Through a Glass Lightly:
Seeing the World
with NDE-Opened Eyes
In the last chapter, our focus was on the sense of self that the near-death experience tends to foster. There, we came to understand that the effect of an NDE is to stimulate the growth of self-esteem and self-acceptance, and thereby further the individual's courage to pursue a way of life in keeping with his or her own authentic self. And of the several related lessons for us from that chapter, perhaps the most essential was that of the importance of self-compassion.
Here, our focus reverses direction so that we gaze, not at the self, but at the world as seen through the eyes of the NDEr. In doing so, we are in effect returning for a moment to some of the concerns of Chapter Five, where I tried to draw a portrait of NDErs in terms of a characteristic constellation of beliefs, attitudes, and values that tends to arise in the aftermath of an NDE. This pattern of psychological aftereffects is in its own way also a worldview, a distinctive filter that enables the NDEr to see and experience the ordinary world with heightened sensitivity and appreciation. As a result, self-compassion turned outward turns into compassion for others—and that, as we will see, is, in a nutshell, perhaps the essential lesson for us to absorb in this chapter.
I say "absorb" deliberately, because our task here is not merely to understand that the NDEr now sees the world through eyes brimming