; this is the holiest mandala that we have manifested
to date, as an archetype. More than any religion or philosophy on
earth, that terrible, wonderful cloud brought us together all of a
sudden, to a new level of consciousness.

Knowing that maybe we can blow up the planet fifty times, or 500
times, we finally realize that maybe we are all here together now.
For a period they had to keep setting off more bombs to get it into
us. Then we started saying, "we do not need this anymore." Now we are
actually in a safer world than we have ever been in, and it is going
to get safer. So I came back loving toxic waste, because it brought
us together. These things are so big.

Clearing of the rain forest will slow down, and in fifty years there
will be more trees on the planet than in a long time. If you are into
ecology, go for it; you are that part of the system that is becoming
aware. Go for it with all your might, but do not be depressed or
disheartened. Earth is in the process of domesticating itself and we
are cells on that Body.

Population increase is getting very close to the optimal range of
energy to cause a shift in consciousness. That
shift in consciousness
will change politics, money, energy. What happens when we dream? We
are multi-dimensional beings. We can access that through lucid
dreaming. In fact, this universe is God's dream. One of the things
that I saw is that we humans are a speck on a planet that is a speck
in a galaxy that is a speck. Those are giant systems out there, and
we are in sort of an average system. But human beings are already
legendary throughout the cosmos of consciousness.

The little bitty human being of Earth/Gaia is legendary. One of the
things that we are legendary for is dreaming. We are legendary
dreamers. In fact, the whole cosmos has been looking for the meaning
of life, the meaning of it all. And it was the little dreamer who
came up with the best answer ever. We dreamed it up. So dreams are

After dying and coming back, I really respect life and death. In our
DNA experiments we may have opened the door to a great secret. Soon
we will be able to live as long as we want to live in this body.
After living 150 years or so, there will be an intuitive soul sense
that you will want to change channels. Living forever in one body is
not as creative as reincarnation, as transferring energy in this
fantastic vortex of energy that we are in. We are actually going to
see the wisdom of life and death, and enjoy it. As it is now, we have
already been alive forever.

Here's to life! Here's to death! Here's to it all!"

This was originally published in Tao news by Michael Winn


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