A Japanese Shinto NDE from the Year 941 CE (Historical Near-Death Experience of the Month)
"Your life is like a cloud that catches a moment on the mountain, then drifts off and melts into the sky."
The Historical NDE of the Month for July comes from a Japanese text called the Konjaku Monogatarishū, or Anthology of Tales of the Past. It is a collection of supposedly factual accounts compiled around 1120, though drawing on earlier material from India, China, and Japan. This diversity is reflected in the way varying beliefs are combined in some of the narratives, containing elements from different forms of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and Brahmanism. This particular NDE is rooted in Shinto, which itself combines indigenous Japanese traditions with Buddhism.
Many of the tales in the Konjaku Monogatarishū concern miraculous events and extraordinary experiences, including one prefaced: “This is what the Venerable Nichizō wrote in the Account of a Visit to the Afterworld, which he set down in 941, shortly after the event.” As a tour of the otherworld, the account has much in common with medieval European counterparts. Assuming it’s grounded in an actual NDE, it’s also a wonderful example of how they are experienced and expressed according to an individual’s culture.
The Historical NDE of the Month is now free for everyone. You don't have to be a Patron. While you're there, though, please consider signing up. The benefits have now changed and depending on the tier you select you can get a free copy of my new book The Next World: Extraordinary Experiences of the Afterlife (eBook or signed paperback), or an eBook of the out-of-print Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations.
Either way - please enjoy the full account of Nichizō's NDE here.
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