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1. What Happens When we Die? > 25 Stories from The Final Frontier > Dr. Maurice Rawlings Explains Near Death Experiences

Dr. Maurice Rawlings Explains Near Death Experiences

Dr. Maurice Rawlings Explains Near Death Experiences
Dr. Maurice Rawlings is a specialist in cardiovascular diseases at the Diagnostic Centre and area hospitals of Chattanooga, and graduated with honours from the George Washington University Medical School. He served in both the Army and the Navy and became Chief of Cardiology at the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. He was promoted to personal physician at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which included Generals Marshall, Bradley, and Dwight Eisenhower, before he became President of the United States.

In civilian life Dr. Rawlings was appointed to the National Teaching Faculty of the American Heart Association, specialising in the teaching methods for the retrieval of patients from sudden death. He taught at various medical schools and hospitals and conducted courses for doctors and nurses in many countries.

Dr. Rawlings is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a member of the International Committee on Cardiovascular Diseases, a past Governor for the American College of Cardiology for the State of Tennessee, founder of the area's Regional Emergency Medical Services Council, Faculty Instructor for the Advanced Cardiac Life Support programs, and Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the College of Cardiology, and the College of Chest Physicians. Dr Rawlings has written many articles on heart disease for national medical journals.

In addition, he has authored four books on Near Death Experiences: "Beyond Death's Door", "To Hell and Back", "Life Wish: Reincarnation, Reality or Hoax?" and "Before Death Comes".



All of the cases of near-death experiences I had heard about, in all the resuscitation we had taught in many countries, had been good experiences, until one day I ran across a negative experience. It was because we started the interview whilst we were resuscitating the patient in the heat of battle.

This was a 47 year old man, a US mail carrier, exercising on the treadmill to reproduce this chest pain he complained about whilst doing exercise at home. Instead of just getting the pain his EKG went haywire and he dropped dead, moving the treadmill which swept him off like so much trash. The other doctors had left the building, but the nurses were still there and knew what to do. One started an IV and the other breathing with an AMBU bag, more aesthetic than mouth to mouth. I was doing the external heart compressions, and the patient kept saying, 'Doctor, don't stop!' When I would stop to reach for something, he would say, 'I'm in Hell again.' Most patients would say, 'Take your big hands off, you're breaking my ribs.' I knew something was wrong.

He had a complication whereby we had to put a pacemaker down his collarbone vein right there on the floor. It had a big effect on me. Blood was spurting everywhere, I was pushing and I told him to shut up and not to bother me with his Hell business. I was trying to save his life, and he was trying to tell me about some nefarious nightmare he's had in the death throes. That's what I thought until he kept saying it. The nurses gave me that look, as if to say, this is a dying man's wish. He then asked me something that was the ultimate insult, which was, 'Doctor, pray for me.' I told him he that was out of his mind, I wasn't a minister. Again he asked me to pray for him, and the nurses were still looking at me with anticipation. So I did. I made up a make-believe prayer, a nonsense. I just wanted to get him off my back so I told him to say it after me. 'I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' Go on, say it. 'Please keep me out of Hell.' Say it! 'And if I live I'm on the hook, I'm yours forever.' I remember that part well, because he's been 'on the hook' ever since. He is a firm Christian man. Each time of interrupted CPR to adjust the pacemaker, he would convulse, turn blue, stop breathing, his heart would stop beating, and I'd reach over and start him up again like you can. Every time I'd let go, he'd be back in Hell.

After I said this prayer there were no more writhing experiences, no more negative fighting attitude. He was calm. I asked him the next day to tell me about being in Hell. I told him he had frightened the nurses to death, and he had scared the Hell out of me. He said, 'What Hell? After that prayer you gave, I remember seeing my mother when she was living, although she had died when I was three years old.' Impossible! He picked her out of a photograph album his aunt brought in next day, but he had never actually seen her. He identified her from her clothing. He had seen her in Heaven. What apparently happened was that he had sublimated the Hell experiences to painless parts of his memory, but after the conversion he had Heaven experiences.

That 'nonsensical' prayer I prayed to humour him not only got the man converted, but it got me too. We both became born again Christians.

I had specialised in retrieval methods long before this experience, and I would teach at medical school at the American Heart Association all over the world about how to set up retrieval practices from sudden death. Provided people know what to do, and the patient has not been in a mangled death, 50 per cent of clinical deaths can be brought back to life again. Teaching about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation has been going on since 1973 and is getting better all the time. The problem is that the term 'near death experience' has become a bit of a wastebasket for all sorts of experiences, some involving bright lights but no death at all. We are trying to limit investigations into clinical death, where heart and breathing stop, and where a sequence of events is presented for analysis.

The first tissue to die, because it is most sensitive to blood flow, is the brain. There is a limit of four minutes before tissue death starts occurring in brain cells. Ten minutes without CPR could possibly produce idiocy or someone of a low grade IQ level. There are exceptions. We have a retrieval case in Oregon where a man was submerged in icy water for 45 minutes who was successfully revived from the hibernation effect.

About 18 per cent of the first 200 of cases that we managed to retrieve were Hell cases, and the percentage has increased subsequently, as more doctors are involved. Emergency room deaths have to be re-certified, and there are now a lot of people collecting information. The reported incidence of Hell experiences is now about 36 per cent, and closing on 50-50.

Many people experiencing Hell events actually block these from their consciousness because of the horror. Sometimes when being brought back, they scream about the flames of Hell. One particular experience I know of was of a movie actor in Houston, who was having his aorta repaired, when the cupola above him burst into flames and began descending upon him. Flames splattered about him and he saw a black figure approaching. When she beckoned him over to join her, he asked who she was and she said, 'from the Angel of Death.' She was in the foyer of Hell and he said he would not follow her. This episode turned his whole life around. While most experiences see lakes of fire, others just see outer darkness.

One of the latter was a doctor who had been watching football at college. He had been so excited by a spectacular run when he dropped dead. The ambulance crew assigned to the stadium defibrillated him. He had to choose pieces of a puzzle from a conveyor belt, under a penalty if it was wrong. There were no flames but he kept screaming, 'I am in Hell.' His wife was kneeling at the bedside praying. It turned out that this doctor did not want to be a Christian, because his wife was a Christian and he hated her and all Christians. Because this experience literally 'scared the Hell out of him', he became a Christian.

Many people have had good experiences limited to seeing light. There is one particular book, Embraced by the Light, but as a born-again Christian I have trouble with this book. Although it is a well- accounted story it claims our sins and faults are superfluous and that Jesus came to show love, and not to seek and to save the lost. It also purports that we all took part in the creation, assisting God, and therefore that sin is not our true nature. This goes completely against Scripture.

So many people are having these near death experiences, and believe they are in Heaven, but are not believers in Jesus. The 'Angel of Light' that they see at the end of the tunnel when they first die and get out of the body, seems to welcome them unconditionally regardless of what they had done. Theologians, on the other hand, tell us that even Satan can appear as an angel of light and deceive many, so I ask myself which light did they see?

One man who had killed two people in a parking lot was himself caught, shot three times in the chest, and then had this wonderful experience of light, after resuscitation. He later asked me whether God was a forgetful God, because this messenger of light was not from God in the first place. This man himself questioned the appropriateness of his experience.

On the other hand there are those who have seen the light with Christ on the cross, which serve to confirm their faith, and often becomes the greatest moment of their life. Now they know what's going to happen to them when they die. So I believe that many of these 'light' experiences represent deliberate deceptions of Satan, who wants people to think that Heaven's gates are open to everyone. Some people have even made a religion out of NDE's called the 'Omega Faith'. This is a case of not testing the spirit to see which light they have encountered.

Everyone wants to know what is going to happen to him or her when they die, and life after death is what eleven million people with NDE's have claimed. Those who have had clinical death say they experience no pain at the moment of death - they just got out of the body. Those who have had bad experiences say they are afraid of dying. They are afraid of the Hell they saw.

There was one case of a blind man who, during his experience, could see perfectly well, and after the transition of death he could recall who was present, what they were doing, and even what they were wearing. But when he returned to his body, he returned to his blindness.

Others report going from this world into another world through a tunnel or something similar, and seeing a beam of light, or an angel of light. People who have had car accidents often describe how they had their lives reviewed before the car crashed. It would seem possible to have a whole day's review in one split second. They then go on to the next world where they meet people, their friends, who have already died and describe strolling arm in arm across this beautiful Garden of Eden, or these pearly white gates, or golden streets. They then encounter a barrier beyond which they cannot go. Whether its because judgement is on the other side, and sorting out on this side, I don't know, but usually at that barrier they are brought back into the world of pain, back where we are pushing on their chests or breaking their ribs, or defibrillating them with paddles. Whatever we are doing it is the world of pain, and they resent it because they didn't want to come back if it was a good experience.

That's the sequence, like everybody having the same dream last night, without any collusion or having read the same books at all. Anoxia cannot reproduce this, drugs can't reproduce this, hypercarbia and so on down the line, cannot reproduce this.

There is also commonality with those who have had Hell experiences. The sequence is very fast, some zip right into the pit. For instance the father of the New Age movement, Karl Jung himself, had the Earth fall beneath him and right away he was into the 'place of the damned' as he called it. He saw a ball of fire in the middle of a lake and there he met Philemon the demon. This happened on December 13th 1930.

Of people who are resuscitated, 60 per cent have no experience, so only 40 per cent have these. If the person is a born again Christian, they have their dreams realised. They see Christ on the cross, and in some way they identify this Being of Light as Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Dr Maurice Rawlings is also interviewed in the movie The Final Frontier which may also be viewed and freely downloaded on this web site.
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