From Chapter One:
Always, sudden changes, quantum leaps in physiology and consciousness, have catapulted the growth and development of humankind beyond that which can be explained. As "missing links" are still standard fare in trying to understand the evolution of our bodies, so, too, are there missing connectors in any attempt to rationalize the evolution of consciousness.
I have come to realize that what is involved in a transformation of consciousness, whether precipitated by the cataclysm of a near-death experience or a shamanic vision quest or a kundalini breakthrough or a baptism of the Holy Spirit, has all the markings of a structural, chemical, and functional change in the brain. This sudden change, sometimes akin to a quantum leap, flings the experiencer from one mode of existence to another--as if on cue. Social justice and moral integrity take on the vigor of "new light" when this occurs.
I call the phenomenon a brain shift/spirit shift, and I suspect that, because of the gravity of its aftereffects, such a shift is the engine that drives evolution--that which transforms, transmutes, and advances our species while triggering the development of the higher brain. This suspicion of mine is based on the interviews and observations I have conducted since 1978 with over 3,000 adult near-death experiencers (not counting the significant others I also spoke with), as well as research with nearly the same number of people during the middle sixties to the middle seventies who had undergone transformations of consciousness through other means. This research base was expanded by work with 277 child experiencers (about half still youngsters when we met, the rest having reached their teen or adult years).
Toneda Maxine McMillan, Oxon Hill, Maryland. NDE at age eleven, drowning. "I was on an inner tube in the water off a beach in Delaware. I had ventured out too far. My grandmother (who raised me, as I never lived with my siblings) motioned for me to come back to shore. I misjudged the depth. I stepped out of the inner tube and began to drown. I left my body. I could see myself in the water. I saw my grandmother trying to come and get me, and I saw my brother cut his left foot. Then I was in a very beautiful, peaceful, picturesque place like a meadow. I felt very loved. The colors were brilliant; they were nothing like I have ever seen before. There is simply no comparison--the yellows, greens--so very beautiful, so peaceful. At the time of my drowning, I was on a 'black beach,' so to speak. Delaware still was practicing segregation. I was told that two white men were on the beach at the time. These two men saved my life by pulling me to shore, then they simply disappeared. On the way to the hospital, when I asked my brother how his cut foot was doing, I was met with stony silence. He couldn't deal with the fact that I saw his accident while I was out of my body."
from Chapter 11:
The third millennium is quickly becoming a science-fiction world made fact.
Curiously, the vast majority of children rescued from death's finality by advanced technology have near-death experiences that prepare them for . . . advanced technology.
These kids aren't coming back as the dutiful fulfillments of their parents' dreams so much as, in their own unique way, the mountain movers of the twenty-first century. And don't breathe a sigh of relief that at last we have a generation of children who are courteous and civic minded. These youngsters are instilled with a sense of mission, and they are powerfully obsessed with a need to change things. This is their promise and their destiny. And they will insist upon the spirit-led worship and uncommon lifestyles that arise from having a personal relationship with God.
They are "imagineers," creative problem solvers rewired and reconfigured to make significant contributions to a society desperately in need of fresh new ideas. But it will take innovative and courageous adults to point the way.
The exceptional legacy of retired teacher Muriel Freifeld of Potomac, Maryland, gives us such a model. She experienced a near-death episode while stuck in the birth canal that infused her with a lifelong mission to educate children in ways that would empower them. She suffered frequent parental and sibling abuse as a youngster, but what hurt her the most was her inability to communicate her visions and her inner knowing. She was branded "stupid" and became suicidal. Her extremely high IQ wasn't recognized in time to prevent her rebelliousness, low grades, and school truancy. She "knew" her subjects but fumbled over the technicalities of how to format what she knew (the same situation faced by Bill of Atlanta, in chapter 3).
Once Muriel was an adult, she began the college track, did well in math, showed an unusual sensitivity to music, won many prizes in art, and excelled in the double major of psychology and early childhood development. Her career as an innovative teacher and later as founder of New Visions for Child Care, Inc., a project endorsed by the governor of Maryland, is exemplary. And, of her three children, two have become pioneering physicians in new surgical techniques and treatment of infectious diseases, and the other is a well-known southern artist. Muriel's life is an example of what can happen when the potential enhanced by a brain shift/spirit shift is unleashed, to the benefit of the many.
According to my research statistics, child experiencers of near-death states, like Muriel Freifeld, are showing us how to have long-lasting, healthy relationships and marriages; how to excel in work and succeed in spite of the stress from downsizing and layoffs; how to live simply, yet more enjoyably; how to have a meaningful, satisfying, and active life.