This book has had a difficult gestation. Conceived in enthusiasm, it unexpectedly suffered a series of seemingly toxic insults halfway through its intended term, resulting in a painful miscarriage. Given up for dead, it was then abandoned for more than a year, whereupon through a kind of intervention that seemed almost divine at the time, it was miraculously restored to life. Or so it seemed. However, the resuscitation efforts proved both unavailing and premature, and the book expired again, this time for good. Or so it seemed. But just here, as you might now anticipate given the subject matter of this book, it had the literary equivalent of a near-death experience (NDE), which finally did the trick. And shortly after that experience, it resumed the natural, if much interrupted course of its pregnancy, and was delivered speedily and without incident, to the great relief—indeed, even the astonishment—of its grateful parents.
The actual story of Lessons from the Light is this. After having taught at the University of Connecticut for more than thirty years, it struck me one summer day that the only time I had ever managed to write any of my books was during a sabbatical leave. It had only been a couple of years since my last one, however, but already a new book was brewing inside me. I wanted to write one last work on NDEs in which, rather than simply reporting the results of another research project, I could wrap up my career in this field by trying to distill the essential insights of the NDE so that persons who had never had such experiences themselves could draw upon this knowledge in very practical ways to enrich their own lives. For