04/08/2013 03:12 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

A Little Slice of Heaven: The Essence of Religions and Near-Death Experiences

People who have had a near-death experience are convinced that they had a glimpse of heaven. Although each near-death experience is unique, we find recurring messages in them. I have become convinced that by acknowledging the wonderful messages from those who had these experiences, people can become much happier. Furthermore, the messages relayed to them can make our world a better place. But these messages come right under the domain of religions that say they have the answers to many, if not all, spiritual questions relating to the purpose of our life: the way we should lead it and what will happen to us when we die. By forcefully maintaining that point of view over a long period, religions have claimed to have a monopoly on answers to spiritual questions.

For this reason it is interesting to compare the essences of religions with the essences of NDEs. I did that for the five major religions. My conclusion of this comparison is that the true essences of each of the five studied religions can be found in NDEs, but not the other way around. Not all essences of NDEs can be found in each religion. Therefore, NDEs seem to be more universal and more encompassing than each of the religions individually.

There are some wonderful messages relayed during NDEs. For many the most important message is the reassurance that life goes on after we die. And that is what NDEs tell us: We are eternal. Heaven is our birthright. However, the most important messages to me are the ones about love.

We are all loved beyond our wildest dreams. This love comes from the spirit world. When people meet what they describe as The Light, they feel overwhelmed by the greatness of its unconditional and limitless love. It is crucial to note that people who had an NDE consistently use the word unconditional.

Another message about love is that loving other people and nature is something that will be greatly appreciated. Astonishingly, this appreciation will come from ourselves! When we die, we will be able to see whatever we did for others, and we will see and even feel this as if we are these others. If we did something lovingly, we will feel the happiness from the ones for whom we did these loving things, and we will be happy with our actions. Of course, the contrary holds when we have hurt others. This is an absolutely amazing thing, because it means, in fact, that we are all profoundly interconnected.

A last message I would like to convey is that we are all important. The reason is that we all carry The Light within us and that we all have a significant task to fulfill on Earth. Remarkably, many people who claim to gain knowledge of their task say that returning to their body makes them forget what this is.

What, then, are some parallels between the NDE and religions? Interestingly, all religions stress that love is vital. God, Allah, Brahman, YHWH or the Buddhas love us immensely, but it is stressed that we have to love one another as well. In Christianity Jesus has a fantastic message for us. He says that the two most important commandments of Judaism, in fact, are equal. To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind is equal to the rule to love your neighbors as yourself. In Buddhism compassion is the centerpiece. In Islam, Allah is told to be most merciful and most compassionate, and his followers are urged to imitate this.

There are some interesting differences, too. For instance, Hinduism is the only mainstream religion to tell us clearly that we carry God within us. We are a part of God. And that is one of the important messages of NDEs: We have The Light within us, we are one with God. This is something that clashes with Christianity, Judaism and Islam, where God is some other entity outside us.

A major difference with Christianity has to do with the Original Sin that we all start with at birth and that is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden fruit in Paradise. But we should know that Jesus never mentioned original sin. Nor was it mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament. The truth is that this most important Christian dogma was developed many centuries after Jesus' death. In NDEs we won't find anything that remotely resembles Original Sin.

But let's stick with the important parallel for us on Earth: Be aligned with the love of God, YHWY, Allah, Brahman or the Buddhas. It will make us happier.