Before his near-death experience, Rev. Howard Storm, a Professor of Art at Northern Kentucky University, was not a very pleasant man. He was an avowed atheist and was hostile to every form of religion and those who practiced it. He often would use rage to control everyone around him and he didn’t find joy in anything. Anything that wasn’t seen, touched, or felt, he had no faith in. He knew with certainty that the material world was the full extent of everything that was. He considered all belief systems associated with religion to be fantasies for people to deceive themselves with. Beyond what science said, there was nothing else.
On June 1, 1985, at the age of 38, Howard Storm had a near-death experience due to a perforation of the stomach and his life was forever changed. His near-death experience is one of the most profound, if not the most profound, afterlife experience I have ever documented. His life was so immensely changed after his near-death experience that he resigned as a professor and devoted his time to attending the United Theological Seminary to become a United Church of Christ minister. The following is the account of Pastor Howard Storm’s near-death experience, which is an excerpt from his book, My Descent Into Death, reprinted by permission.
[Howard Storm was in intense agony and dying.]
Struggling to say goodbye to my wife, I wrestled with my emotions. Telling her that I loved her very much was as much of a goodbye as I could utter because of my emotional distress.
Sort of relaxing and closing my eyes, I waited for the end. This was it, I felt. This was the big nothing, the big blackout, the one you never wake up from, the end of existence. I had absolute certainty that there was nothing beyond this life – because that was how really smart people understood it.
While I was undergoing this stress, prayer or anything like that never occurred to me. I never once thought about it. If I mentioned God’s name at all it was only as a profanity.
For a time there was a sense of being unconscious or asleep. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but I felt really strange, and I opened my eyes. To my surprise I was standing up next to the bed, and I was looking at my body laying in the bed.
My first reaction was, “This is crazy! I can’t be standing here looking down at myself. That’s not possible.”
This wasn’t what I expected, this wasn’t right. Why was I still alive? I wanted oblivion. Yet I was looking at a thing that was my body, and it just didn’t have that much meaning to me.
Now knowing what was happening, I became upset. I started yelling and screaming at my wife, and she just sat there like a stone. She didn’t look at me, she didn’t move – and I kept screaming profanities to get her to pay attention. Being confused, upset, and angry, I tried to get the attention of my room-mate, with the same result. He didn’t react.
I wanted this to be a dream, and I kept saying to myself, “This has got to be a dream.”
But I knew that it wasn’t a dream. I became aware that strangely I felt more alert, more aware, more alive than I had ever felt in my entire life. All my senses were extremely acute. Everything felt tingly and alive. The floor was cool and my bare feet felt moist and clammy. This had to be real. I squeezed my fists and was amazed at how much I was feeling in my hands just by making a fist.
Then I heard my name. I heard, “Howard, Howard – come here.”
Wondering, at first, where it was coming from, I discovered that it was originating in the doorway. There were different voices calling me.
I asked who they were, and they said, “We are here to take care of you. We will fix you up. Come with us.”
Asking, again, who they were, I asked them if they were doctors and nurses.
They responded, “Quick, come see. You’ll find out.”
As I asked them questions they gave evasive answers. They kept giving me a sense of urgency, insisting that I should step through the doorway.
With some reluctance I stepped into the hallway, and in the hallway I was in a fog, or a haze. It was a light-colored haze. It wasn’t a heavy haze. I could see my hand, for example, but the people who were calling me were 15 or 20 feet ahead, and I couldn’t see them clearly. They were more like silhouettes, or shapes, and as I moved toward them they backed off into the haze. As I tried to get close to them to identify them, they quickly withdrew deeper into the fog. So I had to follow into the fog deeper and deeper.
These strange beings kept urging me to come with them.
I repeatedly asked them where we were going, and they responded, “Hurry up, you’ll find out.”
They wouldn’t answer anything. The only response was insisting that I hurry up and follow them.
They told me repeatedly that my pain was meaningless and unnecessary. “Pain is bullshit,” they said.
I knew that we had been traveling for miles, but I occasionally had the strange ability to look back and see the hospital room. My body was still there lying motionless on the bed. My perspective at these times was as if I were floating above the room looking down. It seemed millions and millions of miles away. Looking back into the room, I saw my wife and my room-mate, and I decided they had not been able to help me so I would go with these people.
Walking for what seemed to be a considerable distance, these beings were all around me. They were leading me through the haze. I don’t know how long. There was a real sense of timelessness about the experience. In a real sense I am unaware of how long it was, but it felt like a long time – maybe even days or weeks.
As we traveled, the fog got thicker and darker, and the people began to change. At first they seemed rather playful and happy, but when we had covered some distance, a few of them began to get aggressive. The more questioning and suspicious I was, the more antagonistic and rude and authoritarian they became. They began to make jokes about my bare rear end which wasn’t covered by my hospital dicky and about how pathetic I was. I knew they were talking about me, but when I tried to find out exactly what they were saying they would say, “Shhhhh, he can hear you, he can hear you.”
Then, others would seem to caution the aggressive ones. It seemed that I could hear them warn the aggressive ones to be careful or I would be frightened away.
Wondering what was happening, I continued to ask questions, and they repeatedly urged me to hurry and to stop asking questions. Feeling uneasy, especially since they continued to get aggressive, I considered returning, but I didn’t know how to get back. I was lost. There were no features that I could relate to. There was just the fog and a wet, clammy ground, and I had no sense of direction.
All my communication with them took place verbally just as ordinary human communication occurs. They didn’t appear to know what I was thinking, and I didn’t know what they were thinking. What was increasingly obvious was that they were liars and help was farther away the more I stayed with them.
Hours ago, I had hoped to die and end the torment of life. Now things were worse as I was forced by a mob of unfriendly and cruel people toward some unknown destination in the darkness. They began shouting and hurling insults at me, demanding that I hurry along. And they refused to answer any question.
Finally, I told them that I wouldn’t go any farther. At that time they changed completely. They became much more aggressive and insisted that I was going with them. A number of them began to push and shove me, and I responded by hitting back at them.
A wild orgy of frenzied taunting, screaming and hitting ensued. I fought like a wild man. All the while it was obvious that they were having great fun.
It seemed to be, almost, a game for them, with me as the center-piece of their amusement. My pain became their pleasure. They seemed to want to make me hurt – by clawing at me and biting me. Whenever I would get one off me, there were five more to replace the one.
By this time it was almost complete darkness, and I had the sense that instead of there being twenty or thirty, there were an innumerable host of them. Each one seemed set on coming in for the sport they got from hurting me. My attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began to physically humiliate me in the most degrading ways. As I continued to fight on and on, I was aware that they weren’t in any hurry to win. They were playing with me just as a cat plays with a mouse. Every new assault brought howls of cacophony. Then at some point, they began to tear off pieces of my flesh. To my horror I realized I was being taken apart and eaten alive, slowly, so that their entertainment would last as long a possible.
At no time did I ever have any sense that the beings who seduced and attacked me were anything other than human beings. The best way I can describe them is to think of the worst imaginable person stripped of every impulse to do good. Some of them seemed to be able to tell others what to do, but I had no sense of any structure or hierarchy in an organizational sense. They didn’t appear to be controlled or directed by anyone. Basically they were a mob of beings totally driven by unbridled cruelty and passions.
During our struggle I noticed that they seemed to feel no pain. Other than that they appeared to possess no special non-human or super-human abilities.
Although during my initial experience with them I assumed that they were clothed, in our intimate physical contact I never felt any clothing whatsoever.
Fighting well and hard for a long time, ultimately I was spent. Lying there exhausted amongst them, they began to calm down since I was no longer the amusement that I had been. Most of the beings gave up in disappointment because I was no longer amusing, but a few still picked and gnawed at me and ridiculed me for no longer being any fun. By this time I had been pretty much taken apart. People were still picking at me, occasionally, and I just lay there all torn up, unable to resist.
Exactly what happened was … and I’m not going to try and explain this. From inside of me I felt a voice, my voice, say, “Pray to God.”
My mind responded to that, “I don’t pray. I don’t know how to pray.”
This is a guy lying on the ground in the darkness surrounded by what appeared to be dozens if not hundreds and hundreds of vicious creatures who had just torn him up. The situation seemed utterly hopeless, and I seemed beyond any possible help whether I believed in God or not.
The voice again told me to pray to God. It was a dilemma since I didn’t know how. The voice told me a third time to pray to God.
I started saying things like, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … God bless America” and anything else that seemed to have a religious connotation.
And these people went into a frenzy, as if I had thrown boiling oil all over them. They began yelling and screaming at me, telling me to quit, that there was no God, and no one could hear me. While they screamed and yelled obscenities, they also began backing away from me – as if I were poison. As they were retreating, they became more rabid, cursing and screaming that what I was saying was worthless and that I was a coward.
I screamed back at them, “Our Father who art in heaven,” and similar ideas. This continued for some time until, suddenly, I was aware that they had left. It was dark, and I was alone yelling things that sounded churchy. It was pleasing to me that these churchy sayings had such an effect on those awful beings.
Lying there for a long time, I was in such a state of hopelessness, and blackness, and despair, that I had no way of measuring how long it was. I was just lying there in an unknown place – all torn and ripped. And I had no strength; it was all gone. It seemed as if I were sort of fading out, that any effort on my part would expend the last energy I had. My conscious sense was that I was perishing, or just sinking into the darkness.
Now I didn’t know if I was even in the world. But I did know that I was here. I was real, all my senses worked too painfully well. I didn’t know how I had arrived here. There was no direction to follow even if I had been physically able to move. The agony that I had suffered during the day was nothing compared to what I was feeling now. I knew then that this was the absolute end of my existence, and it was more horrible than anything I could possibly have imagined.
Then a most unusual thing happened. I heard very clearly, once again in my own voice, something that I had learned in nursery Sunday School. It was the little song, “Jesus loves me, yes I know …” and it kept repeating. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I wanted to believe that. Not having anything left, I wanted to cling to that thought. And I, inside, screamed, “Jesus, please save me.”
That thought was screamed with every ounce of strength and feeling left in me.
When I did that, I saw, off in the darkness somewhere, the tiniest little star. Not knowing what it was, I presumed it must be a comet or a meteor, because it was moving rapidly. Then I realized it was coming toward me. It was getting very bright, rapidly.
When the light came near, its radiance spilled over me, and I just rose up – not with my effort – I just lifted up. Then I saw – and I saw this very plainly – I saw all my wounds, all my tears, all my brokenness, melt away. And I became whole in this radiance.
What I did was to cry uncontrollably. I was crying, not out of sadness, but because I was feeling things that I had never felt before in my life.
Another thing happened. Suddenly I knew a whole bunch of things. I knew things … I knew that this light, this radiance, knew me. I don’t know how to explain to you that I knew it knew me, I just did. As a matter of fact, I understood that it knew me better than my mother or father did. The luminous entity that embraced me knew me intimately and began to communicate a tremendous sense of knowledge. I knew that he knew everything about me and I was being unconditionally loved and accepted.
The light conveyed to me that it loved me in a way that I can’t begin to express. It loved me in a way that I had never known that love could possibly be. He was a concentrated field of energy, radiant in splendor indescribable, except to say goodness and love. This was more loving than one can imagine.
I knew that this radiant being was powerful. It was making me feel so good all over. I could feel its light on me – like very gentle hands around me. And I could feel it holding me. But it was loving me with overwhelming power. After what I had been through, to be completely known, accepted, and intensely loved by this Being of Light surpassed anything I had known or could have imagined. I began to cry and the tears kept coming and coming. And we, I and this light, went up and out of there.
We started going faster and faster, out of the darkness. Embraced by the light, feeling wonderful and crying, I saw off in the distance something that looked like the picture of a galaxy, except that it was larger and there were more stars than I had seen on earth.
There was a great center of brilliance. In the center there was an enormously bright concentration. Outside the center countless millions of spheres of light were flying about entering and leaving what was a great being-ness at the center. It was off in the distance.
Then I … I didn’t say it, I thought it. I said, “Put me back.”
What I meant by telling the light to put me back, was to put me back into the pit. I was so ashamed of who I was, and what I had been all of my life, that all I wanted to do was hide in the darkness. I didn’t want to go toward the light anymore – I did; yet I didn’t. How many times in my life had I denied and scoffed at the reality before me, and how many thousands of times had I used it as a curse. What incredible intellectual arrogance to use the name as an insult. I was afraid to go closer. I was also aware that the incredible intensity of the emanations might disintegrate what I still experienced as my intact physical body.
The being who was supporting me, my friend, was aware of my fear and reluctance and shame. For the first time he spoke to my mind in a male voice and told me that if I was uncomfortable we didn’t have to go closer. So we stopped where we were, still countless miles away from the Great being.
For the first time, my friend, and I will refer to him in that context hereafter, said to me, “You belong here.”
[Webmaster note: Howard believes his friend was Jesus.]
Facing all the splendor made me acutely aware of my lowly condition. My response was: “No, you’ve made a mistake, put me back.”
And he said, “We don’t make mistakes. You belong.”
Then he called out in a musical tone to the luminous entities who surrounded the great center. Several came and circled around us. During what follows some came and went but normally there were five or six and sometimes as many as eight with us.
I was still crying. One of the first things these marvelous beings did was to ask, all with thought, “Are you afraid of us?”
I told them I wasn’t.
They said that they could turn their brilliance down and appear as people, and I told them to stay as they were. They were the most beautiful, the most …
As an aside, I’m an artist. There are three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary colors in the visible light spectrum. Here, I was seeing a visible light spectrum with at least 80 new primary colors. I was also seeing this brilliance. It’s disappointing for me to try and describe, because I can’t – I was seeing colors that I had never seen before.
What these beings were showing me was their glory. I wasn’t really seeing them. And I was perfectly content. Having come from a world of shapes and forms, I was delighted with this new, formless, world. These beings were giving me what I needed at that time.
To my surprise, and also distress, they seemed to be capable of knowing everything I was thinking. I didn’t know whether I would be capable of controlling my thoughts and keeping anything secret.
We began to engage in thought exchange, conversation that was very natural, very easy and casual. I heard their voices clearly and individually. They each had a distinct personality with a voice, but they spoke directly to my mind, not my ears. And they used normal, colloquial English. Everything I thought, they knew.
They all seemed to know and understand me very well and to be completely familiar with my thoughts and my past. I didn’t feel any desire to ask for someone I had known because they all knew me. Nobody could know me any better. It also didn’t occur to me to try to identify them as uncle or grandfather. It was like going to a large gathering of relatives at Christmas and not being quite able to remember their names or who they are married to or how they are connected to you. But you do know that you are with your family. I don’t know if they were related to me or not. It felt like they were closer to me than anyone I had ever known.
Throughout my conversation with the luminous beings, which lasted for what seemed like a very long time, I was being physically supported by the being in whom I had been engulfed. We were in a sense completely stationary yet hanging in space. Everywhere around us were countless radiant beings, like stars in the sky, coming and going. It was like a super magnified view of a galaxy super packed with stars. And in the giant radiance of the center they were packed so densely together that individuals could not be identified.
Their selves were in such harmony with the Creator that they were really just one.
One of the reasons, I was told, that all the countless beings had to go back to their source was to become invigorated with this sense of harmony and oneness. Being apart for too long a time diminished them and made them feel separate. Their greatest pleasure was to go back to the sources of all life.
Our initial conversation involved them simply trying to comfort me.
Something that disturbed me was that I was naked. Somewhere in the darkness I’d lost my hospital gown. I was a human being. I had a body. They told me this was okay. They were quite familiar with my anatomy. Gradually I relaxed and stopped trying to cover my privates with my hands.
Next, they wanted to talk about my life. To my surprise my life played out before me, maybe six or eight feet in front of me, from beginning to end. The life review was very much in their control, and they showed me my life, but not from my point of view. I saw me in my life – and this whole thing was a lesson, even though I didn’t know it at the time. They were trying to teach me something, but I didn’t know it was a teaching experience, because I didn’t know that I would be coming back.
We just watched my life from beginning to the end. Some things they slowed down on, and zoomed in on and other things they went right through. My life was shown in a way that I had never thought of before. All of the things that I had worked to achieve, the recognition that I had worked for, in elementary school, in high school, in college, and in my career, they meant nothing in this setting.
I could feel their feelings of sorrow and suffering, or joy, as my life’s review unfolded. They didn’t say that something was bad or good, but I could feel it. And I could sense all those things they were indifferent to. They didn’t, for example, look down on my high school shot-put record. They just didn’t feel anything towards it, nor towards other things which I had taken so much pride in.
What they responded to was how I had interacted with other people. That was the long and short of it. Unfortunately, most of my interactions with other people didn’t measure up with how I should have interacted, which was in a loving way.
Whenever I did react during my life in a loving way they rejoiced.
Most of the time I found that my interactions with other people had been manipulative. During my professional career, for example, I saw myself sitting in my office, playing the college professor, while a student came to me with a personal problem. I sat there looking compassionate, and patient, and loving, while inside I was bored to death. I would check my watch under my desk as I anxiously waited for the student to finish.
I got to go through all those kinds of experiences in the company of these magnificent beings.
When I was a teenager my father’s career put him into a high-stress, twelve-hour-a-day job. Out of my resentment because of his neglect of me, when he came home from work, I would be cold and indifferent toward him. This made him angry, and it gave me further excuse to feel hatred toward him. He and I fought, and my mother would get upset.
Most of my life I had felt that my father was the villain and I was the victim. When we reviewed my life I got to see how I had precipitated so much of that, myself. Instead of greeting him happily at the end of a day, I was continually putting thorns in him – in order to justify my hurt.
I got to see when my sister had a bad night one night, how I went into her bedroom and put my arms around her. Not saying anything, I just lay there with my arms around her. As it turned out that experience was one of the biggest triumphs of my life
Continues in the Therapy of Love and Enlightenment.
Howard Storm – The Future of the World
Howard Storm – The Future of the United States