This book is about the riddle of life asked from the perspective of near-death experiences. It begins with knowledge that recent developments in science afford us, leading to the question of the role direct experience can play in answering our questions about the nature of the human soul and spirit in relation to the cosmos.
Much has been written about the phenomenon of near-death experiences, but little attention has been paid to scientific research, such as that of Dr. Michael Sabom, which indicates that these are body-free, or spiritual, experiences. Even less attention has been directed toward the parallels between descriptions such as those given by George Ritchie—whose near-death journey led Raymond Moody to begin his epoch-making study that brought the phenomenon to the public eye—and the spiritual research of Rudolf Steiner.
This book presents a synthesis of scientific research, personal experience, and Spiritual Science. In the author’s words: "This book asks the reader to decide whether Ritchie’s story does not both testify to the living presence of the Christ in our age, as well as to an intimate and exact acquaintance with beings and events of the spiritual world that Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Science first makes clearly intelligible. Steiner spoke of the twentieth century as an age at the threshold of the Risen Christ; it is the author’s conviction that Ritchie’s story affords us a opportunity to recognize and enter the meaning of this event."
C O N T E N T S:
Foreword by George G. Ritchie, Jr.
PART ONE: THE RIDDLE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
1. The Present State of Research into Near-death Experiences
The Temporal Lobe Seizure Hypothesis
The Search for a Common Physiological Basis for NDEs
The Biochemistry of Emotions
The Limits of Measure
The Insufficiency of Other Explanations of Near-death Experiences
Accurate Reconnaissance of Physical Surroundings
2 Rudolf Steiner
Spiritual Science and the Mind–Body Problem
PART TWO: THE NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE OF DR. GEORGE G. RITCHIE, JR.
1. The Near-death Experience of Dr. George G. Ritchie, Jr.
The Nine Minutes
The Life Review, or Etheric Tableau
The Light of Conscience and the Guardian of the Threshold
Moses and Christ and the Judgment of Souls
Rudolf Steiner and the Rose-Cross
Vessel of the Suprapersonal
The Apocalyptic Christ
Christus, verus Luciferus
Church Doctrine and the Teleology of the Human Being
The Motion of the Etheric Organization
The Earthbound Dead in Purgatory
The Nearness of the Spiritual World
Devachan, the Realm of Creative Thought
Return to Ordinary Consciousness
George Ritchie Today
Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical Society
Rudolf Steiner and the Intelligibility of the Observations of Spiritual Science
Epilogue: Twenty-eight Years On
From George’s Sergeant to Los Alamos, and Beyond
“You have 45 Years”: Spiritual Science, Reincarnation, and Karma
Nancy Roszell and George Ritchie
The Near-Death Experience
Calvert H. Roszell
studied German literature in Heidelberg. He is professor of German at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. -
In 1943, at the age of 20, Dr. George G. Ritchie, Jr., M.D., (September, 25, 1923 – October 29, 2007) was a private in the Army stationed in Texas awaiting a transfer to Richmond to study medicine at the Medical College of Virginia to become a doctor for the military. However, he got sick with pneumonia and died. The Army physician in charge stated in a notarized statement that the medical officer summoned detected "no evidence of respiration or cardiac impulse" and declared Ritchie dead. Ritchie had left his body in a near-death experience wandering around the hospital ward unaware he was dead. He found it strange no one could see him. He returned to his room and recognized his lifeless body, which had been covered with a sheet, by his fraternity ring. The room then became bright and Ritchie found himself in the presence of Jesus who then guided him through several realms of the afterlife before being told to return to his body. As the ward was preparing Ritchie's body for the morgue, he thought he detected movement in Ritchie's chest and called for a medical officer who provided a shot of adrenaline to the patient's heart causing him to breathe and his heart to beat. Ritchie then returned to life with one of the most important and profound NDEs every documented.