Afterlife: Myth or Reality?


Every one of us at some of point of our lives has definitely thought about the mysteries of what happens to us right after our deaths. With internet access at our fingertips, we nowadays quickly look for answers to what awaits us on the other side. Do we get to see God? Do heaven exist? If yes, does it exactly look like as described in books and showed in movies? Do Hell really has a hell fire awaiting us? Well, answers to these are never the same. However, the world needs to know about that!

Not so rare, certain people have claimed to have actually felt the phenomena of afterlife and eventually visited the place we believe to go right after our deaths, that is, the God’s place and all their stories very often follow the same narrative pattern. The feeling of disconnection comes over and a sense of being outside is felt. These people claims to be guided through other world by way of a super-lighted gate, a door or a tunnel. This light appears to brighter than any light we have ever seen. They also talk about the encounters with angels and all those loved ones they lost in their lives at some point or the other. No doubt, the willingness to reoccupy the old body and get back to the same old world where he once existed remains. Sounds interesting, like the way Harry Potter series, where the young wizard saw his departed mother in Hogwarts’s magic mirror!

The scientific study over the years has proposed a number of theories about the connection between visions of heaven and the chemical and physical processes that occur at death. The “tunnel” and the “bright, beckoning light” that we described in the above paragraph occurs because the moment we die, our eyesight fades and we lose the peripheral areas first (vision outside the fovea of eye). That is why we have a tunnel sensation and the bright light in that tunnel could be the central part of the visual system shutting down last. In addition, when people die, two parts of the brain that usually work in opposition to each other for our very survival act cooperatively. In life, the sympathetic nervous system run through the spinal cord, spread to virtually every organ in the body, and is responsible for arousal or excitement. It keeps the body ready for action. The parasympathetic system on the other hand, with which the sympathetic system is entwined, calms you down and rejuvenates you. In other words, our body functions only when the turning on of one system promotes the shutting down of the other. However, in death both these systems are fully on, giving a person a sensation both of slowing down, being out of body, and of seeing things vividly, including memories of important people and past events. Also, the brain cannot function when the heart stops beating. Thus, occur a kind of physiological defence mechanism in which the brain releases protective chemicals to guard against damage, thereby triggering intense hallucinations. Thus, a sense of moving through a tunnel, an out-of-body feeling, and intense memories sets in. This illusion could be basically a cognitive experience preceding the clinical death itself, which is later remembered by the patient.

Public speaker Anita Moorjani, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2002 and after so many efforts to save her life, she was losing her cancer battle and finally one day she slipped into a coma in February 2006. She says that was the time when she died and crossed over to an afterlife. Her experiences of afterlife follow the same pattern of narration that we mentioned above. She claims she felt the detachment from her own body and felt like floating above it. Moreover, Moorjani says she was reunited in that state with her late father, who told her to turn back. “He said that I’ve gone as far as I can, and if I go any further, I won’t be able to turn back,” she said. She did returned to her body because she believed “her pain would heal very, very quickly.” It did. Meanwhile, doctors attending to Anita rushed to attend to her frail body but could not help her out, as it was too late. But she woke up to everyone’s surprise. Within four days, her tumours shrunk by 70 percent, and the doctors were shocked with this miracle. “And I kept telling everyone that, ‘I know I’m going to be okay. I know it’s not my time to die”. This was her near-death-experience encompassing the possibilities of afterlife. We, however, cannot overlook the fact that her brain did suffered trauma due to slipping into coma and possibly triggered the defence mechanism that resulted in hallucinations and all possible illusions.

Indeed, death is a grand mystery. We are out of answers but science has given us fascinating insights into what the brain’s final moments might be, the research is not yet conclusive.