Reader’s comments

What readers say about ‘Consciousness beyond Life’

Dr Pim Van Lommel’s Consciousness beyond Life is an exciting informative and thorough overview of near-death experiences.  As one of the foremost experts in the field, his work moves us closer to rational comprehension of human kind’s deepest mystery– life after death. Raymond A. Moody MD, PhD author of Life After Life.


The initial emphasis on the NDE and the corresponding subtitle is “merely” a way to introduce the reader to what will really be the main subject in the book. The first part of the book for me was mostly familiar territory, but it is mapped out very well as it covers the main areas of NDE research, and the Dutch NDE study, as important as it was, occupies no more than a single chapter. Most books on NDEs only touch on some of the ideas that are presented, but the distinctive contribution of this book is that it presents and defends a complete theory of consciousness. It is the second portion of the book that represents the real achievement, and that part is brilliant.  This book is really about non-local consciousness, and, as such, it has a tremendous scope. To my mind, this book makes a impressive argument for a non-materialistic approach to consciousness and it should deserve a great deal of attention. It is very well written, and  the writing throughout is very lucid.  But I really just wanted to say here what an brilliant, erudite and magisterial book Van Lommel has produced. In brief, it is a magnificent achievement, clearly a landmark book. Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Psychology University of Connecticut

“The conventional view of consciousness is a rickety scaffold, clumsily constructed over the years by skimming off the top — accepting ideas that confirm age-old biases and ignoring those that do not.  In Consciousness Beyond Life, cardiologist Pim van Lommel constructs a model of consciousness that courageously builds on all we know.  The resulting view is that of nonlocal mind — mind infinite in space and time, mind connected and unitary, mind eternal and immortal.  This view is as bright and hopeful as the current materialistic view is dark and depressive.  And van Lommel’s view has the redeeming feature of being consistent with scientific data, which in our era makes all the difference.” Dr. Larry Dossey , MD.

In his book, Consciousness Beyond Life, cardiologist Pim van Lommel provides a substantive contribution to the field of consciousness in his in-depth presentation of documented results and theories of near death experiences and the relationship to consciousness. Deepak Chopra, MD.

“We have been confusing our radio receiver with the symphony on the air. When our receiver shots down, the symphony continues on the air, only it’s no longer manifest to our ear. Pim van Lommel shows that the symphony of human consciousness does continue and also remains accessible in the nonordinary states of consciousness that in our culture occur most frequently at the portals of death. His evidence is robust, and can no longer be ignored either by the science community, or by society at large.” Dr. Ervin Laszlo

Consciousness Beyond Life confronts head-on the apparent enigma of clear thinking, accurate perception, and enhanced memory in people who are clinically dead.  Dr. van Lommel examines the evidence for and against various scientific explanations, and shows convincingly that consciousness is not always confined to the brain.  This rigorous and provocative book may change our ideas about the mind and how we practice medicine.” Bruce Greyson, M.D. Carlson Professor of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

I highly recommend Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel’s ‘Consciousness beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience‘, just out this year.  He and his medical colleagues have studied NDEs for more than 20 years and this is an authoritative look, with solid medical background.  Van Lommel is convinced that NDEs are real experiences, not just some sort of brain malfunction. Dr. Charles T. Tart, Ph.D.

Glorious! This book is the quintessential treatise on NDE!  Van Lommel has magnificently stated all that we know and need to know.  This is the perfect, concisely written, scientific approach the subject needs.  I loudly applaud his challenge to science. Viva Tapper, Doctor of Nursing Science, Board Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner WA

Pim van Lommel is a Dutch cardiologist who has studied near-death experiences (NDE) for more than twenty years. In 2001 he published in The Lancet the results of one of the largest prospective studies that have been conducted up to now in this field. In Consciousness Beyond Life, which is a translation of a volume originally published in Dutch (Eindeloos Bewustzijn), he explains that he was impressed by the number of his patients who, after a cardiac arrest, reported having lived an ineffable experience, which was strikingly similar in most cases: the awareness of being dead; a profound feeling of peace and well-being; the sense of being placed outside time and space; the perception of one’s body from an outside position; the sense of travelling through a ‘tunnel’ towards an exceptionally brilliant and friendly light; the perception of an unconditional love; and a very detailed review of their whole lives. Some patients were even able to give a precise account of the conversations that took place, as they were still unconscious, between members of the medical team in the intensive care unit, or between relatives in the waiting room of the hospital. Interestingly, after such an experience, most patients’ personalities underwent a radical change: they lost any fear of death, began to have a heightened sense of purpose in their lives, and became more compassionate and caring with others. Van Lommel explains that he was specially intrigued by this phenomenon because, according to dominant medical concepts, it is absolutely impossible to experience any kind of consciousness when the circulation and breathing have ceased, the brain does not work any more, and the patient is clinically dead. In his book, he examines in detail the various physiological and psychological theories about the origin of NDE that have been proposed. Some think, for instance, that the experience is caused by physiological changes in the brain such as brain cells dying as a result of cerebral anoxia, or caused by release of endorphins. Others claim that NDE could be the result of a sort of hallucination caused by some drugs. Van Lommel discards these theories as they are unable to fully explain all the features that characterize this phenomenon. In his view, we must acknowledge that we are dealing here with something that seriously challenges the current (too narrow and mechanistic) view that sees consciousness as a mere product of brain function. His hypothesis is that, in reality, things are the other way round: the brain does not produce consciousness but rather facilitates it; the brain operates as an ‘‘interface’’ or ‘‘relay station’’ of our consciousness. He compares metaphorically the brain to a television’s receiver picking up information from an electromagnetic field. According to van Lommel, ‘‘whereas our waking consciousness has a biological basis because our body functions as an interface, there is no biological basis for our endless and nonlocal consciousness, which has its roots in nonlocal space. Waking consciousness is experienced via the body, but endless consciousness does not reside in our brain’’ (p. 318). Clearly, Van Lommel’s hypothesis puts into question the dominant understanding of the brain-consciousness relationship. If he is right in his analysis, we should begin to consider ourselves as something more than merely physical bodies, much more than the expression of a particular DNA or of a complex web of neuronal interaction, because the very core of our personhood has a non-material nature. Obviously, this conclusion has tremendous existential implications that go far beyond the limits of a merely academic debate. Whatever conclusions we might draw from this phenomenon, it seems well that it deserves to be seriously analyzed, and no more regarded as a taboo subject. Several empirical studies on NDE have been conducted in recent years showing the striking consistency of near death experience accounts across countries and cultures (see, for instance, the studies by Bruce Greyson in the US and by Sam Parnia in the UK). Van Lommel’s book is an important step in this direction and can perhaps contribute to a better explanation of the brain-consciousness relationship, and, maybe, of what it ultimately means to be a ‘‘self’’. Dr. Roberto Andorno, Institute of Biomedical Ethics, University of Zurich, Switzerland. Member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1998-2005). Since 2010: President-elect of the European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare. Med Health Care and Philos. (2011) 14: 345–350

‘Consciousness beyond Life’ is the most significant contribution to the field to appear in many years, containing as it does his mature philosophical reflections on the implications of the findings of his study on near-death experiences in survivors of cardiac arrest. David Lorimer, editor Network Review, Scientific and Medical Network

I have just finished reading “Consciousness Beyond Life” which was very enlightening and more inclusive than other NDE books I have read. George Fairfax MD

There have been several books published which explore consciousness, the near-death experience, or the brain, but van Lommel’s book is the most comprehensive I have yet found. Written for the average reader, it can also be understood by those educated in medicine or quantum physics as the author shows a continuity between consciousness during both life and death from a physician’s or scientist’s reference point. Consciousness Beyond Life is a book of hope. It raises awareness of the fact that human beings are something more than physical bodies. There is life after death. This topic is no longer a spiritual discussion only, but has been researched, studied, and verified as scientifically true. There are those of course who will always disagree, but even without scientific research, experience tells us different. Though I would recommend that this book be on the shelf of every Hospice and hospital in the world, especially in the West, I would also say that Consciousness Beyond Life should be required reading during one’s youth, perhaps during high school or college. Personally, I know several individuals who have died and returned to physical life while in the hospital. I also have sat with loved ones through deathbed visions until the end. For me, credibility is in the experience. For others, you must read a scientifically – based book. Read Consciousness Beyond Life and expand your mind with hope. Kelly Jad’on

Masterly. This is really the best book about NDE, and with the highest scientific level, that I ever read. A.B., MD.

This book was astounding. Using scientific evidence, Dr. van Lommel explores the near death experience in a non-biased fashion. Statistical evidence that span multiple cultures and countries support his research. Instead of answering questions about life after death, this book raises more questions that merit further research. Steph.

It is perhaps one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It is a beautiful and complete piece of work. And I presume there are many more who will agree with me. NN.

A very good book with much information. It is very well written with an open mind, and confronts us with hard facts about an invisible theme. It helps you to think over again about life and death. NN.

Restful and yet scientific. ‘Consciousness beyond Life‘ is a well written book, based on scientific ideas. Van Lommel refutes the current scepticism in a clarifying way, and also causes restful feelings in possible readers. Death is a historical phenomenon that has always intrigued mankind. By combining personal experiences with history, culture and science this book has become a fascinating synthesis. NN.

I have never experienced an NDE, but the mystery of what happens when the body dies, is to me one of – if not THE – greatest questions of humanity. I found the book, ‘Consciousness Beyond Life‘ to be so informative and comprehensive on the subject and I greatly respect the willingness of Pim van Lommel to take a stand against the dominate paradigm of materialist and reductionist science.  I feel so happy to think that I may see my friends and family again, after the brief journey of this life, and when so many are sceptical by default, it’s all the more refreshing to find someone of his brilliance who say’s ‘let’s keep an open mind about this!’ Arj B.

Excellent! Well written overview of the field of consciousness studies as related to NDE reports. The author has researched his area exhaustively and for the most part simplified his primary sources for a general reader without the technical background and jargon. Well worth the time spent reading. M.

A very good book with much information. It is very well written with an open mind, and confronts us with hard facts about an invisible theme. It helps you to think over again about life and death. NN.

Best Book I’ve Read on the Subject Yet. Well-researched. Makes you wonder. If you think death is the end after reading this you will not be so sure anymore. Well worth reading. Also makes you wonder whether the current criteria for declaring a patient “brain dead” might not be adequate. Could it be that we just do not have the sophisticated enough equipment to detect ALL brain activity. On the other hand seems to make a good argument for consciousness residing outside the brain and independent of it. P.

Excellent! Well written overview of the field of consciousness studies as related to NDE reports. The author has researched his area exhaustively and for the most part simplified his primary sources for a general reader without the technical background and jargon. Well worth the time spent reading. M.

This is the book I have been waiting for, Pim van Lommel is a major researcher of near death experiences, and this book should be read by everyone. N.N.

I just finished reading your book “Consciousness Beyond Life“. I must tell you that it was a powerful read for me coming on the heels of a death in my family. The strength of your arguments regarding the brains lack of a capability to provide a lucid consciousness during the NDE was overpowering. Thank you for your excellent book. G.L. [Greg Lapkoff]

As a near death experiencer I want to thank you for your research and new book on the subject. I have been trying for years to get others to take near death experiences seriously, but with little success. I believe your book will help main stream science understand there is more to this world than materialism. L.L.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Consciousness Beyond Life! Thank you for sharing your vision and insight. I so appreciate you presenting non-local consciousness from a scientific approach. I have pursued understanding based on experience of these levels since I was 19 years old. I’m now 57. Your approach confirms my experience, and my experience confirms your approach. Thank you again for offering people an expanded awareness through your excellent book.  Tom Walsh

I have been reading Consciousness Beyond Life and I wanted to let you know it is the best I have read on this topic. You have addressed so many questions, I have attempted to research on my own. You have really presented the material in an objective and scientific manner while breaking down complex ideas into easy concepts the average reader can understand.  Dawn Lien

Fantastic! I am writing to thank you for your recent book, Consciousness Beyond Life. Having nearly finished your book, I can say that I share many of your theories and ideas, though my process has been through intuition, independent study, and observation only. Reading your book with the science component has helped me tremendously on so many levels that I must thank you with my whole heart for the time, dedication and compassion that you have invested in uncovering, or at least furthering a relevant and useful conversation about the NDE within the medical community itself. On a personal level, I likewise have found great comfort and acknowledgment reading your book in that I have undergone two NDEs myself, and the uncovering of a latent memory of an NDE I had as a baby has put a great deal of my whole life into a new coherent perspective.  Djamil Graham