Read an Excerpt
Secrets of the Light
My Lively Dance with Death
The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.
The first time I died, it wasn't nearly as scary as I'd thought it would be. Yet, quite honestly, at age twenty-five, I had not actually spent a lot of time thinking about death—at least not my own. Nevertheless, between 1975 and 1997 I managed to die once and dance toe to toe with death through two more near-death experiences. I recounted much of my story in my first two books, Saved by the Light (1995) and At Peace in the Light (1996). But in this book I simply want to tell enough of the story to get us to the real purpose of the book—how we can all live more fulfilling and less fearful lives.
Back in 1975 I was one cocky son of a gun who could anticipate a punch, fieldstrip a rifle, and fix a '57 Chevy with one arm tied behind my back. Beyond that, and an occasional night out with my girl, I didn't give a damn about much of anything else. In my hometown I was the bully everybody loved to hate. Moreover, that's exactly how I liked it. I believed I had created the perfect world for myself, until a lethal thunderstorm loomed within throwing distance of my home in South Carolina on the evening of September 17, 1975.
I'd been working out of town for several weeks. While I was catching up with a close friend on the telephone, a bolt of lightning made a direct hit right outside my house. Like a heat-seeking missile, it was swiftly drawn through an ungrounded telephone line. Within seconds, it carved a path of melted flesh and bone as it entered myhead through the phone receiver. It all happened so fast, there was no time to react. Although I heard a deafening sound, like a high-speed locomotive rushing toward my ear, the lightning flashed inside my head before I could assemble my thoughts to put down the phone. Then it was too late; the lightning was hell-bent on having its way with me. Instantly, it lifted me off the bedroom floor and held me suspended in the air. The searing pain stunned my senses as the electricity burned its way through my entire body, engraving its fiery initials down the length of my spine. My body was burning from the inside out. It was beyond excruciating—truly torturous to the point of being incomprehensible. I could not think; I couldn't even scream. As the lightning exited through my feet, I dropped to the bed below as if forcibly thrown, severely bending the frame in the process.
By that time my girlfriend, Sandy, heard the commotion and came running in from the kitchen to see what was going on. She gasped in horror at the sight before her. There I was, badly charred and broken, strewn lifeless across the bed. She took a deep breath and immediately started CPR on me. I remember watching her do this. I was perched just under the ceiling at the far side of the room, and although I was floating above the scene, it never occurred to me that I was actually dead.
You see, at that time, the depth of my spiritual perspective was truly limited, if not fatally flawed. I was raised in the Deep South and, as you probably know, everybody goes to Hell where I come from. As a survivor of that fundamentalist religious environment, I possessed no spiritual framework for understanding what I was about to encounter head-on. I had never heard of a near-death experience. Dr. Raymond Moody hadn't even coined the phrase yet. And I wouldn't have believed in it even if I had heard of it. I never gave the time of day to that kind of cosmic crap. For me, the world of the mystical didn't hold the slightest interest. But as of that moment in 1975, everything spiritual had my full and undivided attention. I guess you could say the lightning had permanently readjusted my attitude!
Before too long, from my vantage point just below the ceiling, I saw Tommy—the friend I'd been talking to on the phone—rush into the bedroom. Panicked by the abrupt way our conversation ended, he'd put down the phone and headed over to my house. Having been trained as a corpsman in the Navy, Tommy automatically took over the resuscitation effort while Sandy ran next door to call for an ambulance. I watched them with great curiosity and without the slightest sensation of physical discomfort. That crushing, burning torment that had riveted me just moments before was now completely gone.
As all this transpired, the vibrant kaleidoscope of living colors that emanated from Tommy and Sandy astounded me. In fact, as I glanced around the room everything appeared to be literally alive and vibrating with color. Even the wooden chest of drawers in the corner radiated a multihued energy. What an amazing observation for a redneck! I wish everyone could see what I saw on that night. It certainly changed the way I relate to animate, and even inanimate, life to this very day. I no longer take for granted the unique and beautiful spiritual life force flowing through every creation in the physical world. To witness how intricately everything was connected, interwoven, and related, at the deepest levels of a highly organized matrix of networked energy, was indeed an overwhelming and inescapable new reality for me. Yet, as inspiring as that discovery was, it would pale in comparison to what was yet to come. Before the night was over, I was destined to witness the breathtaking marvels of the heavenly realms.Secrets of the Light. Copyright © by Dannion Brinkley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.