After getting blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq, civilian contract worker NATALIE SUDMAN "blinked" and found herself in another reality. It was a strange place indeed. Sudman discovered herself standing center stage in what she struggles to describe as perhaps a vast stadium filled with thousands of beings -- but who or what kind of beings?
Souls? Personalities? Entities? Spirits? People?
None of the terms seemed quite adequate or accurate. Sudman realized that she was having a near death experience (NDE) after suffering severe trauma to her body. But this event didn't have any of the classic attributes popularly associated with the NDE.
There was no tunnel of light, no greeting on "the other side" by dead relatives, no experience of a spirit detaching and flying away from her physical body. She just "blinked" and she was there. Once arrived, she felt instantly at home and did not want to go back.
She also became immediately aware of her first function in the afterlife: She acted as a kind of cosmic computer cache with the purpose of "downloading" all of her "stored" information to the waiting gathering of souls -- who absorbed the information "with gratitude."
This is not airy fairy New Agey fare but more of a thinking man's (in this case, a thinking woman's) report on the afterlife. Sudman is at once a serious, sober observer of the extraordinary situation she encountered, but also an often funny and charming writer with something entirely different to say.
This is a book about the ultimate issues of all reality -- What is life? Who are we? What are we? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a conscious human being? Why are we here? -- and Sudman has a truly remarkable ability to delve into these weighty questions while never talking down to us, and at the same time, challenging us to expand our way of thinking.
This is a slim volume at just over 100 pages, but it has the effect of reading a book of 200 or 300 pages. Each paragraph seems impregnated with richer meaning, as if there is information coming at you from the spaces in between the words and sentences. If you read it twice, don't be surprised is if you get as much more even more out of it the second time around.
It's perhaps important to note that Sudman was not a New Age type or any sort of formal spiritual seeker before she was encountered a roadside bomb on Nov. 24, 2007. She was an archaeologist by profession, and then had transitioned to working as a project engineer for a civilian contractor in the Basrah South Region Office in Iraq. She was managing the building of a health care center at Khor Az Aubair at the time of the incident that transformed her life.
She comes to the NDE subject as an outsider with a fresh perspective, and so perhaps without the baggage of those who spend their lives immersed in mystical esoterica -- and yet, many can expect to have their old and calcified belief systems rattled by what Sudman suggests here.
Open-minded skeptics only need apply.
Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA
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