A Comparative Analysis of Japanese and Western NDEs

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A Comparative Analysis of Japanese and Western NDEs

Masayuki Ohkado, Ph.D.
Chubu University and University of Virginia

Bruce Greyson, M.D.
University of Virginia

Quote:ABSTRACT: Decades of studies on near-death experiences (NDEs) have revealed both cross-cultural and culture-specific features (Kellehear, 2009) and that it is important to determine which aspects are attributed to the physiological, bio-
logical, or psychological mechanisms shared by all humans and which aspects are of cultural origin. In this article, we examine Japanese NDEs and compare their features with generalizations based on observations of Western NDEs. The main differences between Japanese and Western NDEs are the interpretation of the light and the concomitant lack of interaction with it, the image of heaven, and the absence of the life review. We suggest that these characteristics are accounted for in terms of cultural differences.

Quote:Yasuda, a musician and an actor, contrasted a strong, bright light he met in his NDE with stage lights he was familiar with in his profession: “First of all, the nature of the light is quite different. It was much, much brighter than stage lights. Yet it is not blinding [it does not hurt my eyes?]. Stage lights are blinding” (Tachibana, 2003, p. 27). He also claimed that he felt ineffably happy as he was walking in the light.

Quote:Related to these contrasting images of heaven is another difference between Japanese and Western NDEs: the description of a border or limit. As Moody (1975) pointed out, a border or limit appearing in NDEs takes various forms, such as “a body of water, a gray mist, a door, a fence across a field, or simply a line” (p. 65). The typical form appearing in Japanese NDEs is a river; the origin of this image was discussed by Onodorea (1994, 1995). Of the 12 Japanese reports in which a border or limit was mentioned, 10 referred to it as a river, one as a pond, and one as a stone wall. In contrast, the appearance of a river as a border or limit is much less common in Western NDEs: One of the authors (B.G.) found only nine references to the border as a river
in his collection of about 700 NDE narratives.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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