LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — 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.
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. 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.”