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In 1950, I was born almost two months premature which, back then, was almost a death sentence. The result of that left me with a lifetime of physical issues that I have had to deal with.
One of these resulting conditions is that I have a heart arrhythmia where I could go into atrial fibrillation (A-FIB) at any moment. The result was that, when growing up, I could collapse at any time with my heart in arrhythmia. Over the years (it seemed like hundreds of times), my family would pick me up and rush me to the hospital. By the time we arrived at the emergency room my heart would be back in normal rhythm. This happened over and over again each time my heart went out of normal rhythm. The doctors were always baffled because I seemed to be perfectly normal by the time I was examined. By the time I reached my teens, the arrhythmia had calmed down and I lived a fairly normal life at that point.
By my early twenties, I became a professional touring musician performing throughout most of the East Coast, from Florida to Connecticut and the Bahamas. At age twenty-seven, I had signed a contract to work for a recording artist whose home base was in Macon, Georgia. So my wife and I moved to Georgia where I began working for the country recording star. By age twenty-eight, my wisdom teeth finally decided to come in, so I scheduled a visit with a local dentist who said he could remove them. When it came time for my dental visit, to my horror, I discovered that he was going to just give me the usual numbing shots for the surgery instead of anesthesia.
He assured me that everything would be fine, so I agreed to the surgery. As he began trying to extract my wisdom teeth, he discovered just how deep the roots were and decided to try to split the teeth in half first and then pull them. About this time, despite the Novocain shots, the pain was getting increasingly intolerable. It was at that time I felt my heart begin to act up and go into arrhythmia, which can happen with me when I experience extreme pain or stress.
What seemed like a moment later, all of a sudden, I was not in my body any more. I was up near the ceiling looking down at the dentist and the nurse. As I looked around, I could see the other rooms in the dentist office almost like there was no ceiling. I could look at several rooms at the same time. In the waiting room I could see my wife reading a magazine. By now the dentist had stopped trying to pull my teeth and was starting to shake me and slap me, screaming at me to wake up. The nurse was also very stressed out and was trying to help the dentist revive me.
For me, everything seemed perfectly normal and calm. I was feeling no pain. Everything seemed just fine to me. When I glanced back toward where my wife was sitting, I saw that she had put down her magazine and was acting stressed. I guess she could hear the dentist slapping and screaming at me. What I did not know at that time was that I have a condition called “sudden arrhythmic death syndrome”, or SADS. My heart can suddenly stop for anywhere from a few seconds up to a minute or more and then restart on its own. This happened again over a dozen times throughout my later twenties up through my early thirties and beyond.
After what seemed like several minutes (but probably was less than a minute) my heart restarted, and I found myself back in my body feeling horrible from the pain of the surgery and from what the dentist had done to me trying to restart my heart.
At first, I did not remember the event. I knew something had happened while I was out but did not understand it. Over time, I began to remember the event but still did not know what it was. Back in 1978, nobody ever talked about a “near death experience!”
As I stated earlier, my heart stopped several more times, with other stressful events in my life. It stopped twice when I was in various intensive care units for my arrhythmia and it was documented that my heart stopped and restarted itself on its own, completely baffling the doctors and nurses.
The other times my heart has stopped, I remember being in a dark room with no light. I was fully alert, aware of my surroundings and my senses were 100% but the space was pitch black with no light. I felt like I was floating and completely at ease.
This is a story of one person who was covered by the dark shadow of his own arrogance, disobedience, fear, sins and weakness. On top of these personal struggles, he also lived through the Vietnam War, rebuilt a new life in the United States, and believed he was the master of his own fate and destiny! At the age of 30 he thought he had everything under control and this blind ambition literally led him on a collision course with the truth. On Good Friday, April 13, 1990, he met his fate in a head-on car crash that claimed three lives. After this near-death experience (NDE), he began a journey of spiritual transformation, and became an effective witness of God’s grace and love.
God sent one soul to Vietnam, a small country where people suffered from poverty and wars throughout its history. I came into this world on April 9, 1960. At that point, the internal struggle between North and South Vietnam has become an international conflict between powerful world leaders such as China, Russia and the United States of America.
Although I lived in the middle of a war, my parents tried their best to keep me safe. They did everything humanly possible to shield me from the horrors of war so I could have an innocent, happy and peaceful childhood.
My father was a fighter pilot and it was his job to provide air support and protect the ground troops. He also knew he always has another Higher Power who gives him air cover from the heaven above!
I remember one time many years ago when I briefly asked my father about the living conditions in the United States, because he has been there many times for his fighter pilot training with the U.S. Air Force and Boeing 727 commercial pilot training with Boeing. My father told me, “In the future, when you go to America you must remember these two values: Hard Work and Trustworthiness. If you have these two values then you will do fine in America.” When we came to America in 1975, I kept his advice and did my best to work hard and be trustworthy.
On April 22, 1975 my father arranged for my mother and three of us to go to the United States on a World Airways flight. We watched the Fall of Saigon on television from California and realized we actually lost everything.
First Vietnamese refugees in Kirkland, WA.
However, we were very fortunate to survive the war and had to rebuild our lives from scratch in a new country. We had to learn and adapt to the new culture, language and social environment. I was almost deaf and mute during my first year in high school because I knew very little English.
Eventually, I harvested the fruits of hard work and trustworthiness. By 1990, I had a good job as a Sr. Applications Engineer in the Silicon Valley and met my fiancée who was a Sr. Accountant for another computer company.
I was at the highest point of my life. I had a promising career and a bright future.
At that point, I believed I was the master of my destiny and nobody could change it. I worked hard and planned the wedding in December 1990.
That was the path I set and it was my plan
We had a day off on Good Friday, April 13, 1990. We decided to go to Carmel and Monterey. We took off from San Jose in the morning and arrived at Carmel around noon. We spent the day walking around the town, sitting on the beach in Carmel and dining in Monterey. We returned back to San Jose that night. I remember turning over to look at my fiancée and catching her smile. I turned back and suddenly saw the headlights. It was a horrific head-on collision and miraculously I was the sole survivor. I had a near-death experience because I saw my fiancée going toward a bright light and I just followed her. But as she entered this bright light, she turned around and told me, "You cannot come because you still have something to do!" After she said it, I immediately felt the heaviness and found myself in pain with blood on my body. I saw her resting on the passenger-side dashboard. I reached over and brought her back on the chair. She did not have any wound and it seemed that she was alright. Later, when one ambulance arrived I told the paramedics to take her first, and I would wait for the next one. After the second ambulance brought me to the hospital, the ER doctor came to tell me that there was nothing they could do to save my fiancée because she suffered a massive brain injury. I was totally numb as I heard what he said and could not register how to react to this devastating news. My brain and heart froze at that moment. I collapsed as I lost the will to live. I was a living corpse who was breathing but there was no life inside. I was laying in the dark and cold emergency room feeling totally hopeless and lost. Suddenly, I heard a loud voice saying, "Con dự tính, Ta định đoạt!" which means "You plan things, I make things happen!" Instantly, this Vietnamese proverb appeared in my head: "Mưu sự tại nhân, thành sự tại thiên" and it means "Man proposes, God disposes." At that moment, I realized I was hearing God's voice and I made a vow to follow His will because He gave me a second chance on earth.
The pain was so deep and excruciating just like somebody who cut open and ripped my heart out. This is as close as I can describe the feeling with words, and I know only those who actually experienced it would be able to understand the magnitude of the pain.
At that time we did not put on the seatbelts. It was a miracle that I survived, let alone walking out without any serious injuries. My chest could be crushed by the steering wheel because the airbag was not deployed. My right knee was cut as I hit against the shift stick but it was not broken. I was told by the police that one contact lens was still on the windshield. So, my eyes were opened as I hit the windshield. It happened so fast that I did not even blink and I literally knew the meaning of this phrase: "In the blink of an eye everything changes!" This powerful reminder did not only make an impact that changed my life since that night, it actually became my Reset Switch. Since then, whenever I am in a hopeless situation or encounter impossible odds or face imminent threats, I would replay this reminder in my mind again. Consequently, I just follow the Lord’s command by making plans based on my current circumstance as well as my limited knowledge, and observe how He makes things happen.
When I was in the spiritual realm, I realized that I no longer had any physical senses because I did not have the hands to touch, the nose to smell, the tongue to taste, the ears to listen, and the eyes to see. Amazingly, all of these senses became one. I know it is very difficult to describe this and only somebody who actually had been in a NDE would understand. The best way I can explain is to refer to the concept of Ultra Sensory Channel (USC). The soul has this USC to detect and feel everything. Using the computer example, the soul is just like a system that has full access to the data structure. But when this soul enters a physical body, it has to plug-in and utilize the local sensory devices such as the ears, eyes, nose, tongue, and skin to access the data I/O. Within this framework, the soul can access various pieces of the data structure in the format of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. So, this soul no longer has the USC and it has to rely on the Limited Sensory Channel (LSC). For example, the naked eye can detect something it can see and if an object is too tiny then it would not be visible. The naked eye does not see all the bacteria or living organisms flying in the air, but they are present. The human ear can detect sound within a certain frequency, but there is a spectrum of data transmission that is out of its range. When a soul is still attached to its body, it has to operate within the capacities of the host’s LSC. After being discharged from the hospital, I had to stay in my brother's house because my mother was not able to take care of me. During my sleep one night, I suddenly found myself walking up toward a palace and from a distance I could see a throne inside. I approached the gate and there was a being who resembled an Elder of the Royal Court. He greeted me and led me into the palace. As we walked toward the main chamber with the throne in the middle, I noticed there were other Elders and the total number were 24. I came to the throne and there was a bright Light with such a powerful presence that I could not dare to look up. I knelt down and felt a great sense of deep respect. This Elder said I was summoned here to have an opportunity to take an assignment. The voice from the throne asked me if I would volunteer to be an effective witness of God’s grace and love. It was not a question in the form of words as we normally get on earth. The question came to me as a package of data that contains the conditions, instructions, and previews so I knew exactly what I signed up for. I was given a book in which I could interpret it as the Scripture that I would be using as a reference. But later I also realized that it is a journal or written record of what I gather on my earthly journey as a witness of God’s grace and love. I accepted this assignment. Afterwards, I prayed and asked for a sign of approval. With my Vietnamese cultural background, I asked for the symbolic King’s Sword (or Commander’s Sword) as a sign of God’s authority. To my surprise, a close friend came to visit and gave me a beautiful Cross. She told me she happened to see this Cross and felt she had to get it for me. I carry this Cross with me everywhere.
At the point of impact, right after seeing the two headlights I suddenly noticed my fiancée in front so I followed her. It was a sensation of floating up towards a Light. When we came near this Light, she turned around and said I must return back because I still have something to do. I was in front of a Light source, and it can be described as the powerful presence of the Most High. I did not feel fear, but I felt a strong sense of deep respect. My description of the Light is the closest because it is not possible to fully capture this experience with human words. When I faced this Light, it was not the blinding brightness. Most of us would refer to the bright Light that gives a sense of comfort and peace. In my case, this Light is a combination of authority, compassion, joy, peace, wisdom; just like a rainbow is a combination of blue, red, violet, yellow, and so on.
Since I came from a military family, I use the example of a scenario in the Second World War. Let us imagine a soldier in the Normandy beach landing unit who is summoned by Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. Every soldier in the invasion force knew Gen. Eisenhower. When this soldier enters the Command Post, he is overwhelmed by the deep respect as he gives a salute and feels honored to meet the general in person. There was no fear because he was following orders with confidence and courage. Similarly, when a soul is in the Light or God’s Presence, there is a sense of love and respect because all of us are His children.
Although I had a profound NDE, I still struggled with the emotional wound and psychological trauma. In my book, The Art of Resiliency, I described the low point when I could not take it anymore and attempted to leave this world.
After the accident, I fell deeper into despair, isolation, pain, and suffering. I hit bottom and decided to take my life. I went through a series of serious suicidal ideations. At first, I thought about driving off the cliff, but a thought came to me—God could easily save me from that crash just as He had done, so I stopped. Then I planned to let the sea take me, but the idea of God sending somebody to rescue me came to my mind, and I had to find another way. On the third attempt, I decided to take a lot of pills and sit in the car with the engine running in my garage. As I was about to start the car, my fiancée appeared and said, “You don’t love me! You’re so selfish!” I was puzzled by the vision. Then I saw the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Just think of all the hard work and sacrifice I have gone through to give you another chance to be my instrument. Why do you give up so easily?” After this message, my mind was clear and my heart was at peace. I began to focus totally on the purpose that God has kept me here for.
I refer to the ability of accessing the data structure because there are cases in which “special access key” was given to a certain individual, and this person can see or hear what ordinary people cannot. For example, St. Bernadette saw and talked to the Lady at Lourdes although the crowd could not see nor hear anything. At Fatima, three children, Lucia, Francesco and Jacinta saw and talked to the Lady in front of thousands of people who could not see anything but acknowledged that there was a presence. We also have many reports from the physicians or nurses who took care of dying patients, and these patients shared that they could see their deceased family members before passing on. From this perspective, these spiritual beings are around us but we cannot see nor hear them with our body’s LSC, unless we have the “authorization key” to access deeper levels of the data structure. On my journey, I have learned that the Opening of our Intuitive Potential is one of many ways to obtain this “authorization key” in order to enhance our data access abilities.
When I entered and recognized the spiritual realm, this NDE data was recorded in my subconscious memory. In a sense, this place or spiritual address is stored permanently in my soul’s GPS database! As a result, there is no longer a fear of death. When I finish my assignments here on earth, I just need to retrieve this spiritual address from my memory and be there. Based on my experience, the way we navigate in the spiritual dimension is with our thought. The closest description I can use is the dream we have when we sleep. For example, in your dream you were walking along the beach and enjoying the sun and the breeze. Suddenly the sound of the alarm woke you up and you were back in the cold and rainy night. However, in your mind you can still recall the dream and be right back to this beautiful beach again. This is one of the reasons why some religions teach us to think of heavens or detach from the worldly ties or focus on a guide such as the Buddha or Christ or Divine Being at the moment of death so our soul can depart peacefully. It is not easy when we have many unresolved issues with ourselves, family members, society, and so on. The feelings of anger, hatred, greed, guilt, pain, power, selfishness or torment completely take over and we lay there taking the last breath with these thoughts as the last address or destination where our soul is going. In this state, we send our soul into an infinite loop and there is no way out because the only data available is about anger, hatred, greed, guilt, pain, power, selfishness or torment.
I was overwhelmed by the strong waves of the deep pain that was piercing and tearing my heart. This intense internal trauma took over me to a degree that my body, which is the external shell, was completely shut down. At that moment, I was totally numb and could not feel anything. Several weeks later, I asked the Lord to share and let me experience the pain He went through on the cross. That night, I had a vivid dream of being condemned and crucified on the cross. The weight of the body, the pain of the outstretched arms as well as the nailed wrists, and the struggle to breathe were some of the tortures as I was hanging there to die slowly. But I noticed the external pain was not as bad as the internal one. In fact, I compared the external with the internal pain and realized that it was so insignificant or nothing. The Lord showed me the different pain levels. The pain of losing someone we love dearly outweighs the physical injuries or wounds inflicted on the body. The Lord explained to me about the magnitude of the pain I feel as a result of the loss of a loved one. If I multiply it by the millions or billions of the souls He dearly loves, then I can understand the beating, lashing, crown of thorns and nailing to the cross would be insignificant. Naturally, those injuries and tortures would be excruciatingly painful to the physical body. However, the emotional wounds and mental tortures are far more devastating or impactful than the physical pain.
It took me more than thirty years to realize that everything happens according to the Divine Plan. One day the Lord gave me a vision of a giant chess board that covers the entire universe with the pieces of the galaxies, stars, planets, countries, families and living creatures. All of these pieces are moving in sync with the movement of the entire system. We can imagine how one move on the chess board will affect the other pieces and it may ultimately change the outcome of the game! During the first few months after the accident, I was very angry and showed serious resentment toward God because He did not give me 1 second to save both of us. I knew God could easily prevent the accident in less than 1 second, but He did not. I totally ignored my own arrogance and ego when more than a week ago I declared that I am the master of my destiny and nobody can change my fate! Just as a loving and wise parent would do, God allowed me to express my anger, emotions, pain and sorrow.
The accident happened so fast that in one second my life changed forever. After the accident, I often put this one-second time slice under the microscope to realize that within each and every one-trillionth of a millisecond God could have tweaked any one of them to prevent the accident just as He did on many other incidents to save me. But He did not on that fateful day! The Lord broadens my perspective when He reveals the same one-second time slice that involves the two men who were drunk and their souls were on a collision course to awaken my soul. It was also a miracle that they could drive because they were very intoxicated. Actually, it was the driver’s soul who took over the wheel to reach his destiny.
More than sixty years ago God sent my soul down to a war-torn country. I learned and adapted to the chaotic and turbulent environments in Vietnam. After migrating to the United States, I worked hard to be in control of my path of a promising career and bright future. But on the night of April 13, 1990, God had to summon me back to His office because of my arrogance. After this fatal head-on collision, I remember the police officers were saying with the level of blood alcohol they could not see how these two men could even get in the car, let alone drive it to the freeway. Now, I clearly heard God’s voice saying, “I was in control and they were meant to meet you that night!”
Nobody can write such an amazing story or plan such an incredible journey with so many twists-and-turns or ups and downs. There are some people who are “awakened” and have experienced the work of God’s invisible hands in their lives. When they are in the middle of the rough storms or difficult situations, they remember how God’s hands guided them in the past and faithfully endure through those challenging seasons. The Lord had to “slap me awake” and I can never forget staring at the two headlights on that fateful night of April 13, 1990. There are people who are still asleep and they are constantly under the dark shadow of confusion, doubt, fear, or uncertainty. For this reason, I try my best to share what I have learned from my NDE and the most important aspect of it is the post-NDE impact that transformed me spiritually. We are living in a very challenging and turbulent time where many people are affected by fear, hatred, greed, injustice, pain, sickness, violence, and so on. In a sense, we are facing a dark and powerful storm that totally disrupts our emotions as well as our minds, and threatens our lives. We need to share our knowledge and encourage one another in order to stand firm and endure.
In late January 2021, my wife and I were watching a comedy on TV as we drank cups of tea. While in the midst of swallowing a mouthful, I burst out laughing at a particular remark which left me helplessly choking. My wife tried to assist me as I coughed and choked, fighting for breath. After perhaps two minutes of this distress, I suddenly found myself facing a light grey colour, like in a mist. Immediately I felt an immense euphoria - it was ecstasy - it was a bliss which continued until the end of my NDE. (I thought later that if I experienced that bliss while in my earthly body, I would be immobile on the floor, looking at the ceiling).
I now had no awareness of my body or my choking, but was very aware that I retained my individuality. I was still 'me.' But I did feel different in that I felt lighter, 'more expanded,' and 'more knowledgeable,' though I did not know what knowledge this referred to. I also remember thinking that, compared to this new existence, our lives on earth are 'heavy,' like walking in treacle.
Then the 'mist' cleared and I found myself in an immense plain which stretched as far as I could see. I didn't see anyone or any objects, but sensed that there were a lot of people on this plane who were engaged in many activities. I sensed that this was an interesting place but could gather no more information. I also felt that I was 'Home.' Without being told by anyone, I felt that I belonged here.
Then I was aware of a Being / an intelligent Force who was looking at me from about 20 meters away. I felt this Being knew me and, to my surprise, was interested in me. Simultaneously, I was staggered by the power of this Being. I was in absolute awe because this power seemed to extend forever. I was in no way intimidated but was staggered by this power. I did not think of the word 'God' - it was a Force, an Intelligence which was accepting of me and had awe-inspiring, immense power.
Then I immediately re-entered my body and was again aware of my choking, but gradually was able to clear my lungs. The entire NDE incident would have lasted no more than a minute but the effect remains with me six months later and I imagine my life will never be the same. I now have no fear or anxiety about death. For me death will be a doorway to ecstasy and Home.