Guest Post: “Waiting to Die”

NOTE: This is a guest post by Kenneth Ring, PhD. Dr. Ring is an internationally recognized authority on near-death experiences. His writings on this phenomenon include five books and nearly 100 articles about near-death experiences. He is the co-founder of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and is the founding editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies. Dr. Ring’s book Heading Toward Omega, the Journal of Near-Death Studies, and IANDS were all very important to me following my own NDE in 1993, and I’m honored to have him as a guest.Waiting to Die
© 2017, Kenneth RingThe bright realization that must come before death will be worth all the boredom of living.
– Ned Rorem
What’s it like, waiting to die? Of course, it’s different for everyone. I can only say what it’s like for me. On the whole, it’s rather boring.Don’t get me wrong. I still have many pleasures in life and – knock on silicon – I’m lucky not to be suffering from any fatal illness, though if I were, th…


The launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik when I was 7 years old drew me to science, and especially to space science. In my bedroom, I hung posters of all the Soviet and American rockets and satellites. When I grew up, I wanted to be a rocket scientist and, perhaps, also an astronaut. I was 10 when President Kennedy announced the goal of getting a man to the moon and back by the end of the decade – a goal NASA achieved in 1969, the year I graduated from high school and started at Cornell University’s engineering school, still intent on becoming a NASA engineer.As a kid scientist, one of the most exciting times for me was watching the countdown to launches at Cape Canaveral. The shots of the giant rockets, the interviews with Mercury 7 and Apollo astronauts and NASA support personnel (including the engineers whose ranks I hoped to join), and the excitement of the countdown itself were among my most thrilling moments.Although I ultimately became a writer and therapist instead of a rock…

“I Apologize.”

Before I started my training as a therapist, I took a short course in community mediation. Most of my mediation experience was as a volunteer in small claims court. We mediators helped conflicting parties try to reach a mutually satisfying agreement rather than simply letting a judge adjudicate the case.Small claims court is all about settling financial arguments, and money was always the identified issue in the cases we handled. But in mediation, a strange thing happened: almost always, it turned out that what the aggrieved party most needed was a sincere apology and a way to remedy their grievance. When the apology came (and it often did), the agreement quickly followed. The change in demeanor from start to finish could be dramatic: I remember one case where two women – a homeowner and a landscaping contractor – began in bitter conflict but walked out with their arms around each other, sharing tears.Something similar happens in couples counseling. Couples often come to therapy as a …

A Wild Beast or a God?

Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.
– Francis Bacon
Solitude, my refuge as a boy, felt like imprisonment for much of my later life. From my last year in high school and through my 20s, I struggled ceaselessly to avoid it.I structured my life to reinforce connection. I hitch-hiked across the United States and Canada to force myself to ask strangers for rides and places to stay. I lived with roommates so that I was seldom really alone. I made arrangements to meet friends for meals and a movie even when I could afford neither and was living mainly on brown rice and omelets. I found work as a reporter to force myself to interview strangers, and as a teacher to push myself out of solitude and into connection with my students.E. M. Forster’s “Only connect!” became my motto, and without frequent connection, particularly intimate connection, I often collapsed into despondency. Solitude became a necessary evil. The time I spent writing, although absorbing, was ti…

Now, Be, Here

I was 20 when I first encountered Baba Ram Dass’s square, purple-covered Be Here Now, the book that launched many of my generation on an Eastern-inspired journey. I was walking though the student center of the University at Buffalo when I ran into a high school friend sitting on the floor outside the bookstore, guitar at his side, leafing through it. He handed it to me.Be? Here? Now?More than 40 years later, I’m still asking what that means.One of my most important teachers is Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk whose simple exposition of Buddhist principles has been life-changing for thousands of people worldwide. Like Ram Dass, his most compelling observation is that we are already who we are, already in the only moment actually available to us. “The past is gone, the future is not yet here,” he says, “and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”It seems so simple; yet being here now is not easy for most of us. We are inundated wit…

How the light gets through

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
– Georgia O’KeeffeIn August, 2003, I attended a five-day, mostly silent retreat with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (and 900 others). I thought of it as “Buddhist boot camp.” We awoke at 5:30 a.m., exercised with Thich Nhat Hanh or one of his monks or nuns, and spent the day meditating, listening to dharma talks, participating in discussions of Buddhist thought, and in general immersing ourselves in Buddhist practice.At that time the older brother I never had, my close friend Robert, was in a bad way. Like me, he had nearly died about ten years before, and like me had struggled with his infirmities. For a long time, he did well, but in recent months he’d fallen into a deep depression. I was also battling depression at that time and it strained my limited emotional resources to be with Robert. In the best of times, our relationship was 70% Robert, 3…

Looking for a few good … opinions!(And offering a giveaway)

Thanks for your thoughts on The Art of Balance title earlier this fall. The book is moving through its early pre-release stages. I’m busily getting feedback, making revisions, building a new website for Transformations Press, and investigating ways to network.But before I can get much further, I need a good cover!1. The Scene:You’re feeling stressed and you’re scrolling through books on stress relief in the hope of finding a solution to your woes. You come upon one of these four book covers:2. The Survey:Click hereto tell me, in this one-question survey, which cover you’d be most likely to click (and, optionally, why you were drawn to that particular one). Your opinions on the survey (and any additional thoughts) will be helpful in shaping the future of this book.3. The Giveaway:While you’re waiting for The Art of Balance to relieve that stress, take a look at these free books and courses.For Black Friday, I’ve teamed up with several other authors. We’re offering books and courses tha…