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Observations placeholder

Symonds, John Addington - A near death experience under chloroform



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Symonds, J.A.- A near death experience under chloroform

After the choking and stifling had passed away, I seemed at first in a state of utter blankness; then came flashes of intense light, alternating with blackness, and with a keen vision of what was going on in the room around me, but no sensation of touch.

I thought I was near death; when suddenly my soul became aware of God, who was manifestly dealing with me, handling me, so to speak in an intense personal present reality. I felt him streaming in like light upon me. . . I cannot describe the ecstasy I felt.

Then, as I gradually awoke from the influence of the anaesthetics, the old sense of my relation to the world began to return, the new sense of my relation to God began to fade.

I suddenly leapt to my feet on the chair where I was sitting and shrieked out ‘It is too horrible, it is too horrible, it is too horrible’, meaning that I could not bear the disillusionment.  Then I flung myself to the ground and at last awoke , covered in blood, calling to the two surgeons (who were frightened)

‘Why did you not kill me?  Why would you not let me die?’

Only think of it.  To have felt for that long dateless ecstasy of vision the very God, in all purity and tenderness and truth and absolute love, and then to find that I had after all had no revelation, but that I had been tricked by the abnormal excitement of my brain.

Yet, this question remains. Is it possible that the inner sense of reality which succeeded, when my flesh was dead to impressions from without to the ordinary sense of physical relations, was not a delusion, but an actual experience? Is it possible that I, in that moment, felt what some of the saints have said they always felt, the undemonstrable but irrefragable certainty of God ?

The source of the experience

Symonds, John Addington

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items


Activities and commonsteps