Eleven Near-Death Experiences from Thailand

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Todd Murphy

E-mail brainsci@jps.net

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These Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), gathered in Thailand, were taken from accounts published in popular Thai literature, except for the first four cases (one of which is actually a premortem vision), which were provided by Dr. Dhebhanom Muangman, President of the Bangkok Institute of Psychical Research. We are indebted to him for his time and efforts in providing these cases.

We are also indebted to Ms. Sasikarn Santideja (of the Languages Institute at Thammasat University), and Phra Mahanaradhip Kaewprasitidhi, (A Buddhist Monk at Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhorn Pathom, Thailand) for their help in translating these accounts.

Case #1

(Provided by Dr Dhebhanom Muangman)

Woman, 43 Yrs. old. Has 4 children. 12 years education; married to college educated man. Cause of death unknown. Possibly related to anemia.

Her NDE began with a visitation by two white robed young men who were not known to the patient. They informed her that it was her time to die, and that she was to be taken for judgment. She did not want to go. One of the figures touched her arm, and she then had an OBE in which she ‘flew’ while holding the figure’s arm. She saw the roof of the hospital as she felt herself fly upward. She reached the clouds, and found herself able to walk on the clouds. Shortly thereafter, she found herself in front of a desk. The figure behind the desk told her that she was the wrong person, and the right person was in the same hospital, in a room three doors down from the room in which she ‘died’. The patient revived. Shortly after, a nurse working in a room three doors down from her collapsed and died. The nurse’s family refused to allow an autopsy.

Case #2

(Provided by Dr. Dhebhanom Muangman)

Woman, 58 Yrs. Old. University professor, U.S. Educated.

NDE began in her kitchen as a cobra bit her when she reached down to turn on the propane that fed her stove. Patient was put in a coffin which was placed in a Buddhist temple. She remained there for three days before reviving. Her NDE began with an autoscopic OBE. She then found herself in front of her house. Two men in western clothes appeared and told her to get up. They said they wanted to take her for a walk. She looked back and found that the house had disappeared. The path in front of her was misty. The weather was cool and pleasant. She saw crowds of people from which emerged an older man who she referred to as uncle (father’s elder brother) ‘Pong’.

‘Pong’ told her that he was dead, and was there to welcome her. (he had, in fact, died the day after she was bitten by a cobra). Two men, not described, came to ‘take her’ for judgment. She came before a ‘judge’ (not described) who told her that although her name was the right name, it was actually another person of the same name who was to have been taken. He instructed the two to take her back. The patient resisted, and asked, before she went back, to know if heaven and hell were real. The judge instructed the guides to take her on a tour of heaven and hell. She was taken to heaven first. Her experience of heaven was of a cool place where birds, flowers and beautiful houses were found in abundance. Hell was a place where souls were tortured in various ways, with whippings specifically mentioned. After her tour was over, she revived, and began to beat on the lid of the coffin. The monks in the temple ran away, frightened, thinking that she was a ghost. One of her family members opened the coffin, and let her out.

Case #3

(Premortem vision)

(provided by Dr Dhebhanom Muangman)

Male, 58 yrs. old, Director General of the National Department of Health

Cause of death was cancer of the bladder. 4 days before death, 4 Yamatoots were outside his room. 2 days before his death they were in the room. patient told those present that they were there to take him, and said “don’t let them take me”.

1 day before his death, patient said that two of the Yamatoots (servants of Yama, The lord of the underworld in Thai mythology) were standing at the head of his bed, and two of them were standing at the foot of his bed.

Case #4

(Provided by Dr. Dhebhanom Muangman)

35 yrs. old farmer from Korat province

Patient collapsed while working in rice fields. Cause of collapse unknown. He experienced himself as being taken by a Yamatoot who was three times life size. The yamatoot told him that he had to be judged. He then found himself in front of Yama, the lord of the underworld.

Yama looked into a book in which the patients actions were written. Before the judgment could begin, Yama said that he was the wrong person and had to be taken back. The patient “sneaked” a look into the book, and saw that it was written in Thai. Surprised, (possibly because he expected it to be written in Pali, the sacred language of Thai Buddhism), he took a closer look, and read the name of a person he knew from the same village, with the date of his death written as three days after his own NDE. He revived, and the man named in Yama’s book did, in fact, die on the date named.

Case #5

Adapted from “Vipassanna meets consciousness”  By Phra Bhavana Vissudhikoon

(Chapter entitled ” Died and revived” “Tie laeow Fuhn” Pg. 145-154)

(Female, “Boonchu)

On Feb. 5, 1952, I came home from work feeling very tired and sleepy, after feeling run-down and fatigued all day. I lay down to take a nap, and when I awoke, I got up and found that, although I Was standing up, my body was still sleeping. I went outside the house and stood under a coconut tree. I experienced a deep sense of beauty. I did not know where I was. Looking around, I saw a road, and wondered where it went. I walked along the road. Suddenly, I heard two people talking very loudly. I looked and saw that they were Yamatoots (servants of Yama, The Lord of the Dead). One of them spoke to me saying “we’ve come to take you to hell”. I said “I’m not going”, and I tried to escape. I turned and repeated that I was not going to go to the house of Yama. I soon realized that I could not escape. I asked the Yamatoots to wait a while, because I had to tell my family that I was dead. I told them ” Nobody knows I’m here”. I walked to my house, stood in front of it for a minute, and then went inside. I saw there were a number of people there, and all of them were crying. I saw my wife and daughter sitting together. I tried to run to them, but I tripped on something. I fell. As I hit the floor, I revived.

Case #6

Adapted from “Prasobkhan Tahng vinnanna: Experience through consciousness” by Thong Thaew Suwanathat Vol. 2 Pg. 126-136

I, Phra Tanasiri Sirisumphan, a Buddhist Monk, was accompanying my cousin as he traveled to another province. I was thirteen years old at the time. While we were traveling, I came down with a toothache. I went to a dentist, who took the offending tooth out. I felt much better, but I still had some pain. I went to a hotel to sleep. But instead of falling asleep, I lost consciousness. When I came to, I found two Yamatoots. One of them was standing at the head of my bed, and the other at the foot. Both of them were holding torches. They looked about thirty years old, and had very dark skin. They said only “let’s go”. I asked them “where are you taking me?” They answered: “don’t ask”. I stood up and followed them. One of them said to the other: ” He is too young, so I’m not going to help you. You do it alone, I have another job to attend to”. Eventually, the remaining Yamatoot forced me to go with him. I followed him until we came to a crossroad. I became afraid at that point because I had lost my bearings, and would not be able to find my way back. Finally I came to a temple wall. The Yamatoot took me to a large gate Where I saw a monk giving a sermon to a group of elderly men and women. I made the formal gesture of respect to the Monk, and as I did so, I realized that the truth and highest form of help was to be found in The Lord Buddha, His Teachings, and those who ordain to follow his way (The Buddha, The Dharma, and the Sangha – also known as the “triple gem’).

I walked to a classical style pavilion (Sala). The Yamatoot told me to wait for someone who was coming to meet us. A very large Yamatoot arrived who was wearing ancient armor, and carrying a spear. He was accompanied by a group of normal-sized Yamatoots, all of whom were carrying weapons. I felt that the situation was becoming very bad.

Lord Yama, King of the Underworld. His scales read ‘virtue’ and ‘sin’. Click to view close-up.

They took me to the house of Yama, the Lord of the Dead. Yama told me that I had committed many sins, especially in having butchered a number of chickens. I denied it, I said that I had not done that, not even once. Yama was surprised, and asked his records keeper.”How old is he?” “Thirteen years, Lord”, came the answer. “What’s his name?” My name was read out. Yama said: “You’ve taken the wrong man. Take him back. Quickly. You’ve made a mistake”. I said that, before I returned, I wanted to see hell. Yama answered: “No. The last thing I have to say to you is that you will die when you are 27 years old. Be ready”

Yama assigned a Yamatoot to accompany me back. He took me back to the crossroad where he said that I must go on from there alone. I was afraid, and asked him to take me all the way back. He said that I must go on alone. I walked on alone, and tripped on a tree root. I then revived.

When I was 27, I was ill with a stomach ache that lingered on for a year. My doctor advised surgery. I went in to the hospital, and the procedure began with anesthesia. As soon as I was under anesthesia, I saw the same Yamatoot. I remembered from the last time I had died and been revived. As he led me to hell’s gate, I walked past a torture chamber. The first thing I saw was a big copper pot full of boiling water. It was full of people who cried out from fear. A Yamatoot stood by guarding the people who were being tortured in this way. I walked away from this scene and came to a stand of barren tamarind trees. Their normal bark was replaced by thousands of sharp spikes. Yamatoots at the foot of the tree forced people to climb these trees by prodding them with spears. I didn’t ask why these people were being tortured in this way. I already knew. They were being punished (for sexual wrongdoing). I continued down the same road and cams to some stairs. At the top of the stairs was a flock of birds. I climbed these stairs and found myself in the judgment hall of Yama’s palace. I knew that they were ready to judge me for my sins. A giant rooster appeared who told Yama that I had killed him. He emphasized that I had tried to kill him again and again. The rooster said that he remembered me exactly. An entire flock of roosters also appeared and testified that I had killed them, as well. I remembered my actions, and I had to admit that the roosters had told the truth. Yama said that I had committed many sins, and sentenced me to many rebirths both as a chicken, and many other kinds of birds. After these births, I would then be reborn as an angelic being (Thevada) due to my having performed meritorious actions many times. After Yama was finished reading my sentence, he commanded a Yamatoot to take me to the place were I was to receive additional punishments. But, quite suddenly, an enormous turtle appeared. It screamed at Yama, saying “don’t take him; he Is a good human, and he should be allowed to live.” Yama asked the turtle ” what did he do to help you?” The turtle answered. “Long ago, I almost died because another of these humans wanted to eat me. This man prevented him, and so, I was able to live out my life.” Yama asked the turtle if he had any evidence. The turtle asked to be turned upside down, and told Yama to look at his underside where he would see where the man had carved his name so many years ago.

Thai myths about the afterlife are seen in popular humor, cartoons, and religion. Here, a naked man is forced to climb a tree covered with spikes.  A Tree Spirit isn’t happy about it, saying “Get that out of my face.”

Yama saw the man’s name was there, just as the turtle had said, and believed the turtle’s story. Yama announced that he was canceling the sentence, and told me that when I revived, I was to take a vow not to kill any living thing. He said that it was especially bad to kill animals because they had to live through so many lives in order to be reborn as humans. “Love the animals”, he said, “as you love yourself”.

I asked Yama: “what kind of meritorious actions must I perform in order to be reborn in your kingdom. As I came in, I saw your treasures, which are very great, and very beautiful”. Yama answered, saying “You should build a temple. This will create a great deal of merit for you. You will then be reborn in my realm”. Then Yama ordered one of the Yamatoots to take me to see the souls of those waiting to be reborn. I was taken to a beautiful garden, where they all lived. They wore the most beautiful clothes. I felt that they were so happy. I asked the Yamatoot, who was now acting as my guide, who they were. He said that they were going to be reborn on the earth. Their fortunate condition here was because they were without sin. I asked “will they be angels?” The Yamatoot answered that it was so. I asked him to take me to see the Lord Buddha. I told him that I needed to see the Buddha. The Yamatoot looked up at the sky and pointed. “That big star,” he said, “is the Lord Buddha, and all the little stars are the other enlightened ones: those who have followed the Dharma to the end. I’m afraid that you won’t be able to see the Buddha in any other form. You are not pure enough.” The Yamatoot then took me home, and I then revived. It was just 7:00 p.m.

Case # 7

Tie Laeo Fuhn Sohng Krahng

(Died and revived Two Times)

The NDE of Maj. Gen. Sanor Jintaraht

(Suwannathat, Vol. 2 Pg. 171-203)

First time

At one time I was addicted to gambling. I was obsessed with playing cards. It was so bad that I learned how go without sleep. Eventually, this would almost kill me. One weekend, I had a stroke. I couldn’t breath, and I felt severe chills. His mother took him to the hospital but he already gone into a coma. The doctors refused him admission, saying that it would be better for him to die at home. Finally, his breathing stopped.

He found himself walking in a crowd of strangers who wore white clothes (In Thailand, Buddhist lay followers wear white when staying in a temple for more than one day, most commonly for meditation retreats). He was dressed differently; in shorts and a western shirt. The next thing, he and the crowd were walking along a wide road, and he found himself crying.

It was absolutely silent. A gray mist covered everything. “Then I saw a crowd of skeletons. I knew where I was. I was in a different world. I was in hell. I heard a powerful voice telling everyone not to speak to me. I could not tell where the voice was coming from. I thought of my family, but I could not see any way to get back to them. The voice told me that I would not see them. It said that I could cry if I wanted. At these words I burst out crying. Then I saw a woman wearing green clothes. She had long hair, and spoke so sweetly. She said to me: “This is your food. Please eat it. We have a long walk ahead of us.” I ate all of the food. There were fried eggs, an omelet, beef curry, chicken curry, and candied eggs. These were all my favorite foods, prepared just as my mother had made them for me. I was full after this, and I became thirsty. I told this woman that I wanted some water. She said that there was no water for me here, because I had never donated anything to drink to the monks or a temple. I was very thirsty, and I thought that if I could regain my life, I would never forget to donate cool drinks to the monks I went to visit. After a long walk with this angelic woman, I came home, where I revived. I was so thirsty.

My Second experience.

Maj. Gen. Sanor Jintaraht

I was in the hospital receiving dialysis and shock treatment (sic) for kidney stones. During the treatment, I heard a voice telling me that I was dying. It said that I should go with him. I got up quickly. I turned to look at myself lying on the bed, and found that I could see my own organs. I then saw that the voice belonged to a Yamatoot who told me “you must now leave your family”. I cried for a long time. He took me to another world. The Yamatoot ordered me to lie down on a glass plate. He said that he would use it as a way to transport me to another world. To heaven. I felt happy because it was quiet and the air was cool, fresh, and smelled of flowers. I saw yellow flowers with a beautiful fragrance. The Yamatoot took me up 27 levels. I saw many beautiful things in heaven. There were lovely pavilions in heaven, where jewelry littered the ground. I could not see anyone there.

The Yamatoot told me that the people in heaven were arupa (formless) beings, and thus, were invisible. I heard monks chanting the Pali recitation “Shina Bahnchorn” (The Buddha’s Window) the whole time I was in heaven. I had never ordained as a monk, and so, had never learned the “Shin Bahnchorn” during my life. Nevertheless, I heard it constantly as I walked among the heavenly homes of that paradise.

The Yamatoot took me to the seventh level of heaven, where I was shown my own heavenly home. Inside, I saw one woman and three men. I had never seen them before. Apparently, they were my servants. They had very strange faces, and their clothes were ordinary, but very clean.

These clothes had a lovely fragrance, like several kinds of flowers at once. They seemed to be very happy, and they spoke very politely. They said that this was my home. I was puzzled. This was nothing like my home on earth. That one was much smaller. This one seemed to be perfect. I wanted to live in it. I asked them if I could go in, but they would not give me the key. I was surprised. They had said that this was my home, but they wouldn’t let me in. They said that it was not yet time, and that I bore too many sins. I said that I didn’t remember having a home in heaven. I remembered all the times that I had performed meritorious actions during my life. I had donated robes to monks, helped to raise funds to build temples, built a pavilion for one temple, and funded construction of an entire temple. I had built a meeting hall (Bot) for another temple, and replaced the roof of still another temple. I did not practice meditation, however, I only ‘made merit’ (making merit refers to performing actions that are believed to accrue the religious merit needed to improve one’s next birth. Examples include making donations, volunteer work, and certain religious rituals). I asked the servants what they were doing in my home. They answered: “Didn’t you also help us? Your gave us clothes when we had a fire, and often gave us good food to eat.” They said that they were grateful for my help, and wanted to serve me in the afterlife. Now I wanted to go into my house and rest, but they still wouldn’t give me the key. Finally, they turned into giants with black skin. I was very afraid, and ran away. I found the same glass table, which took me to the next level of heaven. There, I found many of my old friends. Most of whom were soldiers. They were very happy to see me. I thought that this was where I was going to be forever. They did not know that I would revive. There were 10 people. Some of them gave me food and water. Others took me to see even more friends. Some of them were sleeping on a bed. All of them were feeling bad because they were separated from their families.

I asked them “where is my bed?” They said “there is no bed for you here because this is not your home. Your home is in the next level up. It’s better up there”. I asked them to make a temporary bed for me, but they said that it was impossible. “We have only two pieces of wood, and only two nails.” I said “never mind. I’m in a hurry. I must go now.” The glass table took me up to the next level. I thought to myself : “I’m lucky. I will be reborn in a human form, as there is no animal rebirth for those who get to this plane.”

Then I heard a voice telling me that I had to go back to the hospital on earth. The doctors had just stopped working on my body. I re-entered my body, but my body rejected me, over and over again. Finally, I jumped into my head, and it worked. I think this was because I had exited from my head.

Case #8

The Case of Kodien

(Chinese-Thai)  (Suwannathat, Experience through Consciousness Vol.3 Pg. 9-24)

Kodien left work early one day because of a headache. At home he fainted in his bathroom. A doctor was called, who pronounced him dead. He was put in a coffin, and a funeral ceremony was performed. He revived while in the coffin, and knocked in order to get the attention of those attending his funeral. They let him out, and for a little while he couldn’t speak. When he recovered, he told his story.

At first he didn’t know he was dead. His body seemed very light, and he felt dizzy.

He saw three men with black skin. Two of them wore white, while one wore black. All three wore SE Asian style turbans. Kodien asked “who are you?”. They did not answer. Instead, the two men who wore black started to pull him by the arm. The one in white began to walk straight ahead. The other two pulled him along, following the first. Kodien asked them, “What’s the matter? Why are you taking me?” None of the three would answer. They took him to his house, and he saw that many people were walking around inside. When he came to the front of his house, he saw that his doctor was walking past. In vain, he asked his doctor to rescue him. The doctor, walking quickly, just went past him. Kodien felt helpless, and then allowed the three strangers to lead him away.

They walked along a deserted wide road. Silence surrounded them. Eventually, he was able to see a group of people, far ahead of him. They walked with their heads lowered. The three people then turned to the left, and Kodien followed them. Soon they came on a group of his friends who had died six and seven years ago. He realized that these were people who had died and been placed in coffins, but who still had not been cremated. Now he understood that he really was dead. He came to a lawn in front of a large building where there were many groups of people with sad, pale faces. The men in black pushed him down, forcing him to sit close to one group of people. He felt very hungry and thirsty. He got up and walked to one of these groups. He noticed that some groups had food and water, while others had only piles of ash. He wanted to ask for some water, but he didn’t know anyone he could ask. He walked around until he saw one group where there was someone he knew; A friend who had died recently. His friend greeted him with a smile. He asked for something to eat. Kodien asked “Is this your food?” His friend said “Yes, but you can’t eat any of it because it doesn’t belong to you. We cannot give any of it away. Your food is over there.” Kodien’s friend pointed to a pile of ash. Kodien said “How can I eat that?” His friend only laughed for an answer. Kodien said “You’re just teasing me”, and reached to take a drink of water without waiting for permission (as is the custom in Thailand, where not taking hospitality for granted can sometimes be an insult). He found that the water was scalding hot. He asked his friend “How can you drink this when it is so hot”. With a smile, he took the glass from Kodien’s hand, and drank it, saying that it didn’t belong to Kodien.

Chinese Joss-Paper Money Offerings that transfer wealth to the deceased in their next life. Click to view close-up.

His friend said that those who made merit by donating food to the monks during their lives would have food to eat after their deaths, while those who only helped their own ancestors (by burning joss-paper replicas of food) would only have piles of ash. Kodien realized that his friend was suggesting that he would have done better to have created merit according to the Thai custom, but in his life, Kodien had not believed in the practice. He had thought that the Chinese forms of religious observance were better, and only made joss-paper offerings. Then someone came and asked Kodien’s friend to come inside the building. Kodien sat down for a while, still thinking about food. Soon, someone came to lead him into the building, as well. There were many people in the building. He was led to the right, and into a room with a large table in the center. There were three men sitting at the table, which had several stacks of books on it. The man sitting in the middle seemed to be the boss. The other two were looking into books opened before them.

Making merit by offering flowers to a monk.

After Kodien had sat down, the one in the middle asked for his name and age. The boss asked the one on the right to check to see if it was correct. They found that it was not correct. The boss told the one on the left to take him back quickly. The same person then stood up, walked around the table, and pulled Kodien up by his arms, and then led him to the door. He called someone to take him back, ordering that it be done quickly. A man dressed in black clothing came, and told Kodien to walk with him. The man walked in front, with Kodien walking behind. He led Kodien down a different road than the one he had taken on his way in. This one was lined with trees, and was partly overgrown with grass. It was deserted. After a while they came on an old, sun-bleached water buffalo skeleton with a puddle of water next to it. Kodien was still thirsty, and sat down, intending to drink. Just as his hand was about to reach the water, he felt the man in black pushing him into the water from behind. At that instant, he blacked out. When he regained consciousness, he found himself in his coffin, and heard the sound of his own funeral. Kodien had been unconscious for 18 hours by the clock.

Case #9

Go Taeng Saeyep

46 yrs. old. Chinese-Thai

(Coffee shop employee)

(Suwannathat, Vol. 2, Pg. 220-239)

Classical Style Thai Coffin

One day at work, quite without warning, I fell unconscious. Everybody thought I was dead. My boss was fond of me, and bought the best quality coffin for me, one made in the classical style. He took me to the temple, and sponsored a ‘high’ funeral ceremony for me. I didn’t know that I had died. Even though I was no longer in my body, I felt sleepy, and lay down. I felt that I was dreaming, even though I was dead. In this dream, two Yamatoots took me to a strange place. I saw many people who looked like prisoners. I knew some of them. I greeted them. I asked them why they were in this place. One of them said “Here he comes”, and then disappeared. The Yamatoots guided me to a torture chamber; one for those who had committed murder. I saw guards hitting the prisoners on the head with an iron hammer.

People were being chopped into pieces. They re-assembled themselves, and were then chopped up again and again, until the karma they carried from having killed people was exhausted. After this process was finished, their pieces were fed to dogs and vultures with iron beaks. The Yamatoot explained that these prisoners were not afraid of making bad karmas; that they actually liked killing people. This torture, he said, was the result of their murderous karmas. After these karmas were extinguished, they would be reborn as animals in the earthly plane of existence. In that life they would have to die by being killed. They would not be allowed to live out their natural life-span.

The Yamatoot then took me to another torture chamber. I saw a path made of hot coals. The guard was forcing people to walk this path. If someone could not bear the pain, and stopped walking, the guards would stab them with spears, and thus, force them to continue. This process was repeated until the person was burned up completely. First their feet, then their calves, then their knees, and so forth. Their bodies then returned to their previous state, and the whole process was repeated. The Yamatoot explained that this path of hot coals was for those who had too many defilements (Kilesa) and desires (Tanha).

We came to another torture area. These prisoners were punished by having their tongues put between red hot pincers. I thought “This is so horrible”. They could not bear their punishment, and some tried to escape. They would run to get a drink of water. As they tried to scoop it into their mouths, it was turned into scalding hot oil. In pain, they rolled around on the ground, but even as they did so, nails grew under them. The Yamatoot explained that they were being punished like this because, during their lives, they were liars and slanderers. I then saw a grove of Niew trees (trees with trunks covered with spikes). There were many of them. They had large trunks. At the bases of these trees there were naked people trying to climb up. Anyone who would not climb was stabbed by the spears the Yamatoots held. I then came to the hell for those who drank, took heroin, or opium. There were more people in this hell than any other I had witnessed so far. Some were being boiled in a copper pot. Other had been set on fire, while still others were being forced to drink acid. They tried to escape to find water, but when they did so, it turned into boiling oil. Some were able to escape, but those who succeeded found themselves harassed by vultures with iron beaks.

The Yamatoot said that this was the last place we would visit in hell. I then saw two men I knew well. Back on earth, I had seen them in the market. They made gestures of respect to the Yamatoot, and asked if they could be allowed to eat. They said that they had been here for a few days, and were so hungry. They said that they had fainted several times from hunger, but they couldn’t die. “We have just been walking around aimlessly”, they said. The Yamatoot said “Are you really so hungry?” They answered: “Of course. Please help us.” The Yamatoot pointed to his left and said: “Go that way. There is a lot of food there, just ready for you to eat.” They saw the food, and ran towards it. When they got there, the food turned to stone, sand and dust. The Yamatoot said too me “Don’t worry about them. Let’s go”. I was afraid the whole time I was in hell. I asked the Yamatoot “What should I do to avoid these tortures?” He answered “Usually those who are more pure than animals; who try to avoid sins, and try to do good things are not reborn here.

I was hungry, I asked the Yamatoot for food and water. He said that it was no problem, and took me to a pavilion. He ordered someone to bring me food. When it arrived, I tried to eat it, but it disappeared in my hand. I said “Don’t kid me. I’m really hungry”, and I tried to eat some more. The same thing happened again. I gave up, and tried to drink some water. The water disappeared as well. The Yamatoot laughed, and said that there was no food for you. It’s not yours. If you never create merit by donating food to the monks, you will have no food in hell. When you revive, you absolutely must create merit for yourself in this way. The Yamatoot then took me to heaven. I was afraid in hell because I had never created merit. Now, it was time to see heaven. “Is it possible”, I asked. The Yamatoot asked me if I really wanted to see heaven. “If so, then you must contemplate the three treasures of The Lord Buddha, His Teachings, and the community of monks who follow his teachings. Concentrate your mind, pray, and you will go to heaven. After I closed my eyes and put my hands in the prayerful gesture, the Yamatoot disappeared and I was no longer in hell. I found myself in another place which was very pleasant. The weather was nice, I was no longer hungry. I saw a garden with trees all in rows. It was very beautiful, like the garden of a king or a millionaire. As I walked into the garden, I smelled some flowers. They were so very fragrant, with a scent I had never known before. Next, I saw some angels, both male and female. They glided through the air. They were dressed beautifully, and wore exquisite jewelry. Some had flowers in their hair. I kept walking, and saw a pavilion with a roof like that of a palace. There was an angelic man sitting inside. His body was surrounded by a green halo. I approached the angel, sat down and made obeisances. I asked “who are you? Where am I?” He answered “I am the lord of the angels, and this is the angelic world. I then recognized that this was none other than Indra, the King of Heaven. He said to me “When you go back to your world, you should teach your fellow men not to commit sins, as it causes them to go to hell. If they do good, and behave in a moral manner, they will be reborn in my heaven. I will show you the mercy of teaching you the Dharma; The sacred law.” He imparted this knowledge by opening my wisdom eye. I then saw all the truths of the universe. The future, the past, and the present. After six earthly days, Indra told me that he would take me to another level of heaven, The World of Brahma. I saw Brahma, the creator of the universe. His face was similar to Indra’s with a fresh, clean look about it that indicated mercy, compassion, lovingkindness, and equanimity. He had a golden halo. Brahma explained that the angels in his level of heaven were all on their way to take new births in the ordinary world. Therefore, there were many houses that were empty. He was waiting for those who had created much merit during their lives to take rebirth there, but they were very few. Those who were there had mostly been monks who had been strict in their observance of the monastic rule.

“You have been separated from you body for 7 days”, he said. “If you don’t return soon, you will not be able to.” Brahma then ordered Indra to take me back to the world of the living. When I returned to my home, I couldn’t find my body. I flew up and saw some people carrying a coffin. The angel who had been ordered to take me back hit the lid of my coffin, so that it fell down. My spirit then returned to my body, and I then revived.

Case # 10

Experience through consciousness Vol. 7, Pg. 103-114

Case of “Luong Phor”

(Luong Phor is Thai for “Holy Father’) By using this name, the interviewee is identifying himself as a Monk (old enough to have children) who wishes to remain anonymous – anonymity is a monastic ideal in Thai Buddhism)

When he was 5 years old, he was gored by a large cow. The cow also stepped on his chest and stomach. He had lost consciousness for many hours. He found himself in the palace of Yama. The cow who had gored him appeared, and said that he was actually a man, and was the boy’s enemy. The boy asked how it was possible. The cow answered that, long ago, they had each been elephant cavalrymen during a war. During a battle, the boy had decapitated him as they fought with pikes from the backs of elephants. The cow was the reincarnation of the beheaded man, having taken rebirth in that form to try to revenge his death. He had been trying to rip the boys head off with his hoof, but he had missed. “If you want me to forgive you, you will have to ordain as a monk for at least 8 years”, the cow had said. The boy said “OK.” Yama said that he would live to be 25 years old, and that he had many Paramitas (perfected virtues) from past lives. Yama said that he was very well developed spiritually. When he was 25 years old, on July 26th, 2531 (B.E.), he was doing a period of walking meditation. One night, close to midnight, he sat down to do Vipassanna meditation. He felt like he couldn’t breath, and had heart palpitations. He began chanting in his mind “Being dead. Being dead. Being dead….” He felt a change in his state of consciousness, and found himself looking at his body from outside. He found himself thinking that he had just left his body for a little while the way that it can happen during meditation. He walked downstairs, and at the bottom of the stairs, he saw 4 people standing at the bottom of the stairs. One of them said that a Yamatoot had told them to come and take him. He was shocked. It was then that he realized that this was not a meditative out of body experience. He asked “Am I dead?” The person said “You are not dead, but the Yamatoot wants to see you”. “Luang Phor” followed behind them as they began to go to the hall of Yama. They opened a tunnel, and told him to close his eyes. They said that the weather there was not good. “An elevator will take you down”, they said. The monk entered the elevator, which then descended very quickly. When he opened his eyes, he saw that there were many people there. His guide told him that they were all dead.

He asked about the dead people, and was told that some of them had sins, while others had merit. “Those who have a lot of merit don’t come here; they go to heaven. Those with many sins go to hell. They, also, don’t need to come here. He was taken to a room with the number 9 (the number 9 is considered highly auspicious on the door. It was a very large room, with many people walking around in it. They said that this was the hall of judgment where we find out who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell. The monk asked if he was dead, and was told that he was alive, but that Yama wanted to see him for now. He sat down, and someone came to him to make a formal donation. He received the offering, and set it down on the ground. Then Yama appeared, open a book, and announced that he was to receive an extension of fifteen years. In addition he was to receive an additional 5 years of life for each year he remained in the monkhood. ” Do you want to see hell?”, Yama asked. The monk answered that he did want to see it because he had heard a lecture by Sanor Jintaraht, who had an NDE, and wanted to see for himself if it was true. “If you want to see it thoroughly, you will have to stay for 5 days, but you can’t stay out of your body for that long”, said Yama. “After that, it will begin to decay, so you will be able to see just a few of it’s many levels. The first level was accessed by opening a tunnel. I saw people who had the heads of chickens, buffalos, and cows. He led me to the second level. The people there were just lumps of meat. “These people were butchers”, he said. I was then taken to the third level. I had heard that it was a place of special torture for those who had committed sexual sins. The Yamatoot said that we had to go by a different route than the one they had taken up to now. The monk told the Yamatoot that there were some trees that he wanted to see before the left. He had heard that these trees were on fire, and that those who had committed sexual sins were forced to climb them. These trees had thorns which popped out when they were touched, stabbing those who were climbing the trees. The Yamatoot explained that it was the forest of torture trees, and that the horns were two hand spans long.

They came to the 4th level. At this level, the monk could only hear the cries of those being tortured. He couldn’t see where the sounds were coming from, because he was blinded by a light that was too bright to bear. He heard only the words: “Help me. Help me. I won’t do it again.” He shielded his eyes to cut the glare, and could then see that there were people in that area who were all immersed in fire. Fire was coming out of their eyes, ears, and mouth. The monk asked why they were being tortured in this way. The Yamatoot answered that two types of sinners were to be found in this hell. Those who had burned animals, and those who had committed arson.

The Yamatoot said that the monk should be able to see into the 5th level. The monk could only hear voices, but could not see any people. All he could see were piles of ash. “If you want to see these people, you must clean off the ash that is covering them”, said the Yamatoot. “These persons have all committed rape, murder, or theft, or more than one of these”. The monk then asked to see the palace of Yama. The Yamatoot said “There are so many halls. Some of them even have musicians”. The monk asked “In what way did you create merit so that you were able to be born in this place?”. The Yamatoot then revealed that he himself had both merit and sins, so that he had to spend some of his days as an animal, and some as an angel. During his life, he had earned his money by torturing both men and animals. He promoted bullfights (where the bulls fight each other), cockfights, and boxing matches. Then, he said, he took the money, and used it to make donations so that he could create merit. This merit helped him to become an angel, while the sins committed by encouraging these fights helped him to be an animal.

Then the Yamatoot asked the monk to return to the world using the same elevator. The Yamatoot told him not to forget to perform the “Taw Eye-You” (Life-extending) ceremony every year for the next fifteen years, so that he could take advantage of the extension which Yama had granted to him The monk entered the elevator, and then he revived.

Case #11

Sanit Tahnarat

Experience through Consciousness Vol. 1, Pg.86-93

One morning in 1982, while brushing his teeth, Sanit Tahnarat passed out for reasons unknown. He had an OBE in which he saw his own body, unconscious on the floor. He saw clouds approach him, and he was able to take hold of one. He found it was as hard as a stone. He climbed onto it, and sat down. The cloud carried him up to one of the heavens. He saw it was filled with diamonds and jewels. He moved up to another heaven, and saw that it had people dressed like angels. He wanted to see more, so he climbed up the clouds until he came to another plane. There were no people there, just spiritual lights. He heard a voice calling `grandfather’, four times. At this, his hands became limp so that he could no longer hold on. As this happened, the cloud disappeared, and he fell to earth. When he hit the ground, he revived and found someone doing CPR on him.


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