Q. How can a near death experience be viewed in the light of non-dual teachings?
A. Near death experiences blur the line between the physical and the mental. One moment, a person feels as though they have a physical body, or even that they are the physical body. In the next moment, the experience of the physical body goes away, and now the experience is of another kind of world. In this other kind of world, other bodies may be experienced. Are they mental ? Physical? What about the apparently solid ground that may exist in this other experience? Is it mental or physical?
What has happened is that the frame of reference has changed. The world that was previously surely physical that also had some mental experience in it has disappeared, apparently. So now a new baseline is established for what qualifies as mental and physical. Similarly, a new baseline for space has been established. Where is this near death like experience happening? In what kind of space? Is it another region of the same space previously experienced? Or is it a different kind of space entirely? Is it a mental space?
All of these questions suggest that the boundaries of previous experiences are cracking and breaking down. The boundary between the mental and physical is breaking down. The boundary between inner space and outer space is breaking down. The boundary between past and future is breaking down. In other words, multiplicities are breaking down. And dualities are breaking down. What remains is that which is not divided, cannot be divided, yet can be experienced as though divided. This is the non-dual. This is where all experience, whether near death experience or any other experience, eventually leads. That place from which the mind is born, unto which the mind returns, and about with the mind cannot truly speak.
Whether we are talking about near death like experience or the experience you and I are having now, the view of non-duality does not change. It is the polarity of experience – the experience of you and me, this and that – that non-duality suggests can be seen through. Near death type experiences can create a contrast and open windows to new views that facilitate this seeing.