In life we also have a fear of nature. This fear manifests in our desire to control, dominate, and eliminate nature. Could there be a connection? Could our fear of death trigger our fear of nature?
Perhaps those who are best able to answer that question are people who have had a near-death experience (NDE).
For those who have had a NDE their fear of death afterwards reduces significantly with many studies into the phenomenon showing that post-NDE the incidence of people reporting they have no fear of death is well above 90%, often 100%. A ten-year longitudinal study in Holland during the 1990s found that after a NDE the fear of death dropped considerably in the first two years following the NDE, and continued to diminish as time went on. This wasn’t an initial response that then lessened, the lack of fear remained and heightened.1
A reduction in fear of death wasn’t the only change in people’s lives. Other changes occurred – primarily related to what they valued in life. Eight years after their NDE more than 80% of people reported that nature and the environment in their lives was of greater importance. Many regarded everything as connected, that there is a one-ness to life, with most recognising this unity for the first time in their lives.
Following their NDE people also found that they had a much greater desire to help others, empathy, and to show compassion, with more than 70% indicting these.
Other factors to increase significantly in people’s lives following a NDE included: a heightened sense of social justice, accepting of others, willingness to listen to others, and a greater understanding of life and oneself.
Interestingly too, following their NDE people’s appreciation of money and possessions dropped markedly, and the importance of a higher standard of living reduced significantly. The importance of ordinary things increased.
A further remarkable outcome of the study was that interest in spirituality increased greatly and, seemingly paradoxically, their church attendance and involvement with organised religion decreased significantly.
What Can This Teach Us Of Life?
If these changes come about after a NDE, then must we wait until we go through a near-death experience ourselves for this to happen?
There is certainly a correlation between a lack of fear of death and the changes in values for those experiencing a NDE. Perhaps then, it is our fear of death that is a driver for our fear of one another, our disconnect from nature, and our avaricious consumption of the Earth and what she provides?
What if we found a way to let go our fear of death? Perhaps a start would be to talk about death. We mostly do not talk about death until someone near us dies, and even then the conversations can often be simplistic, prejudiced, and brief.
Overcoming our fear of death may be the first, and essential, first step in healing ourselves and healing our planet.
1. This research is reported in the book: Pim van Lommel, M.D. Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience, HarperOne, New York, 2010. All subsequent statistics are also from this book.