Revisiting Near Death Experiences with David LaMotte


Editor’s Note: Almost ten years ago, the Spy sat down with David LaMotte for what turned out to be a fascinating conversation about Near-Death Experiences and spirituality. Fast forward to 2019, and we asked David to reflect on the dozens of the stories he has heard from those who had experienced near death. This is the Spy interview with David from October, 2009.

Spy: David, could you remind us of what instigated your interest in near death experience?

My father was an Episcopal minister who got interested in near death experiences, or NDEs as they are referred to, recounted by people who died and came back to life.  I joined him almost 20 years ago at a conference in Hawaii put on by the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS), primarily to see Hawaii, but I became hooked on the subject after reading the book Heading Toward Omega by Kenneth Ring on the flight out and attending a few lectures by researchers.  

I remember my father saying that hearing of these experiences had brought the Gospels alive for him; that they help explain what is behind Christianity, and perhaps all religions. They opened his mind far beyond “religion,” while at the same time giving incredible importance to understanding that there really is so much more to life and the afterlife than we generally think about.

 And what was it that fascinated you the most?

For me, NDE stories give a glimpse into reality that is far more expansive than we are taught in school or church. Science could never support faith and religious traditions until quantum physics in the last century opened it up to new realizations that now begin to bridge the gap between the two pursuits, while at the same time shattering many prior religious and scientific beliefs.

I feel NDE’s, what they tell us, offer phenomenal potential to break down the religious, racial and national barriers that separate mankind.  They present a potential paradigm shift that can dramatically change the way we not only view each other but the way we see ourselves and every aspect of life.

What do you find is the most interesting in these NDE accounts?

Despite the variations of many of the particulars, NDE accounts are amazingly consistent, regardless of religious belief or any belief in a god or afterlife.  

They vary in “depth” from simple out-of-body experiences or OBE’s, such as looking down on oneself in an accident or during surgery, to the classic trips up tunnels toward a light of incredible loving magnetism, to detailed life reviews, gaining universal knowledge, discussions with deceased loved ones, being told it is not “your time,” and seeing potential future life events.

What is so consistent are descriptions of being in a different dimension where time and space are not like here;  amazement at seeing how all of us and everything is so connected though here on earth we feel separated, feelings of love far beyond anything ever experienced here, telepathic communication answering any questions that come to mind instantly, non-interruption of thought or consciousness (“my thoughts continued as if still in my body”), ability to travel by thought and to understand others’ thoughts — those still living and those not.  

And the aftereffects of these experiences for NDE’rs are also noticeably consistent — a change, often dramatic, in priorities and interests, a sense of great purpose to every life, elimination of any fear of death, compassion for others and all creation, and in many cases unexplainable healings, psychic abilities and new knowledge/abilities.  

NDE’rs will tell you it was the most real experience of their lives, that this life is more like a dream, and that they can remember the details of the experience as if it was yesterday, even decades later.  Initially, they are frequently frustrated to be back here, to have left a place of incredible love, a place that felt like home, and to be confined to a physical body, often in a lot of pain. Eventually they seem to appreciate being here, with a deep sense of purpose for their time here and a love of life in general.

From your studies, what part of the NDE fascinates or intrigues you most?

There are many, but I must say the life reviews are the most telling for me.  In these life reviews, they describe being able to watch and experience, again, any moment in their life, usually with a supportive entity by their side.  They describe re-experiencing significant choices they made, though they may not have seemed significant at all at the time, and best of all they experience their choices from the perspective of those the choices impacted.  Incredibly, they even see and experience the ripple effect of their choices out into time, and to others affected by those affected.

I remember one NDE’r telling me he watched and experienced himself teasing a girl in second grade. He felt it from her perspective, how humiliating it was, how she disliked school because of being picked on, and then he felt it from her parents’ perspective, how painful it was for them. And, finally, he described to me how it even impacted this girl with her lack of self-confidence in her teenage years.  

Another described how he felt every punch and the embarrassment from the perspective of a man he had beaten up, and he understood, unbeknownst to him at the time, how this man had just lost his wife, was drunk, and why he mouthed off to him at that moment, prompting the fight.

What they describe is no judgement from a god or others, but an inescapable judgement of self as we experience our choices from new perspectives.  Many describe it as the most painful thing they have ever been through, even when they are shown the positive ripple effects of many choices they made.  But the almost universal take-away they describe is that the life review is an incredible learning experience and they believe this may be what we are here for, to learn about love from countless perspectives in a dimension of imperfect love.

 In your own experience, do they share a big takeaway or a certain belief after their near-death experiences?

Although the extent of their takeaways may vary based upon the depth of the NDE, they almost universally say our consciousness or the essence of who we are survives physical death, that we voluntarily experience life in this dimension to learn about love, that we do this many times in many different roles (yes, reincarnation), that life for everyone has great purpose, though it may be hard for us to comprehend while here.  Many report being asked, “So how did you do with your objectives for this life, how well did you love and accept love?” And, thus, many say, this life, this dimension is clearly a school of sorts, an opportunity to learn the infinite dimensions of love.

So what are your takeaways, having studied this phenomenon for many years?

I’d have to say they parallel what these NDE’rs themselves feel or conclude.  I’ve read hundreds of cases and talked with dozens of experiencers, and to me we would be burying our heads in the sand not to pay attention to what they are recounting and concluding.  I think there is so much we don’t understand. I am convinced, as NDE’rs consistently say, that we are loved beyond what we can comprehend, that consciousness survives physical death, that we are afforded free will in this dimension of imperfect love to make endless choices in order to learn countless aspects of love, that, regardless of what we believe, we can’t fail at life, we are not judged, we learn from our choices and help others learn about love from our choices, be they kind or hurtful.

As my father communicated a few weeks after he died, “If anyone tells you this is how ‘it’ all works, don’t believe them. It is more grand than you can ever imagine!”

David LaMotte lives outside Chestertown, MD and is president of LaMotte Company, a 100-year old manufacturer of water testing products. He leads a group who monthly meet to discuss NDE’s and related phenomenon.



About Dave Wheelan


Letters to Editor

  1. We share a common mentor and father on this topic, our Dad. He never pushed us to learn and follow his research on this topic but as the years went on the learning process continues. I recall a conversation with my father a month after he passed via a medium who called me one evening. I’ve not attempted to do the same since but so many of the details he provided that night made sense. At one time I did ask about what it’s like on the “other side” and it was clear the grandeur is beyond comprehension but the veil between it and us is quite necessary to protect us. I gather that may have eluded to those in pain and weakness should not try to exit this life on their own terms– a serious subject not to discuss here.
    It may be of great comfort and use to others to do a regular column in The Spy on these types of topics. While a deep discussion on Quantum Physics may be a challenge to comprehend our gray community could benefit by reducing fears of their future.

  2. Briggs Cunningham says

    Imagine the sea change in humans’ compassion toward others (and the Earth in general) if we were “shown the light,” as it were. I suspect the seven sins would quickly disappear.
    I agree with Richard…please provide more information about this subject and on a regular basis.

  3. Joan Cramer says

    Thank you so much for running these interviews, both written and oral, with David Lamotte. David, and his father before him, have helped so many people in Kent County navigate death, and all of the fear and grief we associate with it. I am so grateful for his service, and his friendship.

  4. Julie Schaeffer says

    Please continue these articles. There is purpose to every life and the stories of NDE experiencers confirm this.

  5. Beyond fascinating! These insights give our everyday choices and our very existence the meaning many of us are constantly seeking. At the same time, compassion dawns! Thank you, David.

  6. Libby Woolever says

    I shared this story with my sister who is a multiple organ transplant recipient. She replied, “I had an out-of-body experience some time during my heart tx stages before I got the heart. I just floated near the ceiling of the ICU and looked down on myself and all the other patients I could see. It didn’t last long (I don’t think). I suspect there are a lot of people who have OBE’s and assume they are dreams. Mine could have been a dream as I was so drugged up, but it was so crystal clear.” I told her that the experience is shared by so many people that there has to be a reality to it. Thanks, Chestertown Spy for bringing this subject up – let’s keep the dialog going, it’s fascinating!

  7. Sydney Brookes says

    The NDE meetings David holds are interesting and enlightening. They have provided a perspective that brings with it a new outlook on “what it’s all about” and a welcomed sense of well being. I am so grateful David continues this study started by his father.
    Sydney Brookes

    • Heather Church says

      I’m in new Orleans, and I wish there were meetings like this here. I am an NDE’r, I experienced it 8 years ago and didn’t have my memories from it until about 3 yrs after. I’m still having memories come back to this day. Mine come back in snippets, like short videos or images, like on a film show in my minds eye, one after another. It’s pretty surreal. But honestly, this place is the dream, you understand that when you enter the astral. Actually, it’s more like you remember that.

      • Hi Heather, interesting you mention for roughly 5 years you had no memories of your NDE. I have met NDE’rs who have said they had no recollection of their NDE until as one told me she had a second NDE in which they saw the first one (a drowning as a young child), and I believe many die and are resuscitated and have no memory of the time they were out…one said like their life was a movie reel and it went blank for about a minute.

        Glad memories are coming back for you and hope they are all very reassuring. Interesting that your memories cause you to see this life as more of a dream than your memory.

        Thanks for sharing!

  8. Carol Mylander says

    I would love to see more on The Chestertown Spy about Near Death Experience. Perhaps a monthly article or column. I attend David’s monthly
    meetings and find them positive and informative. A safe place to share our out of the ordinary experiences.

  9. Eric Olivier says

    Excellent interview, dealing with the heart of the matter: our earth is a school of experience and learning, we’re all loved beyond comprehension, we’re all guided during our tour of choices based on our free will, and there is a common goal. I have studied many NDEs myself and consider myself a believer and advocate, no longer afraid of (so called) death. I am convinced we have to change our ways and now is the time. The things that really matter, such as trying to understand and support each other (after all, we’re all in the same boat), are totally different from what many people are striving for: more stuff, being popular, powerful, better than the Joneses. One small act of kindness gives everyone involved a great feeling. That really is all it takes and perhaps will change our world!

    • Wow! Well said Eric. I like what you say about now is the time for more of us to awaken and hear what these voyagers are telling us about the bigger picture. It really shouldn’t threaten any belief systems as long as we are willing to expand theirs.

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