December 2008, a very interesting Buddhist conference called Closer-to-Reality: Understanding Death and Beyond was held at the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Together with Buddhist Bardo Teachings on afterlife states, the conference also included sessions about Near-Death Experiences and Out-of-Body Experiences in an attempt to “connect real life experiences with Buddhist scriptural understanding.”
In 2001, the first prospective study of near-death experiences was published in the international medical journal The Lancet. This 13-year-long study set up in ten different hospitals in Holland was lead by cardiologist Pim van Lommel, MD, and it revealed that out of 344 patients who were successfully resuscitated after suffering cardiac arrest, 62 patients reported having an NDE. Based on this scientific study, it can be predicted that about 18 percent of people who have cardiac arrest will have an NDE.
There are many attempts to try to explain this phenomenon, such as hallucinations brought on by the loss of oxygen to the brain, however, no single theory to date can account for all the elements of the NDE. By far the biggest challenge is to explain how people with cardiac arrest and no brain activity (flat EEG) can come back and report NDEs with clear consciousness.
This is best argued through the case of Pam Reynolds, who in 1991 was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo a very complex surgery called â€œhypothermic cardiac arrestâ€. This is a procedure where both heartbeat and breathing is stopped, the blood is drained from the body, and due to its complexity, even the brain waves are monitored.
Pam was clinically dead with flat EEG for almost an hour, from 11:05 am to 12:00 noon, and during this timeframe she reported having an NDE. Skeptics argue that she did not have her NDE during flat EEG, but when falling in and out of consciousness at 11:05 and 12:00. However, after coming back Pam was able to describe the instruments used during the operation and conversations between the doctor and the nurse in the operating room.
You can watch this video about the case of Pam Reynolds:
Now, as a hardcore materialist one can still argue that none of this amount to physical evidence, but as science also gives evidence to: the material world we know as matter only accounts for 4 percent of the known universe. The rest is unknown and un-accounted for non-physical material called dark-matter and dark-energy. In fact, new science is moving away from the old classical view of our universe into a new frontier of quantum mechanics where the fundamental level of the universe is energy.
In 2008, the 6 billion dollar scientific project of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was completed at CERN in Geneva. Even though the project has been delayed due to start up difficulties, this largest scientific experiment in human history is predicted to discover the Higgs particle also called the "God particle", and while some scientists believe that the discovery of the God particle will explain away God, the discovery would be the scientific proof of extra dimensions as the NDE gives testimony to. Extra dimensions would surely be the proof that there is something else 'out there' and that the universe is bigger than us, and it seems that despite the differences between science and religion that they will end up in the same place.