That summer in 1971, I was with my husband and children in the mountains of northern Georgia while he was working with the camera crew of the movie “Deliverance.” On weekends, some of the cast and crew and their families would take the rafts out on the river for a little R&R.

They filmed on the same part of the Chatahootchie River we rafted on and, of the eight of us on this particular Sunday afternoon, four of us, including myself, had rafted down this stretch before.

But the river was different this time. Low, from several days of no rain; different paths had to be taken through the many rapids.

On the last set of rapids, we made an almost fatal mistake. The raft I was in got turned around, went over a four foot drop backwards, and became stuck there by the churning action of the water.

The raft was trapped in a hydraulic, a churning white-water phenomena, which held the raft against the rocks. I was thrown out and got caught between the raft and the rocks, with the force of the river pouring down on my head and the suction of the hydraulic motion pulling me under. A man inside the raft held my arm and tried to pull me back into the raft, but the most he could do was enable me to catch an occasional quick breath before the water sucked me back down. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Very consciously and calmly, I knew I was going to die, it was just a matter of how. Being smashed into the rocks was painful, so I decided drowning was the better choice. The next time my head popped out of the water, with my last breath, I told him to let go and he did. I felt the water pull me under and I relaxed into it. I knew there was no point in struggling as I breathed in the water, and everything went black. For a moment…

The next thing I knew I was a hundred feet above the river, looking down at the raft stuck against the rocks below. I saw the two men in the raft looking for me to come out from underneath. I saw the other woman, who had been in our raft, downstream, clinging to a rock. I watched my husband and my teenage sister, who had rafted, without incident, down the rapids ahead of us, come running back up the hill to find out why all the debris was floating down the river. We had taken everything out of their raft and put it into ours in case they flipped over, but they went down so easily, we just jumped in to follow them down.

From above, I watched my husband climb onto a rock in the river. He couldn’t hear what the two men still in the raft were shouting to him over the roar of the water. He had no idea where I was or what had happened, but he knew I was missing. He looked as if he wanted to jump in to try to find me and I suddenly found myself at his side, trying to stop him because he wasn’t much of a swimmer and I knew there was no point. When I reached out to stop him, my hand went right through him. I looked at my hand and thought… oh, my god, I’m dead!

In that instant, total knowledge of reality appeared to me and I saw the mutil-dimensionality of the universe. My consciousness expanded so far beyond the physical plane that I was no longer aware of it, nor of my self. I was so much a part of it all, there was no distinction. It was a brilliant flash of light and I was allowed to see into it for a brief moment and experience a feeling of love so profound, powerful and overwhelming that I can only describe it as pure Bliss (even though that doesn’t begin to describe it).

And, suddenly, I was whisked away and found myself traveling rapidly through a vortex toward a beautiful white light in the far, far distance. I continued to experience an overwhelming feeling of love within me and around me. There was no fear, no anxiety, no worry. I even felt as if I’d done this before and was remembering that I was going home. I was filled with joy. I had no sense of a body, no feeling of limitations or boundaries. Yet, I was still me and aware that I was having this experience.

Before long, I realized I wasn’t alone. There was someone, whom I can only describe as a Loving Being of Light, traveling beside me… at the speed of light! We communicated mentally. This was someone I have always known and I knew that as soon as I sensed the presence of this being. Yet I cannot now tell you now who it was. I didn’t have the sense that it was any familiar religious figure or deceased relative, but rather a special friend who is always with me wherever I am; perhaps, my guardian angel. This Being told me telepathically that I had a choice about going back. I thought, no, no, no, I want this to go on forever!

Suddenly, we burst into the light and a whole new reality was revealed to me, similar to the physical world, but, in this higher vibration, more colorful, more beautiful, more amazing. I saw plants, trees, mountains, lakes, animals, and shimmering crystal-like buildings, some very large and ornate. I saw beings moving about, light beings, going about their daily lives. They don’t have physical bodies, but they are distinct fields of energy. They don’t walk, they float. They have lives much like ours, but without the struggles and sorrows. They are artists, musicians, dancers, singers, inventors, builders, healers, creators of magical things… things they will manifest in their next lifetime in the physical universe.

Again, the Being of Light told me it was my choice to stay or go, but that there was more for me to do in that life and it wasn’t quite time for me to leave. Still hesitating, I was told that if I chose to go back, I would be given certain knowledge to take back with me to share with others. After much discussion, I agreed to go back and suddenly found myself in front of a tall cone-shaped building; so tall, it seemed to go on forever. I was told this was the Hall of Knowledge. I entered the building and flew, spiraling upwards, through what appeared to be shelves of books, like in a library, many millions of books, and I flew through them all. When I reached the top, I burst through it into a kaleidoscope of colors and, at the same time, my head popped out of the water. I was down river about 10 yards from the raft.

I immediately became aware of where I was and grabbed for the nearest rock. I was able to pull myself up and I coughed up a lot of water. I was in a state of shock, but needed no medical attention. I don’t know how long I was under the raft, no one was looking at their watch at the time. It could have been 3 or 4 minutes, it could have been ten. There was no time where I had been.

I can’t say that I was clinically dead, but I have no memory of struggling under the water or trying to hold my breath until I reached the surface. (I’ve been a swimmer, water skier, scuba diver, and surfer, so I’ve had plenty of close calls under water before when I thought I might die, but nothing like this. These other times I remember perfectly well struggling to reach the surface, my lungs about to burst, totally aware of my physical experience.) What I do remember during the time my body was in the water under the raft is what I have told you.

I walked around in shock for months afterwards, not knowing how to describe my experience nor integrate it into my life. When I did try to tell someone what I experienced, I was patted on the head and told to forget it, that I was lucky to be alive… which is why I surpressed the memory and tried to get on with my life. It wasn’t until 15 or so years later that I picked up a book titled Strangers Among Us by Ruth Montgomery which described my experience and I finally knew that I wasn’t alone… or crazy. It was several years after that I learned of Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life, which definded the near death experience, and it actually became acceptable to talk about it for the first time.

My life changed immediately and drastically after that day in the river and I went through some very tough times because I didn’t know what was happening to me, including a divorce (my husband had no clue what I was going through after the NDE and just thought I must be crazy), child custody battles, trying to find a job after not working for almost ten years, being single again… my kundalini was running amuck causing depression and suicidal thoughts. My dark night of the soul led me on a long, winding path, to becoming a seeker of my higher purpose. I knew there was a reason I chose to come back when I was on the other side, but, once back in body, it was a mystery to me I even had a purpose.

A series of coincidences led me to go back to school (7 years later) at age 37 to study psychology. After 5 years, I had a BA and MS in psychology and have been a counselor ever since. In college, I realized the significance of the library I flew through during my NDE. All the books I studied while at the university, it was as if I had read them already, and had no trouble making the Dean’s List most semesters, in spite of working part time and raising three teenagers as a single mother.

I began my metaphysical studies several years after graduation, reading every metaphysical, religious and spiritual book I could get my hands on, and talked with many teachers and gurus over the years. I began meditating a few years after my NDE, mainly to deal with stress, but eventually, by getting my kundalini under control, learned to reach and maintain a higher level of consciousness in every day life. I became an ordained minister and a spiritual counselor, and earned another master’s degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy, which lead me to past-life regression as a therapy. My education beyond the veil continues to this day and has evolved my thinking into a higher consciousness perspective.

My purpose for coming back manifested in writing Sitting in the Lotus Blossom in 1989, during which time I was a Hospice volunteer, followed by Through the Tunnel in 1992. Since then I’ve developed a self-study course for people who wish to work with the dying as Transition Specialists or Guides. I’ve been a psychospiritual counselor for over 20 years. I began this web site in 1996 and continue my path of service through it for seekers of Light.

I look forward to the glorious experience of returning home when my work here is finished, but I’m not in any hurry. I still have a lot to do here on earth before it’s time to leave this body and continue my education and development on the other side. In the meantime, I’m here to help those in need of spiritual upliftment from a near death perspective.

© 1996-2005 Diane Goble

Read other peoples’ experiences

If you have had a near death experience or other mystical experience and would like to share it with others who will benefit from reading about it, email me your story.

(October 2005) Tammy Cohen, a writer, has been commissioned to write a book on near death experiences. She’s looking for personal accounts, told by people who were literally on the brink of death before they revived, and who have an interesting story to tell. If you would like to recount you story, contact her at [email protected]

Ken Ring (Lessons From the Light) describes interviews with several near-death experiencers, and presents twelve insights that sum up their new attitude, proposing that, if you were actually to live by them, you would become a truly free person:

1. There is a reason for everything that happens.

2. Find your own purpose in life.

3. Do not be a slave to time.

4. Appreciate things for what they are.

5. Do not allow yourself to be dominated by the thoughts or expectations of others.

6. Do not be concerned with what others think of you.

7. Remember, you are not your body.

8. Don’t fear pain or death.

9. Be open to life and live it to its fullest.

10. Money and material things are not particularly important in the scheme of things.

11. Helping others is what counts in life.

12. Do not trouble yourself with competition – just enjoy the show.

Ascent of the Blessed from Paradise and Hell