Dr. Kenneth Ring has said, "His story is one of the most remarkable I have encountered in my extensive research on near-death experiences."
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.
The Road to Death
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.
The Light of God
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.
The Void of Nothingness
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.
The Light of Love
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 in to us. Then we started saying, "we do not need this any more." 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 important. 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!