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They say that eternal rest for man is essentially death. This may, in a way, be a rather dangerous way to think about things, but it seems that such an idea is rooted in the fact that life can be just that painful. We live, always conscious of death. And although we are clearly aware of the fact that living is in fact much harder than to die, death, to us, remains an object of fear.
On the other hand, we know of people who claim that they had experienced death itself, in their prior near-death experiences. Near-death experiences refer to incidents when a person who is literally about to die, miraculously comes back to life. Such stories can take all sorts of different shapes, but there are clear patterns which classify such experiences into a few different categories.
There have been numerous discussions regarding the interpretations of near-death experiences. First of all, mysticists claim that near-death experiences are actually experiences of death itself in its part. On the other hand, some say that near-death experiences are no more than the brain's perception in an extremely vulnerable state. The near-death experience being nothing more than an illusion of the brain.
The important thing to remember is that most everyone has heard, at some point, some story that has to do with a near-death experience. In my research, I have found that near-death experiences occur in a few different shapes.
Woman in Black
A great many people who claim to have had a near-death experience say that they had witnessed an unidentified woman dressed in black. And of this woman in black, there are all sorts of possible theories, ranging from theories that claim the woman in black as the grim reaper herself to the black-winged goddess, Morrighan.
Mr. I of Qilla Base Camp (Shop Owner, 32, Male) says that he was collecting firewood when he was attacked by a panda bear and had a near-death experience.
So then I thought, I should go find my colleagues and tried to lift my body and surprisingly enough, it wasn't as difficult to lift myself up. I thought it was kind of strange, so I looked down and under my feet was a person that looked really familiar. It was a while before I'd realized that it was me lying there. When I think about it now, it was quite a scary moment, but at the time, I didn't feel anything emotionally. It was as if I was looking at someone else.
And then all of a sudden, I realized that a familiar goddess was standing in front of me. I don't remember her face very clearly but I do remember she was dressed in black and something really large was wavering. When I thought to myself, oh, I guess she must be the grim reaper, I suddenly got extremely scared. It was in that moment that everything turned black and I lost consciousness once again."
The Sound of Death
It is a very curious thing, but many who've had near-death experiences claim that they hear some type of sound. Some say they hear the sounds of wind, or the song of a bard that they used to hear as a child, the sounding of a small bell etc., varying from person to person. This is proof that near-death experiences are not only visual, but also auditory experiences as well.
The following is Ms. K's experience, whom I had met in Maiz Prairie (Cook, 25, Female).
"It was when I was about 10 years old. I used to love hearing stories. I had a particular love for adventure stories, and so I used to go by the campfires where explorers would gather, to hear their stories of adventures. Of course, I would go and share food with them as well.
On the day of the event, there was also a camp sharing of food. The menu was steamed corn, and it was something I'd never had before. I was so young, that I wouldn't listen to the grown-ups who insisted that it could be dangerous for me to eat it. And sure enough, as soon as I took a bite, I lost consciousness.
It was a heart attack. And lucky for me, there was a healer who was familiar with reviving the heart, so I was able to live. But in that short period, I had the strangest experience.
So, there was the sound of the mandolin coming from somewhere nearby. I started walked toward the sound and what I'd found was a fountain of light in orange, over which was a shadow. I couldn't actually see the face of the person because the light was shining so bright, but I did have the instinct to get closer and see what was behind the light.
And then the music stopped all of a sudden, and I heard a voice saying, you're not supposed to be here yet, so go back. I was suddenly so sad, I started crying and I kept crying for a long time."
There are quite a few people who say that they had died and come back to life, but found themselves all of a sudden in the town square, or that they had died in the deep part of a dungeon but found themselves at the dungeon lobby when they woke up. They say it's a very similar experience to passing through a Moon Gate or even a Mana Tunnel.
Mr. K, who lives in Tir Chonaill (Herbologist, 48, Male) tells of a time he had gone to the Ciar dungeon some 15 years ago and had a near-death experience after being attacked by goblins.
The thing is, sometimes when you're collecting herbs, you end up having major tunnel vision, and I ended up losing my party while I was focusing so hard on the herbs all by myself. I was lost so I was wandering around trying to find my way when I ran into a goblin. I had a small dagger in my bag which I'd kept for emergency situations, but there was no way that I would be able to stand up against a goblin all by myself. I decided to just run away as fast as I could, and thought that I was safe when all of a sudden my shoulders felt like I was being electrocuted and I could hardly breathe. An extremely sharp pain went straight through my back and spread throughout my entire body.
Turns out, it was the goblin archer. Arrows kept flying toward my way, and I had no chance of getting away. I just fell to the ground right there and then. I felt myself losing consciousness, and then soon regained my consciousness.
Strangely enough, there was a thread that was covering my entire body, kind of like a spider web. The thread was elastic, stretching and back. And then all of a sudden, the thread disappeared somewhere, and with that my body disappeared into the same hole. I regained my consciousness once again, and when I did, I found myself in the dungeon lobby."
In the Line between Life and Death
Despite all of my efforts to study the various near-death incidences, I feel that death itself continues to escape our understanding. The only truth that remains through our lives is that life, for all of us, will eventually end. Just as death awaits us after our lives are done, it is possible that life and death are perhaps in each other's shadows.
By learning about near-death experiences, we have learned that death is in fact, not very far from our reach at all times. It is my hope that this book will have expanded your understanding of death in some way.