I was 10 years old in 1981. My parents had just gotten a divorce and now mom was trying to pick up the pieces. Being the adventurous type, she liked to take my six year old brother and I on hikes in the mountains and day trips to the beach, when she could get the time off work.

On this day, it was one of those in early autumn. We drove up the scenic coastal Highway 101 from Los Angeles to Malibu in her “Vega Beast,” although the car didn’t seem to embarrass her in the least. She even brought along a first time date to join the fun. I remember he had wavy blonde hair and a strong chin, although he wasn’t very tall. It is strange to remember a perfect stranger on a day like this.

It was nearing sunset when we arrived at Zuma Beach. A slight breeze blew off the ocean as wispy clouds idled by in the milky blue sky. The beach didn’t have any other visitors for miles around, it seemed. We played some games in the sand. Before long I decided to put my feet in the water. The Pacific felt surprisingly like bathwater in contrast to the slight chill from the breeze against my skin. But the surf didn’t crash and roll onto the sand as usual. Oddly enough, there wasn’t any real white water to speak of. I recall it being soupier, like tipping a soup bowl back and forth and swishing it around.

Our little group stayed reasonably close as we frolicked in the shallows, up to our knees in water. It really felt good and I wanted to go in deeper, even if I didn’t have any extra clothes to change into. I was about six or seven feet farther out than the others, now up to my thighs, when I felt an undertow of current pull on me. I didn’t resist and stepped forward, only to find that there wasn’t any ocean floor to steady me! Suddenly, I was swallowed up and sucked down into a vacuum of swirling water where I couldn’t touch the bottom anymore. I rolled upside down, round and round as if I were trapped in a washing machine, before being slammed against the sea bottom face-first. To my utter shock and surprise, Zuma Beach had zoom zoomed, IE crash-landed me into an unseen sandbar! Before I could react, the unimaginable happened.

In a blink of an eye, my whole point of view distinctly changed. As abruptly as I became a dizzy, unfocussed mess of chaos underwater, now I found myself floating calmly above my body, invisible and in a state of hyper-awareness. I was positioned about one story high above my body with remarkable and instantaneous ability to see panoramic, 360 views of the surrounding areas and the horizon. I could see everything all at once, like an all-seeing eye with only the desire needed to focus on any one specific thing. It was as though I could see through dozens of eyes wrapped around my head like a crown. But I had no form, no shape, and no color. I saw through myself like I was just air.

I focused on the body below as it continued to be pummeled by the water rather turbulently, and I realized it was mine. I felt like I owned it as a child owns a novelty toy; to be played with and easily discarded. However, I didn’t remember who the people were standing around the perimeter of the body. And it didn’t matter to me at all. I could care less who they were. In fact, there was no emotional connection to my body, or to my mom and brother. I doubt I would have cared about them even if I had remembered who they were at that moment. I remember feeling such acute amusement towards my body, watching it flap around like a piece of meat being ripped apart by some hungry animal.

I had total and complete amnesia about my 10 years of mortal life lived on earth. I couldn’t even recall the language I spoke, nor did I need it to form intelligent thoughts and opinions about what I perceived. I could reason and think using concepts and abstract ideas.

To explain the emotional state I was experiencing outside of my body is most difficult. There was such a “disconnect” from the memories of my life; but truth be known, I felt more alive and energized than ever before. Not only did I exist outside of earth’s gravitational pull, but the freedom from gravity and the emotional buoyancy, the carefree weightlessness of soul was almost indescribable.

It was weightless in more than one way. I was acutely aware of being weightless from all the cares and concerns that living within a linear dimension produces. I was literally “off the grid.” There were no ties to other people, no promises to be kept, no guilt from “sin” or failing to live up to some standard, no pressure to perform or learn how to conform to a society, no need to go to school or work, no need for acceptance, food or basic human needs for survival. I cannot adequately describe how being separated from those burdens made me feel. Without being yoked to those unspoken worldly weights, my reality was profoundly affected. It brought me such…ELATION!!! I was inflated with elation and wanted to fly away like a balloon up to the clouds. That was my last thought before being slammed back into the body 25 seconds later (time according to mom).

All the colors of the sky--the sunlight as it bathed the Malibu hillside, the clouds reflecting twilight oranges, reds, pinks and purples, gold and dusty browns, the color of the sea in all its wondrous hues of blues and greens, the sand on the beach, the cars on the highway, even the colors of the bushes, palms and trees---were all magnified, more crisply acute to me during those timeless moments, more than ever before and even ever since. The audio sensation was a part of the experience, but in a much less dramatic way. It seemed much less important to hear what was going on around me rather than to see it all.

With a child-like playfulness of spirit, I made the decision to depart the scene and go upwards. I didn’t see any “tunnel,” nor were there angels beckoning my soul to heaven. In fact there were no other spirits to witness, but then again I hadn’t left this dimension yet either. In the split millisecond before I zoomed away, I heard a terrible shrill scream erupt from my mom. She screamed my name out. And in an instant, I found myself back inside my drowning body.

My lungs were on fire. My head pounded against the sandbar’s shelf and my body felt like dead weight, anchored to the ocean floor. Instinctively, I dug my fingers into the sand and crawled blindly in the swirling, wet chaos. Then the water seemed to recede enough for my head to surface. My mom screamed again as she saw my head come up and she waded over to help me up. Five minutes later, as I laid on the sand trying to compose myself, I began to weep uncontrollably.

At 10 years old, I experienced an epiphany. Now I knew it as a fact that there is life after death. I had already learned and heard about the human spirit through my parents’ religion, Scientology. What a wonder! There is part of humanity that can live independently of, dare I say thrive outside of the flesh, outside of time, and never die. I made an oath to myself there on that twilit beach. I would never come back and live inside a body again, “IF” I had any choice in the matter.

Now I am 40 and my life has never been the same. That experience confirmed my eternity. However, it also opened up a “Pandora’s Box” to so many other unanswered questions that I now look to my faith for. I cannot be satisfied with the religious status quo. A belief system, a world-view acquired solely through people, society and literature does not satisfy me. There is too much at stake. My eternity and where I will spend it is just as important to me as my present life here on earth. Or perhaps even more so now that I intimately KNOW my consciousness does not just fade away or black out after physical death.