When I drowned, I experienced excruciating pain for what seemed like a second. Then it became natural for me to breathe water. I remember my thoughts very clearly because I thought I had become a mermaid. My body undulated in the water, as if I had a tail that moved up and down like that of a mermaid or a dolphin. I also remember making a decision to keep my eyes open. I wanted to see where I was going as the light was beckoning me to follow it.
Before long, I started speeding up. I was moving so fast that my body couldn’t keep up with me. I felt blissfully free and ecstatic. I entered a tunnel with a bright light at its end. Then, I became part of that Light. I saw no one, yet I knew I was in the presence of God.
On the other side of life, I was enveloped in warmth and love such as I had never before experienced. I felt safe, free, and limitless. Although I cannot recall any visual images, I knew that I was home. I was totally supported in anything I could possibly want to do. I was part of the Universe; I was a part of the sun; and I was a part of God! I had a feeling of total safety and was deliriously happy. I was not aware of being a child or having any form, but I knew who I was. I knew I was a part of everything, but I also had a sense of individual identity. I was filled with love and joy.
Then I heard some voices in the distance calling my name. My mother was crying and telling me to breathe. I knew I had to go back and chose to do so, despite looking toward the Light and begging to stay. Suddenly, I felt excruciating pain. People were hitting my back, trying to get me to breathe. I was taking air into my lungs and it hurt as much as taking water in had hurt when I drowned. I was angry about the pain. I was angry about having to be ‘born’ again. It hurt! To this day, when I get a massage on my back, that anger rises from my cell memories.
I was revived shortly after I drowned, but nothing was the same again. Something happened to me that I could not put into words. It was a ‘knowing’ that challenged my thoughts and beliefs for the rest of my life. I had vague memories of my drowning, but what happened after that defied my knowledge or experience as a child. I carried images and feelings in my heart that I knew were not memories and had very little to do with my physical experience.
I started meditating for long periods of time in a dark place. I lived in Hungary where many apartments had an inner and an outer door with a space of about two feet between them. I sat in this space in total silence with my doll. I felt at peace as I craved the familiar peace from my experience.
Another place I spent time was in front of a three-way mirror. If I tilted the mirrors at just the right angle, I could see many images of myself, the mirror, and my doll. I imagined the images seeing even more images. I wondered if there was an end to the images of me or an end to me, period. Instinctively, I knew there wasn’t. I became obsessed with infinity.
My infinity obsession did not stop in front of the mirror. When I started school, I asked my father to teach me how to multiply. Instead of two times two, however, my numbers were millions and zillions. He thought it was a rather odd request, but I assured him that I wanted to make him proud by getting the best marks in my class.
Although I lived in a communist country, I went to church and had weekly classes in religious education. A priest would come to our school or sometimes we went to a chapel. I loved these sessions because the priest read fascinating stories to us. His instruction was more spiritual than religious. I couldn’t get enough.
The priests were part of our community and we spent a lot of time with them. I challenged a young priest with constant questions. I asked things like ‘ how many buckets it would take to empty the oceans of the world’ or ‘how many steps I would have to climb on Jacob’s Ladder in order to reach Heaven.’ He, in turn, asked how long it would take me to figure out the mystery of the Holy Trinity. I told him I already knew that one. I knew because I had ‘experienced’ the answer. I no longer remembered how I knew, but that knowledge became my truth. I knew that I was a very powerful being, that I was a part of God, and that my Spirit would never die. I was Spirit in a human incarnation.
The church was just behind my home and on the way to my grandmother’s house. Each day, I went in either for mass, benediction, or just to meditate. I loved the smell of incense, the light of the candles, and the peaceful feeling I had when I sat in a pew next to a coffin that contained the remains of a saint. I felt safe there. Another place that brought me peace was the cemetery. I played there almost every day, visiting my baby uncle, aunt, and cousin’s graves. I would carry on conversations with them. The gravediggers knew me well and were amused by my many questions and insights.
I lived much of my life inside my head and created dreams for myself. I taught myself how to create my life. To this day, I feel at least partly responsible for the Hungarian Revolution. I wanted desperately to come to ‘Amerika,’ and I put a lot of desire and energy into that dream.
In the university, I studied English and philosophy. I found philosophy very disturbing because it asked me to question everything that finally made sense to me. I also recalled a ‘knowing’ that was buried deep inside. I didn’t comprehend what that was, because in those days, what happened to me was not written or talked about. I repressed it consciously, but it kept creeping into my life. For example, the final thesis I wrote for my English degree was called ‘The Intersection of Time and Eternity.’
I was almost 30 years old when I realized that I had had a near-death experience. It was a secret I carried inside me that was secret even from myself. Then one day, I saw a TV program about NDEs. From then on, I started devouring books on the subject. Suddenly, everything made sense. I understood why I perceived life in such a different way.
Once I realized that I had ‘died,’ I knew I could help take the fear from others who were facing this transition challenge. For a number of years, I was a hospice volunteer, helping people deal with their biggest fear. I put together prayers, readings, and music that I thought would make the process easier for those who were about to transition.