MYSTERY WIRE — What happens to us when we die? Scientists say physical death is the end of life. Religions believe our souls are immortal but where we go depends on what we did in life.
One Southern Nevada man believes both sides are wrong. Writer and speaker Dannion Brinkley says he has seen the other side at least three times.
Brinkley was a star athlete, U.S. Marine, and a successful businessman, not very interested in spiritual matters.
But that changed in 1975 when a bolt of lightning struck a telephone pole, traveled down the phone line, and slammed into his body melting the phone he was holding.
“It went into the side of my head above my ear, it went down my spine,” Brinkley said. “It welded the nails of the heels of my shoes to the floor. It threw me up in the air, I see the ceiling, it slams me back down, a ball of fire comes through the room and blinds me. I am burning. I am on fire. I am paralyzed.“
Brinkley says he left his body, floated along with the ambulance as it raced to a hospital, and watched from above as doctors declared him dead. He said 28 minutes later he awoke in the hospital morgue.
During those 28 minutes, Brinkley says his consciousness traveled through a tunnel, where he encountered a spiritual being of light, and underwent a grueling replay of his entire life, as seen not only from his own perspective, but everyone he’d ever encountered. Something he says was extremely humbling.
“I saw my entire tire life past performing a 360 degree panorama, I had missed nothing. You know how many hairs were in the nose of the doctor who pulled you from your mother. You know everything that there is from the time you open your eyes. You have complete cognitive awareness, no doubt about it. And that’s all happening at the same time, no doubt about it. Then you watch the same life from a second-person point of view, as if you were your own best friend. So you can see how silly, how funny, how dumb, how stupid it was, but it’s one of your best friend, you know. There’s no judgments, just looking. And then you literally become every person that you ever encounter. And you feel the direct results of your interaction between you and that person. So no one gets away, with anyone, anything.”Dannion Brinkley
And then, in a flash, he says he was back in his severely injured body.
It took him two years to be able to walk again. He didn’t tell many people what had happened, and when he did tell his family, they didn’t believe it.
But in the same year as the lightning bolt incident, a Georgia physician, Dr. Raymond Moody, wrote a book, “Life After Life,” and coined the term “near death experience,” or NDE.
Dr. Moody and his book were pilloried by medical colleagues and by 1977, he was financially strapped, despondent, and ready to quit. Then former bully Dannion Brinkley met Moody and became his staunchest defender.
In 1989, during open heart surgery, Brinkley died again. And once again said he visited what he perceived to be the afterlife.
Skeptics and debunkers came after him, disputing biographical details and arguing that NDE’s happen because the brain is dying, not because people are visiting heaven.
Leslie Kean, a journalist who has written extensively about near-death experiences, says there is evidence that human consciousness exists independently of the body and that it survives physical death.
In many NDE’s, similar to Brinkley’s, she writes, people are able to accurately describe what was happening while their brains were dead, when they had no ability to see or hear anything.
“There are many cases in which the cardiac arrest is happening with a doctor present. They’re documenting the fact that there’s no brain activity,” Kean told Mystery Wire in an earlier interview. “The case of Pam Reynolds is another extraordinary one, where they can’t possibly have consciousness, and yet they do have consciousness, they’re able to go out and report back things that were happening in the environment, things that they heard things that they saw in the environment, when they had absolutely no brain activity.”
Brinkley, who later had yet another NDE during brain surgery, says he’s happy to take on and doubters, including religious leaders, about what happens when we die.
“If I didn’t go to hell, in the last four journeys, nobody’s going to hell, okay,” Brinkley said. “So when you learn you don’t die, when you learn you’re a spiritual being, you’re not going to go to hell. That’s enough to inspire you to change.”
Brinkley put his beliefs into action. For decades, he’s been counseling terminal patients. Specifically, he is counselling his fellow veterans, assuring them they have nothing to fear from death.
He has spent tens of thousands of hours at the bedsides of the dying. He has been with more than 2,000 people as they passed on.
His passion led him to create a program called the Twilight Brigade. It works with the Veterans Administration to try to ensure that no military veteran should die alone.
A defiant Brinkley, hobbled by a lifetime of serious injuries, knows he has helped thousands of people who are facing death, whether science or religion believe him or not.
Brinkley added he does his talks “because nobody dies. It never happens. It’s not a part of the nature of reality, it’s not.”
The Twilight Brigade program that Dannion set up with the VA is basically inoperative now because of Covid.
During the pandemic, VA hospitals cut off most physical contact between seriously ill patients and members of the public, including family members and the counselors from Twilight Brigade.
Dannion says he is not sure when, or if, the program will resume. In the meantime, he says, a lot of military veterans will die alone.
Below you can watch George Knapp’s entire interview with Dannion Brinkley.